The Decaying Mansions of Memory (2011)
- Published in Untold Adventures, ISBN 978-0-7869-5837-5
- With age came wisdom. Sometimes wisdom came with an ass kicking, too. And nothing could kick ass like the whole world.
- Magic, the blessed curse that gnaws at the soul and leaves a void in the mind into which too much that is alien and deadly can settle.
- Why was he thinking of her now? Fool, fool, fool. The barmaid had cast the oldest spell of all on him, a cantrip requiring only alcohol, sorrow, and time.
- “No,” Horn replied. “I am a seeker of wisdom.”
The old man squinted, taking in Horn’s scars, motley head of fire-scarred hair, and ropy muscles. “Looks like you haven’t found it yet, or you’d have learned to stay out of trouble.”
- “Some things change a man slowly. Journeys. The passage of years. The love of a good woman. Imprisonment.” The monk paused a moment. Horn sensed he was speaking from experience, looking back at his own paths. Then: “Some things change a man swiftly. War. Disease. Shipwrecks. The love of a bad woman.”
- Unwise or unlucky wizards learned fast enough how much one paid for one’s mistakes. One sometimes paid more dearly for one’s successes.
- With age comes wisdom. Or at least experience.
- Horn could hear the click of the dice that made up the multiverse. Beneath the struggles of gods and men and monsters, behind the powers of magic and prayer and bared blade, chance governed all.
- Page numbers from the hardcover first edition, published by Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-7798-2, first printing
- See Jay Lake's Internet Science Fiction Database page for original publication details
- In the end, words are all that survive us.
- He’d volunteered for the Howard Institute program because of the most basic human motivation—tourism. Seeing what was over the next hill had trumped even sex as the driving force in human evolution.
- Permanent Fatal Errors (pp. 54-55)
- Nothing ever built could truly match the pattern-recognition and free associative skills of human (or post-human) wetware collectively known as “hunches.” Strong AIs could approximate that uniquely biological skill through a combination of brute force and deeply clever circuit design, but even then, the spark of inspiration did not flow so well.
- Permanent Fatal Errors (pp. 58-59)
- All revelation is a lie. It must be. The divine is an incommunicable disease, too large and splintered to fit within the confines of a primate brain. Our minds evolved to compete for fruit and pick carrion, not to comb through the parasites that drop from the clouds of God’s dreaming.
But just as an equation asymptotically approaches the solution, so revelation can asymptomatically approach the truth about the underlying nature of the universe. The lie narrows to the width of the whisker of a quantum cat, while the truth, poking slowly along behind, finally merges Siamese-twinned to its precursor.
- The Speed of Time (p. 78)
- Springfield McKenna didn’t place much faith in rumors. She’d traded in them far too long to lend credence to someone else’s social munitions.
- The problem with basing your entire economy and raison d’être on a constrained resource was that eventually you ran out of the resource in question. Decisions which had seemed canny two centuries ago during the bright days of the port’s founding and initial construction were now foolhardy in the blindingly obvious light of hindsight.
- I know he is important Meat because he is dressed like a fool and doing no work.
- Sarita placed little faith in such rumors. The fears of small people everywhere could speak louder than any voice, and with less reason. Legends were just that: legendary.
- He was never a churchgoing man, McAllen, but anyone who’s stood when the bullets fly or watched over the herds when the wolf packs are hunting down the moon knows better than to disbelieve. Life is too short and hard and strange not to blame God for what He done made of the world.
- The Temptation of Eustace Prudence McAllen (p. 175)
- These are the hard truths: Some words were never meant to be read. Some thoughts cannot be undone. Some darknesses shall never be dispelled.
Some people will never believe these truths.
- All men are born to die…Once a fool pretends otherwise.
- Testaments (p. 216; ellipsis represents the elision of one sentence of description)
- Art unexamined is, after all, art unexperienced.
- A Critical Examination of Stigmata’s Print Taking the Rats to Riga (p. 236)
- Like all worthwhile art, the piece invites us on a journey that has no path nor map, nor even an endpoint. Only a process, footsteps through the mind of an artist now forever lost to us.
- A Critical Examination of Stigmata’s Print Taking the Rats to Riga (p. 238)
- People say there are no atheists in the foxholes, but people are idiots. It’s awfully tough to believe in God when you’re knee deep in mud, blood, and other men’s guts. Combat is the Problem of Evil on the hoof.
- The Cancer Catechism (p. 309)
- But if you really want to feel the stress of divine regard, spend time in an oncology unit. The half-hidden whispers and the strained smiles and the whirring click of the infusion pumps form a choir of pain every bit as agonized as the howls of the damned in some imagined hell.
- The Cancer Catechism (p. 309)
- Because, really, what else is there? Life is years of sheer, endless boredom punctuated by bouts of the mildly interesting. Not much to do, not much to believe in. Just eat, sleep, shit, breathe, breed, grow old and die.
- The Cancer Catechism (p. 310)
- There is no devil mocking you. God didn’t give you cancer to punish you. Colon cancer has come to you through a combination of losing the genetic lottery, cosmic rays, and perhaps too much bacon in your younger days.
- The Cancer Catechism (p. 315)