John Brunner

British author

John Kilian Houston Brunner (September 24, 1934August 26, 1995) was a science fiction author. His work in the new wave sub-genre is highly acclaimed and influential. His earlier (prolific, often pseudonymous) space operas are generally considered unremarkable.

First you use machines, then you wear machines, and then ...? Then you serve machines.
HIPCRIME   You committed one when you opened this book. Keep it up. It's our only hope.

Quotes edit

Short fiction edit

Who Steals My Purse (1973) edit

Analog, March 1973
  • Cham Loc knew little of affairs of state, but he was aware that whenever politicians talked about matters of inflexible principle, life was scheduled to become even more difficult that usual.
    • p. 12
  • “And there are more idiots than suckers in the world,” Barney said with a rueful chuckle. “One every second, not one a minute, right?”
    • p. 18

You’ll Take the High Road (1973) edit

Novella originally published in Robert Silverberg ed., Three Trips in Time and Space
  • If you so much as touch him, I’ll have to smash every bone in your body—twice, to make sure I didn’t miss any the first time. I don’t recommend the experience.
    • Section 5 (p. 127)
  • Joel groaned softly. “I-ah-I don’t think I was altogether myself,” he excused.
    “Are you ever?” Bertrand countered.
    “I am always my self, even when my objurgatory circuits are cut in by some frustration-inducing outside event. But you’re invariably either drunk or suffering indigestion or still half-asleep or so excited as to be manic or so downcast as to be suicidal or—”
    Loftily Joel broke in: “That’s part of the marvel and wonder of the subjective human experience, not susceptible machine analysis.” He gulped the last of his brandy and set the glass aside. “And we are a fantastic species really, aren’t we? For all our shortcomings! I mean, well—here I am talking to a machine, for pity’s sake, a machine, a manufactured article! So cleverly designed, it’s impossible to tell that its responses are programmed in, not the result of intelligence.”
    “I resent that,” Bertrand said, but Joel ignored the comment.
    • Section 6 (pp. 135-136)

The Atlantic Abomination (1960) edit

Page numbers from the Ace paperback edition (catalog number 03300)
  • Their lusts had known no limit until now. They had gorged themselves, surpassed their own imaginings again and again, recklessly squandering what they had supposed to be inexhaustible; they had been like children in a house filled with sweetmeats, destroying what they could not consume. Until now.
    Now it was as though the planet itself was sick of their arrogance.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 5; opening words)
  • Men change their gods, and when they have changed them often enough they cease to fear their power.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 128; closing words)

The Whole Man (1964) edit

Page numbers from the Ballantine paperback edition, ISBN 0-345-01885-0, second printing (March 1970)
Nominated for the 1965 Hugo Award
  • Amid the turmoil of change, old people could do no more than wonder what had hit them, and long without enthusiasm for the simpler past.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 56)
  • Independence has limits. But dependence has, too. I want to set some for myself, that’s all.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 129)
  • One of the first benefits of an improved standard of living, as he had already been superficially aware, is to postpone the age at which a person’s opinions congeal for life. Someone forced by poverty to avoid spending on enlarging his horizons the energy and time needed simply for staying alive adopted the attitudes, ready-made, of his environment. This was why students formed the backbone of so many revolutionary movements, for instance.
    • Chapter 24 (p. 150)

Quicksand (1967) edit

Page numbers from the DAW paperback edition, first printing (July 1976)
  • A cripple can still be a person, but in what sense is a lunatic human? Humanity’s in the mind, in the tangle of thoughts spun by the brain, and once that’s gone what remains is human only in outward shape.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 24)
  • —Why can I never visualize things turning out better as clearly as I can visualize the catastrophes I scraped past by a hair? “Everything for the best in the best of all possible worlds!” Hah!
    • Chapter 8 (p. 40)
  • He regarded himself as inhabiting a jungle in which behind masks of civilised behavior and conventional politeness everybody, doctor or not, was out for what he could get. No means of enhancing his reputation, status and income escaped him.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 53)
  • —Among the other things lunatics make: their own version of truth.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 64)
  • —What was I thinking earlier about lunatics making their own version of truth? Why specify lunatics?
    • Chapter 14 (p. 68)
  • —If I ever get good at hospital politics, I think I shall start to hate myself.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 70)
  • —Blessed are they who expect the worst, for they shall get it!
    • Chapter 24 (p. 113)
  • Did you never hear it said that what sets the genius apart from the plodder is the ability to see what happens and not what he expects to happen?
    • Chapter 27 (p. 129)
  • I’m unattuned to happiness.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 170)

Stand on Zanzibar (1968) edit

I know people who can't even learn from what happened this morning. Hegel must have been taking the long view.
Faust felt like this. The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike, the devil will come and Faustus must be damned ...
We're aware of the scale of the planet, so we don't accept that our own circumscribed horizons constitute reality. Much more real is what's relayed to us by the TV.
You have many years to live — do things you will be proud to remember when you're old.
Christ, what an imagination I've got.
Now we're going to have the brain race. And, if we're lucky, the final stage will be the human race.
Winner of the Hugo Award for best novel of the year. Quotations from the "SF Masterworks" edition: Orion Publishing, London (1999) ISBN 1-85798-836-1
  • SCANALYZER is the one single, the ONLY study of the news in depth that’s processed by General Technics’ famed computer Shalmaneser, who sees all, hears all, knows all save only that which YOU, Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere, wish to keep to yourselves.
    • context (1) “Scanalyze My Name“
  • HIPCRIME   You committed one when you opened this book. Keep it up. It's our only hope.
The Hipcrime Vocab by Chad C. Mulligan
  • the happening world (1) “Read the Directions“
  • Like living creatures, automobiles expired when their environment became saturated with their own excreta. We ourselves are living creatures. We don't want the same to happen to us.
    • context (2) "Editorial Slot"
  • Nothing short of religion could persuade a normal girl to make herself look so awful.
    • tracking with closeups (2) “Yonderboy”
  • COINCIDENCE   You weren’t paying attention to the other half of what was going on.
    • context (3) “You Have to Push Him Over”
  • “I haven’t changed my mind, if that’s what you’re getting at,” he said at length. The stench and crackle of burning boats was vivid to him.
    • continuity (3) “After One Decade”
  • “What are you going to do for a career?”
    Diverted from his orbit, Donald binked. “Well, something which uses up a minimum of my time, I imagine. So I can use the rest to mortar up the gaps in my education.”
    • continuity (3) “After One Decade”
  • You don’t have to know everything. You simply need to know where to find it when necessary.
    • continuity (3) “After One Decade”
  • “Ah, go to hell!”
    “That’s a remarkably Christian attitude, Donald. Both meaningless and barbaric.”
    • the happening world (3) “Domestica”
  • Who should know better than a cosmetician that human beings are less than rational creatures?
    • tracking with closeups (4) “Masker Aid”
  • Rather painfully, we managed to digest Darwinian evolution so far as physical attributes were concerned within half a century of the initial controversy. (I say “we,” but if you’re a Bible-thumping fundamentalist I expect you at this point to take the book by one corner at arm’s length and ceremonially consign it to the place where you put most sensible ideas, along with everything else you decline to acknowledge the existence of, such as mainly shit.)
    • context (5) “The Grand Manor”
  • NEGRO   Member of a subgroup of the human race who hails, or whose ancestors hailed, from a chunk of land nicknamed—not by its residents—Africa. Superior to the Caucasian in that negroes did not invent nuclear weapons, the automobile, Christianity, nerve gas, the concentration camp, military epidemics, or the megalopolis.
    • context (6) “One Comes Out Where...”
  • I love the place, and when they get love down to a bunch of factors you can analyse with a computer there’ll be nothing left of whatever makes it worth being human!
    • tracking with closeups (6) “Which Side Am I On?”
  • We’ve always cared more about property rights than human rights in this country. You should know that.
    • continuity (6) “Auction Block for Me”
  • In short order they fell into the same pit as their rivals, who had for decades ignored the plain and simple fact that to a starving man “freedom” implies a full rice-bowl—or, if he has an exceptional imagination, a healthy ox to pull his plough. It has nothing to do with voting for a political delegate.
    • context (8) “Isolation”
  • How do you whip up resentment against absentee landlords and pocketers of bribes when the highest ambition of the people is either to become the former or be in a position to receive the latter?
    • context (8) “Isolation”
  • There’s one bright spot in the generally gloomy picture know as the Pacific Conflict Zone. According to my calculations, by the year 2500 or so we should have killed off every last member of our species who is stupid enough to take part in so futile a pastime as this war between “ideals,” and with luck they won’t have left their genes behind because they’ll typically have been killed at an age when society thinks they’re too young to assume the responsibility of childbearing. After that we may get some peace and quiet for a change.
    • context (8) “Isolation”
  • I can't see heaven but I credit hell —
    I live in New York so I know it well.
    When they shut out heaven with the Fuller Dome
    God gave it up and He went home.
    • the happening world (6) "Street Seen"
  • They’d have me out and shoot me the first day they took charge. Anyone like me is intolerably subversive to an authoritarian régime, because I’m not interested in imposing my ideas by force on other people.
    • tracking with closeups (8) “Ill Wind”
  • Papa Hegel he say that all we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. I know people who can't even learn from what happened this morning. Hegel must have been taking the long view.
    • context (9) "Guncrit"
  • “I don’t believe in God,” said the captain. “I wouldn’t care to believe in anyone who could make such a stinking lousy species as the one you belong to.”
    • continuity (10) “Due Process”
  • In an individual one would regard it as evidence of insanity to see someone repeatedly undertaking enterprises that resulted in his losing precisely what he claimed he was trying to achieve; it is not less lunatic to do it on the international scale, but if you’ve been catching the news lately you’ll have noticed it’s being done more than ever.
    • context (11) “Come Outside and Say That”
  • “How does it feel to have just changed the course of history?”
    “I don’t know what you mean,” said the navigator. “To my way of thinking, by the time history happens I’m going to be dead.”
    • tracking with closeups (11) “The Sealed Train”
  • If you want to know what's shortly due for the guillotine look for the most obvious of all symptoms: extremism. It is an almost infallible sign — a kind of death-rattle — when a human institution is forced by its members into stressing those and only those factors which are identificatory, at the expense of others which it necessarily shares with competing institutions because human beings belong to all of them.
    • context (12) "The Sociological Counterpart of Cheyne-Stokes Respiration"
  • Faust felt like this. The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike, the devil will come and Faustus must be damned … How long did he buy with the currency of his soul — ten years?
    • continuity (12) "It's Supposed To Be Automatic But Actually You Have To Press This Button"
  • I don’t hate her personally, though if she were enough of a person to be worth such a strong emotion I think I easily could. What I hate is what she represents: the willingness of human beings to be reduced to a slick visual package, like a new television set—up-to-the-minute casing, same old works.
    • the happening world (8) “Be Kind To Your Forfeited Friends”
  • So not only the world, but he himself, was different from what he had imagined.
    • continuity (13) “Multiply by a Million”
  • “I think,” Chad grunted, “that if he [Shalmaneser, the computer] really is intelligent nobody will recognise the fact. Because we aren’t.”
    • continuity (13) “Multiply by a Million”
  • “The whole of modern so-called civilised existence is an attempt to deny reality insofar as it exists. When did Don last look at the stars, when did Norman last get soaked in a rainstorm? The stars as far as these people are concerned are the Manhattan-pattern!” He jerked his thumb at a window beyond which the city’s treasure-house of coloured light glimmered gaudily.
    • continuity (13) “Multiply by a Million”
  • Any society which gives lip-service to the idea of equal opportunity is going to generate jealousy of others who are better off than you are, even if the thing that’s in short supply can’t be carved up and shared without destroying it.
    • continuity (13) “Multiply by a Million”
  • I can make a guess. There’s going to be trouble. Come to think of it, that’s a safe catch-all prophecy. Whatever happens in present circumstances there’s going to be trouble.
    • continuity (13) “Multiply by a Million”
  • First you use machines, then you wear machines, and then ...? Then you serve machines.
    • continuity (14) "The Right Man For The Job"
  • LEADERSHIP   A form of self-preservation exhibited by people with autodestructive imaginations in order to ensure that when it comes to the crunch it’ll be someone else’s bones which go crack and not their own.
    • context (14) “Storm Centre”
  • Watching their sets in a kind of trance
    were people in Mexico, people in France.
    They don't chase Jones but the dreams are the same —
    Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere, that's the right name!
    Herr und Frau Uberall or les Partout,
    A gadget on the set makes them look like you.

    When the Everywhere couple crack a joke
    It's laughed at by all right-thinking folk.
    When the Everywhere couple adopt a pose
    It's the with-it view as everyone knows.

    It may be a rumor or it may be true
    But a gadget on the set has it said by you!

    "What do you think about Yatakang?"
    "I think the same as the Everywhere gang."
    "What do you think of Beninia then?"
    "The Everywheres will tell me but I don't know when."
    Whatever my country and whatever my name
    A gadget on the set makes me think the same.

    • context (16) "Mr. & Mrs. Everywhere: Calypso (stanzas 2, 5, and 7)
  • We’re aware of the scale of the planet, so we don’t accept that our own circumscribed horizons constitute reality. Much more real is what’s relayed to us by the TV.
    • continuity (17) "Timescales"
  • "They surely are condemned to Hell
    Who rule their lives by greed and lust
    And Satan waits for those as well
    Who in machines repose their trust."
    • tracking with closeups (17) "Brighter Than A Thousand Men"
  • SHALMANESER   That real cool piece of hardware up at the GT tower. They say he's apt to evolve to true consciousness one day. Also they say he's as intelligent as a thousand of us put together, which isn't really saying much, because when you put a thousand of us together look how stupidly we behave.
    • tracking with closeups (17) "Brighter Than A Thousand Men"
  • “Governments don’t change things,” she said. “Only time does that.”
    • continuity (24) “This Scene Not Shifted”
  • But there isn’t an outside. Talking about “society’s outcasts” or “opting out” is so much whaledreck. The fact that we generate huge quantities of waste is all that allows people to go outside; they’re benefiting from the superficial affluence which conformists use to alleviate boredom. In essence, using the term “out” is as meaningless as trying to define a location outside the universe. There’s no place for “outside” to be.
    • context (21) “Letter”
  • UNFAIR   Term applied to advantages enjoyed by other people which we tried to cheat them out of and didn’t manage.
    • the happening world (12) “The General Feeling”
  • You have many years to live—do things you will be proud to remember when you're old.
    • continuity (27) "Manscape"
  • “It would have been a longer and slower job, I’m sure, and probably there would have been a high price to pay. But what is the price of freedom?”
    “What’s the price of life?” Donald countered bitterly.
    • continuity (37) “Storage”
  • Your country, mine, every other country in the world, has the same cause and what it does is, it takes people who don’t give a pint of whaledreck for it and sends them off to kill women and children. Yes, it’s the cause of every country on earth! And you know what I call that cause? I call it naked stinking greed.
    • continuity (37) “Storage”
  • “I can at least comfort myself with the idea that whatever I’ve done I’ve helped to nail a lie, and I’m coming to think that lying is among the worst of all human failings. Next to actual killing. And experience has made us almost equally good at both of them.”
    “I have killed many people and seen many more killed on my orders,” Jogajong said. “It is what must be paid to buy what we want.”
    “What we’ve been told we want, by liars more skilled than ourselves.”
    • continuity (37) “Storage”
  • I just haven’t been conditioned into thinking that the right answer can’t be a simple one. When I told you you’d been contaminated I meant by that attitude, which is wider-spread than the common cold and just as undermining. Did nobody ever point out to you that the only liberty implied by free will is the opportunity to be wrong?
    • continuity (38) “Not For Sale But Can Be Had On Application”
  • If the evidence says you’re wrong, you don’t have the right theory. You change the theory, not the evidence.
    • continuity (38) “Not For Sale But Can Be Had On Application”
  • LOGIC   The principle governing human intellection. Its nature may be deduced from examining the following propositions, both of which are held by human beings to be true and often by the same people: “I can’t so you musn’t,” and “I can but you musn’t.”
    • the happening world (15) “Equal and Opposite”
  • He had decided it was better to be a volcano than a man; at least one set no store by what one’s acts destroyed.
    • continuity (39) “Better To Be a Volcano”
  • I never thought of asking anyone to do it for me. Something’s wrong with me. In a time of trouble should people not be able to ask help without feeling demeaned?
    • tracking with closeups (31) “Unto Us a Child”
  • Isn’t it typical? We train one man—one ordinary, inoffensive, retiring little man—to be an efficient killing machine and he kills the one person who stood a chance of saving us from ourselves!
    • continuity (42) “And Say Which Seed Will Grow“
  • What in God’s name is it worth to be human, if we have to be saved from ourselves by a machine?
    • continuity (42) “And Say Which Seed Will Grow“
  • Bathed in his currents of liquid helium, self-contained, immobile, vastly well informed by every mechanical sense: Shalmaneser.
    Every now and again there passes through his circuits a pulse which carries the cybernetic equivalent of the phrase, “Christ, what an imagination I’ve got.“
    • tracking with closeups (32) “The Cool and Detached View“

The Jagged Orbit (1969) edit

Page numbers from the Ace paperback edition (catalog number 381210); 2nd printing (November 1972)
Nominated for the 1970 Nebula Award, and won the 1970 BSFA Award
  • So what shape was the world in this morning? Even flatter than yesterday.
    • Chapter 3, “Spoolpigeon” (p. 9)
  • Western culture is undergoing a process of transition from guilt-oriented, with a conscience, to shame-oriented, with a morbid fear of being found out.
    • Chapter 3, “Spoolpigeon” (p. 10)
  • What people want, mainly, is to be told by some plausible authority that what they are already doing is right. I don’t know know of a quicker way to become unpopular than to disagree.
    • Chapter 6, “The Where It’s At and the Whyfore It Should Be There” (p. 26)
  • It’s common platitude that knowledge is neutral but every now and then it would be useful if it were on your side rather than theirs.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 49; chapter title)
  • It was a great image, especially for areas where there was strong Muslim influence and the concomitant view prevailed that women had no souls.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 49)
  • That, chiefly, was why Flamen put up with him. He had never dared tarnish his own image of himself by learning the whore’s-trading skills required to keep afloat in the cut-throat ocean of modern business, yet he correspondingly did not dare to forgo them altogether. Prior was a perfect compromise: the epitome of self-deluded honor, who could dismiss the most flagrant kind of cheating from his conscience on the grounds that he had thought of it and he could not possibly be a dishonest man.
    • Chapter 16, “The Point at Which the Outlay on Maintenance Begins to Exceed the Cost of Changing to a Replacement” (p. 53)
  • If “media” is the plural of “medium” the question is: how many of them are fraudulent?
    • Chapter 17 (p. 57; chapter title)
  • She was on a pediflow, and—like so many of the devices which twenty-first century ingenuity had made available to mankind—that was something which seemed to have been destined for an altogether more rational species than the one she belonged to.
    • Chapter 18, “The Drawbacks of an Invention Intended for a Rational Species” (p. 59)
  • His brief and frustrating dialogue with them had convinced him that they must divide the human race into three categories: staff, patients and potential patients.
    • Chapter 23, “Three Kinds of People in the World” (p. 73)
  • “Mother Superior couldn’t be drearier! Life is oppressive and lonely and dun! Little Miss Celia envied Ophelia—Hamlet ignored her and then there was none! Rat-ta-ta-ta, rat-ta-ta-ta, rat-ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta. Penny a look, goobledegook, you can’t live the life that you read in a book. Pouncing and bouncing hear what I’m announcing—it’s true and you’ll never hide from it. You may think you’re knowing in coming and going but you can’t take the ‘come’ out of ‘comet.’ As I was going down the drains I met a man with seven brains. Every brain had seven lives, every life had seven wives, every wife told seven lies, who will win the liars’ prize?”
    • Chapter 32, “Hiss, Hers and Whose?” (p. 97)
  • It’s okay to be a responsible member of society if only you know what you’re going to be held responsible for.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 100; chapter title)
  • Like all neo-puritans you have a mind like an open drain.
    • Chapter 44, “A Firm Decision to Go Into the Wagon-Fixing Business in a Big Way” (p. 132)
  • The sound of a code being broken is usually the same as that of somebody snapping his fingers.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 135; chapter title)
  • Well-intentioned men don’t run for office any more! They have too much sense to expose themselves to assassination, and only delusible idiots like our current chief executive can be persuaded to don the robes of high office. Nice guys don’t crave power.
    • Chapter 46, “Why’s, After the Event” (p. 143)
  • The sound of shutters going up around her mind, armored against anything short of a nuke, was very nearly audible in the room.
    • Chapter 47, “Plea of Insanity” (p. 146)
  • Another of their damnable promotions, presumably! It was the regular Gottschalk technique: select an area where sales were below average, saturate it with rumors until someone’s temper reached the breaking point and the inevitable division occurred into blank and kneeblank, and then the following day take advantage of people’s frayed nerves to sell guns, grenades and mines.
    • Chapter 49, “If You’re Afraid of the Dark You Can Always Carry a Flashlight But There’s No Cheap Portable Protection Against Loneliness” (p. 152; in the book, "knee" is slang for white people; "knee" or "kneeblank" for black people; the Gottschalks are the main gun salesmen)
  • It was his hope and ambition to cause many deaths. He was an arms salesman by choice, calm and even a little happy to see his products in such demand, capable of trying to clinch a sale at the bedside of a fresh corpse.
    • Chapter 51, “If Your Number Comes Up Then Your Number Comes Up and That’s All There Is to It So What’s the Use of Worrying That’s What I Always Say” (p. 163)
  • What’s happened to us that we take killings for granted among our children? Don’t give me that hogwash about students at college having to be treated as adults—there’s nothing adult about playing with guns and grenades!
    • Chapter 78, “No, Of Course Logorrhea Isn’t What Happens When You Break a Log-Jam But the Result Is Pretty Much the Same for Anyone Who’s in the Way ” (p. 282)
  • Damn it, man: anyone who can treat another human being as an object for target practice is stuck even further back in the infantile stage than somebody who’s frightened to move on from the masturbation phase and go to bed with a girl!
    • Chapter 78 (p. 284)
  • The Gottschalks aren’t government contractors, they’re catering for the domestic market. So what? Right this minute, if your credit rating is good, you can walk down the street to an arms store and buy a bandolier of micronukes, and those would be enough to clear the average city block. We’ve just been lucky so far that not many people can afford to lay out sixty thousand tealeaves for the privilege of killing their neighbors. Improve your production methods, cut your costs, and you can make this available to anyone in the middle income grades. Lovely! Especially if your customers have had it dinned into them that the local knee enclave already has this particular goody in its armory. Don’t bother to argue—you know that’s how it’s worked.”
    • Chapter 94, “We’ve Been Around for About Two Million Years and the Dinosaurs Flourished for About Ninety Million So We May With Luck Have Quite a Long Way to Go” (p. 354)
  • “But what brought about this ‘decline of civilization’?” Conroy demanded. “It can’t just have been the introduction of these weapons you’ve been talking about, this System C equipment.”
    “The maximization of arms sales implied the maximization of inter-human hostility,” Madison/Gottschalk said. “All the existing sources of this phenomenon were tapped, and those proving particularly fruitful were patriotism, parochialism, xenophobia, ochlophobia, racial, religious and linguistic differences, and the so-called ‘gulf between the generations.’ It was found readily feasible to emphasize these pre-existent attitudes to the point where a System C integrated weaponry unit was so desirable among the informed populace that the possibility of another individual acquiring this virtually indestructible equipment sufficed to provoke an attack on him before he purchased one.”
    • Chapter 94 (p. 357)
  • Even though he wasn’t entirely convinced of the truth of what he was saying, the fact of saying it was curiously reassuring to his mind.
    • Chapter 96, “A Sprained Knee Requires Only Bandages But a Broken Leg Needs Splints” (p. 372)

Timescoop (1969) edit

Page numbers from the Dell paperback first edition (catalog number 8916), first printing (July 1969)
  • I don’t usually talk much about this, Chester, because my grandfather dinned it into me as a child that it doesn’t make any difference who you’re descended from unless you can do something yourself to match what your ancestors did to gain their own notoriety.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 18)
  • The screen was a polychrome swirl, like a rainbow that had been through an electric blender.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 64)
  • You’ve been competing against the past, and that’s a contest no one can win because the past has all the advantages. We’ve forgotten all its fiddling little drawbacks: the lice, the skin infections, the disgusting personal habits and the rest of it.
    • Chapter 18 (p. 116)
  • Well, like they say, nothing can set a precedent until it happens for the first time.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 122)
  • We cannot allow quibbles to stand in the way of the truth.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 146)

The Sheep Look Up (1972) edit

Nominated for the Nebula Award for best novel of the year. Said by William Gibson to be the only novel that “has ever described anything in science fiction that is remotely like the reality of 2007 as we know it.” Said to have inspired Earth Liberation Front. Quotations from the first paperback edition: Ballantine Books, New York (1973) ISBN 0345347862

    NOT Drinking Water


          Now Wash Your Hands
    (Penalty for noncompliance $50)

    Use product once only—maximum 1 hour

    • December “SIGNS OF THE TIMES“
  • “Rumors that the sun is out at Santa Ynez are without foundation,” the radio said.
    • December “NOT IN OUR STARS“
  • Next, the stalled cars had their windows opaqued with a cheap commercial compound used for etching glass, and slogans were painted on their doors. Some were long: THIS VEHICLE IS A DANGER TO LIFE AND LIMB. Many were short: IT STINKS! But the commonest of all was the universally known catchphrase: STOP, YOU’RE KILLING ME!
    • December “A ROOST FOR CHICKENS”
  • Most of the drivers, however, had the sense to stay put, fuming behind their blank windshields as they calculated the cost of repairs and repainting. Practically all of them were armed, but not one was stupid enough to pull a gun. It had been tried during a Trainite demonstration in San Francisco last month. A girl had been shot dead. Others, anonymous in whole-head masks and drab mock-homespun clothing, had dragged the killer from his car and used the same violent acid they applied to glass to write MURDERER on his flesh.
    In any case, there was little future in rolling down a window to curse the demonstrators. Throats didn’t last long in the raw air.
    • December “A ROOST FOR CHICKENS”
  • By the door, a large red object with a mirror on the upper part of its front. Installed last fall. Japanese. On a plate at the side: Mitzuyama Corp., Osaka. Shaped like a weighing machine. Stand here and insert 25c. Do not smoke while using. Place mouth and nose to soft black flexible mask. Like an obscene animal’s kiss.
    Usually he laughed at it because up here in the mountains the air was never so bad you needed to tank up on oxygen to make the next block. On the other hand some people did say it was a hell of a good cure for a hangover . . .
    • December “IT’S A GAS”
  • Gilt-tooled on yard-square panels of green leather—imitation, of course—the zodiacal signs looked down from the walls of the executive lunch-room. The air was full of the chatter of voices and the clink of ice-cubes. Waiting to be attacked when the president of the company joined them (he had promised to show at one sharp) was a table laden with expensive food: hard-boiled eggs, shells intact so that it could be seen they were brown, free-range, rich in carotene; lettuces whose outer leaves had been rasped by slugs; apples and pears wearing their maggot-marks like dueling scars, in this case presumably genuine ones though it had been known for fruit growers to fake them with red-hot wires in areas where insects were no longer found; whole hams, very lean, proud of their immunity from antibiotics and copper sulphate; scrawny chickens; bread as coarse as sandstone, dark as mud and nubbled with wheat grains . . .
    • December “HOUSE TO HOUSE”
  • Until last year, although this town was barely fifty miles from Denver, the road had been bad and only a handful of visitors had chanced on it. The increasing tendency for people to take mountain vacations, however, since the sea had become too filthy to be tolerable, could not be ignored. The road now was excellent and the area had exploded.
    • January “SNOW JOB”
  • “A crank, like I say. Won’t let him fly. Says she wants her grandchildren to see the sun. What difference it makes if a plane flies with one seat empty, I don’t know!
    • January “SNOW JOB”
  • General Kaika: Was it black men who filled the Mediterranean with poison? No, it was destroyed by the filthy wastes from European factories!
    Reporter: Well, the Aswan dam--
    General Kaika: Yes, yes, the Aswan dam may have tipped the balance finally, but before that the sea was dying. Because so many had to starve on the African coast there began this war. That is why I say the white countries are responsible. It is the typical white habit to ruin what you have and then go to steal from other people.
    Reporter: Oh, General, you’re stretching the facts a bit!
    General Kaika: Is the fact that it is dangerous to swim in the Mediterranean? Is the fact that the fish have died?
    Reporter: Well, yes, but--
    General Kaika: I have no more to say.
    • January “CHARGE ACCOUNT”
  • . . . published today as a United Nations Special Report. The alleged rise of intelligence in so-called backward countries is ascribed by the scientists who conducted the three-year investigation to improved diet and sanitation, while the as-yet unconfirmed decline in advanced nations is attributed to intensified pollution. Asked to comment on the report just prior to leaving for Hollywood, where he is tonight slated to open his annual retrospective, Prexy said, quote, Well, if they’re so smart why aren’t they clever? End quote. At a press conference in Tegucigalpa the disappearance of Leonard Ross, field agent for Globe Relief, and Dr. Isaiah Williams, the British medico who’s also unaccounted for, was officially ascribed today to terrorism. Troops are searching the area intensively, but so far have reported no success. Following the shock resignation of the former president of the “Save the Med” fund, Dottore Giovanni Crespinolo, the Italian government has flatly denied his charge that the vast sums donated by corporations and individuals in forty-eight countries in the hope of saving the doomed landlocked sea have been embezzled. Reports from Rome, however . . .
  • . . . and Dr. Isaiah Williams, whose body was recovered from a ravine near San Pablo. Inquiries are being hampered by what an Army spokesman termed the obstinate attitude of the local people. “They won’t admit they know their left hands from their right,” he asserted. Here at home Senator Richard Howell (Rep., Col.) today launched a fierce attack on the quote chlorophyll addicts unquote who, he claims, are hamstringing American business, already staggering under the load of high unemployment and recession, by insisting that our manufacturers comply with regulations ignored by foreign competition. In Southern Italy rioting continues in many small towns formerly dependent on fishing. Meantime, dust storms in the Camargue . . .
    • January “AND IT GOES ON”
  • Unto the third and fourth generation, General Motors, you have visited your greed on the children. Unto the twentieth, AEC, you have twisted their limbs and closed their eyes. Unto the last dawn of man you have cursed us, O Father. Our Father. Our Father Which art in Washington, give us this day our daily calcium propionate, sodium diacetate monoglyceride, potassium bromate, calcium phosphate, monobasic chloramine T, aluminium potassium sulphate, sodium benzoate, butylated hydroxyanisole, mono-iso-propyl citrate, axerophthol and calciferol. Include with it a little flour and salt.
    • January “EARTHMOVER”
  • At night, when he lay down to sleep, he felt that his brain was resonating with the heartbeat of the planet.
    • January “EARTHMOVER”
  • Grade-A MEXICAN HONEYBEES $165.95/gallon!
    Grade-A EUROPEAN BEES only $220/gallon!
    Best quality IRISH EARTHWORMS $67.50/quart!
    GUARANTEED live on delivery! Plant Fertility Corp., San Clemente, Calif. (Licensed by California State Board of Agriculture.)
  • Special this week at your Puritan Health Supermarket!
    Okinawa squash, reg. $0.89                                         $0.75!
    Penguin eggs (low on DDT, PCB), reg. $6.35 doz.      $6.05!
    Pacific potatoes (unwashed), reg. $0.89 lb.                 $0.69!
    Butter from sunny New Zealand, reg. $1.35 qrt.          $1.15!
    • February “EAT IT IN GOOD HEALTH”
  • Behind her chair, from a wall covered in a very expensive velvet-flock paper, a portrait of her grandfather looked down. He had been an Episcopalian bishop, but the picture showed him in the costume of a New England gentleman keeping up the Old English custom of riding to hounds: red coat, brown boots, distinguished with a white dog-collar and black silk front.
    Hugh referred to him as being dressed to kill.
    The salad was replaced—though Hugh had sampled only a mouthful of his—by a dish of cold fish with mayonnaise. He didn’t even touch this course. He was suddenly afraid of it because it had come from the sea.
    • February “DISGRACE”
  • “You and your ancestors treated the world like a fucking great toilet bowl. You shat in it and boasted about the mess you’d made. And now it’s full and overflowing, and you’re fat and happy and black kids are going crazy to keep you rich. Goodbye!
    • February “DISGRACE”
  • Even this far from shore, the night stank. The sea moved lazily, its embryo waves aborted before cresting by the layer of oily residues surrounding the hull, impermeable as sheet plastic: a mixture of detergents, sewage, industrial chemicals and the microscopic cellulose fibers due to toilet paper and newsprint. There was no sound of fish breaking surface. There were no fish.
    • March “RIPOSTE”
  • It was cool and quiet in here because instead of windows there were cosmoramic projections, latest of late devices to prevent the intrusion of untasteful exterior reality. Nearby the chimneys reeked a twenty-four-hour day yet the view was of clean white clouds, blue sky, yellow sun not so bright that it dazzled. Superior to the natural article, yes. Also birds flew or perched between two layers of glass on real branches in air-conditioned environment. It was not ordinary to see birds. Very yes.
  • People didn’t fly the Atlantic any more if they could help it, except from bravado. Even if your plane wasn’t sabotaged or hijacked, it was certain to be behind schedule.
    Not that there was much to be said for ocean travel either, since the sinking of the Paolo Rizzi last summer and the drowning of thirteen hundred passengers in a sea made foul by a hundred and eighty thousand tons of oil from the tanker she’d collided with.
    Moral, definitely: stay home.
    • March “RAVELED SLEEVE”
  • The plane droned on through the black sky, above the clouds masking the Atlantic. It suddenly occurred to Michael that he ought to look at the moon. He hadn’t seen it all the time he was in Paris, nor the stars.
    He slid up the blind of his window and peered out. There was no moon visible. When he consulted his diary he discovered that it had set, a tiny sliver, at exactly the time the plane had taken off from London.
    • March “RAVELED SLEEVE”
  • All this time, though, this feeling that the world was ‘’bound’’ to go to hell! Okay, so it’s true these mothers have turned prairies into dustbowls and used the sea for a giant sewer and laid concrete where there used to be forests. So stop them! Don’t just let them walk over you, crush you face-down into the dirt!
    Crush them first!
    • April “REHEARSAL”
  • Latro, California: “Terrible diarrhea, Doctor, and I feel so weak!”/”Take these pills and come back in three days if you’re not better.”
    Parkington, Texas: “Terrible diarrhea. . . .”/”Take these pills . . .”
    Hainesport, Louisiana: “Terrible . . .” “Take . . .”
    Baker Bay, Florida . . .
    Washington, DC. . . .
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania . . .
    New York, New York . . .
    Boston, Massachusetts . . .
    Chicago, Illinois:
    “Doctor, I know it’s Sunday, but the kid’s in such a terrible state—you’ve got to help me!”/”Give him some junior aspirin and bring him to my office tomorrow. Goodbye.”

    EVERYWHERE, USA: a sudden upswing in orders for very small coffins, the right size to take a baby dead from acute infantile enteritis.
    • April “THE TRIAL RUNS”
  • This year we take our vacation somewhere else. Where is there where Americans aren’t likely to be stoned by a howling mob? Spain, Greece? No, got to be out of range of the stench from the Med.
    Looks like we might as well stay home.
    • May “BLANKET”
  • The wind was bad today. Hugh’s filtermask was used up, all clogged, and he didn’t have the seventy-five cents for another from a roadside dispenser, and anyway the quality of those things was lousy, didn’t even last the hour claimed for them.
    Lousy . . .
    Absently he scratched his crotch. He’d more or less got used to lice by now, of course; there just didn’t seem to be any way of avoiding them. For every evil under the sun there is a remedy or there’s none. If there is one try and find it, if there isn’t never mind it.
    There must be a hell of a lot of evils in the world nowadays that there aren’t any remedies for. Anyway: what sun? He hadn’t seen the sun in fucking weeks.
    • May “BY THE DEAD SEA”
  • . . . that the Army is using defoliants in Honduras to create fire-free zones. This charge has been strongly denied by the Pentagon. Asked to comment just prior to leaving for Hawaii, where he will convalesce for the next two or three weeks, Prexy said, quote, Well, if you can’t see them you can’t shoot them. End quote. Support has been growing for a bill which Senator Richard Howell will introduce at the earliest opportunity, forbidding the issue of a passport to any male between sixteen and sixty not in possession of a valid discharge certificate or medical exemption. Welcoming the proposal, a Pentagon spokesman today admitted that of the last class called for the draft more than one in three failed to report. Your steaks are going to cost you more. This warning was today issued by the Department of Agriculture. The price of animal fodder has quote taken off like a rocket unquote, following the mysterious . . .
    • June “IF IT MOVES, SHOOT IT”
  • Very well, the starting point would be that claim of Professor Quarrey’s, which had been in the news at the beginning of the year, that the country’s greatest export was noxious gas. And who would like to stir up the fuss again? Obviously, the Canadians, cramped into a narrow band to the north of their more powerful neighbors, growing daily angrier about the dirt that drifted to them on the wind, spoiling crops, causing chest diseases and soiling laundry hung out to dry. So she’d called the magazine Hemisphere in Toronto, and the editor had immediately offered ten thousand dollars for three articles.
    Very conscious that all calls out of the country were apt to be monitored, she’d put the proposition to him in highly general terms: the risk of the Baltic going the same way as the Mediterranean, the danger of further dust-bowl like the Mekong Desert, the effects of bringing about climactic change. That was back in the news—the Russians had revised their plan to reverse the Yenisei and Ob. Moreover, there was the Danube problem, worse than the Rhine had ever been, and Welsh nationalists were sabotaging pipelines meant to carry “their” water into England, and the border war in West Pakistan had been dragging on so long most people seemed to have forgotten that it concerned a river.
    And so on.
    Almost as soon as she started digging, though, she thought she might never be able to stop. It was out of the question to cover the entire planet. Her pledged total of twelve thousand words would be exhausted by North American material alone.
    • June “A PLACE TO STAND”
  • What hurt him most of all, made him feel like a sick child aware of terrible wrongness and yet incapable of explaining it to anyone who might help, was that in spite of the evidence around them, in spite of what their eyes and ears reported—and sometimes their flesh, from bruises, stab wounds, racking coughs, weeping sores—these people believed their way of life was the best in the world, and were prepared to export it at the point of a gun.
    • June “CRITICAL”
  • Fifteen minutes out of Mexico City for Tokyo a passenger aboard a 747 screamed that he was being eaten by red-hot ants, and managed to open the emergency door at 23,000 feet. He had been to the washroom and drunk from the faucet there before takeoff.
    It was, after all, labeled DRINKING WATER.
    • July “BLOWBACK”
  • At the big Georgia paper mill the saboteur was obviously a chemist. Some kind of catalyst was substituted for a drum of regular sizing solution and vast billowing waves of corrosive fumes ruined the plant. Anonymous calls to a local TV station claimed it had been done to preserve trees.
    The same day, in northern California, signs were posted on a stand of redwoods that the governor had authorized for lumbering: about two hundred of the last six hundred in the state. The signs said: FOR EVERY TREE YOU KILL ONE OF YOU WILL DIE TOO.
    The promise was carried out with Schmiesser machine-pistols. The actual score was eighteen people for seventeen trees.
    Close enough.
    • July “BLOWBACK”
  • “Yes? . . . Oh, I’m very sorry to hear that. Please convey him our best wishes for a speedy recovery. But the president did ask me to pass this message informally as soon as possible; I may say he feels very strongly about the matter. Of course, not knowing if the rumor is well founded, we didn’t want to handle it on an official level . . . Yes, I would be obliged if you could make sure the ambassador is told at the earliest opportunity. Tell him, please, that any attempt to nominate Austin Train for the Nobel Peace Prize would be regarded as a grave and—I quote the president’s actual word—calculated affront to the United States.”
    • July “SCRATCHED”
  • When the politicians claim that the public isn’t interested any longer in environmental conservation, they’re half right. People are actually afraid to be interested, because they suspect—I think rightly—that we’ll find if we dig deep enough that we’ve gone so far beyond the limits of what the planet will tolerate that only a major catastrophe which cuts back both our population and our ability to interfere with the natural biocycle would offer a chance of survival.
    • August “CHECK AND BALANCE”
  • Not that a car would have been much faster anyway, what with the police posts at state lines, the searches, the restricted zones not merely in cities—one expected that during August—but right out in the country, in agricultural areas. Because of hijackers after food trucks, of course.
  • I marvel’d how Man, by his GOD-sent wit,
    Thus tam’d the salamander Element
    And loos’d the Metal in the mountain pent
    To make us Saws, and Shears, and useful Plows,
    Swords for our hands, and Helmets for our brows,
    The surgeon’s Scalpel, vehicle of Health,
    And all our humble Tools for gaining wealth . . .
                       ”De Arte Munificente,” Seventeenth century
    • September “MOTHER-RAPERS”
  • “Yes, for most people nowadays television is their only contact with the world beyond their work.”
  • “It's natural for a man to defend what’s dear to him: his own life, his home, his family. But in order to make him fight on behalf of his rulers, the rich and powerful who are too cunning to fight their own battles—in short to defend not himself but people whom he’s never met and moreover would not care to be in the same room with him—you have to condition him into loving violence not for the benefits it bestows on him but for its own sake. Result: the society has to defend itself from its defenders, because what’s admirable in wartime is termed psychopathic in peace. It’s easier to wreck a man than to repair him. Ask any psychotherapist. And take a look at the crime figures among veterans.”
  • He had once, for example, put down a spokesman for the pesticide industry with a remark that people still quoted at parties: “And I presume on the eighth day God called you and said, ‘I changed my mind about insects!’ “
  • And then, all of a sudden, it was as though through those dark eyes an electrical circuit had been struck. She sat fascinated. Snake-and-bird fascinated. Afterwards she could not recall the details of what he had said. She remembered only that she had been absorbed, rapt, lost, for over ten minutes by the clock. She had perceived images conjured up from the dead past: a hand trailed in clear river water, deliciously cool, while the sun smiled and a shoal of tiny fishes darted between her fingers; the crisp flesh of a ripe apple straight from the tree, so juicy it ran down her chin; grass between her bare toes, the turf like springs so that she seemed not to bear the whole of her weight on her soles but to be floating, dreamlike, in slow motion, instantly transported to the moon; the western sky painted with vast heart-tearing slapdash streaks of red below the bright steel-blue of clouds, and stars coming snap-snap into view against the eastern dark; wind gentle in her hair and on her cheeks, bearing flower perfumes, dusting her with petals; snow cold to the palm as it was shaped into a ball; laughter echoing from a dark lane where only lovers walked, not thieves and muggers; butter like an ingot of soft gold; ocean spray sharp and clean as the edge of an axe; with the same sense of safe, provided rightly used; round pebbles polychrome beside a pool; rain to which a thirsty mouth could open, distilling the taste of a continent of air . . . And under, and through, and in, and around all this, a conviction: “Something can be done to get that back!”
    She was crying. Small tears like ants had itched their paths down her cheeks. She said, when she realized he had fallen silent, “But I never knew that! None of it! I was born and raised right here in New York!”
    ”But don’t you think you should have known it?” Austin Train inquired gently.
  • . . . include prima facie but not ipso facto the following: (a) Homosexuality or gross indecency with another male person; (b) Possession of or trading in an illegal narcotic or other drug; (c) Living upon the earnings of prostitution; (d) Membership in the Communist Party or one of its front organizations (see schedule attached); (e) “Trainism”; (f) Advocating the violent overthrow of the government; (g) Slandering the President of the United States; (h) . . .
    • October “THE ROUGH DRAFT”
  • “When did you last bask in the sun, friends? When did you last dare drink from a creek? When did you last risk picking fruit and eating it straight from the tree? What were your doctor’s bills last year? Which of you live in cities where you don’t wear a filtermask? Which of you spent this year’s vacation in the mountains because the sea is fringed with garbage?”
    • November “THERE IS HOPE YET”
  • Opening the door to the visiting doctor, all set to apologize for the flour on her hands—she had been baking—Mrs. Byrne sniffed. Smoke! And if she could smell it with her heavy head cold, it must be a tremendous fire!
    ”We ought to call the brigade!” she exclaimed. “Is it a hayrick?”
    ”The brigade would have a long way to go,” the doctor told her curtly. “It’s from America. The wind’s blowing that way.”
  • The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
    But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
    Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread.
John Milton: "Lycidas"
  • Next year

The Stone That Never Came Down (1973) edit

Page numbers from the DAW paperback edition, first printing (January 1975)
  • He was wondering what society would have been like if we’d socialised cannabis instead of dangerous drugs like alcohol and religion.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 26)
  • Of course, lately he has been very upset about the state of the world. But isn’t everybody who bothers to pay attention?
    • Chapter 3 (p. 27)
  • The man had declared, with some justification, that the world was going to hell in a handbasket, and then gone on to claim that the only solution lay in returning to the Good Old Moral Values of the glorious past.
    Unable to stand any more, Malcolm had demanded why, if those values were so marvellous, the people who paid lip-service to them had involved mankind in two world wars with all their accoutrements from poison gas to atom-bombs.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 31)
  • Never marry a good church-going girl, Billy! They can always find moral justifications for anything they feel like doing, no matter how it hurts other people.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 44)
  • He said—let me get this right—he said that among the chief reasons we can’t cope with the consequence of our own ingenuity is that whenever a genuinely open-minded teacher tries to pass that attitude on to his pupils, the entrenched authorities grow frightened and shut his mouth.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 77)
  • That’s behind me. Same as with everything else in my life, though, I approached what I learned with eyes and ears half-closed. It’s only now I realise how dangerous and destructive Christian culture has become. If there was ever any love in it, it’s been bled out. Three major religions preach Holy War: Shintoism, Islam, and Christianity. Christianity is the only one hypocritical enough simultaneously to enjoin its followers to turn the other cheek and suffer fools gladly and the rest of it. Look at the record. Germany was a Christian country almost exactly one hundred times as long as it was Nazi. Did the Nazis undo in twelve years all the church had done in twelve centuries? No, they built on it. Hitler was a baptised Catholic and never excommunicated. When he was enlisting the support of the bishops in 1933 he promised to do nothing to the Jews that the church had not already, and kept his promise.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 124)
  • Are we not natural creatures? Are we not evolved, too? Surely all the lessons we’ve learned in the past century come to a single point: we have to stop thinking of ourselves as somehow apart from nature, and recognise that we’re inseparable from it.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 132)
  • How do you get away with it? Above all, how do you persuade people to risk their lives in order to kill total strangers whom they know almost literally nothing about? Why, the answer’s simple. You lie to them!
    • Chapter 17 (p. 135)
  • If you kill a dozen people by sniping at them from a roof-top, you’re a criminal. Unless you had a uniform on. Then you get a medal.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 135)
  • “So what do you think will happen?” Sawyer asked the barman who was drawing his mid-morning pint.
    “Dunno,” the man grunted. “Except one thing. I know we’ve been led by fools and rogues, but this is the first time we’ve ever been led by a criminal!”
    • Chapter 23 (p. 177)
  • We are agreed that before we kill each other we should better serve mankind by killing those who order us to kill each other.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 180)
  • “I was brought up as a Christian,” Cissy said. “Spelt K-I-L-L-J-O-Y. My mam still is one. When I said I was going to quit the church because of what I’d learned from Val about the history of slavery, I thought she was going to kill me!” She laughed nervously. But obviously that was not a joke.
    • Chapter 24 (p. 187)

Total Eclipse (1974) edit

Page numbers from the DAW paperback edition, ISBN 0-87997-911-9, fifth printing (February 1984)
  • How can a man be so brilliant and so obtuse?
    • Chapter 8 (p. 69)
  • There’s an old saying: The genius sees what happens, but the plodder sees what he expects to happen.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 88)
  • I simply can’t make myself believe that if they’d been handicapped by belief in capricious supernatural beings they’d have achieved what they did.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 116)
  • We’ve been amazingly lucky, which is another way of saying we’ve kept our eyes and minds open and responded when something turned up.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 125)

The Shockwave Rider (1975) edit

If there is such a phenomenon as absolute evil, it consists in treating another human being as a thing.
This novel anticipated and influenced the Cyberpunk genre, and coined the term computer worm. Quotations from the first paperback edition: Ballantine/Del Rey, New York, (1976) ISBN 0-345-27472-5
  • First we had the legs race. Then we had the arms race. Now we're going to have the brain race. And, if we're lucky, the final stage will be the human race.
    • Bk. 1, Ch. "The Number You Have Reached"
  • It's not because my mind is made up that I don't want you to confuse me with any more facts. It's because my mind isn't made up. I already have more facts than I can cope with.
    • Bk. 1, Ch. "Paradox, Next Stop After the Boondocks
  • "But I was never put on trial, never convicted!"
    "You are not entitled to a trial."
    "Anybody's entitled to a trial, damn you!"
    "That is absolutely true. But you see you are not anybody. You are nobody.
    • Bk. 1, Ch. "The Conviction of His Courage" (His record having been erased from government computers.)
  • The theory was and always had been: this is the thing the solid citizen has no need to worry about. Important, later all-important question: what about the hollow citizen?
    • Bk. 2, Ch. "In the Beginning Was the Herd"
  • One might as well claim that the tide which rubs pebbles smooth on a beach is doing the pebbles a service because being round is prettier than being jagged. It's of no concern to a pebble what shape it is. But it's very important to a person.
    • Bk. 2, Ch. "Let's All Be Different Same As Me"
  • If there is such a phenomenon as absolute evil, it consists in treating another human being as a thing.
    • Bk. 3, Ch. "Like They Say, It's Bounce Or Break"

The Tides of Time (1984) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback first edition published by Del Rey ISBN 0-345-31838-2
  • Get me a drink of water, please, and something to quiet my belly. It’s rumbling so much I can’t hear myself think.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 48)
  • Most rich people get rich by taking what they want without paying for it. It’s the way of the world.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 83)
  • If there is a hell, perhaps it consists in living up to all one’s promises.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 202)
  • No faith can possibly suffice. It’s always undermined by ignorance.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 218)
  • “I see what Gene is driving at. To dream of changing the whole universe in accordance with a set of local preconceptions!...Oh, it’s ridiculous!”
    “A missionary,” Gene repeated with a solemn nod. “By definition: a person who does without intending it more harm than good.”
    • Chapter 12 (p. 220)

Quotes about John Brunner edit

  • The writers who influenced me most tended to be those who were the most prolific. John Brunner was very prolific-my favorites are Polymath, The Whole Man, and The Long Result...
  • John Brunner, who writes one extraordinary book to ten into-one-end-of-the-typewriter-and-out-the-other, adventure by the yard commodities
    • Marge Piercy "An Appreciation of Joanna Russ" in Parti-Colored Blocks for a Quilt (1983) First published as "From Where I Work," in American Poetry Review 6, no. 3 (1977).

External links edit

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