Keith Laumer

American science fiction writer

John Keith Laumer (June 30, 1925 — January 23, 1993) was an American science fiction author.



Short fiction


The Star Treasure (1970)

Page numbers from the original publication in Venture Science Fiction magazine (February 1970).
  • I was still alive, but that was a mere detail, subject to change. (p. 13)
  • Adventure has been defined as somebody else having a difficult time, a long way away. (p. 17)
  • The last burst picked me up and threw me a thousand miles into an open grave and the mud showered down on me and a giant tombstone fell out of the sky to mark the place, but I didn’t care any more, because I was far away, in that place where the heroes and the cowards lie together with a fine impartiality, waiting for eternity to pass, slowly, like a procession of snails creeping across an endless desert toward a distant line of mountains. (p. 18)
  • “You’re talking to yourself.”
    “It’s all right. I’m not listening.” (p. 78)
All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Pocket Books ISBN 0-671-82975-0, first printing (December 1979)
Nominated for the 1966 Nebula Award
  • “All right. Let’s begin with the world situation.”
    “I’d prefer a more cheerful subject—like cancer.”
    • Chapter 1 (p. 10)
  • Yours is not to reason why, eh? I guess you’re lucky at that. It’s not dying that hurts—it’s living.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 134)
  • “Why do you fight this war?”
    The alien mind howled out its war slogan—as incomprehensible as an astrologer’s jargon.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 164)
  • Out of the synthesis of opposites, a cancerous growth called Beauty came into being; obscene antisurvival concepts named Loyalty, Courage, Justice were born into the universe.
    Wherever the elemental Purities encountered this monstrous hybrid, a battle of extermination was joined. Good could compromise with Evil, but neither could meet with the half-breed, Art.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 169)
All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Signet (catalogue number Q5255), first printing (November 1972)
  • Judge a chap on what he does, and not what he is, eh? None of us can help our natural tendencies—and perhaps overcoming one’s instincts is in the end a nobler achievement than not having the impulse in the first place.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 56)
  • I know it’s hard to grasp at first. I seem to recall I was a bit difficult to convince once. We are accustomed to thinking we know everything. There’s a powerful tendency to just disbelieve anything that doesn’t fit the preconception.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 81)
  • I took all these details in as the mighty carnivore looked me over, yawned, and paced majestically toward me, frowning across at the distant herds like a troubled politician wondering who to pay the bribe to.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 121)
  • It was easy to see the mechanics of schizophrenia at work here. From wishing, it was an easy jump to believe.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 123)
  • “I say, old man, you’re developing something of a persecution complex, I’m afraid—”
    “That’s easy, when you’re persecuted.”
    • Chapter 11 (p. 128)
All page numbers from the mass market paperback omnibus edition, The Universe Twister, published by Baen Books ISBN 978-1-4165-5597-1, first printing (October 2008)
  • “Just what is your position here?”
    “I’m an adviser to his Majesty.” Nicodaeus smiled blandly. “He thinks I’m a master of magic, of course, but among these feather-heads a little common sense is sufficient to earn one a reputation as a wise man.”
    • Chapter 4 (p. 67)
  • “Him and his pet dragon—”
    “More folklore, I take it?”
    “Well, I never actually seen this dragon.”
    “Hmmm. Funny how nobody I’ve met has seen it, but they all believe in it.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 124)
  • Magic, after all? He felt the untrimmed hair at the nape of his neck rising. But then, maybe it was just electronics—magic rationalized.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 175)
All page numbers from the mass market paperback omnibus edition, The Universe Twister, published by Baen Books ISBN 978-1-4165-5597-1, first printing (October 2008)
  • “None of that, either,” he commanded. “Keep your mind on the immediate problem—just as soon as you figure out what the immediate problem is,” he added.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 274)
  • “It’s an old trick,” the security chief said. “Reverse cunning, we call it in the security game; indistinguishable from utter stupidity.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 380)
  • “M-magic?” Lafayette stuttered.
    “Nonsense. Electronics.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 389)
All page numbers from the mass market paperback omnibus edition, The Universe Twister, published by Baen Books ISBN 978-1-4165-5597-1, first printing (October 2008)
  • He turned; she stood in the doorway, clad in an invisible negligee.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 526)
  • Strange—I go along for months at a time—even years—without so much as a mild concussion—and then bam—slam—bash! They start using my head for a practice dummy. That’s how I can tell that I’m having an adventure.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 557)
  • “Quelius—you’re nuts—did you know that?”
    “Of course. That’s quite all right. Better embarked on an exciting insanity than moldering away in dull normality. One thing you can’t deny: we psychotics lead interesting lives.”
    • Chapter 11 (p. 713)
All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Baen Books ISBN 0-671-65581-7, first printing (July 1986)
  • Rules had been made, and even enforced from time to time. When the first absolute prohibition of time meddling came along, it was already far too late.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 19)
  • “Take it easy, girl,” I said, and patted her shoulder; I knew my touching her would chill her down again. Not a nice thing to know, but useful.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 71)
  • Don’t go female on me now. We don’t have time for nonsense.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 71)
  • “Are you all right?” Mellia said.
    “It’s nothing a month in the intensive care unit wouldn’t clear up.”
    • Chapter 21 (p. 93)
  • Sure—that’s the concept. It wouldn’t be the first concept that had to be modified in the face of experience.
    • Chapter 21 (p. 96)
  • One nice thing about working with a piece of machinery: you don’t waste time trying to justify your actions.
    • Chapter 26 (p. 123)
  • Less than total control is no control at all. You will obey my instructions, Mr. Ravel. In every detail. Or I will scrap the project.
    • Chapter 26 (p. 124)
  • It was a nasty little village, poverty-stricken, ugly, hostile, much like little towns in all times and climes.
    • Chapter 28 (p. 131)
  • The Karg looked at her with the interested expression of a coroner who sees his customer twitch.
    • Chapter 29 (p. 142)
  • Too late, I realized how I had trapped myself. I had let sleep in as a guest, and death had slipped through the door.
    • Chapter 32 (p. 156)
  • “Impossible!” he said, as if he believed it—or as if he wanted awfully badly to believe it.
    • Chapter 37 (p. 183)
  • An idea was beginning to get through, and he wasn’t liking it very well.
    • Chapter 39 (p. 191)
  • The human mind is a pattern, nothing more. The first dim flicker of awareness in the evolving forebrain of Australopithecus carried that pattern in embryo; and down through all the ages, as the human neural engine increased in power and complexity, gained control of its environment in geometrically expanding increments, the pattern never varied.
    Man clings to his self-orientation as the psychological center of the Universe. He can face any challenge within that framework, suffer any loss, endure any hardship—so long as the structure remains intact.
    Without it he’s a mind adrift in a trackless infinity—lacking any scale against which to measure his aspirations, his losses, his victories.
    Even when the light of his intellect shows him that the structure is itself a product of his brain; that infinity knows no scale, and eternity no duration—still he clings to his self-non-self concept, as a philosopher clings to a life he knows must end, to ideals he knows are ephemeral, to causes he knows will be forgotten.
    • Chapter 40 (pp. 192-193)
Wikipedia has an article about: