Scottish science fiction writer
Learning the World (2005)Edit
- All page numbers from the mass market edition published by Tor Books
- Falling in love indicated that your genes were complementary to those of the loved one. It told you nothing about when your personalities and sexualities were compatible.
- Chapter 3 “Spectral Lines” (p. 40)
- For us scientists, on the other wing, life is not quite so simple. Because we learn the unknown. Unlike, hah-hah, our esteemed friends the philosophers, who learn the unknowable.
- Chapter 4 “A Moving Point of Light” (p. 51)
- Of all the sciences, astronomy was the one the superstitious liked least.
- Chapter 4 “A Moving Point of Light” (p. 51)
- “Anyway...I find what you write interesting.”
“That’s what people usually say when they disagree with it.”
- Chapter 7 “Television” (p. 110)
- It saddened him that military technology was so much more advanced than he’d ever imagined.
- Chapter 8 “Security Concerns” (p. 122)
- I can’t really imagine war. I can imagine having to fight some swarm of zombie machines or snarling horde of posthuman fast-burn wreckage or whatever, but not two or more actual human societies actually fighting each other. I’m aware that people did that, before history, before the Moon, but it seems irrational. One side would have to believe they had something to gain from destroying or damaging the other, which just doesn’t make sense: it runs up against the law of association. And more to the point, each individual on any side would have to believe that they benefited from participating even if they died, which doesn’t make sense either. I suppose kin selection could make genes prevalent that made people vulnerable to that kind of illusion, but that only makes sense with animals that don’t have foresight. Even crows aren’t that stupid, at least not the ones that can talk. You have to get down to ants and such like before you see that kind of genetic mechanical mindlessness.
- Chapter 9 “Red Sun Circle” (pp. 134-135)
- It had long been established in the Civil Worlds that public business was to be transparent, and personal business opaque; but it was as well recognised that the two would always have a turbulent interface, and that the clique, the caucus, and the conspiracy were as ineradicable features of civility as the council or the committee.
- Chapter 9 “Red Sun Circle” (pp. 136-137)
- It’s a big coincidence. It’s something we can’t explain. But as far as we know that’s all it is. And if it isn’t, we’ll only find out by discovering more facts, not speculating, no matter how logical that speculation might seem. The way to learn the world is to look at the world.
- Chapter 9 “Red Sun Circle” (p. 148)
- “I take small interest in politics,” he said. “The subject repels me.”
- Chapter 14 “The Extraordinary and Remarkable Ship” (p. 232)
- “‘Naive’ is not a word I associate with the Southern Rule. Superstitious, perhaps, traditional, yes, maddeningly set in their way, certainly—but not naive.”
“I meant you are naive. They must have a hidden motive.”
“This is why I have no politics,” said Darvin. “I can’t think in those terms.”
- Chapter 14 “The Extraordinary and Remarkable Ship” (p. 237)
- All life is a struggle for existence. Why should it cease to be a struggle if it spreads among the stars?
- Chapter 14 “The Extraordinary and Remarkable Ship” (p. 239)
- “We’re in danger of losing the ship generation.”
“I’m aware of the problems,” she said. “‘You can’t tell the boys from the girls, they have no respect for their elders, their user interfaces are garish and unwieldy, everybody is writing a book, and their music is just noise.’ Found scratched on a potsherd in Sumer.”
- Chapter 15 “Hollow Spaces of the Forward Cone” (p. 248)
- She knew about these asteroids, of course. It was because she had classified them in the wrong mental category that she hadn’t thought of them.
- Chapter 15 “Hollow Spaces of the Forward Cone” (p. 249)
- The cover pirated the pictures on the Southern pamphlet and headlined a story whose title, “Invasion from Infinity!,” bore witness to a brash disdain of doing right as much as of blithe contempt for having been proved wrong.
- Chapter 16 “The Anomalies Room” (p. 264)
- Darvin listened to the hymn with a mixture of enjoyment of its beauty and disdain of its content.
- Chapter 16 “The Anomalies Room” (p. 273)
- I’m sure they’ll come up with all kinds of rationalizations, if the human precedent is anything to go by.
- Chapter 17 “Fire in the Sky” (p. 284)
- When you’d lived long enough, she’d sometimes reflected, when certain habits had become ingrained no matter what refreshment of the neural pathways the immortality genes could bestow, ethics and etiquette became ever less distinct. Hitherto the involuntary equation had read one way, in disproportionate pangs of conscience over a small breach of manners. Now the terms had been inverted, and she felt over the Council majority’s horrible, criminal, potentially murderous mistake the sort of acute embarrassment that might have been appropriate for some ghastly faux pas. Dreadfully sorry, I’m such a ditz about these nuclear attack protocols...
- Chapter 19 “A Full and Frank Exchange of Views” (p. 326)
- If you, dear reader, are looking a this across some great gulf of time and increase of knowledge, spare me your condescension. You too were young once, and ignorant once, and from a future standpoint—perhaps your own—you are young and ignorant still.
- Chapter 21 “But The Sky, My Lady! The Sky!” (p. 358)
Fall Revolution seriesEdit
- "What if capitalism is unsustainable, and socialism is impossible? We're fucked, that's what." – "The Falling Rate of Profit, Red Hordes and Green Slime: What the Fall Revolution Books Are About" - Nova Express, Volume 6, Spring/Summer 2001, pp 19-21.
Engines of Light TrilogyEdit
- "The uploads replicate and develop relationships. Most of them go very bad. You sometimes get an entire virtual planet of four billion people devoted to building prayer wheels in an attempt at a denial of service attack on God." – Newton's Wake
- "… a faded black T-shirt with a soaring penguin and the slogan 'Where do you want to come from today?'" – Newton's Wake
- (8 hours after the Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster)
- "Husband, McCool, Anderson, Brown, Chawla, Clark, Ramon.
- Komarov, Grissom, White, Chaffee, Dobrovolsky, Volkov, Patsayev,
- Resnick, Scobee, Smith, McNair, McAuliffe, Jarvis, Onizuka.
- These names will be written under other skies."
- USENET posting to rec.arts.sf.fandom, 1 February 2003
- "Hey, this is Europe. We took it from nobody; we won it from the bare soil that the ice left. The bones of our ancestors, and the stones of their works, are everywhere. Our liberties were won in wars and revolutions so terrible that we do not fear our governors: they fear us. Our children giggle and eat ice-cream in the palaces of past rulers. We snap our fingers at kings. We laugh at popes. When we have built up tyrants, we have brought them down. And we have nuclear *fucking* weapons." – USENET posting to rec.sf.arts.fandom 28 September 2000, in the discussion of Robert A. Heinlein's quote "The cowards never started and the weaklings died on the way." (Expanded Universe, How to be a Survivor in the Atomic Age)