L. Sprague de Camp

American non- and speculative fiction writer

L. Sprague de Camp (November 27, 1907 – November 6, 2000) was an American writer of science fiction, fantasy and non-fiction. In a career spanning 60 years, he wrote over 100 books, including novels and works of non-fiction, including biographies of other fantasy authors. He was a major figure in science fiction in the 1930s and 1940s.

If I don't believe a thing is possible, I don't use it.


The Roaring Trumpet (1940, co-written with Fletcher Pratt)Edit

  • Yngvi is a louse!

The Tritonian Ring (1951)Edit

Many editions. All page numbers here are from the mass market paperback edition published by The Paperback Library, catalogue number 64-696, in September 1971, second printing
  • Certainly their intentions are peaceful, like those of the lion for the lamb. The lion wishes only to be allowed to devour the lamb in peace.
    • Chapter 2, “The Sinking Land” (p. 16)
  • Before sending my opinions forth across the chasm of surmise, I prefer to wait until they’re provided with a more solid bridge of fact.
    • Chapter 2, “The Sinking Land” (p. 18)
  • I find that verse provides one of the cheapest and most harmless of life’s major pleasures.
    • Chapter 10, “Lake Tritonis” (p. 106)
  • In all these fights and flights I have never known that mad joy of battle of which the epics speak. Before the combat I am frightened, during it I am confused, and after it I am weary and disgusted.
    • Chapter 18, “The Philosophy of Sederado” (p. 199)
  • “You make it sound wonderful, sir. Could I but be sure…”
    “Wait to be sure of anything and you will find yourself looking out through the sides of a funerary urn, your quest unaccomplished.”
    • Chapter 18, “The Philosophy of Sederado” (p. 202)

The Great Fetish (1978)Edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Pocket Books, ISBN 0-671-83161-5, in March 1980, first printing
  • “But your loss of honor—”
    “Honor is a subjective, intangible loss. Therefore our laws take no cognizance of it.”
    • Chapter 4 (p. 47)
  • “Then who were the Ancient Ones?”
    Halran shrugged. “There are as many interpretations of those myths as there are mythographers.”
    • Chapter 5 (p. 58)
  • “You Afkans seem like a grimly puritanical lot,” said Halran, “if you will excuse my saying so.”
    Ndovu beamed. “No apologies needed. What you say is high praise here.”
    • Chapter 8 (p. 89)
  • “It is a common belief that all paleskins are superhumanly lusty and incorrigibly lecherous.”
    “Now it is you who flatter us,” said Halran.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 92)
  • If the gods made man, which I doubt, they should have made him so he sometimes enjoyed what he has instead of forever yearning for what he has not.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 114)
  • There is nothing so dangerous as an ignorant and frightened man.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 117)
  • All supernaturalism is simply a scheme to enable a class of magicians called priests to live without working.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 132)

About de CampEdit

  • In [Viagens Interplanetarias], Sprague’s interstellar travel takes place in Earth's backyard, so to speak; among stars, that is, within a reasonable number of light-years from the sun. Further, his concept of interstellar travel has queer effects on the subjective passage of time. This makes the stories harder to write. I once asked him why he did this and he explained that since travel faster than the speed of light was impossible, it would take far too long to reach the really distant stars. I pointed out that if he used “hyper-space” as most writers did, that wouldn’t matter. (Hyperspace is a mythical term among s.f. writers and can be used in a vague and foggy way to excuse any speeds up to infinity.) Sprague said he didn't believe in hyperspace. I said neither did I but I used it. He just put his pipe in his mouth and shook his head. "If I don’t believe a thing is possible," he said, "I don't use it."
    • "In Re Sprague", by Isaac Asimov; introduction to The Continent Makers and Other Tales of the Viagens, 1953.

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