Matthew Hughes (writer)

science fiction and crime fiction author

Matthew Hughes (born 1949) is a Canadian author who writes science fiction under the name Matthew Hughes, crime fiction as Matt Hughes and media tie-ins as Hugh Matthews.


All page numbers are from the hardcover first edition published by Night Shade Books, ISBN 1-59780-061-9
  • Have you considered the possibility that our standards as to what is important may differ?
    • Chapter 1 (p. 3)
  • Talking was only one of the uses to which Chalivire liked to put her large and loose-lipped mouth; another was filling it with the products of The Braid’s renowned kitchens.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 21)
  • “What is your theory?” my assistant asked, but again I declined to answer. A mistaken theory that never went farther than its originator’s mind does not count as an error.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 48)
  • Insanity was not unknown among the wealthy. Indeed, some forms of madness had sometimes been cultivated as fashionable accessories.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 60)
  • A lifelong habit of being right also had the effect of diminishing one’s social appeal, especially among those who prefer to keep the bubble of their various illusions a safe distance from a needle-sharp and probing intelligence.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 76)
  • “I have a reputation for genius,” I said, though I lowered my voice. “It can withstand some eccentricities.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 84)
  • Life is a hopeless rear guard action against an overwhelming foe; still how can we not admire those who battle on regardless?
    • Chapter 7 (p. 93)
  • My alter ego was awake and listening. “Magic,” he said.
    “To one whose only instrument is a drum, all melodies are much the same,” I answered inwardly.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 132)
  • “Who was it who said that irony is the fundamental operating principle of the universe?”
    “I believe,” I said, “that it was Henghis Hapthorn.”
    • Chapter 10 (p. 143; note that the speaker in the second line is, in fact, Henghis Hapthorn)
  • I cannot comment on your beliefs. What appears self-evident to one person may seem to another observer to be entirely the product of an idiosyncratic bent.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 151)
  • “He began to dream the dreams that always seduce a tyrant: powers beyond powers, worlds at his feet, whole realms bowing to his whims.”
    “And the dreams occluded his faculties,” I said. “It was ever thus, we may be thankful, else tyrants would never fall.”
    • Chapter 12 (p. 165)
  • When the Wheel turns, much that is impossible in the old phase becomes commonplace in the new.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 172)
  • “Then how is it done?”
    “By magic, I suppose. How else?”
    “That is a foolish and flippant answer,” he said. “‘Oh, it’s magic,’ is not a handy solution to every mystery. I am not the child.”
    • Chapter 12 (p. 181)
  • “Could Rievor be hiding himself behind some magical cloak?” I asked my other self.
    “No,” he said. “I believe he is exercising that most potent form of invisibility: the one called, ‘not being present at all.’”
    • Chapter 13 (pp. 188-189)
  • “I have a plan.”
    “What kind of plan?”
    “A daring and bold one,” he said.
    “Is that wise?”
    “It has to be that kind of plan. It’s that kind of cosmos.”
    • Chapter 14 (p. 197)
All page numbers are from the hardcover first edition published by Night Shade Books, ISBN 978-1-59780-091-4
  • “I do not wish to experience that again.”
    “Some people claim that the occasional exposure to fear enhances their enjoyment of more tranquil circumstances.”
    “Some people ought to be confined for their own good,” my assistant said, “and to prevent them from spreading dangerous inanities.”
    • Chapter 2 (p. 23)
  • “Then you will have to look at an experienced integrator.”
    “You mean a used and discarded one.”
    “We could quibble over narrow distinctions and shades of meaning all day, only to greet the evening with nothing accomplished. Or we could press on and solve your problem.”
    • Chapter 3 (p. 28)
  • “There are, occasionally, rarely, some…difficulties,” she admitted.
    “That is a word that may cover a great swath of territory,” I said, “from the low foothills of minor inconvenience to the insurmountable peaks of constant vexation.”
    • Chapter 3 (p. 29)
  • I might have been lulled by her show of confidence, had I not commanded a fact or two about spaceships. “A Grand Itinerator compares to an Aberrator as does a mansion to a country cottage,” I said.
    “It is a matter of point of view,” she argued. “It depends on whether one concentrates on differences or congruencies. Being of a broad and generous spirit, I prefer the latter perspective. You may be the type who niggles.”
    • Chapter 3 (p. 29)
  • Persons who disguise themselves when they go out into the world rarely do so for innocent purposes. At best, they mean to pull some merry prank; all too often, they intend a considerably deeper mischief.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 36)
  • “Isn’t it obvious?” he answered.
    “No. It is so far from obvious that it has gone right through obscure, breezed past unfathomable and is now completely beyond the reach of my vocabulary.”
    • Chapter 5 (p. 54)
  • “You’re worried, aren’t you?” he said.
    “Again, you have chosen a word not large enough to cover more than the barest fraction of the situation.”
    • Chapter 5 (p. 55)
  • But in this age, logic was a flame that must be frequently starved of fuel.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 84)
  • “You ask if anyone has ‘tested the concept.’ But why would anyone test reality? Reality is not for testing, but for living with.”
    • Chapter 6 (pp. 86-87)
  • “We should be frank with each other,” Lavelan said.
    It had been my experience that most conversations that were launched on such a declaration represented an attempt by the initiator to gain far more information than he intended to give.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 97)
  • “Often, when a stranger says, ‘Trust me,’ a wise man puts his hand on his purse and backs away.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 99)
  • “I detected some quavers in his voice that indicated stress. But I would not say that he lied.”
    “Though it was not the whole truth.”
    “It never is. The ‘whole truth’ starts with the beginning of the world and its telling takes an inordinately long time.”
    • Chapter 7 (pp. 100-101)
  • I had no doubt that there was madness here. How could it be otherwise in a cosmos that was ordered solely by will? It did not mean that the insane would automatically rise to the apex of the social order; their efforts would be diffused by the randomness of the impulses that drove them. But those whose extraordinary powers of will propelled them to the heights of power and rank would always be vulnerable to going further than they should. And there would be none but their equally mad rivals to restrain them.
    • Chapter 7 (pp. 106-107)
All page numbers are from the hardcover first edition published by Night Shade Books, ISBN 978-1-59780-101-0
  • My intent was to spot not only Massim Shar’s cut-out but the other member of his criminal coterie who would be there to watch our transaction. There might even be a watcher to watch the watcher, trust being a commodity in short supply among the lawless.”
    • Chapter 1 (p. 8)
  • The combined effect of so many ambulatory sticks and balls, each of whom wore an expression of complete self-satisfaction, added strength to my longstanding belief that the profession of couturier required only a good knowledge of fabric and a malicious sense of humor.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 9)
  • “The likelihood seems farfetched.”
    “So have several of the situations in which we have found ourselves in the recent past,” I said.
    “But you are resolved to avoid those kinds of situations in the future.”
    I made a gesture ripe with fatalism. “I have come to understand that the universe accords my resolutions a good deal less consideration than I would prefer.”
    • Chapter 2 (p. 21)
  • “Very well,” I said, “let us roll the pebble and get the avalanche on its way.”
    • Chapter 2 (p. 38)
  • Half the miseries of humankind’s history have originated in those who think they see in the fellow next to them virtues and vices that exist only in the mind of the beholder.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 48)
  • I reflected that the genial glow that surrounds the doer of a good deed loses some of its warmth and brightness when the recipient meets every action with the pinched face of suspicion.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 48)
  • Wealth tends to generate wealth,” he began.
    I gave a qualified assent. “If it does not instead give birth to folly.”
    • Chapter 3 (p. 57)
  • The insane had a tendency to cloak others in the strange garments they found hanging in the backs of their own mental wardrobes. So, for that matter, did the rest of us, but the consequences of error were usually less drastic.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 65)
  • “Are you familiar with Wallader’s theory that every society is fundamentally organized around one or another of the cardinal sins?”
    “I believe not,” I said.
    “He argues that the true seed of every culture, whatever the ideals to which it gives lip service, always turns out to be one of the seven mortal iniquities identified by the ancients: pride, greed, and anger are the most common; lust, gluttony, and envy less so; those based on sloth usually do not last.”
    • Chapter 4 (p. 70)
  • I realized that Chumblot’s brief had told only the official story which, as in many sophisticated societies, departed starkly from the practical facts.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 85)
  • It is as hugely irrelevant to us as the literary outpourings of a poet are to a bacterium living in his lower bowel. Indeed, to an even tinier mite living in the bacterium’s vacuole. It just doesn’t matter.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 89)
  • “There was no indication of anything sinister?”
    “No, though a truly sinister intrusion would be phrased in such a way as to appear not sinister.”
    “That is not reassuring,” I said.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 107)
  • When we have done more traveling together, you will come to see that occasionally we must be other than forthright with local authorities. Many of them lack imagination and react poorly to creativity and unexpected innovation.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 154)
  • Magic,” said my integrator, “has rules. At the heart of the willful, associative universe, we find a modicum of rationalism, just as we find uncertainty at the core of the rational cosmos.”
    “Exactly,” I said. “And there seems no other explanation for it than sheer perversity on the part of whatever entity is responsible for the whole untidy business.”
    I thought about it a moment more then said, “Perversity, or just a very idiosyncratic sense of humor.”
    • Chapter 9 (p. 176)
  • When all the good ideas have been expended, I quoted to myself, one might as well try a bad one.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 222)
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