Michael F. Flynn

American statistician and writer

Michael Francis Flynn (1947September 30, 2023) was an American statistician and science fiction author.

Quotes

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Short fiction

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Page numbers from the reprint in Gardner Dozois (ed.), The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fifth Annual Collection, ISBN 0-312-01854-1
  • The stories I have to tell are not for the ears of youngsters. What were the stories, really? A crowd of men charged from the trench. Later, some of them came back. What more was there to say? Once, a long time ago, war had been glamorous, with pageantry and uniforms to shame a peacock. Now it was only necessary, and the uniforms were the color of mud.
    • p. 451
  • Brilliance cannot improvise on faulty data.
    • p. 468
  • Cigars were for talk; pipes for reflection.
    • p. 471
  • But scouts, he told himself firmly, must observe what is, not what they wish to see.
    • p. 474
  • What the prisoner said made some sense. He could see how technological progress—and social change with it—was coupled with free trade and the free exchange of ideas. Yet, he wasn’t at all sure that it was necessarily a good thing. There was a lot to be said for stability and continuity.
    • p. 482
  • He believed because he wanted to believe. And that, too, is madness.
    • p. 492
  • This was an omen for sure, but one with no obvious meaning.
    • p. 512
Note that there are two sets of chapter numbers in the book. Sections set in the Middle Ages are numbered with Roman numerals. Sections set in the present are numbered with Arabic numerals. All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by Tor Books.
  • No field of knowledge is so transparently simple as another’s.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 23)
  • You have a grim taste in miracles, my friend.
    • Chapter IV (p. 60)
  • The nag is as fat as a monk—and will stop to eat at every chance, so the resemblance is no happenstance.
    • Chapter V (p. 84)
  • Philosophers will always have logical reasons for avoiding the good—and those reasons will always hang on their lust for material goods. A man who has little thinks little of sharing it; but the man who has much will clutch it with his dying fingers.
    • Chapter XI (p. 204)
  • The philosophy of the likelihood of events concludes that folk from different worlds must have different forms.
    • Chapter XII (p. 209)
  • As often happens, fear showed itself in hostility.
    • Chapter XII (p. 212)
  • He dyed his hair with great art, maintaining enough gray to suggest wisdom, but not so much as to suggest age.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 234)
  • Much as I would tend my manor in peace, peace needs the consent of all, while one alone may raise a war. I swore an oath to protect the defenseless and punish peace-breakers, and that includes peace-breaking Herrenfolk. Your priests say to forgive your enemy, and that is well, or revenge follows revenge until eternity. But between a man who will stop at nothing and one who will hesitate at anything, the advantage is generally to the former. The pagans had right, too. It is a false peace to be overforgiving. Your enemy may read forbearance as weakness and so be drawn to strike.
    • Chapter XIV (p. 252)
  • He read the document a second time, but the words had not changed.
    • Chapter XVI (p. 296)
  • There seemed no face within the cowl, only a black emptiness, and the notion sprang irresistibly to Dietrich’s mind that this was Death, now these dozen years overdue, treading a weary mountain trail in search of him. Then a flash of white showed within the shadow and Dietrich realized that it was only the angle of the sun that had made that hood seem so empty.
    • Chapter XVIII (p. 323)
  • One does not debate nature; one experiences nature.
    • Chapter XVIII (p. 327)
  • “Had you learned to flatter the Kaiser, you would need not live in the back woods.”
    “Had you learned to live in the back woods, you would need not flatter the Kaiser.”
    • Chapter XIX (p. 340)
  • He could not live again in Paris. It had seemed better then only because he had been younger, and had not yet known contentment.
    • Chapter XIX (p. 341)
  • “I know my equations are true,” she mused aloud. “I need to know if they are fact.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 384)
  • She said nothing, but said it loudly.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 385)
  • “Men afraid may see demons in the familiar, and direct their fear of the insensible to a fear of the sensible.”
    “Thought-lacking!”
    “So it is; but it is what folk do.”
    • Chapter XXIII (p. 399)
  • “You split hairs.”
    “Better to split hairs than the heads beneath them.”
    • Chapter XXV (p. 447)
  • Sometimes the obvious is only wishful thinking.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 460)
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