Stale is stale and borrowed is borrowed, no matter how original your models may have been.
Introduction to New Dimensions 1, edited by Robert Silverberg
Autobiography. Apparently one should not name the names of those one has been to bed with, or give explicit figures on the amount of money one has earned, those being the two data most eagerly sought by readers; all the rest is legitimate to reveal.
It is my craft and my science to Watch. It is yours to jeer. Each of us to our specialty.
I find the world and all it contains extremely fascinating. Is this sinful?
To devote oneself to vigilance when the enemy is an imaginary one is idle, and to congratulate oneself for looking long and well for a foe that is not coming is foolish and sinful. My life has been a waste.
All page numbers from the first edition of the story in The Day the Sun Stood Still (Book Club edition)
I never became a believer. I had a natural predisposition toward skepticism. If you can’t measure it, it isn’t there. That included not only Old Whiskers and His Only Begotten Son, but all the other mystic baggage that people liked to carry around in those tense credulous years: the flying saucers, Zen Buddhism, the Atlantis cult, Hare Krishna, macrobiotics, telepathy and other species of extrasensory perception, theosophy, entropy-worship, astrology, and such. I was willing to accept neutrinos, quasars, the theory of continental drift, and the various species of quarks, because I respected the evidence for their existence; I couldn’t buy the other stuff, the irrational stuff, the assorted opiates of the masses, When the Moon is in the seventh house, etc., etc.—sorry, no.
Chapter 3, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” (p. 76)
They could pray, they had the illusion that a divine plan governed this best of all possible worlds, while I was left in bleak, stormy limbo, dismally aware that the universe makes no sense and that the only universal truth there is is that Entropy Eventually Wins.
Chapter 3, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” (p. 76)
As we zoomed along on the Chaos Express, I was sometimes tempted toward godliness the way the godly are tempted toward sin. But my love of divine reason left me no way to opt for the irrational.
Chapter 3, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” (p. 77)
Anything big and strange always upsets the people in power.
Chapter 6, “The Woman Who Is Sore at Heart Reproaches Thomas” (p. 91)
May I be struck dead for saying this if I don’t mean it with all my heart: I wish the Lord and all his prophets would disappear and leave us alone. We’ve had enough religion for one season.
Novella which was nominated for the 1975 Hugo Award and won the 1974 Nebula Award. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (April 1974).
“Moas aren’t very bright,” Gracchus answers. “That’s one good reason why they became extinct.”
Architecturally, the town looked like the worst of all possible cheap-and-sleazy tract developments, but the psychic texture it projected was even more depressing, more like that of one of those ghastly retirement communities, one of the innumerable Leisure Worlds or Sun Manors, those childless joyless retreats where colonies of that other kind of living dead collected to await the last trumpet.
He didn’t have to observe the niceties of etiquette when talking to a computer.
Unacceptable, maybe. But not unthinkable. Nothing's unthinkable once somebody’s thought it.
Short story which was nominated for the 1975 Hugo Award. Originally published in Stellar 1.
Schwartz closed his eyes. “My grandmother told me never to get mixed up with economists. Their thinking is muddy and their breath is bad, she said. She also warned me against Yale men. Perverts of the intellect, she called them. So here I am cooped up on an interstellar ship with five hundred alien creatures and one fellow human, and he has to be an economist from Yale.”
My life was in crisis. All my values were becoming meaningless. I was discovering that my chosen profession was empty, foolish, as useless as—as playing chess.
“Research, he calls it. Research.” Pitkin sneered. “Junkie!”
Schwartz matched him sneer for sneer. “Economist!”
This time of year, the whole crazy city could go in one big fire storm. There were times that he almost wished that it would. He hated this smoggy, tawdry Babylon of a city, its endless tangle of freeways, the strange-looking houses, the filthy air, the thick, choking, glossy foliage everywhere, the drugs, the booze, the divorces, the laziness, the sleaziness, the porno shops and the naked encounter parlors and the massage joints, the weird people wearing their weird clothes and driving their weird cars and cutting their hair in weird ways. There was a cheapness, a trashiness, about everything here, he thought. Even the mansions and the fancy restaurants were that way: hollow, like slick movie sets. He sometimes felt that the trashiness bothered him more than the out-and-out evil. If you kept sight of your own values you could do battle with evil, but trashiness slipped up around you and infiltrated your soul without your even knowing it. He hoped that his sojourn in Los Angeles was not doing that to him.
He never had really been able to understand what it was that she wanted him for...although he felt certain that she wanted him for something real, that he filled some need for her, as she did for him, which could for lack of a more specific term be called love.
All page numbers from the original publication of the story in "One Million A. D." edited by Gardner Dozois
She loaned him books. Worlds were revealed to him: worlds piled on worlds, worlds without end.
Was that, too, destined to thrive awhile and decay and vanish, and be replaced by another, Nortekku wondered? Probably. The earth changes, he thought. Mountains rise, are ground to dust, give way to plains and valleys. Shorelines are drowned; new islands are thrust upward out of the sea. Civilizations are born, die, are forgotten. The planet alone abides, and all that dwells upon it is transient.
Contemplating these things, he felt much the richer for all his freshly acquired knowledge. He felt that for the first time he comprehended, at least some small way, the great chain of existence, stretching across time from misty past to unborn future.
All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Avon
I have lost my sense of a universe. They say this is the richest era of human existence; but I think a man can be richer in knowing every atom of a single golden island in a blue sea than by spending his days striding among all the worlds.
Chapter 1, section 2 (pp. 13-14)
He did not consider the possibility of his own death. At his age, death was still something that happened to other people.
Chapter 1, section 3 (p. 17)
Forget it. No, don’t forget it. Don’t forget anything. Take a lesson from it: collect all the data before shouting nonsense.
Chapter 1, section 3 (p. 18)
“I know it stinks. The whole universe stinks, sometimes. Haven’t you discovered that yet?”
“It doesn’t have to stink!” Rawlins said sharply, his voice rising. “Is that the lesson you’ve learned in all those years? The universe doesn’t stink. Man stinks! And he does it by voluntary choice because he’d rather stink than smell sweet! We don’t have to lie. We don’t have to cheat. We could opt for honor and decency and—” Rawlins stopped abruptly. In a different tone he said, “I sound young as hell to you, don’t I, Charles?”
“You’re entitled to make mistakes,” Boardman said. “That’s what being young is for.”
“You genuinely believe and know that there’s a cosmic malevolence in the workings of the universe?”
Boardman touched the tips of his thick, short fingers together. “I wouldn’t put it that way. There’s no personal power of darkness running things, any more than there’s a personal power of good. The universe is a big impersonal machine. As it functions it tends to put stress on some of its minor parts, and those parts wear out, and the universe doesn’t give a damn about that, because it can generate replacements. There’s nothing immoral about wearing out parts, but you have to admit that from the point of view of the part under stress it’s a stinking deal.”
Chapter 4, section 3 (p. 72)
“I’m asking you to do an unpleasant thing for a decent motive. You don’t want to do it, and I understand how you feel, but I’m trying to get you to see that your personal moral code isn’t always the highest factor. In wartime, a soldier shoots to kill because the universe imposes that situation on him. It may be an unjust war, and that might be his brother in the ship he’s aiming at, but the war is real and he has his role.”
“Where’s the room for free will in this mechanical universe of yours, Charles?”
“There isn’t any. That’s why I say the universe stinks.”
“We have no freedom at all?”
“The freedom to wriggle a little on the hook.”
“Have you felt this way all your life?”
“Most of it,” Boardman said.
“When you were my age?”
Chapter 4, section 3 (p. 73)
You can make no meaningful evaluations of the universe without the confidence that you are seeing it clearly.
Chapter 6, section 8 (p. 89)
“The cages are ready in case any of the enemies are captured.”
“You mean us?”
“Yes. Enemies.” Muller’s eyes glittered with sudden paranoid fury; it was alarming how easily he slipped from rational discourse to that cold blaze. “Homo sapiens. The most dangerous, the most ruthless, the most despicable beast in the universe!”
“You say it as if you believe it.”
Chapter 8 (p. 118)
Stand near me and you get sick. Why? It reminds you that you’re an animal too, because you get a full dose of me. So we go round and round in our endless feedback. You hate me because you learn things about your own soul by getting near me. And I hate you because you must draw back from me. What I am, you see, is a plague carrier, and the plague I carry is the truth. My message is that it’s a lucky thing for humanity that we’re shut up each in his own skull. Because if we had even a little drop of telepathy, even the blurry nonverbal thing I’ve got, we’d be unable to stand each other. Human society would be impossible.
Chapter 8 (p. 120)
The universe is a perilous place. We do our best. Everything else is unimportant.
All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Fawcett Gold Medal Books
We are born by accident into a purely random universe.
Chapter 1, (p. 1; opening words)
In the absolute universe all events can be regarded as absolutely deterministic, and if we can’t perceive the greater structures, it’s because our vision is faulty. If we had a real grasp of causality down to the molecular level, we wouldn’t need to rely on mathematical approximations, on statistics and probabilities, in making predictions. If our perceptions of cause and effect were only good enough, we’d be able to attain absolute knowledge of what is to come. We would make ourselves all-seeing.
Chapter 3 (p. 11)
Gottfried, like any true dictator, liked to surround himself with bland obliging ciphers.
Chapter 7 (p. 27)
“This isn’t just consulting work, Haig. It means going into politics.”
“What do I need it for?”
“Nobody needs anything except a little food and water now and then. The rest is preferences.”
Chapter 8 (p. 33)
No man ever looked more like a President than Harding; it was his only qualification for the job, but it was enough to get him there.
Chapter 12 (p. 55)
So it is with all the great leaders: the commodity they have to sell is personality. Mere ideas can be left to lesser men.
Chapter 13 (p. 73)
It’s not a philosophy, Mr. Nichols. It’s an accommodation to the nature of reality.
Chapter 16 (p. 98)
Thus does the unyielding, inescapable future ineluctably devour the present.
Chapter 29 (p. 161)
I think we made love three times that final summer. Made love! Preposterous euphemism for fucking, almost as bad as the most grotesque of all, slept together. Whatever Sundara and I made, in those three pressings of flesh to flesh, love couldn’t have been the commodity; we made sweat, we made rumpled sheets, we made heavy breathing, we even made orgasms, but love? Love?