Robert Silverberg

American speculative fiction writer and editor (born 1935)

Robert Silverberg (born 15 January 1935) is a prolific author best known for writing science fiction, a multiple winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Ignorance can’t be pardoned. Only cured.

Quotes edit

The universe is a perilous place. We do our best. Everything else is unimportant.
  • 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.
  • I enjoyed the late 1960s as much as anyone, and I regarded much of the political ferment of the time as vital to the survival of our society—the Vietnam war might have gone on for many decades more without it. But the era did have its silly side, and the search for the immediately relevant at the expense of the less immediately practical side was, to me, one of the sillier aspects of it. Throwing most of past human knowledge overboard for the sake of bringing about instant social reform did not strike me as an effective way of achieving anything but ignorance. Evidently it seemed that way to others, too: after a while the traditional sciences and historical subjects returned to the curriculum, Shakespeare and Sophocles were allowed back in also, and not a great deal was heard from the earnest, deadly young decreers of non-negotiable demands who had had such power over academic life for a time. (Although a lot of them grew up and became university professors, and they are behind the modern craze for political correctness that has spread so much terror through our academic institutions.)
    • Introduction to Ms. Found in an Abandoned Time Machine (2009) in The Collected Stories Volume 4: Trips 1972-73, ISBN 978-1-596-06212-2, p. 59

Short fiction edit

Company Store (1959) edit

  • When you poison a man in order to sell him the antidote, you don’t boast about it afterward to the victim!

Hawksbill Station (1967) edit

Novella which was nominated for the 1968 Hugo Award and for the 1967 Nebula Award. Originally published in Galaxy magazine (August 1967).
  • Political theorists tend to swallow their theories when forced back on pragmatic measures of survival.
    • Section 5

Nightwings (1968) edit

Novella which won the 1969 Hugo Award and was nominated for the 1969 Nebula Award. Originally published in Galaxy magazine (September 1968).
  • It is my craft and my science to Watch. It is yours to jeer. Each of us to our specialty.
    • Section 1
  • I find the world and all it contains extremely fascinating. Is this sinful?
    • Section 4
  • 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.
    • Section 5

Thomas the Proclaimer (1972) edit

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.
    • Chapter 11, “The March to the Sea” (p. 110)

Capricorn Games (1974) edit

  • Beauty is a magnet: repels some, attracts many, leaves no one unmoved.

Born with the Dead (1974) edit

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.

Trips (1974) edit

Originally published in Final Stage: The Ultimate Science Fiction Anthology edited by Edward L. Ferman and Barry N. Malzberg; page numbers from the reprint in The Collected Stories Volume 4: Trips 1972-73, ISBN 978-1-596-06212-2.
  • Before you began your travels you were told how essential it was to define your intended role. Were you going to be a tourist, or an explorer, or an infiltrator? Those are the choices that confront anyone arriving at a new place. Each bears its special risks.
    • p. 268
  • To opt for being a tourist is to choose the easiest but most contemptible path; ultimately it’s the most dangerous one, too, in a certain sense. You have to accept the built-in epithets that go with the part: they will think of you as a foolish tourist, an ignorant tourist, a vulgar tourist, a mere tourist. Do you want to be considered mere? Around you able to accept that? Is that really your preferred self-image—baffled, bewildered, led about by the nose? You'll sign up for packaged tours, you'll carry guidebooks and cameras, you'll go to the cathedral and the museums and the marketplace, and you'll remain always on the outside of things, seeing a great deal, experiencing nothing. What a waste! You will be diminished by the very traveling that you thought would expand you. Tourism hollows and parches you. All places become one: a hotel, a smiling, swarthy, sunglassed guide, a bus, a plaza, a fountain, a marketplace, a museum, a cathedral. You are transformed into a feeble shriveled thing made out of glued-together travel folders; you are naked but for your visas; the sum of your life’s adventures is a box of leftover small change from many indistinguishable lands.
    • p. 269
  • Transforming happy primitive farmers into sophisticated twentieth-century agriculturalists is ultimately as useless a pastime as training fleas to jump through hoops.
    • p. 293

Schwartz Between the Galaxies (1974) edit

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!”

Homefaring (1983) edit

Novella which was nominated for the 1983 Nebula Award. Originally published in Amazing Stories (November 1983).
  • It did not seem at all improbable to McCulloch now. The infinite fullness of time brings about everything, he thought: even intelligent lobsters, even a divine octopus.

Against Babylon (1986) edit

Originally published in Omni (May 1986). Page numbers from the story included in the mass market paperback edition "The 1987 Annual World's Best SF" edited by Donald A. Wollheim
  • 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.
    • p. 264
  • 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.
    • p. 276

Hot Times in Magma City (1995) edit

All page numbers from the story included in the mass market paperback edition "Year's Best SF" edited by David G. Hartwell
  • The denizens of Citizens Service Houses are not, as a rule, gifted with a lot of common sense, but they often make up for that by being extremely argumentative and vindictive.
    • p. 56
  • I don't know, Mattison thinks. That’s cool. I don't know, and I hereby give myself permission not to know, and to hell with it.
    • p. 104

A Piece of the Great World (2005) edit

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.
    • p. 79
  • 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.
    • p. 80

The Emperor and the Maula (2007) edit

All page numbers from the story included in the mass market paperback edition "The New Space Opera" edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan
  • Aristocrats might shrug, but commoners, dreading any collapse of the social order, wanted the rules of behavior to be observed.
    • p. 443
  • I hate no one, sir. It seems a waste of emotional energy.
    • p. 463
  • Not all lawyers are annoying. Some are dead.
    • p. 476
  • Never pass by a chance to shut up.
    • p. 477

The Gate of Worlds (1967) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Tor ISBN 0-812-55454-X (1st printing, August 1984)
  • Take this as a bit of easy wisdom: people who try to rule over other people are going to be hated.
    • Chapter 1 “Across the Ocean Sea” (p. 23)
  • Like all bureaucrats, he was bewildered by an unpredictable development.
    • Chapter 2 “The Realm of Moctezuma XII” (p. 33)
  • Only a man who doubts his own bravery bristles when called a coward.
    • Chapter 7 “We Play a Little Game” (p. 122)
  • I felt an unmanly pity for the beasts we slew, for I fear I don’t really have the killer instinct. I don’t have the starving instinct either, though, and so I fired away.
    • Chapter 9 “To the Western Sea” (p. 158)
  • A man who lies to himself is the worst liar of all.
    • Chapter 9 “To the Western Sea” (p. 162)
  • The process of changing your mind is a tricky one. You start at Position A, which you hold with stern stubbornness, resolving never to give it up. Then you start to question your original resolution. Is it wise to be so stubborn? Perhaps you should consider alternate ideas. You revise your original inflexibility a little, abandoning Position A and adopting Position B, which is very much like it in most ways, with only a few ifs and maybes added. Then, by a gradual series of compromises, private deals, and shifts of purpose, you slide spinelessly through the alphabet until you arrive at Position Z, the total opposite of your original point of view.
    • Chapter 13 “Sometimes We Never Learn” (pp. 235-236)

Those Who Watch (1967) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Signet (W8149), 5th printing
  • The priest had once told Rosita Estancia that her younger brother Charley was a damned soul, and Charley had found out about it. In a way, he was rather flattered.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 7)
  • Why conjure up galactic spaceships when meteors were so common?
    • Chapter 3 (p. 26)
  • Evidently a lot of people were yelling “Flying saucer!” tonight, because the announcers were going to great pains to insist that it was nothing but a meteor.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 29)
  • If the Government was going to all this trouble to keep people calm, then there had to be something big to worry about. That much was axiomatic.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 29)

Thorns (1967) edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Three Novels published by Bantam Spectra ISBN 0-553-27287-X
Nominated for the 1968 Nebula Award and the 1968 Hugo Award.
  • I have come to prefer something looser, a rough sort of definition which says simply that science fiction attempts to portray that which does not exist, a speculative reality, but endeavors to explore the consequences of such a speculation in a rigorous, systematic, and scientifically plausible way.
    • Introduction (p. vi)
  • “The fascination of what’s difficult,” said Chalk. “It spins the world on its bearings.”
    • Chapter 1, “The Song the Neurons Sang” (p. 7)
  • But, though he trusted his intuitive judgments, he rarely acted on them until he had had time to make a more rational reconnaissance.
    • Chapter 5, “Enter Chalk; To Him, Aoudad” (p. 27)
  • Of course, Chalk had little need for further money. It had motivated him once, but not now. Nor did the acquisition of greater power please him much. Despite the customary theories, Chalk had attained sufficient power so that he was willing to stop expanding if only he could be sure of holding what he had. No, it was something else, something inner, that governed his decisions now. When the love of money and the love of power are both sated, the love of love remains.
    • Chapter 5, “Enter Chalk; To Him, Aoudad” (p. 29)
  • She shuttled between impish girlhood and neurotic womanhood.
    • Chapter 18, “To the Toy Fair” (p. 85)
  • “Do I chatter?”
    “Should I be honest or should I be tactful?”
    • Chapter 21, “And Southward Aye We Fled” (p. 106)
  • She was strikingly ignorant, but he had known that from the start. What he had not known was how quickly her ignorance would cease to seem charming and would begin to seem contemptible.
    • Chapter 21, “And Southward Aye We Fled” (p. 106)

The Man in the Maze (1969) edit

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?”
    “Even earlier.”
    • 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.”
    “I do.”
    • 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.
    • Chapter 12, section 4 (p. 179)

Across a Billion Years (1969) edit

All page numbers from the e-book edition published by Open Road Integrated Media
  • Now, you know I’m no bigot, Lorie. I don’t care how many eyes, tentacles, eating orifices, or antennae an organism happens to have, so long as it knows its stuff. What I object to is having someone who is professionally inferior jacked into an expedition simply for the sake of racial balance.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 14)
  • They equally detest our third boss, who is Pilazinool of Shilamak, the big expert on intuitive analysis. Which means the science of jumping to conclusions. He’s good at it.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 22)
  • The thing about aliens is that they tend to be so alien.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 77)
  • The funeral customs of alien races defy all comprehension. So do the funeral customs of non-alien races. Can you explain to me the virtue of putting dead people in a box and burying the box in the ground?
    • Chapter 6 (p. 95)
  • The higher powers reward us most tenderly by their absence from our lives.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 153)

Up the Line (1969) edit

Nominated for the 1970 Nebula Award and the 1970 Hugo Award.
  • Ignorance can’t be pardoned. Only cured.
    • Chapter 4

Downward to the Earth (1970) edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Three Novels published by Bantam Spectra ISBN 0-553-27287-X
  • Nothing was his business, these days. When a man had no business, he had to appoint himself to some. So he was here to do research, ostensibly, which is to say to snoop and spy.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 180)
  • When you treat a rational autonomous creature as though he’s a mere beast, what does that make you?
    • Chapter 7 (p. 231)

The World Inside (1971) edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Three Novels published by Bantam Spectra ISBN 0-553-27287-X
  • What counts is what’s happening inside him, his own artistic fulfillment. If he can blow their skulls, that’s a bonus. But this is ecstasy. The whole universe is vibrating around him. A gigantic solo. God himself must have felt this way when he got to work on the first day.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 368)
  • Why should we become like you? We pride ourselves on not being like you.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 451)
  • She seems fond of him. Getting to know him better, as though she has surmounted the barrier of cultural differences that made him seem so alien to her before. And he the same with her. The separations dwindling. Her world is not his, but he thinks he could adjust to some of its unfamiliar assumptions. Strike up a closeness. He’s a man, she’s a woman, right? The basics. All the rest is façade.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 454)
  • But the mighty computer is stupid. Thinking with the speed of light but unable to cross the gaps of intuition.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 483)

A Time of Changes (1971) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Warner Books ISBN 0-446-34061-8
Won the 1972 Nebula Award and was nominated for the 1972 Hugo Award.
  • It is peaceful here. I am far from the fishmongers and the drainers and the wine-peddlers and all those others whose songs of commerce clang in the streets of cities. A man can think; a man can look within his soul, and find those things that have been the shaping of him, and draw them forth, and examine them, and come to know himself.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 21)
  • You may not hold me guilty of sins committed in dreams.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 25)
  • But in this logging camp in the mountains I came to understand that kings are nothing but men set high. The gods do not anoint them, but rather the will of men, and men can strip them of their lofty rank.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 62)
  • How intricately our loins are linked to our minds, and how tricky a thing it is when we embrace a woman while pretending she is another!
    • Chapter 25 (p. 85)
  • The style in which it was written told me much: I found that a man who cannot phrase his thoughts cleanly on paper probably has no thoughts worth notice.
    • Chapter 27 (p. 89)
  • All true enlightenment is illegal at first, within its context.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 110)
  • Knowledge never injures the soul. It only purges that which encrusts and saps the soul.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 110)
  • Love of others begins with love of self.
    • Chapter 35 (p. 126)
  • What value is lineage to a drowning man?
    • Chapter 40 (p. 142)
  • “All my life,” said Schweiz, “has been a quest for plausible reasons to believe in what I know to be irrational.”
    • Chapter 53 (p. 168)
  • My only regrets were for poor tactics, not for faulty principles.
    • Chapter 70 (p. 204)

The Book of Skulls (1972) edit

All page numbers from the first mass market paperback edition published by Signet Books (catalogue number Q5177)
Nominated for the 1972 Nebula Award and for the 1973 Hugo Award.
  • Morality after the fact, said Eli from the rear, is worse than no morality at all.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 25)
  • Why should that be, LuAnn? Why should we be put into such a wonderful world and then have everything taken away from us? God’s will? No, LuAnn, God is love, and God wouldn’t have done such a cruel thing to us, so therefore there is no God, there’s only death, Death, whom we must reject.
    • Chapter 8 (pp. 29-30)
  • The more you succeed in making out of yourself, the more bitter a thing it is to have to die.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 62)
  • Contrast is everything, Ned said. Incongruity is essential. The secret of art lies in attaining a sense of proper juxtapositions, and what is religion if not a category of art?
    • Chapter 18 (p. 70)

The Stochastic Man (1975) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Fawcett Gold Medal Books
Nominated for the 1976 Nebula Award and the 1976 Hugo Award.
  • 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?
    • Chapter 29 (p. 162)

Lord Valentine's Castle (1980) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Eos, July 2000 ISBN 0-06-105487-9
Nominated for the 1981 Hugo Award.
  • Am I loyal, or am I loyal? But I don’t like the way things are going. It’s a citizen’s right to worry about the state of the realm, isn’t it? If matters are not to our liking, we should speak up. That’s our tradition, isn’t it? If we allow small abuses now, who knows what sort of things he’ll be doing five years on!
    • Book 1 “The Book of the King of Dreams”, Chapter 8 (p. 48)
  • “What matters,” he said earnestly, “is the display of skill, not the manners of the audience.”
    • Book 1, Chapter 10 (p. 71)
  • “You speak very generally,” Valentine said.
    “I am an oracle, and oracles are never terribly specific,” she replied lightly.
    • Book 1, Chapter 12 (p. 93)
  • I think power is a sickness and governing is a folly for madmen.
    • Book 1, Chapter 15 (p. 113)
  • “Come,” Deliamber said. “There is a vast journey ahead of us.”
    “I know. That’s why I don’t want to get up.”
    • Book 3 “The Book of the Isle of Sleep”, Chapter 2 (p. 231)
  • “But why?” he asked Deliamber.
    The Vroon replied, “Why? is a useless question in matters of spiritual progress.”
    • Book 3, Chapter 8 (p. 301)
  • “We are not accustomed to threats here,” Lorivade declared.
    “I make no threat. I speak only of inevitable consequences.”
    • Book 3, Chapter 10 (p. 317)
  • The Barjazid does not yet rule as an absolute tyrant, for that might turn the people against him, and he is still insecure in his power—while you live. But he rules for himself and for his family, not for Majipoor. He lacks a sense of right, and does only what seems useful and expedient. As his confidence grows, so too will his crimes, until Majipoor groans under the whip of a monster.
    • Book 3, Chapter 11 (p. 329)
  • They were apt to be disappointed with the way he fulfilled his promises to them, for he intended, if he could, to sweep both the bickering rivals from power. But he did not ask pure and total saintliness of himself in his dealings with those whose chief role in the government appeared to be to impede and obstruct.
    • Book 4 “The Book of the Labyrinth”, Chapter 7 (p. 383)
  • Deliamber shrugged. “Such things are never fairly distributed. What makes you think that only the guilty are punished?”
    “The Divine—”
    “Why do you think the Divine is fair? In the long run, all wrongs are righted, every minus is balanced with a plus, the columns are totaled and the totals are found correct. But that’s in the long run. We must live in the short run, and matters are often unjust there. The compensating forces of the universe make all the accounts come out even, but they grind down the good as well as the wicked in the process.”
    • Book 5 “The Book of the Castle”, Chapter 4 (pp. 424-425)
  • How frail, he thought, is the compact that holds our government together! Good will alone is all that sustains it.
    • Book 5, Chapter 6 (p. 442)

Letters from Atlantis (1990) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Warner Books (Questar Science Fiction), June 1992 ISBN 0-446-36286-7
  • The King is an absolute monarch, and I mean absolute. Whatever he says, goes. There’s no council of nobles, no senate, nothing that remotely challenges the King’s authority. He’s got courtiers and bureaucrats, sure, but the whole empire is essentially his own private property, to rule as he pleases.
    It sounds like a recipe for disaster. Certainly such an arrangement always has been, in historical times. No empire can hope to have an unbroken string of capable rulers. This king or that one might be all right, and maybe as much as a century can go along without any troublemakers reaching the throne. But sooner or later some madman is bound to come along, a Nero or a Caligula or a Hitler, somebody who won’t be able to handle absolute power, who runs amok and causes terrible chaos.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 51)
  • He named the names of gods. He named the names of kings—the secret names, the names they had worn as princes, before they became the newest Harinamur. He called upon all the forces of the universe to free himself from—
    • Chapter 7 (p. 83)
  • There’s no use trying to kid myself with cheery little uplifting cliches. I’ve been forced right up against the underlying truth of things. What a dark and cruel place the world is, for all its beauty, for all its wonder! We have miracles around us on every side—a spiderweb is a miracle, Lora!—but we also have violence, insanity, terrible disease, sudden death. The same Nature that brings us the mountains and the rivers and the green glistening meadows brings us the hurricane, the earthquake, the flood of red-hot lava rolling toward the city.
    • Chapter 11 (pp. 124-125)
  • I could have given him false consolation then, I suppose. I could have lied, and said that what he had seen was a fever dream, a fantasy, that Athilan would endure forever and a day. But I’m not much good at lying. And I knew that he wasn’t looking for lies from me, or consolations, or anything else that might make him feel good for a moment at the expense of the truth.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 129)

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