But it was pointless, it was stupid; he thought about thoughtless things. If I were a seabird . . . but how could you be a seabird? If you were a seabird your brain would be tiny and stupid and you would love half-rotted fish guts and tweaking the eyes out of little grazing animals; you would know no poetry and you could never appreciate flying as fully as the human on the ground yearning to be you. If you wanted to be a seabird you deserved to be one.
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Our lives are about development, mutation and the possibility of change; that is almost a definition of what life is: change... If you disable change, if you effectively stop time, if you prevent the possibility of the alteration of an individual's circumstances "" and that must include at least the possibility that they alter for the worse "" then you don't have life after death; you just have death.
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Don't you have a religion?" Dorolow asked Horza. "Yes, " he replied, not taking his eyes away from the screen on the wall above the end of the main mess-room table. "My survival." "So... your religion dies with you. How sad, " Dorolow said, looking back from Horza to the screen. The Changer let the remark pass.
You know, when I was in Paris, seeing Linter for the first time, I was standing at the top of some steps in the courtyard where Linter's place was, and I looked across it and there was a little notice on the wall saying it was forbidden to take photographs of the courtyard without the man's permission. [..] They want to own the light!
I switched the light out again. The room was totally dark, not even the starlight showing while my eyes adjusted. Perhaps I would ask for one of those LED alarm radios, though I'm very fond of my old brass alarm clock. Once I tied a wasp tot the striking-surface of each of the copper-coloured bells on top, where the little hammer would hit them in the morning when the alarm went off. I always wake up before the alarm goes, so I got to watch.
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All I said was that I thought it was a judgement from God that Blyth had first lost his leg and then had the replacement become the instrument of his downfall. All because of the rabbits. Eric, who was going through a religious phase at the time which I suppose I was to some extent copying, thought this was a terrible thing to say; God wasn't like that. I said the one I believed in was.
Oh, no, Cameron; I believe we're born free of sin and free of guilt. It's just that we all catch it, eventually. There are no clean rooms for morality, Cameron, no boys in bubbles kept in a guilt-free sterile zone. There are monasteries and nunneries, and people become recluses, but even that's just an elegant way of giving up. Washing one's hand didn't work two thousand years ago, and it doesn't work today. Involvement, Cameron, connection.
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I killed little Esmerelda because I felt I owed it to myself and to the world in general. I had, after all, accounted for two male children and thus done womankind something of a statistical favour. If I really had the courage of my convictions, I reasoned, I ought to redress the balance at least slightly. My cousin was simply the easiest and most obvious target.
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Anyway, you can't leave her like that. You can't do that to the woman. She doesn't deserve it; nobody does. You don't belong to her and she doesn't belong to you, but you're both part of each other; if she got up and left now and walked away and you never saw each other again for the rest of your lives, and you lived an ordinary waking life for another fifty years, even so on your deathbed you would still know she was part of you.
Everything about us, everything around us, everything we know and can know of is composed ultimately of patterns of nothing; that's the bottom line, the final truth. So where we find we have any control over those patterns, why not make the most elegant ones, the most enjoyable and good ones, in our own terms? Yes, we're hedonists, Mr. Bora Horza Gobuchul. We seek pleasure and have fashioned ourselves so that we can take more of it; admitted. We are what we are. But what about you? What does that make you?
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for all its apparent speed, the ship was almost perfectly silent, and he experienced an enervating, eerie feeling, as though the ancient warship, mothballed all those centuries, had somehow not yet fully woken up, and events within its sleek hull still moved to another, slower tempo, made half of dreams.
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In the end, he had to admit, he didn't really understand her. He didn't understand women. He didn't understand men. He didn't even understand children very well. All he really understood, he thought, was himself and the rest of the universe. Neither anything like completely, of course, but both well enough to know that what remained to be discovered would make sense; it would fit in, it could all be gradually and patiently fitted together a bit at a time, like an infinite jigsaw puzzle, with no straight edges to look for and no end in sight, but one in which there was always going to be somewhere for absolutely any piece to fit.
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Why had he done it? Why couldn't it just not have happened? Why didn't they have time-travel, why couldn't he go back and stop it happening? Ships that could circumnavigate the galaxy in a few years, and count every cell in your body from light-years off, but he wasn't able to go back one miserable day and alter one tiny, stupid, idiotic, shameful decision...
it is an ocean of burning oil I am cast adrift upon, no sea's repose; I pass from waking agonies... to the semiconscious trance of torment in which the smaller, earlier, deeper rings of the brain know only that the nerves scream, the body aches, and there is no one to turn crying to for comfort.
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Stories set in the Culture in which Things Went Wrong tended to start with humans losing or forgetting or deliberately leaving behind their terminal. It was a conventional opening, the equivalent of straying off the path in the wild woods in one age, or a car breaking down at night on a lonely road in another.
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Just before the Clear Air Turbulence went back into warp and its crew sat down at the table, the ship expelled the limp corpse of Zallin. Where it had found a live man in a suit, it left a dead youth in shorts and a tattered shirt, tumbling and freezing while a thin shell of air molecules expanded around the body, like an image of departing life.
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This is so much like the old days. And, again, I have mixed feelings. In some ways it's good and comfortable to be fitting straight back in like I've never been away, but, on the other hand, I'm getting this constrictive feeling as well. It's the same places - like the bars and pubs on Friday night - the same people, the same conversations, the same arguments and the same attitudes. Five years away and not much seems to have changed. I can't decide if this is good or bad.
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The truth is not always useful, not always good. It's like putting your faith in water. Yes, we need the rain, but too much can sweep you away in a flood and drown you. Like all great natural, elemental forces, the truth needs to be channeled, managed, controlled and intelligently, morally allocated.
I'm too drunk to recall much of what I've said. Which, come to think of it, is probably just as well, judging by the way people who are normally quite sensible dissolve into gibbering, rude, opinionated and bombastic idiots once the alcohol molecules in their bloom-stream outnumber the neutrons, or whatever. Luckily, one only notices this if one stays sober oneself, so the solution is as pleasant (at the time, at least) as it is obvious.
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Oh, they never lie. They dissemble, evade, prevaricate, confound, confuse, distract, obscure, subtly misrepresent and willfully misunderstand with what often appears to be a positively gleeful relish and are generally perfectly capable of contriving to give one an utterly unambiguous impression of their future course of action while in fact intending to do exactly the opposite, but they never lie. Perish the thought.
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If you have any helpful suggestions I'd be pleased to hear them. If all you can do is make snide insinuations then it would probably benefit all concerned if you bestowed the fruits of your prodigious wit on someone with the spare time to give them the consideration they doubtless deserve.
Empires are synonymous with centralized if occasionally schismatized hierarchical power structures in which influence is restricted to an economically privileged class retaining its advantages through usually a judicious use of oppression and skilled manipulation of both the society's information dissemination systems and its lesser as a rule nominally independent power systems. In short, it's all about dominance.
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Writing is like everything else: the more you do it the better you get. Don't try to perfect as you go along, just get to the end of the damn thing. Accept imperfections. Get it finished and then you can go back. If you try to polish every sentence there's a chance you'll never get past the first chapter.
People can be teachers and idiots; they can be philosophers and idiots; they can be politicians and idiots... in fact I think they have to be... a genius can be an idiot. The world is largely run for and by idiots; it is no great handicap in life and in certain areas is actually a distinct advantage and even a prerequisite for advancement.
One of the advantages of having laws is the pleasure one may take in breaking them. We here are not children, Mr. Gurgeh." Hamin waved the pipestem round the tables of people. "Rules and laws exist only because we take pleasure in doing what they forbid, but as long as most of the people obey such proscriptions most of the time, they have done their job; blind obedience would imply we are ha!" Hamin chuckled and pointed at the drone with the pipe "no more than robots!
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I think I know the real reason." "Which is?" "Alcohol in the dust clouds. Goddamn stuff is everywhere. Any lousy species ever invents the telescope and the spectroscope and starts looking in between the stars, what do they find?" He knocked the glass on the table. "Loads of stuff, but much of it alcohol." He drank from the glass. "Humanoids are the galaxy's way of trying to get rid of all that alcohol.
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Science fiction has its own history, its own legacy of what's been done, what's been superseded, what's so much part of the furniture it's practically part of the fabric now, what's become no more than a joke... and so on. It's just plain foolish, as well as comically arrogant, to ignore all this, to fail to do the most basic research.
Truth, I have learned, differs for everybody. Just as no two people ever see a rainbow in exactly the same place - and yet both most certainly see it, while the person seemingly standing right underneath it does not see it at all - so truth is a question of where one stands, and the direction one is looking in at the time.
It was a truism that all civilizations were basically neurotic until they made contact with everybody else and found their place within the ever-changing meta-civilisation of other beings, because, until then, during the stage when they honestly believed they might be entirely alone in existence, all solo societies were possessed of both an inflated sense of their own importance and a kind of existential terror at the sheer scale and apparent emptiness of the universe.
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People were always sorry. Sorry they had done what they had done, sorry they were doing what they were doing, sorry they were going to do what they were going to do; but they still did whatever it is. The sorrow never stopped them; it just made them feel better. And so the sorrow never stopped.