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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