Kage Baker

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Has there ever been a revolution that produced something better than what it overthrew? The only thing people learn from being oppressed is how to oppress others!

Kage Baker (10 June 195231 January 2010) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer.

Quotes[edit]

Mortals keep thinking they’re in Modern Times, you know, they get all this neat technology and pass all these humanitarian laws, and then something happens: there’s an economic crisis, or science makes some discovery people can’t deal with. And boom, people go right back to burning Jews and selling pieces of the true Cross.

In the Garden of Iden (1997)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Avon Books (Eos)
  • No nation, creed, or race was any better or worse than another; all were flawed, all were equally doomed to suffering, mostly because they couldn’t see that they were all alike. Mortals might have been contemptible, true, but not evil entirely. They did enjoy killing one another and frequently came up with ingenious excuses for doing so on a large scale—religions, economic theories, ethnic pride—but we couldn’t condemn them for it, as it was in their moral natures and they were too stupid to know any better.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 45)
  • Imagine being told that it hadn’t mattered whether the Christians or the Moors got Spain! I can still remember my shock. I got over it fairly quickly, though, because by that time I had learned enough history to know that in the long run it never mattered a damn where any particular race of people planted its collective ass.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 45)
  • The leaf that spreads in the sunlight is the only holiness there is. I haven’t found holiness in the faiths of mortals, nor in their music, nor in their dreams: it’s out in the open field, with the green rows looking at the sky. I don’t know what it is, this holiness: but it’s there, and it looks at the sky.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 46)
  • “So as we’ve seen, not one faith has ever lived up to its promises. The world has never become a paradise, quite the opposite, in fact: think of the millions upon millions slaughtered, tortured, imprisoned for this great idea, this good news, this revolution. The visionary who works against human nature to impose his—or her—sweeping vision on the world is inevitably its worst enemy.
    Now, who isn’t? Consider the work of certain individual mortals who set themselves simple tasks. They saw no need to raise armies; they saw no need for revolution or bloodshed; they worked instead for realistic goals with the tools they had. And they succeeded, and their works have been of lasting benefit to humanity.” He erased the board with relish and chalked a new set of names: dickens, pasteur, lister, fleming, teresa, muir, kobiar, luong.
    “People like these have done more to relieve human misery than any prophet with a manifesto ever will.”
    • Chapter 6 (p. 47)
  • And what a clever guy this Harpole is, isn’t he? Awfully good at noticing all kinds of little unusual things about people and keeping them on file in his head. So he’s built a theory around us, has he? He added two and two and came up with five, but nobody else in the house was aware there was anything to count.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 128)
  • “Funny thing about those Middle Ages,” said Joseph. “They just keep coming back. Mortals keep thinking they’re in Modern Times, you know, they get all this neat technology and pass all these humanitarian laws, and then something happens: there’s an economic crisis, or science makes some discovery people can’t deal with. And boom, people go right back to burning Jews and selling pieces of the true Cross. Don’t you ever make the mistake of thinking that mortals want to live in a golden age. They hate thinking.”
    • Chapter 17 (pp. 192-193)
  • How could millennia-old superbeings be so boring?
    • Chapter 18 (p. 213)
  • I may cut my coat to follow fashion, sir, but not my conscience.
    • Chapter 18 (p. 215)

Sky Coyote (1999)[edit]

True believers aren’t real receptive to the idea that what they’re telling you is just mythology.
All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Avon Books (Eos)
When you laugh at something, you don’t fear it anymore.
  • The truth is, Homo sapiens sapiens is pretty much the same the world over, regardless of skin color or technological development. Racists and provincial types have problems with this fact, but it is a fact. All mortals have the same potential, and only chance determines who’s playing a spinet or who’s clubbing dinner to death with a big rock. And, you know what? Mortals adapt to the environment in which they’re placed. Switch babies between savages and technologicals, and nobody notices! I know, because I’ve seen it done. I’ve seen the son of a club-carrying cave dweller fuming because his accounting software wasn’t quite adequate for his needs. All humans have the same brain package.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 72)
  • “They find us outlandish,” Lopez admitted. “Extravagant. Eclectic. Unfathomable.”
    • Chapter 19 (p. 126)
  • “Like children, they’re bored by complicated things. More than bored: they feel threatened. Give a child mashed potatoes and butter, and he’s happy. He doesn’t want to try the rich sauce with capers, in fact he’ll cry if he’s forced to taste it. You see what I mean?
    But, listen, Joseph. A child is easy to control. Keep him happy, and he’ll believe what he’s told to believe.”
    • Chapter 19 (p. 129)
  • Has there ever been a revolution that produced something better than what it overthrew? The only thing people learn from being oppressed is how to oppress others!
    • Chapter 22 (p. 172)
  • When you hear a story, do you believe only the nice parts? Truth isn’t like a baked fish, where you can eat the flesh and leave the bones and skin. You have to eat it all.
    • Chapter 24 (p. 189)
  • The awful bottom line, of course, is that if you’re going to rule the world, you have to have absolute power, and everybody knows what absolute power does.
    • Chapter 26 (p. 213)
  • True believers aren’t real receptive to the idea that what they’re telling you is just mythology.
    • Chapter 29 (p. 251)
  • When you laugh at something, you don’t fear it anymore.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 266)
  • The same intact culture that made them good businessmen also made many of them lousy parents.
    • Chapter 35 (p. 286)
  • I’ve been in the entertainment industry ever since, in one capacity or another. It’s better than the Inquisition. Usually.
    • Chapter 35 (p. 287)

Mendoza in Hollywood (2000)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by HarperCollins Books (Eos)
  • Faith and its attendant rituals sound like a good deal, the whole eternal salvation thing, but inevitably they lead to fear, oppression, the rack and flames.
    • Prologue (p. 2)
  • Ah, Los Angeles. One disaster after another, always has been.
    • Part 1 “Establishing Shot” Chapter 1 (p. 9)
  • I looked up at several pockmarks in the nearest wall; if they weren’t bullet holes, the place had damned big hailstones.
    • Part 1 “Establishing Shot” Chapter 5 (p. 72)
  • “Sight-seeing is the art of disappointment,” I quoted.
    • Part 1 “Establishing Shot” Chapter 7 (p. 93)
  • I had a productive day, without the distraction of conversation.
    • Part 1 “Establishing Shot” Chapter 8 (p. 105)
  • Did you know what would happen next? Did you know and sit there like God, silent, remorseless, useless?
    • Part 2 “Babylon is Fallen” Chapter 11 (p. 255)
  • Do you remember that terrible moment, señors, when the self-righteousness of your youth died? When all the stern warnings of your elders, ignored until the consequences abruptly came crashing down on your head, made you see in a flash that the warnings hadn’t been unfair or mean-spirited or blind, they’d been right? All along your elders had been trying to tell you about the black joke that is life, trying to help you and save you from pain. But you insisted on running straight into the trap, mocking them as you ran, to the agony that was irreversible and permanent, with no one to blame, finally, but yourself.
    It’s not good to see yourself in the mirror then.
    • Part 2 “Babylon is Fallen” Chapter 12 (pp. 259-260)
  • His nation of liberty was founded on the backs of Negro slaves and at the cost of exterminating the aborigines. As far as I can tell, the Yankee’s idea of freedom is his right to carry a pistol with which he may shoot strangers in the street.
    • Part 3 “The Island Out There” Chapter 1 (p. 287)
  • Privilege tends to soften the brain, or so I’ve observed.
    • Part 3 “The Island Out There” Chapter 2 (p. 294)
  • Religion has its place, certainly, in reinforcing ethical behavior amongst the masses, but any sufficiently enlightened secular laws will have the same effect. After all, most of the creeds of the world have essentially the same purpose, have they not? To enjoin men to be what we call moral, which is to say civilized. A civilized man obey the rule of law, he acknowledges that he must not injure his neighbors, and if injured by them, he must appeal to law for satisfaction rather than indulge in burning their houses over their heads as they sleep. Civilization is the ideal for which we strive, with so little perceptible success; yet we do succeed, in inches and over years.
    • Part 3 “The Island Out There” Chapter 2 (p. 303)
  • A missionary may persuade a painted savage to worship a cross rather than an idol; but he will not make laws that send that savage’s children to school, where they might learn to make the desert they inhabit another Eden by means of the advanced sciences. He may persuade his flock to love one another for his God’s sake, but he’ll invariably urge them to slaughter any neighboring tribe that still worships stone idols. This is the failure of religion as a force for the common welfare.
    • Part 3 “The Island Out There” Chapter 3 (p. 304)
  • Any brute will demand his right to be a law unto himself, beating his wife and his children as he pleases, and defend that right with his father’s rifle and think himself a patriot.
    • Part 3 “The Island Out There” Chapter 3 (pp. 304-305)
  • “And when there is peace at last, and when men are no longer distracted by the ravages of war and crime, then the real work begins. Mankind has grasped at science and invention to improve his lot; when he truly understands that he can wield those tools to improve himself, he will lay the cornerstone of the earthly paradise,” Edward said. “What might not science achieve, in a world where a nation’s resources weren’t continually drained by strife?
    • Part 3 “The Island Out There” Chapter 3 (pp. 308-309)

The Graveyard Game (2001)[edit]

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any stranger, I was proven wrong.
All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Harcourt.
The sections in the novel are not numbered. They are numbered here for ease of reference
  • Times had changed.
    Sooner or later, they always did.
    • Chapter 2, “Hollywood, 1996” (p. 10)
  • Is God a cruel bastard or what, to make love so painful?
    • Chapter 7, “London, 2026” (p. 65)
  • “You’ve no appreciation of high romance, that’s your trouble,” Lewis said, climbing in and starting the motor.
    Joseph nodded somberly. “Boy meets girl, girl loses boy, everybody dies. I just don’t get it.”
    • Chapter 10, “Yorkshire” (p. 82)
  • Terrorism was too tame for the Scots: they used lawyers.
    • Chapter 14, “London, 2142” (p. 113)
  • “There,” Joseph said. “There’s your answer.”
    “It’s not an answer, little man. It’s many, many more questions.”
    • Chapter 15, “Fez (I)” (p. 145)
  • Just when I thought things couldn’t get any stranger, I was proven wrong.
    • Chapter 23, “Irún del Mar, Basque Republic” (p. 201)
  • You have to be pretty damned hot and thirsty to enjoy a soy-milk smoothie, but they were, so it was okay.
    • Chapter 27, “Avalon” (p. 240)
  • It was growing dusk, the blue hour when solid things take on a certain transparency and phantoms become palpable.
    • Chapter 27, “Avalon” (p. 244)

The Life of the World to Come (2004)[edit]

All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Tor Books.
The sections in the novel are not numbered. They are numbered here for ease of reference
  • It didn’t matter that they were terrible at being parents; they were also very rich, which meant they could pay other people to love Alec.
    • Chapter 4, “Smart Alec” (p. 55)
  • “Isn’t that a little hard on him? You’re not only making him feel bad about something he didn’t do, you’re making him feel bad about something that didn’t even shracking happen.”
    “I believe churches used to call it original sin,” Rutherford agreed, looking crafty. “But what does it matter, if it serves to make him a better man?”
    • Chapter 5, “Another Meeting” (p. 97)
  • With the invention of printing, mass standardized culture had become possible.
    With the inventions of photography and then cinema, the standardization of popular culture began to progress geometrically and its rate of change slowed down.
    In addition, the complete documentation of daily life made possible by these technological advances presented the mass of humanity, for the first time in history, with a mirror in which to regard itself. Less and less had it been able to look away, as its own image became more detailed and perfect, especially with the burden of information that became available at the end of the twentieth century.
    What this meant, in practical terms, was that retro was the only fashion.
    • Chapter 6, “Alec and His Friends” (p. 105)
  • “How, in this day and age, can any one of you claim to be better than your fellow human beings?”
    “Because we are,” said Marilyn Deighton-True with a shrug. “Face reality, Giles, or it will face you. You can spout all the socialiste nouveau crap you like, but it simply doesn’t apply to a meritocracy.”
    • Chapter 6, “Alec and His Friends” (p. 106)
  • “Alec is beautiful,” said Jill, bending down to kiss him.
    “Like a mushroom cloud!” scoffed Balkister.
    • Chapter 6, “Alec and His Friends” (p. 109)
  • Rutherford was a historian, after all, and secretly enjoyed it when the truth did injury to modern sensibilities.
    • Chapter 11, “Christmas Meeting” (p. 181)
  • Very shortly the temple was once again a wonder of the world, and the Ephesian Church settled down to a long reign marked only by the usual bitter quarrels, heresies, and internal dissent through which all major faiths struggle.
    Any religion begins in a moment of transforming truth. That moment quickly shatters into falsehood and shame and stagecraft, bitter comedy, sometimes murder. Thieves catch hold of any chance for power. The early years of a faith are best not too closely examined by its faithful.
    • Chapter 12, “Alec Solves a Mystery” (p. 201)
  • He caught his breath, absorbing the impact of the scientific discoveries, the advances in scholarship, the inevitable dwindling into insignificance of issues that had mattered more than his life. He closed his eyes, turned his face away, but he couldn’t stop his understanding.
    “You see?” said Edward. “They’re all happy pagans nowadays. When they take the trouble to worship at all. Enlightenment swept most of that nonsense away, and good riddance!”
    • Chapter 20, “Alec Times Three” (p. 308)
  • “Consigned to everlasting fire,” said Nicholas in a faint voice. He had gone white as chalk.
    “No, you medieval imbecile!” Edward clenched his fists. “You still have no grasp of the truth, have you? Leave your angels and devils in the trash of history, where they belong.”
    • Chapter 20, “Alec Times Three” (p. 309)
  • “When will you stop this metaphysical nonsense?” said Edward wearily. “But I suppose you’ve no other way to look at the matter, born as you were in an age of superstitious piety.”
    • Chapter 20, “Alec Times Three” (p. 318)

The Children of the Company (2005)[edit]

All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Tor Books.
The sections in the novel are not numbered. They are numbered here for ease of reference
  • It takes thousands of them to create an archive of human wisdom; only one to set a torch to it. Wouldn’t you have to say, then, that the work of the librarians is more typical of mortal behavior than the work of the arsonist?
    • Chapter 2, “Victor the Poisoner” (p. 89)
  • Ah, the immortal ocean.
    Consider the instructive metaphor: every conceivable terror dwells in her depths; she receives all wreckage, refuse, corruption of every kind, she pulls down into her depths human calamity indescribable; but none of this is any consideration to the sea. Let the screaming mortal passengers fight for room in the lifeboats, as the wreck belches flame and settles below the extinguishing wave; next morning she’ll still be beautiful and serene, her combers no less white, her distances as blue, her seabirds no less graceful as they wheel in the pure air. What perfection, to be so heartless. An inspiration to any lesser immortal.
    • Chapter 4, “Son Observe the Time” (p. 165)
  • Doubtless he was going to start bragging about being a god. It went with the profile of this sort of lunatic.
    • Chapter 4, “Son Observe the Time” (p. 209)
  • “Sex,” Kiu said thoughtfully. “And Fear. Get that big old devil behind them with a stick, and my radiant beauty in front of them, and they’ll run right off a cliff, if I ask.”
    “I’m a firm believer in Guilt, personally,” said Labienus.
    “Works well on individuals,” Kiu conceded.
    “Nothing like it for subtle motivation. Plant it deeply enough into a mortal’s psyche and it twists them endlessly.” Labienus sighed. “Get it in there young enough and it’ll do all your work for you. You’ll have only to prod the mortal along with a suggestion now and then.”
    • Chapter 5, “The Angel of the Bottomless Deep” (p. 227)
  • It’s sad when people are stupid.
    • Chapter 7, “Messis Vero Consummatio Saeculi Est” (p. 264)

The Machine's Child (2006)[edit]

All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Tor Books.
The sections in the novel are not numbered. They are numbered here for ease of reference
Boldface and italics as in the original. Ellipses represent minor elisions of description
  • “I will say this once.” Edward turned to the others. “I’m in command on this mission. Do not, at any time, attempt to wrest control from me. If what you see dismays you, avert your eyes.”
    • Chapter 5, “Another Morning in 2302 AD” (p. 48)
  • The Rogue Cyborg is doing serious Rogue Cyborg stuff. He’s crouched before a data terminal as though it were an ancient altar, and from the look on his face what he’s praying for is desperate and bloody revenge.
    • Chapter 13, “One Evening in 2318 AD” (p. 133)
  • “So, um...are you alone out here?”
    “I was,” she said.
    • Chapter 16, “One Afternoon in 2319 AD” (p. 157)
  • Now then, Nick, wilt thou not sleep?
    Nicholas glanced up from the plaquette on which he had been studying the Pali canon of Buddha’s teachings. He sighed and set it aside...
    You don’t look like revelation has struck you, somehow.
    No, Spirit.
    This ain’t any better than the Tao?
    No.
    Nor the Bhagavad Gita? Nor the Avesta, neither?
    No.
    I thought certain you’d like them Gnostic Gospels.
    Nicholas shrugged.
    And I reckon you ain’t even looked at that nice book on Vodou.
    Spirit, this is futility. What do the best of them but recapitulate the Ten Commandments, in one form or another? And I find no proof that men have obeyed strange gods any better than the God of the Israelites, or learned any more of the true nature of the Almighty. Shall I worship a cow? Shall I spin paper prayers on a wheel? I’d as lief go back to eating fish in Lent lest God smite me down, or pray to wooden Mary to take away the toothache.
    Well, son, allowing for the foolishness, which I reckon depends on what port you hail from—ain’t there any one seems better than the rest?
    None, Spirit. That I must be kind and do no harm, I needed no prophets to tell me; but not one will open his dead mouth to say what kind and harmless Lord would create this dreadful world, said Nicholas...
    What do I tell my boy, then, if he gets the shakes about eternal life?
    Set up no gods for thine Alec, Spirit. Nicholas lay back and put his arms about Mendoza, pulling her close. There is love, or there is nothing. The rest is vanity.
    • Chapter 18, “In the Dark Night of the Soul (Year Indeterminate)” (pp. 173-174)
  • “This is insane,” she said. “Why would mortals make it so difficult to get two little glasses of white wine?”
    “Human nature, my love.” Edward grinned and set his knee against hers under the tablecloth. “The desire of a few to dictate morality to the whole. And why do the masses submit willingly? Apathy. Or, perhaps, the opportunity to experience the thrill of the forbidden!”
    • Chapter 21, “Santa Catalina Island, 1923 AD” (p. 212; during Prohibition)
  • Justice doesn’t exist! We did worse things. Nobody deserves to go to that place, Alec said. Anyway, weren’t you Christian types supposed to forgive everybody?
    I will shed no tears for that bastard’s damnation, said Nicholas stonily.
    No wonder nobody’s left that believes in your stupid religion, said Alec.
    • Chapter 21, “Santa Catalina Island, 1923 AD” (p. 218)
  • That is one dark house your God lives in, man. Alec shook his head. You can keep your Age of Faith. Whyn’t you find somebody to worship who isn’t a shracking psychopath?
    • Chapter 21, “Santa Catalina Island, 1923 AD” (p. 227)
  • As it had been explained to David long ago, genetic diversity was very, very important. The more diverse the human gene pool was, the better were humanity’s chances of adapting to any new and unexpected conditions it might encounter, now that it was beginning to push outward into Space, to say nothing of surviving any unexpected natural disasters such as polar shifts or meteor strikes on Earth.
    Unfortunately, humanity had been both unlucky and foolish. Out of the dozens of races that had once lived in the world, only a handful had survived into modern times. Some ancient races had been rendered extinct by war. Some had been simply crowded out, retreating into remote regions and forced to breed amongst themselves, which killed them off with lethal recessives.
    That had been the bad luck. The foolishness had come when people began to form theories about the process of Evolution. They got it all wrong: most people interpreted the concept of “survival of the fittest” to mean they ought to narrow the gene pool, reducing it in size. So this was done, in genocidal wars and eugenics programs, and how surprised people were when lethal recessives began to occur more frequently! To say nothing of the populations who died in droves when diseases swept through them, because they were all so genetically similar there were none among them with natural immunities.
    • Chapter 29, “Still Another Morning in 500,000 BCE” (p. 330)

The Sons of Heaven (2007)[edit]

All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Tor Books.
All ellipses except the one after "so much worse" are in the original.
  • “Why did I never understand...”
    “That it was vanity?” I said.
    “Mm, but so much worse...Delusion. Because, the thing is—human progress begins, not with one lone man with a weapon, however heroic. Nor with subtle governments, be they never so altruistic. It begins with a man and his wife in bed...and...how could I ever hope to govern humanity, without having been even that human?
    • Chapter 12, Section 1 “Three Months: Extract from the Journal of the Botanist Mendoza: Monsters and Ice Cream” (p. 156)
  • “Oh, that’s childish,” says Nicholas in disgust.
    “Well, so what?” says Alec. “We happen to be children.”
    • Chapter 22, Section 1 “Child Care in the Cyborg Family, Volume Six: The Challenge of Psychological Development” (p. 268)
  • “That wasn’t very godly,” Alec calls up to him.
    “And what has God to do with me?” Nicholas shouts back. “No voices speak to me out of any burning bush. No word at all. Hideous vacancy, monstrous indifference, and a senseless universe!”
    “Well,” says Alec cautiously, “I would think that was a good thing. Shouldn’t you have grown out of this by now? What do you want meaning in the universe for, anyway? Nothing means anything! We’re just here to go along for the adventure.”
    • Chapter 23, Section 1 “Child Care in the Cyborg Family, Volume Ten: The Awkward Years” (pp. 274-275)
  • “Edward has a purpose for us. Ruling the world, I assume.”
    “He can’t,” says Alec, aghast. “That’s what villains do!”
    • Chapter 23, Section 1 “Child Care in the Cyborg Family, Volume Ten: The Awkward Years” (p. 276)
  • Edward raises the pointer and places its tip against Alec’s forehead. “What’s the use of having a library in there if you won’t open the books, boy? What’s the good of augmented intelligence if you won’t use it?”
    • Chapter 26, Section 1 “Child Care in the Cyborg Family, Volume Fifteen: Adolescent Rebellion” (p. 307)
  • Edward holds up a hand for silence. “If you please, Captain: he’s thinking. Let us savor the exquisite rarity of the moment.”
    • Chapter 26, Section 2 “One Week Later, Linear Time” (p. 319)
  • He saw in memory Mendoza’s face, her black eyes sad as she downloaded a chapter on revolutions.
    Here you go. Great heroes and the things they wrecked. Always easier to destroy something than to create something. It’s harder to plant a garden than to blow up a building, and undoubtedly more boring, but you just might need to do it one day, eh?
    • Chapter 32, Section 1 “Gray’s Inn Road” (p. 391)
  • “Why should we obey you?” Budu asked.
    “Because I’m, er, omnipotent,” said Alec.
    • Chapter 35, Section 1 “The Silence at Last” (p. 415)

External links[edit]

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