Spider Robinson

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Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy.

Spider Robinson (born 24 November 1948) is an American-born Canadian Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author. Spider states that the internet rumors of his name being, or having been, Paul Robinson are incorrect.

Sourced[edit]

There are in fact Laws of Conservation of Pain and Joy. Neither can ever be created or destroyed.
But one can be converted into the other.
In a culture where pessimism has metastasized like slow carcinoma, that crazy Irishman was backward enough to try to raise hopes, like hothouse flowers.
  • Just as there are Laws of Conservation of Matter and Energy, so there are in fact Laws of Conservation of Pain and Joy. Neither can ever be created or destroyed.
    But one can be converted into the other.
  • In a culture where pessimism has metastasized like slow carcinoma, that crazy Irishman was backward enough to try to raise hopes, like hothouse flowers. In an era during which even judicious use of alcohol has been increasingly bad-rapped, the man who came to be known as The Mick of Time was backward enough to think that the world can look just that essential tad better when seen through a flask, brightly. (As long as you let someone else drive you home afterward.) Above all, he — and his goofball customers — believed that shared pain is lessened, and shared Joy increased.
    Now he is gone. Gone back whence he came, and we are all the poorer for it. But I refuse to say that we will not see his like again. Or his love again.
    • The Callahan Chronicals (1996) [originally published as Callahan and Company (1988)] "Backword", p. xii
  • Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy.
    • "Callahan's Law", as expressed in The Callahan Chronicals (1996) [originally published as Callahan and Company (1988)], Part IV : Earth … and Beyond, "Post Toast", p. 388. On the back cover of Callahan's Legacy (1996) this is modified into "Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased (and bad puns are appreciated).
  • To all the Callahan's Places there ever were or ever will be, whatever they may be called — and to all the merry maniacs and happy fools who are fortunate enough to stumble into one: may none of them arrive too late!
    • Toast in The Callahan Chronicals (1996) [originally published as Callahan and Company (1988)], Part IV : Earth … and Beyond, "Post Toast", p. 392
  • The delusion that one's sexual pattern is The Only Right Way To Be is probably the single most common sexual-psychosis syndrome of this era, and it is virtually almost always the victim's fault. You cannot acquire this delusion by observing reality.
    • Lady Slings the Booze (1992)

God Is An Iron (1977)[edit]

"God is an iron," I said. "Did you know that?"
I turned to look at her and she was staring. She laughed experimentally, stopped when I failed to join in. "And I'm a pair of pants with a hole scorched through the ass?"
As Bob Dylan forgot to say,To live outside the law, you must be lucky.
  • I smelled her before I saw her. Even so, the first sight was shocking.
    • First lines
  • I had just seen the two most horrible things. The first was the smile. They say that when the bomb went off at Hiroshima, some people's shadows were baked onto walls by it. I think that smile got baked on the surface of my brain in much the same way. I don't want to talk about that smile.
  • Five days of wireheading alone should have killed her, never mind sudden cold turkey.
  • Animated the face might have been beautiful — any set of features can support beauty — but even a superb makeup job could not have made her pretty.
  • I was putting together a picture of a life that would have depressed anyone with the sensitivity of a rhino. Back when I had first seen her, when her features were alive, she had looked sensitive. Or had that been a trick of the juice?
  • I wanted to understand.
  • I've tried it with men and women and boys and girls, in the dark and in the desert sun, with people I cared for and people I didn't give a damn about, and I have never understood the pleasure in it. The best it's ever been for me is not uncomfortable.
  • "God is an iron," I said. "Did you know that?"
    I turned to look at her and she was staring. She laughed experimentally, stopped when I failed to join in. "And I'm a pair of pants with a hole scorched through the ass?"
    "If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron."
  • Man has historically devoted much more subtle and ingenious thought to inflicting cruelty than to giving others pleasure — which, given his gregarious nature, would seem a much more survival-oriented behavior. Poll any hundred people at random and you'll find at least twenty or thirty who know all there is to know about psychological torture and psychic castration — and maybe two who know how to give a terrific back-rub.
  • Call it… joy. The thing like pleasure that you feel when you've done a good thing or passed up a real tempting chance to do a bad thing. Or when the unfolding of the universe just seems especially apt. It's nowhere near as flashy and intense as pleasure can be. Believe me! But it's got something going for it. Something that can make you do without pleasure, or even accept a lot of pain, to get it.
  • "It took a couple of hundred million years to develop a thinking ape and you want a smart one in a lousy few hundred thousand? That lemming drive you're talking about is there — but there's another kind of drive, another kind of force that's working against it. Or else there wouldn't still be any people and there wouldn't be the words to have this conversation and—" She paused, looked down at herself. "And I wouldn't be here to say them."
  • Now I can say that I have sampled the spectrum of the pleasure system at both ends — none and all there is — and I think the rest of my life I will dedicate myself to the middle of the road and see how that works out. Starting with the very weak tea and toast I'm going to ask you to bring me in another ten minutes or so. With maltose. But as for this other stuff, this joy thing, that I would like to begin learning about, as much as I can. I don't really know a God damned thing about it, but I understand it has something to do with sharing and caring and what did you say your name was?
  • God is an iron… and that's a hot one.
    • Author's Postscript to the story. This story is also the second chapter of his novel Mindkiller (1982) and appears as the title story in the collection God Is An Iron and Other Stories ISBN 0-7862-4162-4. Cover art for Book

Callahan's Key (2000)[edit]

  • It's always coldest before the warm.
    • First lines
  • Nikky has more fiber than I do, I guess: he doesn't let a little thing like death slow him down.

External links[edit]

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