Theodore Sturgeon

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Ask the next question.

Theodore Sturgeon (26 February 19188 May 1985) was an American author of science fiction, essayist, and poet.

Quotes[edit]

It's the Simple things that are really effective. Try to remember that.
  • It's the Simple things that are really effective. Try to remember that.
    • Professor Thaddeus MacIlhainy Nudnick, in "Two Percent Inspiration", first published in Astounding Science-Fiction (October 1941); also published in Microcosmic God : Volume II : The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon (1995), edited by Paul Williams, p. 322 ISBN 1556433018
  • That Heel. That lousy wart on the nose of progress.
    • Character Hughie McCauley, quoting fictional space-opera hero Captain Jaundess, in "Two Percent Inspiration", first published in Astounding Science-Fiction (October 1941); also published in Microcosmic God : Volume II : The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon (1995), edited by Paul Williams, p. 322 ISBN 1556433018
  • I repeat Sturgeon's Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of it is crud.
    The Revelation: Ninety percent of everything is crud.
    Corollary 1: The existence of immense quantities of trash in science fiction is admitted and it is regrettable; but it is no more unnatural than the existence of trash anywhere.
    Corollary 2: The best science fiction is as good as the best fiction in any field.
    • Venture Science Fiction (March 1958) The original expression of this has often been declared to have been "Sure, ninety percent of science fiction is crud. That's because ninety percent of everything is crud." According to Philip Klass Sturgeon made the remark during a talk at New York University around 1951. It has also commonly appeared in variant forms such as "Ninety percent of everything is crap" and is often referred to as "Sturgeon's Law" — though he himself gave that title to another phrase:
Sturgeon's Law originally was "Nothing is always absolutely so." The other thing was known as "Sturgeon's Revelation".
  • Interview with David G Hartwell, The New York Review of Science Fiction (March - April 1989)
  • A science fiction story is a story built around human beings, with a human problem and a human solution, which would not have happened at all without its scientific content.
    • As quoted in The Issue at Hand : Studies in Contemporary Magazine Science Fiction (1964) by James Blish, p. 14
  • It means "Ask the next question." Ask the next question, and the one that follows that, and the one that follows that. It's the symbol of everything humanity has ever created, and is the reason it has been created. This guy is sitting in a cave and he says, "Why can't man fly?" Well, that's the question. The answer may not help him, but the question now has been asked.
    The next question is what? How? And so all through the ages, people have been trying to find out the answer to that question. We've found the answer, and we do fly. This is true of every accomplishment, whether it's technology or literature, poetry, political systems or anything else. That is it. Ask the next question. And the one after that.
  • Science fiction, outside of poetry, is the only literary field which has no limits, no parameters whatsoever. You can go not only into the future, but into that wonderful place called "other", which is simply another universe, another planet, another species.

More Than Human (1953)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback edition published by Vintage Books
  • The idiot heard the sounds, but they had no meaning for him. He lived inside somewhere, apart, and the little link between word and significance hung broken.
    • Chapter 1 “The Fabulous Idiot”, p. 1
  • There’s this about a farm: when the market’s good there’s money, and when it’s bad there’s food.
    • Chapter 1, p. 34
  • So it was that Lone came to know himself; and like the handful of people who have done so before him he found, at this pinnacle, the rugged foot of a mountain.
    • Chapter 1, p. 60
  • That’s fairly common. We don’t believe anything we don’t want to believe.
    • Chapter 2 “Baby is Three”, p. 94
  • Logic and truth are two very different things, but they often look the same to the mind that’s performing the logic.
    • Chapter 2, p. 97
  • Reality isn’t the most pleasant of atmospheres, Lieutenant. But we like to think we’re engineered for it. It’s a pretty fine piece of engineering, the kind an engineer can respect. Drag in an obsession and reality can’t tolerate it. Something has to give; if reality goes, your fine piece of engineering is left with nothing to operate on. So it operates badly. So kick the obsession out; start functioning the way you were designed to function.
    • Chapter 3 “Morality”, p. 146
  • Love’s a different sort of thing, hot enough to make you flow into something, interflow, cool and anneal and be a weld stronger than what you started with.
    • Chapter 3, p. 169
  • Morals: They’re nothing but a coded survival instinct!
    • Chapter 3, p. 175
  • Do you know what morals are? Morals are an obedience to rules that people laid down to help you live among them.
    • Chapter 3, p. 181
  • An ethic isn’t a fact you can look up. It’s a way of thinking.
    • Chapter 3, p. 183
  • The most human thing about anyone is a thing he learns and … and earns. It’s a thing he can’t have when he’s very young; if he gets it at all, he gets it after a long search and a deep conviction. After that it’s truly part of him as long as he lives.
    • Chapter 3, p. 184
  • Here, too, was the guide, the beacon, for such times as humanity might be in danger; here was the Guardian of Whom all humans knew — not an exterior force, nor an awesome Watcher in the sky, but a laughing thing with a human heart and a reverence for its human origins, smelling of sweat and new-turned earth rather than suffused with the pale odor of sanctity.
    • Chapter 3, p. 186

External links[edit]