Clifford D. Simak
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- When I talk of the purpose of life, I am thinking not only of human life, but of all life on Earth and of the life which must exist upon other planets throughout the universe. It is only of life on Earth, however, that one can speak with any certainty. It seems to me that all life on Earth, the sum total of life upon the Earth, has purpose. If the means were available, we could trace our ancestry — yours and mine — back to the first blob of life-like material that came into being on the planet. The same thing could be done for the spider that spun his web in the grass, and of the grass in which the web was spun, the bird sitting in the tree and the tree in which he sits, the toad waiting for the fly beneath the bush, and for the fly and bush. We are all genetic brothers. The chain of life, tracing back to that primordial day of life's beginning, is unbroken...
- Interview in Speaking of Science Fiction: The Paul Walker Interviews (1978)
- I have tried at times to place humans in perspective against the vastness of universal time and space. I have been concerned with where we, as a race, may be going and what may be our purpose in the universal scheme — if we have a purpose. In general, I believe we do, and perhaps an important one.
- As quoted in the Associated Press obituary (27 April 1988)
- All page numbers from the mass market edition published by Berkley
- My reluctance to use alien invasion is due to the feeling that we are not likely to be invaded and taken over. It would seem to me that by the time a race has achieved deep space capability it would have matured to a point where it would have no thought of dominating another intelligent species. Further than this, there should be no economic necessity of its doing so. By the time it was able to go into deep space, it must have arrived at an energy source which would not be based on planetary natural resources.
- Introduction (p. ix)
- “McKay tells me that you went home sick,” she said. “Personally, I hope you don’t survive.”
- “Skirmish” (p. 44); originally published in Amazing Stories, December 1950
- There have been moments when I also wasn’t able to attach as much importance to football as it seemed to me I should.
- “The Sitters” (p. 73); originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1958
- Beyond his own sure knowledge, he had not a shred of proof.
- “The Sitters” (p. 90)
- He sat and watched them come and he thought of going in to get a rifle, but he didn’t stir from his seat upon the steps. The rifle would do no good, he told himself. It would be a senseless thing to get it; more than that, a senseless attitude. The least that man could do, he thought, was to meet these creatures of another world with clean and empty hands.
- Once again the universe was spread far out before him and it was a different and in some ways a better universe, a more diagrammatic universe, and in time, he knew, if there were such a thing as time, he'd gain some completer understanding and acceptance of it.
He probed and sensed and learned and there was no such thing as time, but a great foreverness.
He thought with pity of those others locked inside the ship, safe behind its insulating walls, never knowing all the glories of the innards of a star or the vast panoramic sweep of vision and of knowing far above the flat galactic plane.
Yet he really did not know what he saw or probed; he merely sensed and felt it and became a part of it, and it became a part of him — he seemed unable to reduce it to a formal outline of fact or of dimension or of content. It still remained a knowledge and a power so overwhelming that it was nebulous. There was no fear and no wonder, for in this place, it seemed, there was neither fear nor wonder. And he finally knew that it was a place apart, a world in which the normal space-time knowledge and emotion had no place at all and a normal space-time being could have no tools or measuring stick by which he might reduce it to a frame of reference.
There was no time, no space, no fear, no wonder — and no actual knowledge, either.
- “All the Traps of Earth” (p. 165); originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 1960
- Perhaps all that had happened had been no more than the working out of human destiny. If the human race could not attain directly the paranormal power he held, this instinct of the mind, then they would gain it indirectly through the agency of one of their creations. Perhaps this, after all, unknown to Man himself, had been the prime purpose of the robots.
He turned and walked slowly down the length of village street, his back turned to the ship and the roaring of the captain, walked contentedly into this new world he'd found, into this world that he would make — not for himself, nor for robotic glory, but for a better Mankind and a happier.
Less than an hour before he'd congratulated himself on escaping all the traps of Earth, all the snares of Man. Not knowing that the greatest trap of all, the final and the fatal trap, lay on this present planet.
But that was wrong, he told himself. The trap had not been on this world at all, nor any other world. It had been inside himself.
He walked serenely down the wagon-rutted track in the soft, golden afternoon of a matchless autumn day, with the dog trotting at his heels.
Somewhere, just down the street, the sick baby lay crying in its crib.
- “All the Traps of Earth” (pp. 190-191); closing words.
- Accident, he wondered, or a way of hiding? Trapped or planned? He had no way of knowing and further speculation was ridiculous, based as it necessarily must be upon earlier assumptions that were entirely without support.
- “The Thing in the Stone” (pp. 211-212); originally published in Worlds of If, March 1970
- First there was space—endless, limitless space, so far from everything, so brutal, so frigid, so uncaring that it numbed the mind, not so much from fear or loneliness as from the realization that in this eternity of space the thing that was himself was dwarfed to an insignificance no yardstick could measure.
- “The Thing in the Stone” (p. 220)
- The old and the young, he thought. The old, who do not care; the young, who do not think.
- “The Autumn Land” (p. 250); originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1971
- In the east the moon was rising, a full moon that lighted the landscape so that he could see every little clump of bushes, every grove of trees. And as he stood there, he realized with a sudden start that the moon was full again, that it was always full, it rose with the setting of the sun and set just before the sun came up, and it was always a great pumpkin of a moon, an eternal harvest moon shining on an eternal autumn world.
The realization that this was so all at once seemed shocking. How was it that he had never noticed this before? Certainly he had been here long enough, had watched the moon often enough to have noticed it. He had been here long enough — and how long had that been, a few weeks, a few months, a year? He found he did not know. He tried to figure back and there was no way to figure back. There were no temporal landmarks. Nothing ever happened to mark one day from the next. Time flowed so smoothly and so uneventfully that it might as well stand still.
- “The Autumn Land” (p. 251)
Time and Again (1951)
- All page numbers from the mass market edition published by Ace Books (catalogue number 81000)
- There is mystery here, but a soft, sure mystery that is understood and only remains a mystery because I want it so. The mystery of the nighthawk against a darkening sky, the puzzle of the firefly along the lilac hedge.
- Chapter I (p. 6)
- They are worse than the disinherited. They are not the has-beens, they are the never-weres.
- Chapter II (p. 14)
- “You do not belong to any bona fide religion that prohibits killing?”
“I presume I could classify myself as a Christian,” said Sutton. “I believe there is a Commandment about killing.”
The robot shook his head. “It doesn’t count.”
“It is clear and specific,” Sutton argued. “It says, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”
“It is all of that,” the robot told him. “But it has been discredited. You humans discredited it yourselves. You never obeyed it. You either obey a law or you forfeit it. You can’t forget it with one breath and invoke it with the next.”
- Chapter V (pp. 27-28)
- The chain of life runs smoothly from one generation to the next and none of the links stand out except here and there a link one sees by accident.
- Chapter XII (p. 72)
- As he looked, Sutton felt the cold hand of loneliness reach down with icy fingers to take him in its grip. For here was sheer, mad loneliness such as he had never dreamed. Here was the very negation of life and motion, here was the stark, bald beginning when there was no life, nor even thought of life. Here anything that knew or thought or moved was an alien thing, a disease, a cancer on the face of nothingness.
- Chapter XIX (p. 99)
- I have not long to live. I have lasted more than a man’s average allotted span, and while I still am hale and hearty, I know full well the hand of time, while it may miss a man at one reaping, will get him at the next.
- Chapter XXI (p. 107)
- I’m just a propagandist and a propagandist doesn’t have to know what he is talking about, just so he talks about it most convincingly.
- Chapter XXIV (p. 124)
- “It’s a wonder to me,” said Adams sourly, “that you don’t simply melt down in the white heat of your brilliance.”
- Chapter XXV (p. 134)
- It would be three-dimensional chess with a million billion squares and a million pieces, and with the rules changing ever move.
- Chapter XXV (p. 135)
- And death was a soft thing, soft and black, cool and sweet and gracious. He slipped into it as a swimmer slips into the surf and it closed over him and held him and he felt the pulse and beat of it and knew the vastness and sureness of it.
- Chapter XXVI (p. 139)
- Sutton sensed resurrection and he fought against it, for death was so comfortable. Like a soft, warm bed. And resurrection was a strident, insistent, maddening alarm clock that shrilled across the predawn chill of a dreadful, frowzy room. Dreadful with its life and its bare reality and its sharp, sickening reminder that one must get up and walk into reality again.
- Chapter XXVIII (p. 143)
- Dreams, she said. Broken dreams are bad enough. But the dream that has no hope...the dream that is doomed long before it’s broken, that’s the worst of all.
- Chapter XXXV (p. 183)
- And here and there a human who saw the rightness of the proposition that Man could not, by mere self-assertion, be a special being; understanding that it was to his greater glory to take his place among the other things of life, as a simple thing of life, as a form of life that could lead and teach and be a friend rather than a thing that conquered and ruled and stood as one apart.
- Chapter XXXIX (p. 195)
- “Propaganda,” Trevor said. “Let’s call it psychology. You say a thing so often and so well that after a time everyone believes it. Even, finally, yourself.”
- Chapter XLII (p. 215)
- “It wouldn’t be the truth,” said Sutton.
“That,” said Trevor, “doesn’t have a thing to do with it.”
- Chapter XLII (p. 220)
- This is a fixup novel; the eight chapters correspond to eight previously published stories. Many editions of the novel have been published.
- Won the 1953 International Fantasy Award.
- All page numbers from the mass market edition published by Ace Books (#10621)
- These are the stories the Dogs tell, when the fires burn high and the wind is from the north.
- Editor’s Preface (p. 5)
- Most authorities in economics and sociology regard such an organization as a city an impossible structure, not only from the economic standpoint, but from the sociological and psychological as well. No creature of the highly nervous structure necessary to develop a culture, they point out, would be able to survive within such restricted limits. The result, if it were tried, these authorities say, would lead to mass neuroticism which in a short period of time would destroy the very culture which had built the city.
- Notes on the First Tale (pp. 9-10)
- These people must be helped to find themselves in this new world, but they must not know that they’re being helped. To let them know would destroy confidence and dignity, and human dignity is the keystone of any civilization.
- Chapter 1, “City” (p. 31)
- “You sound like a rugged individualist,” said Webster.
“You say that like you think it’s funny,” yapped the mayor.
“I do think it’s funny,” said Webster. “Funny, and tragic, that anyone should think that way today.”
“The world would be a lot better off with some rugged individualism,” snapped the mayor. “Look at the men who have gone places—”
“Meaning yourself?” asked Weber.
“You might take me, for example,” Carter agreed. “I worked hard. I took advantage of opportunity. I had some foresight. I did—”
“You mean you licked the correct boots and stepped in the proper faces,” said Webster. “You’re the shining example of the kind of people the world doesn’t want today. You positively smell musty, your ideas are so old. You’re the last of the politicians, Carter, just as I was the last of the Chamber of Commerce secretaries. Only you don’t know it yet. I did. I got out. Even when it cost me something, I got out, because I had to save my self-respect. Your kind of politics is dead. They are dead because any tinhorn with a loud mouth and a brassy front could gain power by appeal to mob psychology. And you haven’t got mob psychology any more. You can’t have mob psychology when people don’t give a damn what happens to a thing that’s dead already—a political system that broke down under its own weight.”
- Chapter 1, “City” (pp. 34-35)
- To cover up actual lack of knowledge, the tale develops an explanation which amounts to divine intervention. It is an easy and, to the primitive mind, a plausible and satisfactory way to explain something of which nothing at all is known.
- Notes on the Third Tale (p. 69)
- Bit by bit, as the legend unfolds, the reader gets a more accurate picture of the human race. By degrees, one gains the conviction that here is a race which can be little more than pure fantasy. It is not the kind of race which could rise from humble beginnings to the eminence of culture with which it is gifted in these tales. Its equipment is too poor.
So far it lack of stability has become apparent. Its preoccupation with a mechanical civilization rather than with a culture based on some of the sounder, more worthwhile concepts of life indicates a lack of basic character.
And now, in this tale, we learn of the limited communications which it possessed, a situation which certainly is not conducive to advancement. Man’s inability to understand and appreciate the thought and the viewpoint of another man would be a stumbling block which no amount of mechanical ability could overcome.
- Notes on the Fifth Tale (p. 119)
- Man was engaged in a mad scramble for power and knowledge, but nowhere is there any hint of what he meant to do with it once he had attained it.
- Notes on the Fifth Tale (p. 120)
- Individualists would have little use for a device which would make them understand one another, for they would not care whether they understood one another.
- Chapter 5, “Paradise” (p. 139)
- One world and then another, running like a chain. One world treading on the heels of another world that plodded just ahead. One world’s tomorrow, another world’s today. And yesterday is tomorrow, and tomorrow is the past.
Except, there wasn’t any past. No past, that was, except the figment of remembrance that flitted like a night-winged thing in the shadow of one’s mind. No past that one could reach. No pictures painted on the wall of time. No film that one could run backwards and see what-once-had-been...
One road was open, but another road was closed. Not closed, of course, for it had never been. For there wasn’t any past, there never had been any, there wasn’t room for one. Where there should have been a past there was another world.
- Chapter 7, “Aesop” (pp. 195-196)
- “There isn’t any room,” said Joshua. “You travel back along the line of time and you don’t find the past, but another world, another bracket of consciousness. The earth would be the same, you see, or almost the same. Same trees, same rivers, same hills, but it wouldn’t be the world we know. Because it has lived a different life, it has developed differently. The second back of us is not the second back of us at all, but another second, a totally separate sector of time. We live in the same second all the time. We move along within the bracket of that second, that tiny bit of time that has been allotted to our particular world.”
- Chapter 7, “Aesop” (pp. 206-207)
- We thought all the time that we were passing through time when we really weren’t, when we never have. We’ve just been moving along with time. We said, there’s another second gone, there’s another minute and another hour and another day, when, as a matter of fact the second or the minute or the hour was never gone. It was the same one all the time. It had just moved along and we had moved with it.
- Chapter 7, “Aesop” (p. 207)
- The past, he said. The past is too much with me. And the past has made me useless. I have too much to remember—so much to remember that it becomes more important than the things there are to do. I’m living in the past and that is no way to live.
- Chapter 7, “Aesop” (p. 201)
- What is a bow and arrow?
It is the beginning of the end. It is the winding path that grows to the roaring road of war.
It is a plaything and a weapon and a triumph in human engineering.
It is the first faint stirring of an atom bomb.
It is a symbol of a way of life.
- Chapter 7, “Aesop” (p. 210)
Ring Around the Sun (1954)
- There was no time, Hezekiah had said. No such thing as time in the terms of normal human thought. Time was bracketed and each of its brackets contained a single phase of a universe so vastly beyond human comprehension that it brought a man up short against the impossibility of envisioning it.
And time itself? Time was a never-ending medium that stretched into the future and the past — except there was no future and no past, but an infinite number of brackets, extending either way, each bracket enclosing its single phase of the Universe.
Back on Man's original Earth, there had been speculation on travelling in time, of going back into yesterday or forward into tomorrow. And now he knew that you could not do it, that the same instant of time remained forever within each bracket, that Man's Earth had ridden the same bubble of the single instant from the time of its genesis and that it would die and come to nothing within that self-same instant.
You could travel in time, of course, but there would be no yesterday and no tomorrow. But if you held a certain time sense you could break from one bracket to another, and when you did you would not find yesterday or tomorrow, but another world.
- There was a world of mutants, men and women who were more than normal men and women, persons who had certain human talents and certain human understandings which the normal men and women of the world had never known, or having known, could not utilize in their entirety, unable to use intelligently all the mighty powers which lay dormant in their brains.
- The people finally know.
They've been told about the mutants.
And they hated the mutants.
Of course, they hated them.
They hated them because the existence of the mutants makes them second-class humans, because they are Neanderthalers suddenly invaded by a bow and arrow people.
Time is the Simplest Thing (1961)
- All page numbers are from the hardcover first edition published by Doubleday
- Whatever doubt might rise, he knew that he was right. But the rightness was an intellectual rightness and the doubt emotional.
- Chapter 3 (p. 14)
- The party was beginning to get noisy—not boisterous, but noisy. It was beginning to acquire that stale air of futility to which, in the end, all parties must fall victim.
- Chapter 5 (p. 26)
- You sometimes get a thrill at knowing where you are. You’re often filled with wonder, but more often you are puzzled. You are reminded, again and yet again, of how insignificant you are. And there are times when you forget that you are human. You’re just a blob of life—brother to everything that ever existed or ever will exist.
- Chapter 9 (p. 69)
- What do you mean by faith? Is faith enough for Man? Should he be satisfied with faith alone? Is there no way of finding out the truth? Is the attitude of faith, of believing in something for which there can be no more than philosophic proof, the true mark of a Christian?
- Chapter 9 (p. 70)
- They sat for a moment, regarding one another; neither understanding. As if we were two aliens, thought Blaine. With viewpoints that did not come within a million miles of coinciding, and yet they both were men.
- Chapter 9 (p. 70)
- He knew that there was death—that there must be death if there were evolution, that death was one of the mechanisms that biologically spelled progress and advancement for evolutionary species.
- Chapter 10 (p. 75)
- This was the past and it was the dead past; there were only corpses in it—and perhaps not even corpses, but the shadows of those corpses. For the dead trees and the fence posts and the bridges and the buildings on the hill all would classify as shadows. There was no life here; the life was up ahead. Life must occupy but a single point in time, and as time moved forward, life moved with it. And so was gone, thought Blaine, any dream that Man might have ever held of visiting the past and living in the action and the thought and the viewpoint of men who’d long been dust. For the living past did not exist, nor did the human past except in the records of the past. The present was the only valid point for life—life kept moving on, keeping pace with the present, and once it had passed, all traces of it or its existences were carefully erased.
- Chapter 11 (p. 87)
- There were certain basic things, perhaps—the very earth, itself—which existed through every point in time, holding a sort of limited eternity to provide a solid matrix. And the dead—the dead and fabricated—stayed in the past as ghosts. The fence posts and the wire strung on them, the dead trees, the farm buildings, and the bridge were shadows of the present persisting in the past. Persisting, perhaps, reluctantly, because since they had no life they could not move along. They were bound in time and stretched through time and they were long, long shadows.
He was, he realized with a shock, the only living thing existing in this moment on this earth. He and nothing else.
- Chapter 11 (p. 87)
- Where would one find an answer? For the belief—the will to believe—was engrained deeply in the human fiber. Not entirely, either, in the matrix of the present situation, but in the blood and bone of Man clear back to the caves. There was in the soul of Man a certain deadly fascination with all things macabre. The situation as it stood had been grasped willingly, almost eagerly, by men for whom the world had become a rather tame and vapid place with no terror in it beyond the brute force terror of atomic weapons and the dread uncertainty of unstable men in power.
- Chapter 13 (p. 101)
- For this, he realized, was the future. It was a place without a single feature of the space-time matrix that he knew. It was a place where nothing yet had happened—an utter emptiness. There was neither light nor dark; there was nothing here but emptiness. There had never been anything in this place, nor was anything ever intended to occupy this place—until this very moment when he and his machine had been thrust upon it, intruders who had overstepped their time.
- Chapter 33 (pp. 174-175)
- The red thought rose up inside Blaine’s brain: Why not kill him now?
For the killing would come easy. He was an easy man to hate. Not on principle alone, but personally, clear down to his guts.
- Chapter 26 (p. 206)
- In those villages, he wondered, how much ability and genius might be lying barren, ability and genius that the world could use but would never know because of the intolerance and hate which was held against the very people who were least qualified as the targets of it.
And the pity of it was that such hate and such intolerance would never have been born, could never have existed, had it not been for men like Finn—the bigots and the egomaniacs; the harsh, stern Puritans; the little men who felt the need of power to lift them from their smallness.
- Chapter 30 (p. 227)
- They were the misfits of the world, the outcasts, for they deviated from the norm of humanity as established through all of history. Yet it was this very deviation which made them the hope of all mankind. Ordinary human beings—the kind of human beings who had brought the race this far—were not enough today. The ordinary humans had pushed the culture forward as far as they could push it. It had served its purpose; it had brought the ordinary human as far as he could go. Now the race evolved. Now new abilities had awoke and grown—exactly as the creatures of the Earth had evolved and specialized and then evolved again from that first moment when the first feeble spark of life had come into being in the seething chemical bath of a new and madcap planet.
Twisted brains, the normal people called them; magic people, dwellers of the darkness—and could anyone say no to this? For each people set its standards for each generation and these standards and these norms were not set by any universal rule, by no all-encompassing yardstick, but by what amounted to majority agreement, with the choice arrived at through all the prejudice and bias, all the faulty thinking and the unstable logic to which all intelligence is prone.
- Chapter 31 (pp. 233-234)
- It was not his fight. Not personally his fight. No more his fight than any one of them. But he had made it his. Because of Stone, because of Rand and Harriet, because of priest who’d hounded him across half the continent, he had tried to make a fight of it. And perhaps, as well, because of something undefinable, unknown to himself, unsuspected in himself—some crazy idealism, some deep-rooted sense of justice, some basic aversion to bullies and bigots and reformers.
- Chapter 32 (p. 245)
- It was authority that turned men suspicious and stern-faced. Authority and responsibility which made them not themselves, but a sort of corporate body that tried to think as a corporate body rather than as a person.
- Chapter 32 (pp. 245-246)
- They’d lived all their life on Earth; they knew nothing but the Earth. They had never really touched an alien concept, and that was all this concept was. It was not really as slimy as it seemed. It was only alien. There were a lot of alien things that could make one’s hair stand up on end while in their proper alien context they were fairly ordinary.
- Chapter 32 (p. 249)
- “Anita,” he asked, “are there really werewolves?”
“Yes,” she told him. “Your werewolves are down there.”
And that was right, he thought. The darkness of the mind, the bleakness of the thought, the shallowness of purpose. These were the werewolves of the world.
- Chapter 34 (p. 263)
Way Station (1963)
- It was a hopeless thing, he thought, this obsession of his to present the people of the Earth as good and reasonable. For in many ways they were neither good nor reasonable; perhaps because they had not as yet entirely grown up. They were smart and quick and at times compassionate and even understanding, but they failed lamentably in many other ways.
But if they had the chance, Enoch told himself, if they ever got a break, if they only could be told what was out in space, then they'd get a grip upon themselves and they would measure up and then, in the course of time, would be admitted into the great cofraternity of the people of the stars.
- Ch. 11
- There was so much knowledge in the galaxy and he knew so little of it, understood so little of the little that he knew.
There were men on Earth who could make sense of it. Men who would give anything short of their very lives to know the little that he knew, and could put it all to use.
Out among the stars lay a massive body of knowledge, some of it an extension of what mankind knew, some of it concerning matters which Man had not yet suspected, and used in ways and for purposes that Man had not as yet imagined. And never might imagine, if left on his own.
- Ch. 11
- The impulse patterns which carried creatures star to star were almost instantaneous, no matter what the distance.
He stood and thought about it and it still was hard, he admitted to himself, for a person to believe.
- Ch. 12
- His mind went back to that strange business of the spiritual force and the even stranger machine which had been built eons ago, by means of which the galactic people were able to establish contact with the force. There was a name for that machine, but there was no word in the English language which closely approximated it. "Talisman" was the closest, but Talisman was too crude a word. Although that had been the word that Ulysses had used when, some years ago, they had talked of it.
- Ch. 12
- The Talisman could be operated only by certain beings with certain types of minds and something else besides (could it be, he wondered, with certain kinds of souls?). "Sensitives" was the word he had used in his mental translation of the term for these kinds of people, but once again, he could not be sure if the word came close to fitting. The Talisman was placed in the custody of the most capable, or the most efficient, or the most devoted (whichever it might be) of the galactic sensitives, who carried it from star to star in a sort of eternal progression. And on each planet the people came to make personal and individual contact with the spiritual force through the intervention and the agency of the Talisman and its custodian.
He found that he was shivering at the thought of it — the pure ecstasy of reaching out and touching the spirituality that flooded through the galaxy and, undoubtedly, through the universe. The assurance would be there, he thought, the assurance that life had a special place in the great scheme of existence, that one, no matter how small, how feeble, how insignificant, still did count for something in the vast sweep of space and time.
- Ch. 12
- He had dabbled in a thing which he had not understood. And had, furthermore, committed that greater sin of thinking that he did understand. And the fact of the matter was that he had just barely understood enough to make the concept work, but had not understood enough to be aware of its consequences.
- Ch. 13
- The Hazer would be arriving at about the same time as Ulysses and the three of them could spend a pleasant evening. It was not too often that two good friends ever visited here at once.
He stood a bit aghast at thinking of the Hazer as a friend, for more than likely the being itself was one he had never met. But that made little difference, for a Hazer, any Hazer, would turn out to be a friend.
- Ch. 14
- Could it be, he wondered, that the goldenness was the Hazers' life force and that they wore it like a cloak, as a sort of over-all disguise? Did they wear that life force on the outside of them while all other creatures wore it on the inside?
- Ch. 15
- He had acted on an impulse, with no thought at all. The girl had asked protection and here she had protection, here nothing in the world ever could get at her. But she was a human being and no human being, other than himself, should have ever crossed the threshold.
But it was done and there was no way to change it. Once across the threshold, there was no way to change it.
- Ch. 16
- She looked quickly up. And then her eyes once more went back to the flashing thing she was holding in her hands.
He saw that it was the pyramid of spheres and now all the spheres were spinning slowly, in alternating clockwise and counterclockwise motions, and that as they spun they shone and glittered, each in its own particular color, as if there might be, deep inside each one of them, a source of soft, warm light.
Enoch caught his breath at the beauty and the wonder of it — the old, hard wonder of what this thing might be and what it might be meant to do. He had examined it a hundred times or more and had puzzled at it and there had been nothing he could find that was of significance. So far as he could see, it was only something that was meant to be looked at, although there had been that persistent feeling that it had a purpose and that, perhaps, somehow, it was meant to operate.
And now it was in operation. He had tried a hundred times to get it figured out and Lucy had picked it up just once and had got it figured out.
He noticed the rapture with which she was regarding it. Was it possible, he wondered, that she knew its purpose?
- Ch. 18
- Hank Fisher would tell how he'd tried to break into the house and couldn't and there'd be others who would try to break into the house and there'd be hell to pay.
Enoch sweated, thinking of it.
All the years of keeping out of people's way, all the years of being unobtrusive would be for nothing then. This strange house upon a lonely ridge would become a mystery for the world, and a challenge and a target for all the crackpots of the world.
- Ch. 18
- The alien stood in shadow and he looked, Enoch thought, more than ever like the cruel clown. His lithe, flowing body had the look of smoked, tanned buckskin. The patchwork color of his hide seemed to shine with a faint luminescence and the sharp, hard angles of his face, the smooth baldness of his head, the flat, pointed ears pasted tight against the skull lent him a vicious fearsomeness.
If one did not know him for the gentle character that he was, Enoch told himself, he would be enough to scare a man out of seven years of growth.
- Ch. 19
- The Talisman has been missing for several years or so. And no one knows about it — except Galactic Central and the — what would you call it? — the hierarchy, I suppose, the organization of mystics who takes care of the spiritual setup. And yet, even with no one knowing, the galaxy is beginning to show wear. It's coming apart at the seams. In time to come, it may fall apart. As if the Talisman represented a force that all unknowingly held the races of the galaxy together, exerting its influence even when it remained unseen.
- Ch. 21
- It's not the machine itself that does the trick. The machine merely acts as an intermediary between the sensitive and the spiritual force. It is an extension of the sensitive. It magnifies the capability of the sensitive and acts as a link of some sort. It enables the sensitive to perform his function.
- Ch. 21
- If there could only be more time, he thought. But, of course, there never was. There was not the time right now and there would never be. No matter how many centuries he might be able to devote, there'd always be so much more knowledge than he'd gathered at the moment that the little he had gathered would always seem a pittance.
- Ch. 23
- That had not been the first time nor had it been the last, but all the years of killing boiled down in essence to that single moment — not the time that came after, but that long and terrible instant when he had watched the lines of men purposefully striding up the slope to kill him.
It had been in that moment that he had realized the insanity of war, the futile gesture that in time became all but meaningless, the unreasoning rage that must be nursed long beyond the memory of the incident that had caused the rage, the sheer illogic that one man, by death or misery, might prove a right or uphold a principle.
Somewhere, he thought, on the long backtrack of history, the human race had accepted an insanity for a principle and had persisted in it until today that insanity-turned-principle stood ready to wipe out, if not the race itself, at least all of those things, both material and immaterial, that had been fashioned as symbols of humanity through many hard-won centuries.
- Ch. 25
- There was a comfort in the thought, a strange sort of personal comfort in being able to believe that some intelligence might have solved the riddle of that mysterious equation of the universe. And how, perhaps, that mysterious equation might tie in with the spiritual force that was idealistic brother to time and space and all those other elemental factors that held the universe together.
- Ch. 30
- Ulysses, he thought, had not told him all the truth about the Talisman. He had told him that it had disappeared and that the galaxy was without it, but he had not told him that for many years its power and glory had been dimmed by the failure of its custodian to provide linkage between the people and the force. And all that time the corrosion occasioned by that failure had eaten away at the bonds of the galactic cofraternity.
- Ch. 30
- How strange it is, he thought, how so many senseless things shape our destiny. For the rifle range had been a senseless thing, as senseless as a billiard table or a game of cards — designed for one thing only, to please the keeper of the station. And yet the hours he'd spent there had shaped toward this hour and end, to this single instant on this restricted slope of ground.
- Ch. 32
- There is a certain rapport, a sensitivity — I don't know how to say it — that forms a bridge between this strange machine and the cosmic spiritual force. It is not the machine, itself, you understand, that reaches out and taps the spiritual force. It is the living creature's mind, aided by the mechanism, that brings the force to us.
- Ch. 33
- A machine, a mechanism, no more than a tool — technological brother to the hoe, the wrench, the hammer — and yet as far a cry from these as the human brain was from that first amino acid which had come into being on this planet when the Earth was very young. One was tempted, Enoch thought, to say that this was as far as a tool could go, that it was the ultimate in the ingenuity possessed by any brain. But that would be a dangerous way of thinking, for perhaps there was no limit, there might, quite likely, be no such condition as the ultimate; there might be no time when any creature or any group of creatures could stop at any certain point and say, this is as far as we can go, there is no use of trying to go farther. For each new development produced, as side effects, so many other possibilities, so many other roads to travel, that with each step one took down any given road there were more paths to follow. There'd never be an end, he thought — no end to anything.
- Ch. 33
- She always had been in touch with something outside of human ken. She had something in her no other human had. You sensed it, but you could not name it, for there was no name for this thing she had. And she had fumbled with it, trying to use it, not knowing how to use it, charming off the warts and healing poor hurt butterflies and only God knew what other acts that she performed unseen.
- Ch. 34
- The river rolled below him and the river did not care. Nothing mattered to the river. It would take the tusk of mastodon, the skull of sabertooth, the rib cage of a man, the dead and sunken tree, the thrown rock or rifle and would swallow each of them and cover them in mud or sand and roll gurgling over them, hiding them from sight.
A million years ago there had been no river here and in a million years to come there might be no river — but in a million years from now there would be, if not Man, at least a caring thing. And that was the secret of the universe, Enoch told himself — a thing that went on caring.
- Ch. 35
All Flesh is Grass (1965)
- Nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1966.
- All page numbers are from the mass market edition published by Avon Books, September 1978, ISBN 0-380-39933-4
- What strange circumstances, or what odd combination of many circumstances, must occur, I wondered, to make it possible for a man to step from one world to another.
- Chapter 11 (p. 105)
- For even if the life of my own Earth and this other Earth on which I stood had started out identically (and they might well have started out identically) there still would be, along the way, millions of little deviations, no one of which, perhaps, by itself, would be significant, but the cumulative effects of all these deviations eventually would result in a life and culture that would bear no resemblance to any other Earth.
- Chapter 12 (p. 123)
- Even if the barrier now should disappear and the Flowers withdraw their attention from our Earth, we still would have been shaken from the comfortable little rut which assumed that life as we know it was the only kind of life and that our road of knowledge was the only one that was broad and straight and paved.
There had been ogres in the past, by finally the ogres had been banished. The trolls and ghouls and imps and all the others of the tribe had been pushed out of our lives, for they could survive only on the misty shores of ignorance and in the land of superstition. Now, I thought, we’d know an ignorance again (but a different kind of ignorance) and superstition, too, for superstition fed upon the lack of knowledge. With this hint of another world—even if its denizens should decide not to flaunt themselves, even if we should find a way to stop them—the trolls and ghouls and goblins would be back with us again. There’d be chimney corner gossip of this other place and a frantic, desperate search to rationalize the implied horror of its vast and unknown reaches, and out of this very search would rise a horror greater than any the other world could hold. We’d be afraid, as we had been before, of the darkness that lay beyond the little circle of our campfire.
- Chapter 17 (p. 179)
- “They’re just ordinary people,” Nancy said. “You can’t expect too much of them.”
- Chapter 17 (p. 179)
- They would fail. We would always fail. We weren’t built to do anything but fail. We had the wrong kind of motives and we couldn’t change them. We had a built-in short-sightedness and an inherent selfishness and a self-concern that made it impossible to step out of the little human rut we traveled.
- Chapter 18 (p. 195)
- We feel much sorrow for you, the elm tree had said. But what kind of sorrow—a real and sincere sorrow, or the superficial and pedantic sorrow of the immortal for a frail and flickering creature that was about to die?
- Chapter 24 (p. 247)
Why Call Them Back From Heaven? (1967)
- "One thing more, son. Do you believe in God?"
Slowly Frost put the spoon back into the bowl.
He asked: "You really want an answer?"
"I want an answer," said the man. "I want an honest one."
"The answer," said Frost, "is that I don't know. Not, certainly, in the kind of God that you are thinking of. Not the old white-whiskered, woodcut gentleman. But a supreme being — yes, I would believe in a God of that sort. Because it seems to me there must be some sort of force or power or will throughout the universe. The universe is too orderly for it to be otherwise. When you measure all this orderliness, from the mechanism of the atom at one end of the scale, out to the precision of the operation of the universe at the other end, it seems unbelievable that there is not a supervisory force of some kind, a benevolent ruling force to maintain that sort of order."
A Choice of Gods (1972)
- Could it be possible, Hezekiah asked himself, that there was no room for both the faith and truth, that they were mutually exclusive qualities that could not coexist? He shuddered as he thought of it, for if this should be the case, they had spent their centuries of devotion to but little purpose, pursuing a will-o'-the-wisp. Must faith be exactly that, the willingness and ability to believe in the face of a lack of evidence? If one could find the evidence, would then the faith be dead? If that were the situation, then which one did they want? Had it been, he wondered, that men had tried what they even now were trying and had realized that there was no such thing as truth, but only faith, and being unable to accept the faith without its evidence, had dropped the faith as well?
- Ch 7
- I have become a student of the sky and know all the clouds there are and have firmly fixed in mind the various hues of blue that the sky can show — the washed-out, almost invisible blue of a hot, summer noon; the soft robin's egg, sometimes almost greenish blue of a late springtime evening, the darker, almost violet blue of fall. I have become a connoisseur of the coloring that the leaves take on in autumn and I know all the voices and the moods of the woods and river valley. I have, in a measure, entered into communion with nature, and in this wise have followed in the footsteps of Red Cloud and his people, although I am sure that their understanding and their emotions are more fine-tuned than mine are. I have seen, however, the roll of seasons, the birth and death of leaves, the glitter of the stars on more nights than I can number and from all this as from nothing else I have gained a sense of a purpose and an orderliness which it does not seem to me can have stemmed from accident alone.
It seems to me, thinking of it, that there must be some universal plan which set in motion the orbiting of the electrons about the nucleus and the slower, more majestic orbit of the galaxies about one another to the very edge of space. There is a plan, it seems to me, that reaches out of the electron to the rim of the universe and what this plan may be or how it came about is beyond my feeble intellect. But if we are looking for something on which to pin our faith — and, indeed, our hope — the plan might well be it. I think we have thought too small and have been too afraid...
- Ch 24
Cemetery World (1973)
- The sun was setting, throwing a fog-like dusk across the stream and trees, and there was a coolness in the air. It was time, I knew, to be getting back to camp. But I did not want to move. For I had the feeling that this was a place, once seen, that could not be seen again. If I left and then came back, it would not be the same; no matter how many times I might return to this particular spot the place and feeling would never be the same, something would be lost or something would be added, and there never would exist again, through all eternity, all the integrated factors that made it what it was in this magic moment.
- I find it a most intriguing and amusing thing that it might be possible to package the experiences, not only of one's self, but of other people. Think of the hoard we might then lay up against our later, lonely years when all old friends are gone and the opportunity for new experiences have withered. All we need to do then is to reach up to a shelf and take down a package that we have bottled or preserved or whatever the phrase might be, say from a hundred years ago, and uncorking it, enjoy the same experience again, as sharp and fresh as the first time it had happened... I have tried to imagine ... the various ingredients one might wish to compound in such a package. Beside the bare experience itself, the context of it, one might say, he should want to capture and hold all the subsidiary factors which might serve as a background for it — the sound, the feel of wind and sun, the cloud floating in the sky, the color and the scent. For such a packaging, to give the desired results, must be as perfect as one can make it. It must have all those elements which would be valuable in invoking the total recall of some event that had taken place many years before...
- "As an auxiliary to all of this," he said, "I have found myself speculating upon a world in which no one ever grew up. I admit, of course, that it is a rather acrobatic feat of thinking, not entirely consistent, to leap from the one idea to the other. In a world where one was able to package his experiences, he merely would be able to relive at some future time the experiences of the past. But in a world of the eternally young he'd have no need of such packaging. Each new day would bring the same freshness and the everlasting wonder inherent in the world of children. There would be no realization of death and no fear born of the knowledge of the future. Life would be eternal and there'd be no thought of change. One would exist in an everlasting matrix and while there would be little variation from one day to the next, one would not be aware of this and there'd be no boredom..."
Shakespeare's Planet (1976)
- Time is still the great mystery to us. It is no more than a concept; we don't know if it even exists...
A Heritage of Stars (1977)
- Space is an illusion, and time as well. There is no such factor as either time or space. We have been blinded by our own cleverness, blinded by false perceptions of those qualities that we term eternity and infinity. There is another factor that explains it all, and once this universal factor is recognized, everything grows simple. There is no longer any mystery, no longer any wonder, no longer any doubt; for the simplicity of it all lies before us...
- We came into a homeless frontier, a place where we were not welcome, where nothing that lived was welcome, where thought and logic were abhorrent and we were frightened, but we went into this place because the universe lay before us, and if we were to know ourselves, we must know the universe...
- If mankind were to continue in other than the present barbarism, a new path must be found, a new civilization based on some other method than technology.
Highway of Eternity (1986)
- A wrongness persisted, a sense of aberration, some factor not quite right, the feeling of a corner. But Boone could not pin it down; there seemed no way to reach it.
- "We're very close to immortal, you know. The time mechanism keeps it that way."
"No, I hadn't known," said Boone.
"Inside the time bubble we do not age. We age only when we are outside of it."
- "They changed," said Enid, "from corporeal beings, from biological beings, to incorporeal beings, immaterial, pure intelligences. They now are ranged in huge communities on crystal lattices..."
- What your friend told you of his seeing of the time wall is true, Henry said in Boone's mind. I know he saw it, although imperfectly. Your friend is most unusual. So far as I know, no other human actually can see it; although there are ways of detecting time. I tried to show him a sniffler. There are a number of snifflers, trying to sniff out the bubble. They know there's something strange, but don't know what it is.
- "We have time travel," she said, "and none of us, I am sure, really understands it. We stole it from the Infinites. To steal time travel was the one way we could fight back, the one way we could flee. The human race had far space travel before the Infinites showed up. I think it was our far travel that aroused the interest of the Infinites in us. I've often wondered if some of the very primitive principles of time might not have made our many-times-faster-than-light travel possible. Time is somehow tied into space, but I have never known quite how."
- He stirred again, halfway between sleep and wakefulness, and he was not alone. Across the fire from him sat, or seemed to sit, a man wrapped in some all-enveloping covering that might have been a cloak, wearing on his head a conical hat that dropped down so far it hid his face. Beside him sat the wolf — the wolf, for Boone was certain that it was the same wolf with which he'd found himself sitting nose to nose when he had wakened the night before. The wolf was smiling at him, and he had never known that a wolf could smile.
He stared at the hat. Who are you? What is this about?
He spoke in his mind, talking to himself, not really to the hat. He had not spoken aloud for fear of startling the wolf.
The Hat replied. It is about the brotherhood of life. Who I am is of no consequence. I am only here to act as an interpreter.
An interpreter for whom?
For the wolf and you.
But the wolf does not talk.
No, he does not talk. But he thinks. He is greatly pleased and puzzled.
Puzzled I can understand. But pleased?
He feels a sameness with you. He senses something in you that reminds him of himself. He puzzles what you are.
In time to come, said Boone, he will be one with us. He will become a dog.
If he knew that, said The Hat, it would not impress him. He thinks now to be one with you. An equal. A dog is not your equal...
- Perversity, she thought. Could that have been what happened to the human race — a willing perversity that set at naught all human values which had been so hardly won and structured in the light of reason for a span of more than a million years? Could the human race, quite out of hand and with no sufficient reason, have turned its back upon everything that had built humanity? Or was it, perhaps, no more than second childhood, a shifting of the burden off one's shoulders and going back to the selfishness of the child who romped and frolicked without thought of consequence or liability?
- "It is a net," said Horseface, "useful for the fishing of the universe."
Enid crinkled up her face, staring at what he called a net. It was a flimsy thing and it had no shape.
"Certainly," she said, "you would not go fishing the universe in so slight a thing as this."
"Time means nothing to it," said Horseface, "nor does space. It is independent of both time and space except as it makes use of them."
- Boone gulped and swallowed. He spoke to The Hat.
"You said the Highway to Eternity?"
That is not what I said. I said the Highway of Eternity.
"Small difference," Boone told him.
Not so small as you might think.
- "This is the core of the galaxy," Horseface said. "This is the very center of everything there is. A huge black hole eating up the galaxy. The end of everything."
- "Much of what we see in the universe," said Hugo, "starts out as imaginary. Often you must imagine something before you can come to terms with it."
- An untold time ago, there was a well-founded perception that the human race would end and that something else must take its place.
Why must something else take its place?
I cannot tell you that. There is no solid rationale for it, but the belief seemed to be that there must be a dominant race upon this planet. Before men were the dinosaurs and before the dinosaurs there were the trilobites...
- Without consciousness and intelligence, the universe would lack meaning.
Quotes about Simak
- I never heard a bad word about him but only universal approval and approbation... [I have tried to] imitate his easy and uncluttered style. I think I have succeeded to an extent and that it has immeasurably improved my writing. He is the third of three people, then, who formed my writing career. John Campbell and Fred Pohl did it by precept, and Cliff Simak by example.
- Isaac Asimov in I, Asimov (1994)
- Without Simak, science fiction would have been without its most humane element, its most humane spokesman for the wisdom of the ordinary person and the value of life lived close to the land.
- James Gunn, as quoted in promotional quote on a 2016 edition of City
- Since the earliest thirties, to read science fiction is to read Simak. A reader who does not like Simak stories does not like science fiction at all.
- Robert A. Heinlein, in a letter of appreciation, as quoted in Robert A. Heinlein : In Dialogue with His Century, Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better | 1948-1988 (2014), p. 389