Fredric Brown

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Fredric Brown (October 29, 1906 – March 11, 1972) was an American science fiction and mystery writer.



Short fiction

  • She was sleeping. He nudged her gently and whispered a suggestion. Her eyes opened wide and startled. "No, no, a dozen times no!"
    "Only a doezen times?" he asked, and then leered. "My deer," he whispered, "think of the fawn you'll have!"
    • "Too Far" (1955). The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1955. Reprinted in The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction - Fifth Series, p. 136. Ace Books F-105 (1961). Anthony Boucher, ed.
    • A werebuck in the animal form is trying to seduce a deer. The original intended pun "doezen" is incorrectly edited to read "dozen" in some reprints, e.g. From These Ashes: The Complete Short SF of Fredric Brown (February 2001), ed. Ben Yalow, NEFSA Press, Framingham, MA 01701, ISBN 1-886778-18-3.

Gateway to Glory (1950)

Page numbers from the omnibus hardcover edition Martians and Madness, published by the NESFA Press in 2002 ISBN 1-886778-17-5
Novelette later expanded, rewritten, and incorporated into the novel Rogue in Space
  • He had been cheated out of his compensation, on a technicality, by the corrupt officialdom of the spaceways. He’d turned criminal then, and had been as ruthless to society as it had been to him.
    • p. 607
  • He thought, “Anyway, do not judge the human race by my opinion of it. I am a criminal, every hand against me and my hand against every man—especially the metal hand that is my best weapon. Men have treated me badly; I have repaid them in kind. But do not judge them by what I think of them. Perhaps I am more warped than they.”
    • p. 610
  • “Please concentrate on how the system is governed.”
    Crag let his mind think about the two parties—both equally crooked and corrupt—that ran the planets between them, mostly by cynical horse trading methods that betrayed the common people on both sides. The Guilds and the Syndicates—popularly known as the Guilds and the Gildeds—one purporting to represent capital and the other purporting to represent labor, but actually betraying it at every opportunity. Both parties getting together to rig elections so they might win alternately and preserve an outward appearance of a balance of power and a democratic government. Justice, if any, obtainable only by bribery. Objectors or would-be reformers—and there weren’t many of either—eliminated by the hired thugs and assassins both parties used. Strict censorship of newspapers, radio and television, extending even to novels lest a writer attempt to slip in a phrase that might imply that the government under which he lived was less than perfect.
    • pp. 610-611
  • “You were right, Crag,” spoke the voice in his mind.
    Crag wondered what he’d been right about.
    “About the corruptness of the race to which you belong. It is even worse than you thought of it as being. I have been inside many minds. They are weak minds, almost without exception morally weak.”
    Crag grinned. He thought, “I’m no lily myself.”
    “You are a criminal because you are a rebel against a society that has no place for strong men. In a society that is good, the weak are criminals; in a society that is bad, there is no place for a strong man except as a criminal. You are better than they, Crag. You have killed men, but you have killed them fairly. Your society kills them corruptly, by inches. Worse, those who are being killed acquiesce, not only because they are weak, but because they, too, hope to get on the exploiting side.”
    “You make the human race sound pretty bad.”
    “It is bad. This is period of decadence. It has been better and will be better again. I have studied your history and find that there were similar periods before and humanity has struggled out of them. It will again, Crag.”
    • p. 613
Page numbers from this omnibus hardcover edition, published by the NESFA Press in 2000 ISBN 1-886778-18-3
See Fredric Brown's Internet Science Fiction Database page for original publication details
  • The face of danger is brightest when turned so its features cannot be seen.
    • Etaoin Shrdlu (p. 33)
  • Yes, it was swell to sleep when you were looking forward to something. Time flies by and you don’t even hear the rustle of its wings.
    • The Angelic Angleworm (p. 70)
  • “One may think,” said the professor, “of an absolute as a mode of being—”
    Yeah, thought Shorty McCabe, one may think of anything as anything else, and what does it get you but a headache.
    • Paradox Lost (p. 148)
  • Most intelligent people of the eighties had developed a type of radio deafness which enabled them not to hear a human voice coming from a loud-speaker, although they could hear and enjoy the then infrequent intervals of music between announcements. In an age when advertising competition was so keen that there was scarcely a bare wall or an unbillboarded lot within miles of a population center, discriminating people could retain normal outlooks on life only by carefully cultivated partial blindness and partial deafness which enabled them to ignore the bulk of that concerted assault upon their senses.
    • Pi in the Sky (p. 242)
  • He knew that soon, perhaps even today, something important was going to happen. Whether good or bad he did not know, but he darkly suspected. And with reason: there are few good things that may unexpectedly happen to a man, things, that is, of lasting importance. Disaster can strike from innumerable directions, in amazingly diverse ways.
    • Come and Go Mad (p. 291)
  • Paranoia is a form of insanity which, Dr. Randoph told me, hasn’t any physical symptoms. It’s just a delusion supported by a systematic framework of rationalization. A paranoiac can be sane in every way except one.
    • Come and Go Mad (p. 295)
  • It said, “Ask, what is man?”
    Mechanically, he asked it.
    “Man is a blind alley in evolution, who came too late to compete, who has always been controlled and played with by The Brightly Shining, which was old and wise before man walked erect.
    “Man is a parasite upon a planet populated before he came, populated by a Being that is one and many, a billion cells but a single mind, a single intelligence, a single will—as is true of every other populated planet in the universe.
    “Man is a joke, a clown, a parasite. He is nothing; he will be less.”
    • Come and Go Mad (p. 319)
  • In twenty to thirty thousand years memories become legends and legends become superstitions and even the superstitions become lost. Metals rust and corrode back into earth while the wind, the rain and the jungle erode and cover stone. The contours of the very continents change—and glaciers come and go, and a city of twenty thousand years before is under miles of earth or miles of water.
    • Letter to a Phoenix (p. 337)
  • Well, let’s call his age as pushing sixty and not mention from which direction he was pushing it.
    • The Ring of Hans Carvel (p. 637)
Page numbers from the omnibus hardcover edition Martians and Madness, published by the NESFA Press in 2002 ISBN 1-886778-17-5
  • He could see now what a lot of his mistakes had been—laziness among them. And laziness is curable.
    • Chapter 9 “The Dope on Dopelle” (p. 80)
  • The ever-present possibility of making a big mistake worried him.
    He’d have worried about it more if he’d known that he already had.
    • Chapter 10 “Slade of the W.B.I.” (p. 89)
Page numbers from the omnibus hardcover edition Martians and Madness, published by the NESFA Press in 2002 ISBN 1-886778-17-5
  • It’s indecent and inhuman to put full length mirrors in bathroom doors. They cause narcissism in the young and unhappiness in the old.
    • Chapter 1, “1997” (p. 147)
  • Living creatures, sea gulls, soaring lazily and gracefully overhead. Living creatures, a group of girls, walking by, giggling and jiggling. The lazy rhythm of the waves, the sun’s warmth and the sky’s blueness.
    I waved my arm at it. “All this, M’bassi. All this and the stars too. Isn’t it enough without having to invent a religion and a God?”
    • Chapter 3, “1999” (p. 192)
  • I hate funerals, think they’re pompous and silly and disgusting. I hate the thought of having one myself even though I won’t know about it while it’s happening. Since I’m a public figure I suppose there’ll have to be one, but I don’t want the only person I really love there sharing in it. If I die, I don’t want you to see me dead, even the outside of a coffin. I want your last memory of me to be as I am now, alive. I don’t want you even to think about a funeral or send flowers. Will you promise me those things, Max?
    “Yes, if you’ll quit talking about them.”
    • Chapter 3, “1999” (p. 208)
  • I wished that I could pray. Then I did pray, God, I don’t believe that you exist, and I believe that if you do exist you’re an impersonal entity and that if you notice the fall of sparrows you don’t do anything about it, on request or otherwise, but if I’m wrong, I’m sorry. And in case I’m wrong I pray to you that...”
    • Chapter 3, “1999” (p. 211)
  • A lot of my childhood playmates ended up behind bars and I don’t mean as bartenders.
    • Chapter 3, “1999” (p. 214)
  • “But do you believe they really teleported?”
    “I do. For instance, the guru with whom I spent time, under whom I studied this summer in Tibet, tells me he is certain that he has teleported twice. He is an honest man.”
    “Let’s grant that. Tell me why you think he isn’t a mistaken one.”
    • Chapter 3, “1999” (p. 227)
  • Bad, I thought, looking around me, that I’d accumulated so much. A man should never own more stuff than he can carry in his hands at a dead run. It was bad, but it had happened.
    • Chapter 3, “1999” (p. 230)
  • I sought her in the grayness and she wasn’t there, she was dead and she wasn’t there, she wouldn’t be there ever again and I could never find comfort in her again. Ellen, beloved, you are dead and your voice is in my mind and only in my mind.
    • Chapter 3, “1999” (p. 233)
  • I wish that I could believe not in mortality but in reincarnation or individual immortality; I wish that I could be living again in another body or, God help me, even watching from the edge of a fleecy cloud in Heaven or out through the dirty windowpane of a haunted house or through the dull eyes of a dung beetle or on any terms. On any terms I want to be watching, I want to be there, I want to be around, when we reach the stars, when we take over the universe and the universes, when we become the God in whom I do not believe as yet because I do not believe he exists as yet nor will exist until we become Him.
    • Chapter 4 “2000” (p. 242)
  • Escape, God how we all need escape from this tiny here. The need for it has motivated just about everything man has ever done in any direction other than that of the satisfaction of his physical appetites; it has led him along weird and wonderful pathways; it has led him into art and religion, ascetism and astrology, dancing and drinking, poetry and insanity. All of these have been escapes because he has known only recently the true direction of escape—outward, into infinity and eternity, away from this little flat if rounded surface we’re born on and die on. This mote in the solar system, this atom in the galaxy.
    • Chapter 5 “2001” (pp. 243-244; "ascetism" should be "asceticism")
  • I thought of the distant future and the things we’d have, and discounted my wildest guesses as inadequate. Immortality? Achieved in the nineteenth millennium X.R. and discarded in the twenty-third because it was no longer necessary. Reverse entropy to rewind the universe? Obsolete with the discovery of nolanism and the concurrent cognate in the quadrate decal. Sounds wild? How would the word quantum or the concept of a matter-energy transformation sound to a Neanderthaler? We’re Neanderthalers, to our descendants of a hundred thousand years from now. You’ll sell them short to make the wildest guess as to what they’ll do and what they’ll be.
    The stars? Hell, yes. They’ll have the stars.
    • Chapter 5 “2001” (p. 244)
Page numbers from the omnibus hardcover edition Martians and Madness, published by the NESFA Press in 2002 ISBN 1-886778-17-5
  • “Nuts,” said the Martian. “You people got rocks in your heads, that’s what accounts for your superstitions.”
    • Part 1, Chapter 1 (p. 254)
  • Still sitting there, still looking up in the tree.
    At something that isn’t there? Luke wondered.
    Or at something that isn’t there for me but is there for him, and which of us is right?
    And he thinks that I don’t exist and I think I do, and which of us is right about that?
    Well, I am, on that point if no other. I think, therefore I am.
    But how do I know he’s there?
    Why couldn’t he be a figment of my imagination?
    Silly solipsism, the type of wondering just about everybody goes through sometime during adolescence, and then recovers from.
    But it gives to wonder all over again when you and other people start seeing things differently or start seeing different things.
    • Part 2, Chapter 17 (p. 324)
Page numbers from the omnibus hardcover edition Martians and Madness, published by the NESFA Press in 2002 ISBN 1-886778-17-5
  • It was not the fashion for politicians who aspired to elective office to live ostentatiously, no matter how much money they had. If they loved luxury—and most of them did—they indulged that love in ways less publicly obvious than by living in mansions. The public believes what it thinks it sees.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 364)
  • I want men who, like you, would not take orders even if I should give them. I do not want to be a god, Crag, even though I have some powers beyond mankind’s; I would not let my new world be colonized by people who might even be tempted to obey me.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 406)
Page numbers from the omnibus hardcover edition Martians and Madness, published by the NESFA Press in 2002 ISBN 1-886778-17-5
  • “Are you interested in science?”
    “Of course I am. Who isn’t?”
    • Chapter 13 (p. 520)
  • The cat didn’t answer, except possibly by not answering.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 534)
  • Strangely, he wasn’t scared at all. He was even more coldly calm, calmly analytical. And he knew that he would have to be if he was to stand a chance to win this war. If he was to win it, his mind would have to be his major weapon; firearms might win a battle, but never the war.
    • Chapter 18 (p. 555)
  • Her life, except for reading, had been dull—but it had not been in vain.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 570)
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