George Alec Effinger

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George Alec Effinger (January 10, 1947 – April 27, 2002) was an American science fiction author.


What Entropy Means to Me (1972)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Bart Books
  • “I have been waiting for a sign. I knew that if I waited here long enough my bird, that tarishawk that rests here each day, I knew that he would come. Our Mother said that if he flew from the right, then I would have good fortune. If he came from the left, my journey would be disastrous for me, and it would bear no positive fruits for you.”
    “And the hawk? Which way did it come? Did it come from the left?”
    Dore smiled once more; his smile was always the most cheerless aspect of him. “The hawk has not come at all,” he said.
    • Chapter 1 “Prelude to...Danger!” (p. 19).
  • The only negative thing she had to say was that I displayed a tendency to exaggerate the facts for the sake of interesting reading.
    • Chapter 2 “Next: The Radishes of Doom” (p. 25).
  • I see unhealthy signs of a new regime of religiosity and conservatism.
    • Chapter 3 “A Woman’s Treachery” (p. 48).
  • I do not attempt here to derogate my brother’s reading habits, but merely to indicate the disparity in our interests.
    • Chapter 4 “The Song of the Sword” (p. 56).
  • Now we have the prospect of a religious war on our hands, with the attendant proliferation of “heresies” and two separate but equal inquisitions.
    • Chapter 5 “In the Hall of the Mountain Thing” (p. 80).
  • We tread on unsure ground, theologically. The doctrines are still in the malleable state; what eventually evolves from them will owe its existence not to pre-eminent merit, but to the shrewdness of the compromises made by the factions.
    • Chapter 5 “In the Hall of the Mountain Thing” (p. 80).
  • “Did you sleep well last night?” asked Glorian.
    “Yes, I suppose,” said Dore, “although I was trouble by a strange dream.”
    “Oh? Perhaps it was some sort of omen. Tell me of it.”
    “Certainly,” said Dore. “I dreamed of a domino.”
    “Just one?”
    “Yes, just the one. All night. No people or sounds in the dream, just the domino. The five-three.”
    “Wonderful!” cried Glorian. “The five-three is a lucky little devil. It presages victory after hardships. It confirms your inner ambition, but counsels you to avoid extremes, to temper pleasure with practicality. Advances in music, art, and drama are indicated. Rely on good manners and good taste. The five-three is a domino of hope and good news.”
    “Are you making that up?” said Dore suspiciously.
    • Chapter 6 “A Perilous Scheme” (p. 111).
  • Any thought which is printed, either here or in the paper, without subsequent attack is generally believed to be true. This is not so much a logical condition as it is a fault of human nature. A longstanding or constant idea is often equated with a true one.
    • Chapter 9 “A Moral Dilemma” (p. 140).
  • There are more strains of courage than merely facing a sword.
    • Chapter 9 “A Moral Dilemma” (p. 146).
  • Turmoil and revolution in their best guises serve to tear down ancient and meaningless customs, in favor of practical social reform.
    • Chapter 10 “The Final Struggle” (p. 160).
  • Proper knowledge defeats the shouting minions of emotion.
    • Chapter 10 “The Final Struggle” (p. 160).

Relatives (1973).[edit]

All page numbers from the first mass market paperback edition published by Dell Books (June 1976)
  • Government by emotion is identified with rule by tyranny.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 24).
  • I believe in a political revolution, without the aid of the military. I would rather win a man’s mind than compel his obedience.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 59).
  • “I wonder,” he thought, “is it worth getting myself crushed in that crowd just to save my life? Is it worth getting all frustrated and angry, lowering myself to their level, pushing and shoving with all the rest, fighting like a common animal, just to stay alive?” He smiled ruefully. “It always comes to the simple question: what is more important, life or self-respect?”
    • Chapter 8 (p. 123).
  • Perhaps he could organize everyone. He could stand up on something and shout slogans until he had attracted enough attention. Then he could begin some rambling speech, hoping that the people around him would be so desperate for leadership they wouldn’t notice the absurdity of what he said.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 124).
  • “The male sexual drive is supposed to fall off during moments of stress,” he thought. “It is comforting sometimes to know that I must be abnormal. Especially in a situation like this. Perpetual lust has got to be good for the human race.”
    • Chapter 8 (p. 126).
  • You underestimate the ability of people to act like idiots.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 128).
  • “Useful! You want to talk about useful? Have you ever read anything about politics? Economics? You know what keeps a culture alive?”
    “Yes,” said Ernest sullenly, while M. Gargotier cleaned up the mess. “People not bothering other people.”
    • Chapter 8 (p. 135).
  • The idea of sin and retribution is just an attempt to hide behind the shield of superstition. You are trying to find rational causes where there aren’t any.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 166).
  • I believe that it is possible to overlegislate ourselves into a highly restrictive form of government.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 174).
  • After all, our laws only reflect the definitions of the majority. When those ideas change, the laws change.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 174).
  • “We have now successfully enlisted the aid of many groups of theoretically anti-communist people, all supporting those very causes which lead directly to victory for the Party. These students will be of great value in creating political upheaval here in the next few years. Though they may not vote themselves, they will do a great part of the work for the candidates we shall endorse.”
    “I think it was the vague promise of sexual freedom that did it,” said Weintraub wryly. “That seems to work on everybody. Even the clergy.”
    • Chapter 11 (p. 177).
  • His thoughts grew confused, and he mistook that quality for complexity.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 190).
  • “You shouldn’t be so critical,” said Mike the bartender. “Some people like this kind of thing, you know.”
    “The kind of person who gets excited over that, I don’t care about,” said Ernest.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 199).
  • The party had demanded this; Weintraub was to be a scapegoat, the local conspirator in the Reichstag tragedy. “I suppose I can’t doubt them,” he thought, as his heart pounded, as his mouth grew dry, as he felt his head become airy and his thoughts giddy. “After all, the Party has the broadest perspective. I don’t have any real sense of this worldwide operation. It’s all for the greater good, I guess. They know what they’re doing.”
    • Chapter 13 (p. 208).
  • The network was running a pre-recorded tape of a morning quiz show. The contestants looked vapid, the announcer cheerfully bored, the questions pointless, and the prizes undesirable.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 211).
  • The night is this city’s single resource. Well, that and disease.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 217).

Death in Florence (1978)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Playboy Press (June 1980), renamed “Utopia 3”
  • “Isolation is nice,” thought Brant as she drifted closer to sleep. “It’s a shame you can’t share it with anybody.”
    • Chapter 1 “New Streets and Roads” (p. 51).
  • Was that what he wanted, what the grand scheme of Utopia 3 was designed for? It was a lot like death, only more tedious.
    • Chapter 2 “A New Mann” (p. 99).
  • That was the evil of Dr. Bertram Waters: the perpetuation of hopeless dreams, compounded by the betrayal of those dreams to make his own a reality.
    • Chapter 2 “A New Mann” (p. 99).
  • With people, Moore suspected, no matter how noble the intent, a defect was unavoidable, a taint of politics.
    • Chapter 3 “Moore and More” (p. 123).
  • “Are you happy, Norman?” asked Brant.
    “Well, sure, I guess.”
    “That’s what I thought,” she said bitterly. “Neither am I.”
    • Chapter 3 “Moore and More” (p. 129).
  • Brant felt a spasm of pain. “Uh,” she said. She closed her eyes tight until the pain went away.
    “Can I do anything?” said Staefler.
    “Yes,” she said. “Have my baby for me.”
    • Chapter 4 “Queene Eileen” (p. 177).

When Gravity Fails (1986)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Bantam Spectra Books
  • You bought the girls drinks and you stared at their perfect bodies and you pretended that they liked you. And they pretended that they liked you, too. When you stopped spending money, they got up and pretended that they liked someone else.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 4).
  • I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked awful, but I always look awful in the mirror. I keep myself going with the firm belief that my real face is much better looking.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 13).
  • “She cost you more”
    “I know,” said the trick. “How much?”
    “You tell me,” she said, thinking he might be a cop setting her up. That kind of thing still happened whenever the religious authorities ran out of infidels to persecute.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 17).
  • It didn’t feel, at that moment, like I was getting into something over my head. It never does, before you take the leap.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 20).
  • With a stiff forefinger I silenced the koto music. Peace flooded in; the world thanked me.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 23).
  • Sometimes the only vitamins I get are in the lime slices in my gimlets.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 27).
  • The most frequent expression in the Muslim world is inshallah, if God wills. It removes all guilt: blame it on Allah. If the oasis dries up and blows away, it was Allah’s will. If you get caught sleeping with your brother’s wife, it was Allah’s will. Getting your hand or your cock or your head chopped off in reprisal is Allah’s will, too. Nothing much gets done in the Budayeen without discussing how Allah is going to feel about it.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 31).
  • “The universe doesn’t have secrets,” I said cynically, “only lies and swindles.”
    • Chapter 6 (p. 63).
  • I was no more eccentric than your average raving loon.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 63).
  • In many ways, Islam is a beautiful and elegant faith; but it is the nature of religions to put a higher premium on your proper attention to ritual than on your convenience.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 89).
  • The information I got from one person often contradicted the version I heard from another, so I’d long ago gotten into the habit of trying to hear as many different stories as I could and averaging them all out. The truth was in there somewhere, I knew it; the problem was coaxing it into the open.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 90).
  • “What do you know about the activities of the brain and the nervous system?”
    I laughed. “About as much as any hustler from the Budayeen who can barely read and write his name. I know that the brain is in the head, I’ve heard that it’s a bad idea to let some thug spill it on the sidewalk. Beyond that, I don’t know much.” I did, truthfully, know some more, but I always hold something in reserve. It’s a good policy to be a little quicker, a little stronger, and a little smarter than everybody thinks you are.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 160).
  • The longer I observe the way people really act, the happier I am that I never pay attention to them.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 168).
  • I told you it was dirty. When you wander into the highest level of international affairs, it’s almost always dirty.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 205).
  • I looked good, faster than light with a little money in my pocket. You know what I mean. I was the same as always: the clothes looked first-rate. That was fine, because most people only look at the clothes, anyway.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 226).
  • I shook my head ruefully. Police departments all over the world were identical in two respects: they all have a fondness for breaking your head open for little or no provocation, and they can’t see the simple truth if it’s lying in front of them naked with its legs spread. The police don’t enforce laws; they don’t even get busy until after the laws are broken. They solve crimes at a pitifully low rate of success. What the police are, to be honest, is a kind of secretarial pool that records the names of the victims and the statements of the witnesses. After enough time passes, they can safely shove this information to the back of the filing system to make room for more.
    • Chapter 17 (pp. 235-236).
  • The butler recognized me, even favoring me with a minute change in his expression. Evidently I had become a celebrity. Politicians and sex stars may cuddle up to you and it doesn’t prove a thing, but when the butlers of the world notice you, you realize that some of what you believe about yourself is true.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 270).

A Fire in the Sun (1989)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Bantam Spectra Books
  • “I think you should know that I’m a devout Christian.” I took that to mean that my new servant wholeheartedly disapproved of almost everything I might say or do.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 30).
  • Let me make it clear: You don’t want his disapproval. He never forgets these things. If he needs to, he hires other people to carry his grudges for him.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 31).
  • She gave me a wide-eyed, innocent smile that looked as out of place on her as it would have on a desert scorpion.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 95).
  • I liked being the screwer rather than the screwee.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 280).
  • People who live their lives by proverbs waste their time doing lots of stupid things. “Getting even is the best revenge” is my motto.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 282).
  • Marriage was something I thought happened only to other people, like fatal traffic accidents.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 289).

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