The hardest theme in science fiction is that of the alien. The simplest solution of all is in fact quite profound—that the real difficulty lies not in understanding what is alien, but in understanding what is self. We are all aliens to each other, all different and divided. We are even aliens to ourselves at different stages of our lives. Do any of us remember precisely what it was like to be a baby?
"Introduction to 'Plague of Conscience'", The Collected Stories of Greg Bear (2002)
Short story originally published in Universe 9 (1979), ed. Terry Carr
There is nothing finer in the world than the telling of tales. Split atoms if you wish, but splitting an infinitive—and getting away with it—is far nobler. Lance boils if you wish, but pricking pretensions is often cleaner and always more fun.
To fight an enemy properly, you have to know what they are. Ignorance is defeat.
“We must know our enemy, at least a little.”
“That’s dangerous,” Prufrax said, almost instinctively.
“Yes, it is. What you know, you cannot hate.”
When evenly matched, you cannot win against your enemy unless you understand them. And if you truly understand, why are you fighting and not talking?
She saw that in all wars, the first stage was to dehumanize the enemy, reduce the enemy to a lower level so that he might be killed without compunction. When the enemy was not human to begin with, the task was easier.
We’ve been fighting for so long, we’ve begun to lose ourselves. And it’s getting worse.
There is no war so important that to win it, we must destroy our minds.
All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Tor Books
“We’d like to agree with you.” He glanced at Arthur.
“We can’t, however,” Arthur said.
“For the moment, then, amicable disagreement and open minds.”
Chapter 24 (p. 159)
Apocalypse could not be repealed by the democratic process.
Chapter 34 (p. 250)
“It’s not impossible,” Minelli said.
“No,” Edward admitted, “but it’s paranoid as hell, and that’s the last thing we need, more fear.”
Chapter 37 (p. 264)
I sometimes think we deserve to die, we’re all so goddamned stupid.
Chapter 50 (p. 342)
Life on earth is hard. Competition for the necessities of life is fierce. How ridiculous to believe that the law of harsh survival would not be true elsewhere, or that it would be negated by the progress of technology in an advanced civilization...
Chapter 52 (p. 352)
Altruism is masked self-interest. Aggressive self-interest is a masked urge to self-destruction.
Chapter 52 (p. 352)
A Stellar’s jay hopped along behind him, watching closely for dropped crumbs. “It’s dark,” he told the bird. “Go to sleep. I've eaten already. Where were you? No food now.” The bird persisted, however; it knew humans were liars.