Jack Cady

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Jack Cady (March 20, 1932 – January 14, 2004) was an American author. He is most known as an award winning fantasist and horror writer. In his career, he won the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award.


Novella which won the 1994 Nebula Award and was nominated for the 1994 Hugo Award. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (January 1993).
Page numbers from the reprint in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Eleventh Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois
  • On top of the war talk, women were driving me crazy: the ones who said “no” and the ones who said “yes.” It got downright mystifying just trying to figure out which was worse. At nineteen, it’s hard to know how to act.
    • p. 463
  • All the mysteries of the world seem normal after dark. If imagination shows dead thumbs aching for a ride, those dead folk only prove the hot and spermy goodness of life.
    • p. 469
  • Never confuse an idiot.
    • p. 476
  • Snowy owls come floating in from northward, while folks go to church on Sunday against the time when there’s some better amusement. Men hang around town, because home is either empty or crowded, depending on if you’re married. Folks sit before television, watching the funny, goofy, unreal world where everybody plays at being sexy and naked, even when they’re not.
    • p. 482
  • The world was changing, and it wouldn’t change back.
    • p. 488
  • It’s no big job to fool yourself.
    • p. 494
  • Her eyes held that long-distance prairie look, a look knowing wind and fire and hard times, stuff that either breaks people or leaves them wise.
    • p. 495
  • Men build all kinds of worlds in order to defeat fear and loneliness.
    • p. 502
  • A lot of preachers will be glad this man is gone, and that’s one good thing you can say for him. He drove nice people crazy. This man was a hellion, pure and simple; but what folks don’t understand is, hellions have their place. They put everything on the line over nothing very much. Most guys worry so much about dying, they never do any living. Jesse was so alive with living, he never gave dying any thought.
    • p. 503
Page numbers from the originally publication in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (July 1996).
  • The reason to understand history is not to avoid the mistakes of history—because some fool will make those mistakes for you. Some maniac will start a war, and some other maniac will drop an atom bomb, and you'll be the poor bastard who gets to drop the bomb or be hit by it.
    No, you understand history so you can understand yourself.
    • p. 131
  • Courage, combined with stupidity, does not make successful soldiers.
    • p. 133
  • Either ghosts are a metaphor for history, or history is a metaphor for ghosts.
    • p. 133
  • Absolute Evil exists. As kids we geriatrics learned all about it, and no damn social worker had better come along and blame “evil” on “conditions.” Evil is a force in the universe, a force using any weakness it finds to do its dirt; and with Evil, Hell is just a sideline.
    • p. 134
  • Evil uses Hell as a parking lot, and you don’t have to die to park. Evil sets people in the middle of war, famine, excess prosperity, or other of Hell’s appurtenances, then stands back as people freeze or sizzle; and screw themselves. The main interest of Evil is destruction of faith in gods and ethics, knowledge and honor. When faith is destroyed people create their own hells, and a sign stretches across the universe writ large for all to see. It reads: The Future Is Canceled.
    • p. 134
  • I saw old-fashioned cities, quiet streets, small shops, colorful flags and ornaments and decorations—life before machine guns, before communism and capitalism and the ambitions of generals.
    • p. 138
  • “The rules would seem to indicate,” I told him, “that if you start a war you really can’t complain when people drop bombs on you.”
    • p. 141
  • No one recalls the names of dog soldiers who fought beside Leonidas at Thermopylae, or with Charles Martel at the battle of Tours; but how they fought, and what they fought for, lives through centuries. Without those forgotten men western civilization could not have come into being. They put it all on the line, because there are times in history when universal evil crawls from its cave of darkness.
    When those battles happened, though, what did anyone know? The dog soldier only knew that some fool Persian had it in his head to whip the world, or a Moorish chieftain was on the prod.
    And the dog soldier stood. He stood between the enemy and home, standing before a way of life that was particularly his. If in his home he was boss during peace, then during war he paid for the honor. The male of the species defends his land and home. It will always be that way. At least that is true of the Infantry.
    • p. 142
  • So what use are we? Burnside hopes to die exhausted in a cathouse, with the sweet-sweet taste of bourbon on his tongue. My own ambition is less raunchy. I want, at age ninety, to be gunned down while storming the Congress.
    • p. 142
  • I watched the flickers, thought of modern times, and it came to me that we’ve never stopped fighting. When our wars ceased, a rearguard action began. We fought against deterioration of order; and lost as an old culture died and society went crazy at the funeral. Yammer got crowned King, with chatter its Queen.
    • p. 143
  • Humans, being creative, can rewrite anything.
    ...which is a coy way of suggesting that each young generation invents history according to its own bigotries. The rewritten history gets quoted to show that one or another special group has perpetually saved civilization while suffering abuse known only to holy saints. The justification for historians is the same as the justification for janitors. Both sweep up the mess when the public gets done trashing.
    • p. 143
  • I needed this the way guys in trenches need head lice.
    • p. 144
  • You can only picture the future based on what you know about the past. If history dies the future can only be hideous.
    • p. 145
  • I now knew what it was, but just because you can name a thing does not mean you understand it.
    • p. 145
  • “I almost don’t believe in ghosts.”
    She was stating part of the problem. If ghosts are a metaphor for history, then belief is a leap into reality. If history is a metaphor for ghosts, matters get really serious.
    • p. 148
  • The fires of history burn hot and long, but memories of fires do not burn long enough.
    • p. 148
  • The crotch and the brain are the engines of history.
    • p. 151
  • I lay in darkness admitting even I had managed to conceal truth beneath a pile of crap. For old men, Hell comes in two versions, lesser and greater.
    The lesser version happens when history is rewritten, their records expunged, no credit given for ideals or aspirations, nothing bequeathed, all tales revised as the Present, turning, points to a false record and accuses the past for Present suffering.
    That’s a stern Hell, but the greater version is worse. Hell for old men arrives at that exact moment when we must admit we can no longer protect our kids, our families, our country, the shards and remnants of our love.
    • p. 152
  • We have the power of memory. We have the memory of order, and we still have voices. When memory dies, civilization dies.
    • p. 152
  • “Flags are symbols. Words are symbols. Steeples are symbols. Red lights in front of cathouses are symbols. The world don’t know it, but the world lives by symbols, some good, some as bad as flags.”
    • p. 152
  • The whole business lay ringed with mystery, with improbabilities, but also with certainty of total destruction if we failed. There might be total destruction if we succeeded, but that was someone else’s problem. We could only set the standard, write our last will and testament through action, and hope someone could still read deeply enough to raise arms against the encroaching night.
    • p. 156
  • Some remnant of battle must remain, something halting an advance. The ghost of a ghost may be more than a memory. It may be a piece of history that refuses to be rewritten.
    • p. 156
  • We press the enemy backward with memories, with the power of history, with scenes of sense and order.
    • p. 158
  • The message says that, unless it is stopped right now, it all begins again; the old hatreds, the ego rampant, the fists raised proclaiming that one or another god grants the right to yell instead of think. The message says that each time the world forgets how Evil exists, Evil gets a resurrection; and the word “honor,” extinguishing, turns to smoke.
    But there once lived men who knew that some things were worth dying for. There once were women who fought for their own, and fought for others as much as they were able.
    In a geriatric ward a body is no big advantage, anyway, and so this is how it shapes: we can’t form the future but we can show responsibility.
    • pp. 159-160
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