John C. Wright

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John C. Wright in 2006

John Charles Justin Wright (born October 22, 1961) is an American writer of science fiction and fantasy novels.


  • If you only write one book in your whole life, and only sell 600 copies or less, nonetheless, I assure you, I solemnly assure you, that this book will be someone’s absolutely favorite book of all time, and it will come to him on some dark day and give him sunlight, and open his eyes and fill his heart and make him see things in life even you never suspected, and will be his most precious tale, and it will live in his heart like the Book of Gold. [...] I write for that one reader I will never see, the one who needs just such a tale as I can pen, in just such a time and place, some rainy afternoon or dark hour, when providence will bring my book into his hands. And he will open it, and it will not be a book, but a casement, from which he will glimpse the needed vision his soul requires of a world larger than our own, or a star in a heaven wider and higher than ours, a star aflame with magic more majestic than any star mortal astronomers can name.

Short fiction


The Far End of History (2009)

Original publication in Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan (eds.) The New Space Opera 2, mass market paperback edition, April 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-156236-5
  • Unliving things have no passions, and no memory: mere matter is the amnesia of the universe.
    • p. 589
  • There was no point in debating the advantages of reality over unreality. There was no reasoning with someone to whom truth was a matter of taste.
    • p. 613
All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Tor Books ISBN 978-0-765-31131-3
Nominated for the 2006 Nebula Award
  • I cannot describe myself except to say that I am either very vain or very beautiful, and that I hope I am the latter, while suspecting I may be the former.
    • Chapter 1, “The Boundaries” Section 8 (p. 20)
  • This thought had led to the fear that I might pick the wrong God to pray to. I thought that, because praying to the wrong God was expressly a sin, and because a merciful God might forgive me for forgetting to pray, it therefore followed that, even without knowing which one was the right one, my best chances lay in staying quiet and hoping for the best. That strategy worked in class when I didn’t know the answer, so I supposed it might work in the arena of theology, also.
    • Chapter 3, “The First of the Secrets” Section 8 (p. 48)
  • It seemed even the smallest exercise of arbitrary authority could go to one’s head like wine. I told myself to remember this when I was older.
    • Chapter 4, “Headmaster Boggin” Section 1 (p. 64)
  • You all think I am a coward, when all I am is polite.
    • Chapter 5, “To Walk with Owls” Section 3 (p. 86)
  • “Broken oaths are bad luck eggs.”
    That was so weird, I did not know what to say. So I said, “Eggs?”
    “They hatch bad luck.”
    • Chapter 5, “To Walk with Owls” Section 3 (p. 86)
  • Everyone loses in war, even the winners.
    • Chapter 7, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” Section 2 (p. 109)
  • I will grant you three wishes, but do not ask for immortality without asking for eternal youth.
    • Chapter 9, “Otherspace” Section 5 (p. 138)
  • Miss Daw said, half to herself, “Now you have had your first lesson in what it is like to be a real grown-up woman in a man’s world, my dear. We are judged by our looks, and men are not.”
    • Chapter 20, “Company, of a Sort” Section 4 (p. 269)
  • Yes, I prayed. Why not? The advantage of being an agnostic over being an atheist is that I always had the possibility of being wrong, and could still entertain the hope that the universe was better organized than it appeared to be.
    • Chapter 21, “The Seventh Day” Section 2 (p. 277)
  • The Maiden had been abducted by the Unseen One, and raped. When the crime of the Unseen One finally came to light, instead of punishing his brother, Lord Terminus (who feared him) gave him the Maiden as his wife.
    We have never forgiven Lord Terminus his crime, this cynical and smirking act of corruption. What kind of punishment is it to a rapist, to have the victim of his outrages be given to him in bounds of matrimony, his victim to be his, forever after? Lord Terminus decreed that when a husband takes a wife by violence, it is not rape, but holy matrimony; honor is satisfied once the wedding is performed.
    Honor was satisfied, but we were not satisfied.
  • “What can you do?”
    “I can bring you in dream to one who dreams of you.”
    “Will that help me?”
    “No. But you will come, because you will hope that it will.”
    • Chapter 23, “Dreams and Desires” Section 1 (p. 305)
All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Tor Books ISBN 978-0-765-31496-3
  • You have reached that unfortunate age where you have all of life’s answers and you know everything more perfectly and more profoundly than your elders.
    • Chapter 1, “Interlude with Amelia” (p. 16)
  • I resolved, as I walked, to be the most dangerous one I could be. And in my mind, that meant one thing: thought. Think things through; then act. First be patient; then be brave.
    • Chapter 1, “Interlude with Amelia” (p. 28)
  • So that was my task as leader. Escape from a situation that was complex, dangerous, and littered with unknowns. Get out of the burning labyrinth without stepping on the buried land mines.
    • Chapter 3, “Circuitous Acts” (p. 42)
  • Comedy is easy. Intrigue is hard.
    • Chapter 3, “Circuitous Acts” (p. 52)
  • “They (i. e., the Olympian gods) operate on moral principles. You have to break a promise to them, or break a rule, for them to get power over you.”
    Victor commented darkly, “That explains why religions have rules no one can follow. If everyone is a sinner, by definition, everyone is under their power.”
    • Chapter 9, “Wings” (p. 142)
  • When I was young, I thought the act of getting older meant, year by year, getting more sophisticated, more hard, cool, and unpitying. Less innocent.
    Maybe that was a childish idea of what getting older was about. Maybe adults, mature adults, get more innocent with time, not less. Because the word “innocent” does not mean “naïve,” it means “not guilty.”
    Children do small evils to each other, schoolyard fights and insults, not because their hearts are pure, but because their powers are small. Grownups have more power. Some of them do great evils with that power. But what about the ones who don’t? Aren’t they more innocent than children, not less?
    • Chapter 12, “North by Northwest” (p. 181)
  • Everything is inanimate, if by that you mean things that operate according to cause and effect. Free will is an epiphenomenon, a misjudgment impressed upon us and sustained by the actions of brain molecules in motion.
    • Chapter 16, “Remember Next Time Not to Look” (p. 252)
  • Were I a real master of intrigue, I would not have the reputation for being a master of intrigue.
    • Chapter 17, “The Ire of the Heavens” (p. 260)
  • Need I say that, if the universe is destroyed, it is unlikely that the British Isles will be preserved?
    • Chapter 18, “Festive Days on the Slopes of Vesuvius” (p. 280)
  • War is murder, king-sized.
    • Chapter 18, “Festive Days on the Slopes of Vesuvius” (p. 281)
  • Come on, Amelia. We are not really British. We do not have to look down our noses at honest labor.
    • Chapter 18, “Festive Days on the Slopes of Vesuvius” (p. 285)
  • Those who work are free. There are only three categories of nonproductive people: babies, beggars, robbers.
    • Chapter 18, “Festive Days on the Slopes of Vesuvius” (p. 285)
All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Tor Books ISBN 978-0-765-31648-6
  • I have an ongoing operational preference, rather than an end goal. I was raised in a prison, as a war hostage. War is illogical, wasteful. Wars become less frequent the more incentives rational beings have to cooperate rather than to compete. A free and peaceful commonwealth embracing all rational entities of this and every other universe, Cosmic and Chaotic, mortal and immortal, will deter wars.
    The primary requirement, however, is freedom: universal freedom. If there are other people out there, raised in imprisonment as I was, I have a duty to liberate them, for the same reason why I would have welcomed any outside liberator who would have attempted to free me. We were in the most pleasant prison imaginable. It was still unacceptable. The present condition of the universe is unacceptable. Anything I can do, large or small, along these lines, I will do. Other problems are secondary, and may resolve themselves once this primary problem is solved.
    • Chapter 3, “Within Sight of the Land of Freedom” Section 1 (pp. 42-43)
  • “Reality is complex. The most we can hope for in life is partial solutions. And even such partial solutions as that are temporary, and may require irritating compromises. That is why I defined my actions in terms of an operational process, not in terms of an end goal. There is no end. Nothing ever ends. We do what we can when we can. Factors beyond our control—” He made a gesture at the horizon and the sky, a gesture that seemed to encompass the material world, humanity, the stars, the fates, the actions and opinions of other people, all of external reality. “—factors beyond our control...we disregard.”
    • Chapter 3, “Within Sight of the Land of Freedom” Section 1 (p. 43; ellipsis in the original)
  • Quentin looked glum and shook his head. “Unleashing the appetites is not freedom, but another type of slavery. Freedom in the absence of virtue will destroy a country as quickly as any tyranny.”
    Victor said, “Virtue imposed from without is not virtue at all, but merely prudence. A man who avoids lying merely because a law tells him to tell the truth will avoid telling the truth as soon as the law tells him to lie.”
    • Chapter 4, “The Creatures of Prometheus” Section 4 (p. 55)
  • We are indeed human beings. We are merely not Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens is a species, something into which one is born. Humanity one chooses. Men who choose inhumanity are merely upright beasts.
    • Chapter 6, “Six Score Leagues Northwest of Paradise” Section 4 (p. 75)
  • Whatever dwelt among the stars had nothing to do with earthly concerns. I wonder if you will understand me if I said, staring at the indifference of the cold heavens, that I never felt less religious than in that moment, but staring at their majesty, the grandeur, I never felt more. Cruel Saturn’s created world was worthy of awe.
    • Chapter 7, “Works and Days” Section 5 (p. 93)
  • Warlocks are something like doctors, I guess. No matter how much you like them personally, there is quite a bit of nasty mess involved in their line of work.
    • Chapter 8, “Pallid Hounds A-Hunting” Section 1 (p. 100)
  • There is no magic, only mysteries explained, and mysteries unexplained.
    • Chapter 8, “Pallid Hounds A-Hunting” Section 1 (p. 106)
  • This world, this human earth, this dirty spot within heavenly sphere, is is overwhelmed by all the bloodshed and pollutions of men, their stinking lusts, their cities a-drip with oil, their battlefields with carrion.
    • Chapter 8, “Pallid Hounds A-Hunting” Section 1 (p. 109)
  • I had sudden insight into male psychology. My theory: Guys are idiots. Keep this theory in mind. It explains the phenomena while assuming no unnecessary agents.
    • Chapter 10, “Love’s Proper Hue” Section 3 (p. 146)
  • Merlin and Solomon can tell you how well the wise and learned can withstand the foolishness of love!
    • Chapter 10, “Love’s Proper Hue” Section 6 (p. 154)
  • No harder than walking a tightrope over a pit. A deep pit. Filled with sharks. Radioactive sharks.
    • Chapter 10, “Love’s Proper Hue” Section 7 (p. 157)
  • Think, Amelia, think. You read all those books. What would Odysseus do? Dress up like a beggar, and then shoot everyone. No help there. What would Achilles do? Go sulk in his tent. Nope. Aeneas? Sacrifice a cow or something. Boy, these old heroes are really not useful as role models. Who were my other heroes? Margaret Thatcher? Attack Argentina. No time to go wobbly.
    • Chapter 10, “Love’s Proper Hue” Section 7 (p. 157)
  • Women are supposed to domesticate men. List the countries where they treat women like dirt, and then list the crude, warlike, and brutal countries. Same list, yes?
    • Chapter 10, “Love’s Proper Hue” Section 8 (p. 162)
  • Ripples on a pond cannot touch a bird hovering above it.
    • Chapter 18, “Dream Storm” Section 14 (p. 250)
  • Sometimes the best in people comes out during emergencies. Sometimes not.
    • Chapter 19, “The Swift God, Thrice-Greatest” Section 9 (p. 267)
  • Death was soon and growing sooner.
    • Chapter 20, “The Shield of Lady Wisdom” Section 6 (p. 280)
  • It is amazing how well the worst ones think of themselves, and how little the best ones do.
    • Chapter 22, “The Bubble Bath” (p. 300)
  • You were raised perfectly well, better than most. If you feel that the world has treated you unfairly, you have achieved a state of mind well known to all teenagers, but maintained only by adults of a more shrill and self-absorbed type.
    • Chapter 22, “The Bubble Bath” (p. 306)
  • There is a war, you know, between Cosmos and Chaos, between order and entropy, between reason and unreason. This forms the fundamental basis of existence; I do not see how any victory or lasting peace is possible. The most one can hope for is temporary compromises, temporary armistice. You are not the first victim of this terrible conflict.
    • Chapter 22, “The Bubble Bath” (p. 306)
  • Educators know there are only two types of schooling: indoctrination and education.
    Indoctrination teaches a student how to cleave to a party line, and to recite the slogans and bromides of the accepted conformity. He is taught only how to swallow lies, and there is no assurance he will not swallow the propaganda of foes as easily as that of friends. Such folk are hopelessly provincial to their time and place. Unable to distinguish truth from fable, they swallow both or spit both out, and become zealots, or, worse yet, cynics. The zealot holds that truth can be won with no effort; the cynic, that no effort will suffice.
    Education teaches the art of skeptical inquiry. The student learns the thoughts of all the great minds of the past, so that the implications and mistakes of philosophy of various schools are not unknown to him. And he learns, first, current scientific theories and, second, how frail and temporary such theories can be. He learns to be undeceived by those who claim to know a last and final truth.
    • Chapter 22, “The Bubble Bath” (p. 309)
Wikipedia has an article about: