Michael Swanwick

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Michael Swanwick (born November 18, 1950) is an American science fiction and fantasy author.


In the Drift (1985)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Ace Books ISBN 0-441-35869-1
  • If I have to play your stupid games, at least I don’t have to pretend to enjoy them.
    • Chapter 1, “Mummer Kiss” (p. 4)
  • Sam stood in the center of the church, listening for the presence of God. It was a hot place. The air was blue with floating radioisotopes. She glanced up at the clouds and they staggered by as if the walls were falling in on her. She looked away quickly. The air flowed around her, calm and peaceful and blue. But there was no divine presence.
    • Chapter 3, “Boneseeker” (pp. 99-100)
  • These hands were almost crippled digging coal so that rich men in Boston might grow even richer.
    • Chapter 4, “Mutagen Fair” (p. 130)
  • “What you propose to do today is to bring civilization to a lawless corner of the world. I know that you claim more modest ambitions. But when the protection of law is extended to the innocent and weak, that is civilization. Now I hold that in the natural state, there are only two kinds of people in the world—the men with guns, and the victims. And the one kind feeds off the other.”
    • Chapter 4, “Mutagen Fair” (p. 130)
  • I’m a politician. I agree with the majority of whoever I happen to be with at the moment.
    • Chapter 5, “Marrow Death” (p. 151)
  • People will believe in just about any kind of superstitious crap nowadays.
    • Chapter 5, “Marrow Death” (p. 152)
  • Your girlfriend is none too tightly wrapped, if you’ll forgive me for saying so. I don’t think she’s actually crazy, but—I been watching her a long time, and it is my considered opinion that she is none too clear on where the line between fantasy and reality should be drawn.
    • Chapter 5, “Marrow Death” (pp. 180-181)

Vacuum Flowers (1987)[edit]

All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Arbor House
  • The secret of a good scam is not to get greedy.
    • Chapter 4, “Londongrad” (p. 50)
  • Machines!” Wyeth snorted. “Machines are the easiest things in the universe to outwit because they’re predictable—that’s their function, to be predictable, to do exactly what they’re designed for, time after time.
    • Chapter 4, “Londongrad” (p. 57)
  • I’ll have to throw it at him, Rebel thought. Swing it up, catch him under the jaw, break a few teeth. Then grab the knife and hold him for the security people. That was a good plan. It ranked right up there with suddenly learning how to teleport.
    • Chapter 5, “People's Sheraton” (pp. 74-75)
  • It was the kind of discovery that shatters old universes and opens up new ones in their place.
    • Chapter 11, “Cislunar” (p. 179)
  • We had ambition, and ascended into Hell.
    • Chapter 14, “Girlchild” (p. 224)

Stations of the Tide (1991)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Eos ISBN 0-380-81761-6
Won the Nebula Award in 1992. Also nominated for the Hugo Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
  • “I would appreciate it if just this once you would make the effort to curb your negativism.”
    “I have to say what I think. That’s what I’m being paid for, after all.”
    “A very common delusion.”
    • Chapter 1, “The Leviathan in Flight” (p. 10)
  • The bureaucrat was sensitive to this kind of friction. It arose wherever the moving edge of technology control touched on local pride.
    • Chapter 1, “The Leviathan in Flight” (p. 14)
  • Tyranny always has its rationale.
    • Chapter 2, “Witch Cults of Whitemarsh” (p. 26)
  • Money can always be traced. It leaves a trail of slime behind it wherever it goes.
    • Chapter 2, “Witch Cults of Whitemarsh” (p. 26)
  • “I am playing a game called Futility,” she said. Are you familiar with it?
    “How does one win?”
    “You don’t. You can only postpone losing. I’ve managed to keep this particular game going for years.”
    • Chapter 3, “The Dance of the Inheritors” (p. 46)
  • It was a scream straight from the toad buried at the base of the brain, that ancient reptile that wants everything at once, delivered to its feet and set ablaze.
    • Chapter 6, “Lost in the Mushroom Rain” (p. 92)
  • Time was a flickering gray fire constantly consuming all things, so that what appeared to be motion was actually the oxidation and reduction of possibilities, the collapse of potential matter from grace to nothingness.
    • Chapter 6, “Lost in the Mushroom Rain” (p. 105)
  • “I trust I have not grown so gullible as to consult a doctor,” the bureaucrat said with dignity. “If I want medical attention, I hall employ the qualified machinery or, in extremis, a human with proper biomedical augmentation. But I will not swill down fermented swamp guzzle at the behest of some quasi-literate, uneducated charlatan.”
    • Chapter 7, “Who Is the Black Beast?” (p. 108)
  • “Did you experience hallucinations or illusions?”
    “What’s the difference?”
    “An illusion is a misreading of actual sensory data, while a hallucination is seeing something that isn’t there.”
    • Chapter 7, “Who Is the Black Beast?” (p. 109)
  • A magician does not send messages, you know—he orchestrates reality.
    • Chapter 7, “Who Is the Black Beast?” (p. 119)
  • Indeed, what is magic but impossible science?
    • Chapter 8, “Conversations in the Puzzle Palace” (p. 130)
  • You don’t hide information by destroying it. You hide it by swamping it with bad information.
    • Chapter 8, “Conversations in the Puzzle Palace” (p. 139)
  • A tension went out of the air. Their business here was over then, and they all knew it; the magic moment had arrived when it was understood that nothing more would be established, discovered, or decided today. But the meeting, having once begun, must drag on for several long more hours before it could be ended. The engines of protocol had enormous inertial mass; once set in motion they took forever to grind to a stop.
    • Chapter 8, “Conversations in the Puzzle Palace” (p. 141)
  • The announcers sounded giddily excited. Their faces flushed, their eyes bright. Natural disasters did that to people, made them feel significant, reassured them that their actions mattered.
    • Chapter 12, “Across the Ancient Causeway” (p. 223)
  • Be grateful. I’ve taught you a valuable lesson. Most people never do learn exactly how much they will do to stay alive.
    • Chapter 13, “A View from a Height” (p. 232)
  • “It was none of your foul science. I am an occultist.”
    “A distinction in terminology only. Our means may differ, but we employ identical techniques. First, render the brain open to suggestion. We use magnetic resonance, while you employ drugs, ritual, sex, terror, or some combination thereof. Then, when the brain is susceptible, imprint it with new behavior patterns. We use holotherapeutic viruses as the message carriers; you eat a rat. Finally, reinforce the new pattern in your daily life. Our methods are probably identical there. The skill is extremely old; people were being reprogrammed long before machines.”
    • Chapter 13, “A View from a Height” (p. 235)
  • You will study bioscience control, that ought to be useful—it will teach you the folly of thinking you can go against your genetic inheritance, for one thing.
    • Chapter 13, “A View from a Height” (p. 236)
  • Everyone dies—the rearrangement of when is a matter of only statistical interest.
    • Chapter 13, “A View from a Height” (p. 238)

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