Orson Scott Card

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
There's always hope... even when there isn't faith. And sometimes, without hope or faith, there must be charity.

Orson Scott Card (born August 24, 1951) is an American author working in numerous genres. He is best known for his novel Ender's Game and its many sequels. Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead were both awarded the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award.


  • "I'm accusing you of violating the laws of nature," he said, irritated at my failure to respond.
    "Nature's virtue is intact," I reassured him. "I just know some different laws."
    • Dialog between Lord Barton and Lanik Mueller, after the latter performs a series of apparent miracles
    • A Planet Called Treason (1st Dell printing ed.). New York: Dell Publishing. July 1980. p. 240 of 299. ISBN 0-440-16897-X. 
  • In his sleep the voice of the land came to him like whispered lullabies. I did not choose you, said the land. I cannot speak except to those who hear me, and because it is in your nature to hear and listen, I spoke to you and lead you here to save me, save me, save me. Do you know the desert they will make of me? Encased in burning dust or layers of ice, either way I'll be dead. My whole purpose is to thrust life upward out of my soils, and feel the presence of living feet, and hear the songs of birds and the low music of the animals, growling, lowing, chittering, whatever voice they choose. That's what I ask of you, the dance of life, just once to make the man whose mother will teach him to be Quetzalcoatl and save me, save me, save me.
  • They are beautiful monsters... And when they live in a network of peace and hope, when they trust the world and their deepest hungers are fulfilled, then within that system, that delicate web, there is joy. That is what we live for, to bind the monsters together, to murder their fear and give birth to their beauty.
    • Wyrms (1987).
  • I wonder sometimes if the motivation for writers ought to be contempt, not admiration.
    • Future on Fire (1991), introduction.
  • If it isn't a wonderful story first, who cares how "important" it is?
    • Future on Fire (1991), introduction.
  • I had seen the princess and let her lie there unawakened, because the happily ever after was so damnably much work.
  • The great forces of history were real, after a fashion. But when you examined them closely, those great forces always came down to the dreams and hungers and judgments of individuals. The choices they made were real. They mattered.
    • "Atlantis," from Keeper of Dreams (2008).

Songmaster (1979)

  • He understood the tone of voice instinctively, as he always had; it was his greatest gift, to know emotions even better than the person feeling them.
  • Only a fool can't be fooled.
  • She thinks she's kept me. She would have kept me better if she had let me go now.
  • I will love you forever, he thought. I am lying, he thought, and this time he was right.
  • He was growing up. Soon he would be a man. He wondered what that would mean. Surely he could not have more required of him as an adult that had been required of him as a child. There could not be more.
  • I wanted your songs.
    You wanted my songs more than you wanted my happiness. So you took my happiness, and stole my songs.
  • You are mine, but you are not mine. I am yours, but you hardly know it.
  • [He] looked death in the eye and did not seem disappointed.

Saints (1983)


Originally published as Woman of Destiny.

  • There's always hope... even when there isn't faith. And sometimes, without hope or faith, there must be charity.
  • Many a man isn't as good as his woman, but I never knew a husband who was better than his wife.
  • To me, the truth is what actually happened. Yet it is impossible to know anything approaching the whole truth about past events. Even the people living them could not possibly understand. That truth is always out of reach.

Hart's Hope (1983)

  • They never noticed that he was in fact what they only pretended to be.
  • Justice could be cruel, and crueler yet necessity, but mercy was the cruelest thing of all.
  • A dagger has only a single point, but a traitor cuts from anywhere.
  • He knew her too well to see her from the distance that pity requires. He loved her because he admired her. For bearing without complaint the burden the queen put on her. For still being gentle and loving when she had ample reason to be bitter.
  • Are you the strongest of all men, so strong that you can be merciful to me, a weak woman? Here is the undoing of your strength: I am not a weak woman. I am not a little queen. And your mercy will be your undoing.
  • Asking a man if he could be trusted was like asking an unwed girl if she was a virgin. The question mattered, but the asking of it was a gross insult.
  • When he loved his bride it was not a queen he loved, but rather the girl as she might have been if she had not been destroyed in her childhood.
  • A dreamer, a good man, a kind man who cared less for his plan than for the people in it.
  • You're the sort of enemy your enemy must love.
  • She did not send for him until she was afraid; she was not afraid until he undid her work; he did not undo her work until he was past loving her.

Treason (1988)


Revised version of A Planet Called Treason (1978).

  • I was the last to know what was happening to me. Or at least I was the last to know that I knew.
  • It made me wonder if perhaps our ancestors' crimes were not in fact far more terrible than they claimed. After all, the only histories we possessed told their version of what happened, and in their accounts they were completely innocent.
  • I want to see the king.
    Wonderful. I'm glad for you.
    Why are you so glad?
    Because it's good for every human being to have an unfulfilled wish. It makes all of life so poignant.
  • There must be a special place in hell reserved for you.
    I've been to hell. It's a better place than this.
  • Your father cares as little as we do. It's just that he tends to despair, while we are full of hope.
  • I'm losing Savanna.
    That's good. No one should own someone else.
  • I walked down the hill, forgot philosophy, and joined the human race again. Nobody was particularly glad to see me.
  • I immediately felt so comfortable there. Or if not comfortable, at least willing to bear the discomforts because they fit the awkward places in my heart.
  • You are not what you seem.
    So many people have said that that I'm beginning to think that's precisely how I do seem. What is it I seem to be that you have now discovered that I'm not?
  • There's a sort of rage a man feels when he's been deceived where he most trusted. It compares to no other anger.
  • He deserved to die except that nothing deserves death.
  • I had never believed I had a soul until then, when it laid bare a hurt more deep than any part of me could bear.
  • Keep your freedom, keep your immortality, but somewhere along the line I hope you figure out what you're living forever for. What noble purpose you mean to achieve. Because you're no good to anyone here, not even yourselves.
  • Heroes and victims are the product of the mood they were in when opportunity came or when circumstances were at their worst.
  • For the first time I understood the haunting beauty of the song. It was the song of a killer who longed to die. It was the song of justice yearned for but not yet done.
  • People's beliefs don't exist in isolation. Everyone's firmly held beliefs exert an enormous pressure on everyone else.
  • You looked so intense. Whatever you were saying, you seemed to mean it, and it wasn't amusing at all. Started quite a fashion. People keep looking for purpose now. Complicates everything.
  • But whether there's some grand design really matters little to me. My only hope was this: to see what might be, to believe that it should be, and then to do all I could to bring it to pass, whatever the cost.
  • Even the devil gives some justice to his victims, when they're beyond all help.
  • Faithfulness had taken me by surprise. I wondered how long the phase would last.
  • If you could stop the suffering and dying, and didn't stop it, then you are guilty. It is your fault.
    We kill no one. We do not let them kill us. We have nothing to do with them.
  • If there's no place in the universe for a man to resist the thieves of freedom and still be called a good man, then I don't think there is any good or evil in the universe.
  • You resent death. You regret death. But as for your own life, you know perfectly well that no one can threaten it at all. Death is something that happens to someone else.
  • I'm passing through the world invisibly. Even when people see or speak to me it's as if I didn't exist, as if I had no right to exist. I tread across their lands and they don't see me. I act and act and act and nothing makes any difference in the world. But they touch me.
  • I began to suspect that the ultimate sacrifice isn't death after all; the ultimate sacrifice is willingly bearing the fullest penalty for your own actions.

Lost Boys (1992)

  • You were born with compassion, only that also means that when people are cruel to you it cuts you deep. You won't understand that you have to walk right up to the ones who are being hateful and laugh in their faces and earn their respect. Instead you'll try to figure out what you did to make them mad at you.
  • He exuded confidence without ever looking as if he wanted to make sure everyone else knew how confident he was.
  • There was the chance that someday he would surprise her, that she would turn to face her husband and find a stranger in his place, a stranger who didn't approve of her and didn't want her in his life anymore.
  • Even the good she found in him was really the goodness she had put in him, the goodness he had put on himself as a disguise in order to get her to marry him.
  • This is what love is, he thought. Doing what you don't want to do, because she needs it so much. And it isn't that bad. And it isn't that hard.
  • There's some people who do things so bad it tears the fabric of the world, and then there's some people so sweet and good that they can feel it when the world gets torn. They see things, they know things, only they're so good and pure that they don't understand what it is that they're seeing.

Lovelock (1994)

  • Even the most "Rational" people — the ones who claimed not to have a religion — were just as chauvinistic about their irreligion, sneering at and ostracizing the believers just the way the believers treated nonmembers of their own groups. It's a human universal.
  • We were all victims of an oppressive system, but that mattered far less to us than our deep bonding with our owners.
  • Adolescents never understand that the best way to avoid notice is to behave normally.
  • She sounded how you'd expect talking to a tree to sound - bored out of her mind.
  • Keeping secrets was the beginning of freedom.
  • They gave me powers of thought and memory far beyond anything natural evolution would have given me, but that doesn't give them the right to decide the meaning of my life as if I were some dream. I decide the meaning. If my life is a dream then it's my dream, I'm the dreamer.
  • What I am seeing right now is a man who is so dominated by his mother that he is willing to throw away his marriage in order to protect her from the trauma of growing up and acting like an adult.
  • I think if you left grownups to do what they really actually wanted most in the world to do, every single one of them would lie down and take a nap for the rest of their life. I know this because that's what every grownup does as soon as they're alone.
  • She did love him, you know... It was a selfish, possessive love, but it was all she knew how to give.
  • You never needed anybody.
    If you had ever bothered to come to know me, you'd know that that is the exact opposite of the truth.
    Well, well. So we part in utter ignorance of each other.

Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus (1996)

  • The vision of the gods without the power of the gods. What a terrible gift.

    A glorious gift.

  • When we intended to enjoy being cruel, we must transform our victim into either a beast or a god.
  • His vices were the vices of his time and culture, but his virtues transcended the milieu of his life.
  • What sort of arrogance did she have, even to imagine reaching back into the past and making changes? Who am I, she thought, if I dare to answer prayers intended for the gods?
  • She will look at you as women look at men, and she will judge you as women judge men — not on the strength of their arguments, and not on their cleverness or prowess in battle, but rather on the force of their character, the intensity of their passion, the strength of their soul, their compassion, and — ah, this above all — their conversation.
  • How is clean, painless nonexistence any worse than clean, painless death?
  • We are the actors and the audience as well, all of us. And the critics. We are also the critics.
  • First we try to preserve ourselves, until we see that we can't. Then we try to preserve our children, until we see we can't. Then we act to preserve our kin, and then our village or tribe, and when we see we can't preserve even them, then we act in order to preserve our memory. And if we can't do that, what is left?
  • The older you get, the more you believe in God, whatever face he wears.
  • They don't know how to watch things. They don't know how to see anything but what they expect to see.
  • You are sure your enemy is stupid because he doesn't do things as you would do them. It will make you careless, and your enemy will surprise you.
  • You just refuse to leave them alone until they change their minds. Of their own free will.
  • It was always from the love of strong women that he had found whatever joy had been granted him in his life.
  • Happiness is not a life without pain, but rather a life in which the pain is traded for a worthy price.
  • Love is random; fear is inevitable.

Treasure Box (1996)

  • Deep inside himself, in a place he didn't often go, where he kept the things he didn't like to think about but dared not forget, he knew that [she] was still alive somewhere, and somehow she was watching what he did, or at least looking in on him from time to time.
  • What is this thing between women, like men are a joke that women all told each other long ago but men never get it.
  • All children are manipulators.
  • She had that irony in her eyes. Knowledge without wisdom. Power without purpose. Like me.
  • [He] wasn't interested in meeting the kind of women who would come to one of those places looking for the kind of man who hoped to meet a woman there.
  • You are exactly what you seem, and so you always assume that other people are, too.
  • When you have enough money the law is a reed that will always bend your way.
  • The ways of love are strange and hard: the love you want is always barred; the love you have you want to change. The ways of love are hard and strange.
  • Why give you answers you wont believe?
    Well, answers I don't believe would be a step forward.
  • Please open your mind to the possibility that I might be an honest man who was himself deceived.
  • I've known too many men who never quite felt married no matter how many wives they'd been through. Their own and otherwise.
  • Home is where the people who live there need me to come home to them, and worry about me when I'm gone. There's no such place on this earth, no matter how far I drive.
  • What's so wrong with feeling sorry for myself? Better that than trying to get other people to feel sorry for me.
  • Whenever I hear you saying, rise and shine, rise and shine, it makes me think how lucky dead people are!

Stone Tables (1997)

  • Such a darling child, they would say, and pat her head. And Miriam would answer in her heart: you made my father a slave. You want us all dead. You are the river, you and all of Egypt. You are the river and as long as we stay beside you we are in danger of drowning.
  • Honesty always sounds like impudence to the vain and stupid.
  • No man can bear to live with a woman who speaks nothing but the truth to him.
  • You really are children. You have no idea how power works, or who has it, or what you can actually do with it.
  • He would rather lose his power for doing right, than keep his power by doing wrong. Because he loves his people more than he loves his office.
  • Like all children they only wanted to be known, and cared little about giving that gift to others.
  • God's hand is strange to us. He cares nothing for the moment, nothing for the feeble ambitions of men and women. He sees the road that flows onward forever.
  • You'll find out I was never sand at all, but a seed, and out of death I'll make life. You can't break me. And whatever plan you have in mind, you can't make me.
  • The man who has an intelligent child is doomed to spend his life justifying every decision he makes.
  • God had answered her prayer, not with the thing she asked for, but rather the thing she wanted most in her heart.
  • Self-knowledge can be painful, but not half so damaging as self-ignorance.
  • To be cut off from the land of the living, and yet not to be dead. How could I bear that?
    That's how most men live, and don't even know it.
  • Some people can't see miracles when they're right in the middle of them.
    Better than seeing miracles that don't exist.
    You're determined to stand entirely alone, aren't you?
    That's where I've always stood.
  • It never occurred to you that they might be flattering you, because you don't lie.
  • It is the downfall of evil, that it never sees far enough ahead.

Homebody (1998)

  • This man, though, was of that rare type that knew what he wanted but didn't want anything badly enough to demand it or beg for it or hurt anyone else in the process of getting it.
  • He was wild the way a mistreated dog becomes wild, not because it loves freedom, but because it has lost trust.
  • She got out of the car in a smooth motion that [he] found attractive precisely because it did not seem designed to make men watch her do it.
  • That was the most terrible thing that a woman could [??] to a decent man: look vulnerable and ask him for mercy. If he refused her he'd be denying all his instincts as a provider and protector.
  • Maybe she just wanted to be the one to decide when things happened between them. Then again, what women didn't want to decide that?
  • How could you tell, when utter honesty and cynical manipulation would each account completely for the things she said and did?
  • Something had been given back to him. And because [she] had been a part of it, there was something between them now. A bond of loss, if loss could bind.
  • Why do you bother asking, when you know the answer and you also know that you don't intend to believe it?
  • Why is doubt the one thing we're never skeptical of? We question other peoples' beliefs, and the more sure they are the more we doubt them. But it never occurs to us to doubt our own doubt. Question our own questions. We think our questions are answers.
  • We're not a family. We're the opposite of a family. We're people so lonely that when we're together we make a black hole of loneliness and everything else gets sucked down into it and is never seen again.
  • She never seemed to get near the edge. She lived on other people's edges. And when they fell off, she'd admire how pretty they looked as they fell.
  • I believed all that stuff about pleasing myself. Can't be done. You can't please yourself by doing what you want. Because it doesn't mean anything if it's just you. There has to be somebody it matters to.
  • You aren't the kind of guy who takes the law into his own hands. You left the law in other hands and it screwed you over pretty badly.
  • I'm nobody's child.
    You're mine now. Not my child, but mine, to miss you when you go, to look out for you, to hope you'll be careful.
  • She going to be free now. She can go home to Jesus.
    Call me selfish, but I wanted her to go home with me.
  • Knowing was better than not knowing. But not by much.
  • You as stupid as they come. Of course, I say this with your best interests at heart. Most people are stupid. I don't hold it against them.
  • I've known some bad people and some good people in my life, and it's the bad ones who live in fear, all the time. Cause they know their own hearts... And they think everyone else is just waiting to pull the same moves on them that they've got planned to pull on somebody else.
  • Good people can't out-think evil, 'cause evil think of things good folks can't think of. Can't enter your head what evil do.
  • We're both damaged property, I guess.
    Plenty of time for renovation.

Enchantment (1999)

  • In Vanya's family, silence had never meant surrender, only tactical retreat.
  • Before the story he refused to even think about it; after the story, it became conceivable to him, and, once he could conceive of it, it soon became inevitable.
  • I never had you, not since you escaped from the womb.
  • More than likely, mother would simply go enigmatic on him, give him one of her inscrutable smiles, and tell him that if he didn't already understand, he never would.
  • How strange it was that this other woman, this girl-child, should speak of her son so possessively, should speak of his future as if it were her own future.
  • Marriage is about banality. Its purpose is banality, to create an environment of surpassing safety and predictability for young children to grow up in, the foundation of life, the root of inner peace.
  • I don't know you, ma'am, and apparently I'm expected to die for you.
  • Was his very boyishness the reason he was chosen? In that case, was it not a virtue to be admired, and not a failing to be despised?
  • Living with a god is not what it's cracked up to be. They think their women should be grateful just to have them around.
  • How could I hurt her? She'd have to love me before I could do that.
  • It was his father who had shrunk, who no longer had the power of the giant, of the god, to enfold him and keep him safe.
  • How could you lose me, when you've never had me, never wanted me?
  • Having never been in control of his own life, his idea of freedom was simply to break free.
  • In the absence of understanding, that was a good a reason as any for living together and making babies and raising them up and throwing them out of the house and then going through the long slow decline together until one of them died and left the other alone again, understanding as little as ever about what their spouses really wanted, who they really were. Was that tragedy? Or was that comedy? Was there really any difference?
  • "Women's intuition" wasn't intuition at all, it was heightened observation, unconscious registration of subtle clues.
  • I took the leap, yes, but I didn't like the ledge where I landed — I fought the bear, I kissed the princess, but now I don't want to be king. Well, where in the fairy tales did it ever say Cinderella had to like being queen?
  • If he was a good man, how could he leave me? So he must not be a good man. But if he isn't good, then why does it hurt so much to lose him? Is it just my pride that's wounded?
  • Love can't conquer anything. Love can't make a scholar into a warrior. Loving her can't make her love me.
  • Like running hurdles. Work so hard, jump over every one, fast, high enough but no higher, because you can't afford to hang in the air. And then, when the race is over, you're dripping with sweat, either they beat you or you beat them... and then a couple of guys come out and move the hurdles out of the way. Turns out they were nothing. All that work to jump over them, but now they're gone.
  • To say what's in their hearts, regardless of shame. It doesn't change what they feel, what they want. It just helps... loosen them up.

The Empire Duet

See the Empire and Hidden Empire pages for quotes from this series.
See the Wikipedia article on The Empire duet, Empire, and Hidden Empire for more information..

Ender's Game series

See the Wikipedia article on Ender's Game series for more information.
See also Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, Shadow Puppets and Ender's Shadow.

Shadow of the Hegemon (2001)

  • You are so intent that you believe only what you believe that you believe, that you remain utterly blind to what you really believe without believing that you believe it.
  • I don't know a soul who doesn't maintain two separate lists of doctrines — the ones that they believe that they believe; and the ones that they actually try to live by.
    • Spoken by Sister Carlotta.
  • She knew that her feelings toward Bean were completely different. No such dreams and fantasies. Just a sense of complete acceptance. She belonged with Bean, not the way that a wife belonged with a husband or, God forbid, a girlfriend with a boyfriend, but rather way the left hand belonged to the right. They simply fit. Nothing exciting about it, nothing to write home about. But it could be counted on.
    • Petra

First Meetings in the Enderverse (2003)

All page numbers from the hardcover edition published by Tor Books ISBN 0-765-30873-8
The Polish Boy
  • “Part of the test,” said Sillain, “is seeing how well you obey orders.”
    “Then I fail,” said John Paul.
    • Page 33
  • He was only six, but he already knew that he hated it when he had to do what other people wanted, even when he knew that they were wrong. He didn't want to be a soldier. He didn't want to kill. He didn't want to die. He didn't want to obey stupid people.
    • Page 44
  • That reminded John Paul of what Andrew had said when he was teaching him to play chess. “You have to think ahead, the next move, the next move, the next move, to see where it’s all going to lead.” John Paul understood the principle as soon as Andrew explained it. But he stopped playing chess anyway, because he didn't care what happened to little plastic figures on a board of sixty-four squares.
    • Page 53
  • Why did people get so upset when somebody mentioned dying? Did they think that if they didn't mention it, it would skip a few people and leave them alive forever?
    • Page 54
  • There are many steps on the continuum between controlling something and doing nothing at all.
    • Page 57
Teacher's Pest
  • “My religion,” said Ms. Brown, “is to try to falsify all hypotheses.”
    • Page 72
  • Only stupid men trying to seem smart need to be with dumb women. Only weak men trying to look strong are attracted to compliant women.
    • Page 96
  • “Are all Polish men as arrogant and intrusive and rude as you?”
    “Few measure up to my standards, but most try.”
    • Page 97-98
  • What does it matter if, by following my heart, I also fulfill someone else's plan?
    • Page 100
  • Even in cultures where marriages are arranged by parents, you're never actually forbidden to fall in love with your mate.
    • Page 100
Investment Counselor
  • It (i. e., advertising) was like horoscopes—enough blind stabs and some of them are bound to strike a target.
    • Page 185
  • “Am I hired?”
    “There is no legal way you can get me out of paying that much of my taxes.”
    “On the contrary, Mr. Wiggin. The tax laws are designed to trick people into paying more than they have to. That way the rich who are in the know get to take advantage of drastic tax breaks, while those who don’t have such good connections and haven’t yet found an accountant who does are tricked into paying ludicrously higher amounts.”
    • Page 188
  • “You can afford me,” said Jane. “I’m cheap and you’re rich.”
    • Page 198
  • Here's the bottom line. I promise you it's entirely legal, and he can't touch you for it. This is how the laws are written. They're designed to protect the fortunes of people as rich as you, while throwing the main tax burden on people in much lower brackets.
    • Page 200
  • “Did they program brattiness into you?”
    “That’s a trait I developed for myself,” she said. “Do you like it?”
    • Page 202

Shadow of the Giant (2005)

  • My hands are clean, but not because I wasn't prepared to bloody them.
    • Han Tzu aka Hot Soup
  • If I have to choose between an omnipotent God who leaves the world in this condition, and a God who has only a little bit of power but really cares and tries to make things better, I'll take you every time. Go on playing God, Hyrum. You're not bad at it. Sometimes you kind of get it right.
    • Julian Delphiki, aka Bean.
  • Such fools they were in Battle School, to let so few girls in. It left the boys completely helpless against a woman when they returned to Earth.
    • Virlomi.
  • "And you actually were cuddly," said Carn. "No offense, but you were spunky."
    "If that's your word for 'bratty little asshole,' said Dink mildly.
  • I don't care how loyal you think you're going to be, Dink. It's not in you. You're a brat and you always will be. So admit what a lousy follower you are, and go ahead and LEAD.
    • Petra Arkanian Delphiki.
  • "'Waterloo was won,'" quoted Rackham, "'on the playing fields of Eton.'"
    "What the hell does that mean?" asked Carn Carby. "You never even went to Eton."
    "It was an analogy," said Rackham. "If you hadn't spent your entire childhood playing war games, you'd actually know something. You're all so uneducated."
  • I've seen Australia and I've lived on an asteroid and I'd take the asteroid.
    • Champi T'it'u aka Dumper

Homecoming saga

See the Wikipedia article on Homecoming Saga for more information..

The Memory Of Earth (1992)

  • Nafai knew the rule: when a man acts like a child, he's boyish, and everyone's delighted; when a boy acts the same way, he's childish, and everyone tells him to be a man.
  • "I think that I say those things that make people so angry, not because I really mean them, but because I simply thought of a clever way to say them. It's a kind of art, to think of the perfect way to say an idea, and when you think of it then you have to say it, because words don't exist until you say them."
    "A pretty feeble kind of art, Nyef, and I say you should give it up before it gets you killed."
  • "Why won't anyone ever answer my questions?"
    "Because you never stop asking them and especially because you keep asking them even when it's clear that nobody knows the answers."
    "Well, how do I know that they don't know the answer unless I ask?"
  • How could you disguise your own thoughts so even you didn't know what you were thinking?
  • Here's my throat. I carry no weapon. You could have killed me at any time, even when I knew you were my enemy. Why did you need to deceive me into trusting you first? Were you afraid that death wouldn't bother me enough, unless I felt betrayed?
  • Permanence was always an illusion, and love was just the disguise that lovers wore to hide the death of their union from each other for a while.
  • I will not be tamed, only persuaded. I will not be coerced or led blindly or tricked or bullied - I am willing only to be convinced. If you don't trust your own basic goodness enough to tell me what you're trying to do... Then you're confessing your own moral weakness and I'll never serve you.
  • Wouldn't it have been better to change humanity so it no longer desired to destroy itself?
  • Not that human beings need to be violent in order to be human, but if you ever lose the will to control, the will to destroy, then it must be because you choose to lose it. My role was not to force you to be gentle and kind; it was to keep you alive while you decided for yourselves what kind of people you wanted to be.
  • You think my apology means I'm weak. But it doesn't. It means I am trying to learn how to be strong.
  • I was forgetting how it really was, I was remembering it through common, ordinary eyes, I was remembering it as the boy I was before, but now I remember that it wasn't me being weak or me being naked, or anything else that I should be ashamed of.

The Call Of Earth (1992)

  • I have no way of knowing that your story is not true — but you have no way of knowing that my story isn't true. So I will choose the one that I love. I will close the one that, if it's true, makes this reality one worth living in. I'll act as if the life I hope for is real life, and the life that disgusts me — your life, your view of life — is the lie.
  • It was not love at all, really, but rather a yearning for the honor and respect of the other men that held them. Pride, then... Indeed, all their connection with each other at this moment was tied up with the respect they felt they were earning by their actions.
  • Keep me alive. Keep me alive long enough for me to conquer the animal within myself. Long enough for me to learn to partner myself with a woman who is better and stronger than me. Long enough for me to reconcile myself with my brothers. Long enough to be as good a man as my father, and as good as my mother, too.
  • Coincidence is just the word we use when we have not yet discovered the cause.
  • How does he do it? How does he master people without bluster or bullying? How does he make people fear him or love him, not in spite of his ruthlessness but because of it?
  • We are all fools when one wise man appears.
  • Stop threatening me... I've lived in terror and I've come out of it. Kill me or not, torture me or not, it doesn't matter to me. Just decide what to do.
  • Will I be coming to you as husband or a child? A partner or a student?
  • Money only buys the illusion of power. Real power is in the force of will — will strong enough that others bend to it for its own sake, and follow it willingly. Power that is won through deception will evaporate under the hot light of truth.
  • If I wanted to doubt then I could doubt endlessly. But at some point a person has to stop questioning and act, and at that point you have to trust something to be true. You have to act as if something is true, and so you choose the thing you have the most reason to believe in, you have to live in the world that you have the most hope in.

The Ships Of Earth (1994)

  • You always back off at the exact moment when you're about to tell the other person exactly what she needs to hear.
  • The others are even more likely to obey their god.
    Which is?
    It dangles between their legs.
  • Physically plain people are perfectly able to see physical beauty in others, while people who are morally maimed are blind to goodness and decency. They honestly think it doesn't exist.
    Oh, they know it exists all right. They just never know which people have it.
  • To face death, that's nothing much. But to feel really stupid when you die, well, that would be insufferable.
  • Show him who I am, so he will pity me instead of fearing me. And then we can turn pity into compassion, and compassion into understanding, and understanding into affection, and affection into love, and love into life, the life of our children, the life of the new self we will become together.
  • You take responsibility for us all. Without ever waiting to be told.
    So do all good people. That's what it means to be a good person.
  • I interpreted all you did as weakness — but I should have known that it was wisdom and strength, freely shared with all of us, even the ones who don't deserve it.
  • Doesn't love show its face when it satisfies the need of the loved one, for the loved one's sake alone?
  • I do matter, and despising me was the gravest error of their lives.
  • Maybe he's growing up.
    Or maybe he just needed the right circumstances to discover the best in himself.
  • Maybe what we really want is for our children to be the dominant ones! Maybe I'm trying to see my own ambitions fulfilled in them, and that would be wrong, so I should be content with what they are.
  • Wasting our time? This is a waste of time, to live in peace and plenty with my wife and children? May I waste the rest of my life, then.
  • I acted like a human male. When I act like a human male it doesn't make me less human, it just makes me less female.
  • The barrier was only in my mind — which is true of this barrier as well. The more firmly I try to cross the barrier, the more firmly I'm rejected. Well, maybe it's the intention to cross the boundary that pushes me away.
  • Just because you live every waking moment with dreams of controlling other people doesn't mean the rest of us do.

Earthfall (1995)

  • Don't lie to me! Don't seem so normal when I know you have cut yourself off from me in your heart! If you can put on our affectionate closeness like a mask, then I'll never be able to take joy in it again.
  • Frozen, right? But to others, it looks like you're calm as could be. That's why some of the others tease you so mercilessly sometimes. They think you're made of stone, and they want to break in and touch the human feelings. They just don't know that when you seem most stony, that's when you're the most frightened and breakable.
  • That's what survival means, for me. I thought it was a matter of staying alive, but it isn't. Nobody lives forever anyway. It's how you're remembered. It's what your children thought of you, what they think of you after you're dead. That's survival.
  • May the day when you need courage never come.
    Even as she said it, though, she knew the day would come.
  • You're the only one that I would be glad to be close to forever, because all your secrets are bright and good and I love you for them.
  • Religion isn't always pretty. Especially viewed from the outside, by an unbeliever.
  • He hated the way they thought. He hated the way they didn't think. It was hard to imagine which of them he hated more.
  • What cannot be healed has been healed. What was lost forever has been found. Therefore let that which cannot be forgiven be forgiven.
  • Haven't you ever seen a 3-year-old when he makes a foolish blunder? He looks at whatever child or adult is nearby and screams at him "Look at what you made me do!" That's the moral universe that [they] always lived in.
  • Sometimes those who care for the whole community must act in a way that harms the individual. For a good man it never becomes easy and he avoids it when he can; but when people need him to be harsh, he will be harsh indeed, and he won't shrink from it, he'll do it with his own hand and let it be known what he does.
  • Wishful thinking gives false gods to people who hunger for gods, but those who yearn for a world with no gods are no less likely to fall victim to their own wishful thinking.
  • I don't mind dying before you do. In fact, I rather prefer it that way.

Earthborn (1995)

  • I believe in everything that seems true to me right now. I just refuse to be surprised when some of those things I believe in now turn out to be false later.
  • Most of the things people say they remember they only imagine anyways.
  • We all choose our own teachers, don't we? I wonder if our choice of teacher shows anything about what our lives will be.
  • Today, I saw a spark of decency. Let's blow on that spark and give it fuel.
  • We can wash people in the water all we want, but we can never wash their parents out of their hearts.
  • Out of respect for custom he treats me as if all women were equally worthless. He gives custom more respect than he gives me.
  • He isn't insane, he's simply as trapped in his life as I am in mine. That makes us friends.
  • What difference does it make, whether we keep our silence because [they] force us or because we're afraid they might force us?
  • I'll be dead and you'll think about this day and wonder which of us was more the slave, you or me!
  • Humans, in order to rise above the animals, had learned how to convert themselves into nothing more than organs or limbs or even disposable fingernails and hair of a larger metaphorical organism.
  • Maybe if I could bear my life as it is for one day, for one hour, for one minute, I could forget my wish to be something else.
  • I have no secret thoughts... Or rather, they're not secret because I've withheld them — if they're unknown, it's because no one asked.
  • Boys always argued as if they knew then had the forces of logic on their side, even when they were being completely irrational.
  • Only boys were so foolish that they actually believed their arguments were their reasons.
  • If a father commands a son to commit a crime so terrible that the son can't do it and live with himself, then is it betrayal for the son to disobey his father?
  • You always do that. Make all the questions harder.
    I make them truer.
  • Law can change how people behave when others are watching — that's all.
  • Don't you hate it when somebody knows you better than you know yourself?
  • That's one of those questions, whether human beings are really capable of change, or if all seeming changes are really a matter of framing the existing character in a different moral situation.
  • Which is the greater wrong? To hurt the unforgiving one, or hurt the one who has forgiven all?
  • It occurred to me that if my friends were loathsome, perhaps I needed to learn from my enemies.
  • Wanting to is the whole lesson; all the rest is practice.
  • The doctrine he was going to be teaching, starting tonight, was not the sort of ideology that would stir souls; no one would die for this religion. It would only attracts converts by promising a return to old tradition and by seeming to be the religion of the future.
  • Just because you know I had no other choice doesn't make the anger go away. I understand that. But you're a man now. You can put away these childish things.
  • They won't be required to sacrifice anything in order to belong to your assembly. A religion that is all sweetness, but no light; all form, but no substance; all tradition, but no precept.
See the Wikipedia article on The Tales of Alvin Maker for more information..
  • That's the way it was then, you see. Folks noticed other people's trouble every bit as quick as if it was their own.
    • Chapter 3.
  • The billion billion paths of his life lay open before him, waiting for his first choices, for the first changes in the world around him to eliminate a million futures every second.
    • Chapter 5.
  • Land was what they wanted, as if the mere ownership of dirt could turn a peasant into a squire.
    • Chapter 6.
  • She grunted. “Nothing unusual?”
    “That’s right.”
    “Well, if you ask me, that’s pretty unusual right there, if a body was smart enough to notice it.”
    • Chapter 6.
  • It's plain that if I married you for brains I was plumb cheated.
    • Chapter 7.
  • The only true vision comes not from God but from the inmost recesses of the human mind.
    • Chapter 9.
  • I always tell what I believe. Whether it's true, I'm no more sure than any man.
    • Chapter 9.
  • “I was ordained,” said the preacher. “No one ordains artists. They ordain themselves.”
    Just as Taleswapper had expected. The preacher retreated to authority as soon as he feared his ideas could not stand on their own merit. Reasonable argument was impossible when authority became the arbiter.
    • Chapter 9.
  • As the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.
    • Chapter 9.
  • Taleswapper looked at Miller.
    “I'm nothing,” he said.
    “A Christian isn’t nothing,” said Taleswapper.
    “I'm no Christian, either.”
    “Ah,” said Taleswapper. “A Deist, then, like Tom Jefferson.” The children murmured at his mention of the great man's name.
    “Taleswapper, I'm a father who loves his children, a husband who loves his wife, a farmer who pays his debts, and a miller without a millstone.”
    • Chapter 9.
  • Sunday morning, he decided, is designed to let sinners have a sample of the first day of eternity in hell.
    • Chapter 10.
  • “I went to the Garden of Love,
    And saw what I never had seen:
    A chapel was built in the midst,
    Where I used to play on the green.

    And the gates of this chapel were shut,
    And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door,
    So I turned to the Garden of Love,
    That so many sweet flowers bore,

    And I saw it was filled with graves,
    And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
    And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
    And binding with briars my joys and desires.”
    • Chapter 10.
  • “I don’t hold with prophets,” said Alvin. “Near as I can tell, they end up just as dead as the next man.”
    • Chapter 10.
  • The most evil creatures don’t desire the destruction of everything—they only desire to exploit it for themselves.
    • Chapter 10.
  • “You must be a prophet right enough,” said Alvin Junior, “cause I can’t understand a thing you said.”
    • Chapter 10.
  • “What kind of stupid tale is that, when we just have to look at each other to know it isn’t true?”
    “It has problems, I admit.”
    • Chapter 10.
  • Just because you believe it doesn’t make it so.
    • Chapter 10.
  • Everything possible to be believed is an image of the truth.
    • Chapter 10.
  • If something just plain didn’t make sense to Alvin, he didn’t believe it, and no amount of quoting from the Bible would convince him. Now Taleswapper was telling him that he was right to refuse to believe things that made no sense.
    • Chapter 10.
  • A duel is just two murderers who agree to take turns trying to kill each other.
    • Chapter 11.
  • It just gripes me hollow, the way God always sneaks in to take the credit.
    • Chapter 12.
  • Religion makes them crazy. Not a woman I ever met wasn't crazy with religion.
    • Chapter 12.
  • You can't tell real from a rutabaga.
    • Chapter 12.
  • Just because the only way you can maintain control over your bodily passions is to sit straight in your chair, knees together, hands delicately arranged in our lap, fingers tightly intertwined, does not mean that I am required to do the same.
    • Chapter 13.
  • “I've done my best, but the boy is unteachable. He doubts everything, and contests each point of theology as if it were required to meet the same tests of logic and consistency that prevail in the world of science.”
    “In other words, he expects your doctrines to make sense.”
    “He is unwilling to accept the idea that some things remain mysteries, comprehensible only to the mind of God. Ambiguity makes him saucy, and paradox causes open rebellion.”
    “An obnoxious child.”
    • Chapter 13.
  • It is a weak man who blames his failures on the strength of others.
    • Chapter 13.
  • A man who can't read only knows what other folks tell him.
    • Chapter 15.
  • “I’ve never seen a soft heart turn hard,” said Taleswapper. “At least not without good reason.”
    • Chapter 15.
  • I own the whole world, and folks haven't been keeping up too well on the payments.
    • Chapter 15.
  • This is what I want to do forever, each one thought. Rise in the morning, come to the mill, and work all day with him beside me. Never mind that the wish was impossible. Never mind that they might never see each other again, once the boy left for his apprenticeship back in the place of his birth. That only added to the sweetness of the moment, which would soon become a memory, would soon become a dream.
    • Chapter 15 (closing words).
  • Men like Jackson were so upright and honest-seeming, but Hooch knew that there wasn't no such thing as a good man, just a man who wasn't bought yet, or wasn't in deep enough trouble, or didn't have the guts to reach out and take what he wanted. That's all that virtue ever boiled down to, so far as Hooch ever saw in his life.
    • Chapter 1.
  • No, no, no, Hooch told himself silently. Getting even don't amount to nothing in this world. Getting even only gets you behind. The best revenge is to get rich enough to make them all call you sir, that's how you get even with these boys.
    • Chapter 1.
  • When both parties are lying and they both know the other party's lying, it comes powerful close to being the same thing as telling the truth.
    • Chapter 1.
  • The White man never guessed at what the Red man saw and heard and felt. The White man brought death and emptiness to this place. The White man cut down wise old trees with much to tell; young saplings with many lifetimes of life ahead; and the White man never asked, Will you be glad to make a lodgehouse for me and my tribe? Hack and cut and chop and burn, that was the White man's way. Take from the forest, take from the land, take from the river, but put nothing back. The White man killed animals he didn't need, animals that did him no harm; yet if a bear woke hungry in the winter and took so much as a single young pig, the White man hunted him down and killed him in revenge. He never felt the balance of the land at all.
    • Chapter 2.
  • What is the White man? What does he do?
    The White man is like a human being, but he crushes all other living things under his feet.
    Then why, O Ta-Kumsaw, when I look into your heart, why is it that you do not wish to hurt the White man, that you do not wish to kill the White man?
    The White man doesn't know the evil that he does. The White man doesn't feel the peace of the land, so how can he tell the little deaths he makes? I can't blame the White man. But I can't let him stay. So when I make him leave this land, I won't hate him.
    • Chapter 2.
  • She can't help her red skin, and she isn't heathen. In fact, she's a Baptist, which is almost like being Christian, only louder.
    • Chapter 3.
  • Lolla-Wossiky is left like a White man then. Cut off from the land. Ground crunching underfoot. Branches snagging. Roots tripping. Animals running away.
    • Chapter 4.
  • He didn't know if he had the right or not. Didn't know if he was taking like a Red man, just what the land offered, or stealing like a White man, murdering whatever it pleased him to kill.
    • Chapter 4.
  • Road poured out into a place of meadows and a few White man's buildings. Lots of wagons. Horses posted and tied, grazing on the meadow grass. Sounds of metal hammers ringing, chopping of axes in the wood, screech of saws going back and forth, all kinds of White-man forest-killing sounds. A White man's town.
    • Chapter 4.
  • What a silly god, he makes everybody born bad to go to burning hell. Why so mad? All his fault!
    • Chapter 4.
  • Very bad thing, killing little boy. But maybe Red man knows about whisky-Red, very thirsty, making crazy. Not like killing man to take his house or his woman or his land, like White man all the time.
    • Chapter 4.
  • The fear of death in the one place was not as strong as another kind of fear, the fear of a world gone crazy, a place where anything could happen, where nothing could be trusted, where nothing was certain. A terrible place.
    • Chapter 4.
  • “We don’t go to Fort Chicago,” said Ta-Kumsaw. “We go to the holy place.”
    “A church?” asked Alvin.
    Ta-Kumsaw laughed. “You White people, when you make a place holy you build walls so nothing of the land can get in. Your god is nothing and nowhere, so you build a church with nothing alive inside, a church that could be anywhere, it doesn’t matter—nothing and nowhere.”
    “Well what does make a place holy?” asked Alvin.
    “Because that’s where the Red man talks to the land, and the land answers.”
    • Chapter 7.
  • The funny thing was, you see, that Mike Fink didn't think of himself as a murderer. He thought of life as a contest, and dying was what happened to those who came out second best, but it wasn't the same as murder, it was a fair fight.
    • Chapter 14.
  • We've seen the worst that men can do, pa, and been the worst that men can be. But that don't mean that someday we won't see the best, too. And if we can never be perfect after this, well, we can still be pretty good, can't we?
    • Chapter 14.
  • As he had so many times before, Taleswapper addressed a few silent words to God, which always came down to this question: Why do you put us to so much trouble, when it all comes to naught in the end?...And, as usual, God had nothing much to say to Taleswapper when his questioning was done.
    • Chapter 15.
  • Wasn't that their natural right, to know the truth so as to be able to let the truth lead them to do good or evil, as they chose?
    • Chapter 17.
  • “Black with hate,” said Becca. “You are gathering your people with hate.”
    “Can you imagine conducting a war with love?” asked Ta-Kumsaw.
    “That’s a reason to refuse to make war at all,” she said gently.
    • Chapter 17.
  • “I want to know how many years I got.”
    “Many,” said Ta-Kumsaw. “Or few. All that matters is what you do with however many years you have.”
    • Chapter 17.
  • We don't admit it to ourselves, not until the very moment of death, but in that moment, we see all life before us and we understand how we chose, every day of our lives, the manner of our death.
    • Chapter 17.
  • What the White man had won with so much blood and dishonesty was not the living land of the Red man, but the corpse of that land. It was decay that the White man won. It would turn to dust in his hands, Alvin knew it.
    • Chapter 18.
  • At night in his own bed, Alvin listened to the distant greensong, still warm and beautiful, still bright and hopeful even though the forest was getting so sparse, even though the future was so dim. Cause there's no fear of future in the song of life, just the ever-joyful present moment. That's all I want right now, thought Alvin. The present moment, which is good enough.
    • Chapter 19 (closing words).
  • Slavery, that was a kind of alchemy for such White folk, or so they reckoned. They calculated a way of turning each bead of a Black man's sweat into gold and each moan of despair from a Black woman's throat into the sweet clear sound of a silver coin ringing on the money-changer's table. There was buying and selling of souls in that place. Yet there was nary a one of them who understood the whole price they paid for owning other folk.
    • Chapter 1.
  • She don't set no store to see a king. Her pa a king back in Africa, and they shoot him dead. Them Portuguese slavers show her what it mean to be a king—it mean you die quick like everybody, and spill blood red like everybody, and cry out loud in pain and scared—oh, fine to be a king, and fine to see one. Do them White folk believe this lie?
    • Chapter 2.
  • That's how it goes within a family. You think you know each other so well, and so you don't bother hardly getting to know each other at all.
    • Chapter 2.
  • Didn't he know that when you work to destroy, you invite the Destroyer?
    • Chapter 6.
  • And then he realized that he could never make anything out of the Unmaker, could never make the Unmaker do or be anything because it was only Undoing and Unbeing. It wasn't the Unmaker he needed to call to, it was all the living things around him, the trees, the grass, the earth, the air itself. It was the greensong that he needed to restore.
    • Chapter 9.
  • The Maker is the one who is part of what he makes.
    • Chapter 9.
  • He'd undone all he could. You can be sorry, and you can be forgiven, but you can't call back the futures that your bad decisions lost. He didn't need no philosopher to tell him that.
    • Chapter 9.
  • Peggy chose her words to be true, and therefore beautiful, and therefore good.
    • Chapter 10.
  • "'A woman's wisdom is her gift to women,'" Peggy quoted. "'Her beauty is her gift to men. Her love is her gift to God.'"
    • Chapter 10.
  • Some men are great enough that they can love a whole woman, and not just part of her.
    • Chapter 10.
  • Perhaps you don't desire poetry as much as you would like to have my torchy knowledge of your possible futures, but I dare say poetry will do you far more good. For knowing the future only makes you timid and complacent by turns, while poetry can shape you into the kind of souls who can face any future with boldness and wisdom and nobility, so that you need not know the future at all, so that any future will be an opportunity for greatness, if you have greatness in you.
    • Chapter 15.
  • I've learned much, Father, and this above all: that no station in life is above any other, if it's occupied by someone with a good heart.
    • Chapter 15.
  • You can't change what you don't understand.
    • Chapter 17.
  • Last night Alvin just got mad, which she said would only guarantee that he'd stay stupid.
    • Chapter 17.
  • Was it worth it? To lose part of who he had been in order to live free? Perhaps this new self was better than the old.
    • Chapter 18.
  • In a way, he lost some of himself, some of his knack, and therefore some of the choices he might have had in life. But in losing those, he gained so much more freedom, so much more power, that he was clear winner in the bargain.
    • Chapter 18.
  • I don't know why people who got what they need to be happy don't just go ahead and be happy.
    • Chapter 1.
  • And I says back to him, “Calvin, sounding like an educated man don’t make you educated,” and he says back to me, “I'd rather be ignorant and sound educated than be educated and sound ignorant,” and I said, “Why?” and he says to me, “Because if you sound educated then nobody ever tests you to find out, but if you sound ignorant they never stop.”
    • Chapter 1.
  • Where do you draw the line between a humble man who knows his own weaknesses but tries to act out virtues he hasn't quite mastered yet, and a proud man who pretends to have those virtues without the slightest intention of acquiring them?
    • Chapter 2.
  • Do you speak Scorn and Mockery to everyone? Or just to your betters?
    • Chapter 2.
  • You know, if you hurt people enough, eventually they'll all call you whatever you want. Maker. King. Captain. Boss. Master. Holy One. Pick your title, you can beat people into calling you that. But you don't change yourself a bit. All you do is change the meanings of those words, so they all mean the same thing: Bully.
    • Chapter 2.
  • “A liar sees lies,” said Taleswapper. “Even when they aren’t there. Just as a hypocrite sees hypocrites whenever he runs across good people. Can’t stand to think that anyone might really be what you only pretend to be.”
    • Chapter 2.
  • “You speak metaphorically, I hope,” said Peggy.
    “I hope not,” said Becca. “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.”
    • Chapter 3.
  • My own feeling is that human happiness is a very random thing, and bestows itself willy-nilly, and there's not much deserving about the matter.
    • Chapter 3.
  • Perhaps I'm hiding from myself. Perhaps I don't want to be what I'm supposed to be. Or perhaps I don't want to keep living the life I already started to live.
    • Chapter 3.
  • When people say perhaps it's cause they're lying. Either they don't believe the thing they're saying, or they do believe it only they don't want to admit they do.
    • Chapter 3.
  • You spend your whole life grieving for those who haven't died yet.
    • Chapter 3.
  • He could afford to be generous, since he didn't have to pay for it himself. Most virtues were like that. People could take pride in how virtuous they were, but the fact was that as soon as virtue got expensive or inconvenient, it was amazing how fast it gave way to practical concerns.
    • Chapter 5.
  • He had left home to get away, not to go toward anything. There was no greater freedom than that.
    • Chapter 8.
  • Verily learned to live with constant deception, hiding what he was and what he saw and what he felt and what he did from everyone around him. It was only natural that he should be drawn to the study of law.
    • Chapter 9.
  • By the time Verily was sixteen, a sturdy and rather good-looking young man of some education and impeccable manners, he had become a thoroughgoing skeptic. If the dogmas about witchery could be so hopelessly wrong, how could any of the teachings of the ministers be relied upon? It left Verily Cooper at loose ends, intellectually speaking, for all his teachers spoke as if religion were the cornerstone of all other learning, and yet all of Verily's actual studies led him to the conclusion that sciences founded upon religion were uncertain at best, utterly bogus at worst.
    • Chapter 9.
  • Alvin had met true evil in his life, but he still persisted in thinking it was awful rare, and the word was bandied about too much by those who didn't understand what real badness was.
    • Chapter 10.
  • “You're such a liar.”
    “But I’m a beautiful liar, don’t you think?” She flashed her best smile at her friend.
    “I don’t understand what men see in women anyway,” her friend answered. “Hexes or no hexes, as long as a woman has her clothes on a man can’t see what he’s interested in anyhow.”
    • Chapter 10.
  • Alvin wondered if it was true—if all men had evil in their hearts, and those men as were good, maybe they were simply the ones who controlled theirselves so well they could act contrary to their heart's desire. But if that were so, then no man was good, not one.
    • Chapter 11.
  • “Lookit that,” he said. “A lawyer who knows how to do something useful. That’s a miracle.”
    • Chapter 12.
  • It has been my experience that the better a man you are, the more folks there are who resent you for it, and find occasion to get angry at you no matter how kindly meant your deeds may be.
    • Chapter 13.
  • What you are is a man who means to be good, and undo the bad he's done, and that's as good as any man ever gets.
    • Chapter 13.
  • There were always people searching for the Unmaker, for some awful destructive power outside themselves. Poor fools, they always thought that Destruction was merely destruction, they were using it and when they were done with it, they'd set to building. But you don't build on a foundation of destruction. That's the dark secret of the Unmaker, Alvin thought. Once he sets you to tearing down, it's hard to get back to building, hard to get your own self back. The digger wears out the ground and the spade. And once you let yourself be a tool in the Unmaker's hand, he'll wear you out, he'll tear you down, he'll dull you and hole you and all the time you'll be thining you're so sharp and fine and bright and whole, and you never go till he lets go of you, lets you drop and fall. What's that clatter? Why, that was me. That was me, sounding like a wore-out tool. What you leaving me for? I still got use left in me?
    But you don't, not when the Unmaker's got you.
    • Chapter 14.
  • What Alvin figured out was that when you're Making, you don't use people like tools. You don't wear them out to achieve your purpose. You wear yourself out helping them achieve theirs. You wear yourself out teaching and guiding, persuading and listening to advice and letting folks persuade you, when it happens they're right.
    • Chapter 14.
  • Whenever the law gets its hands on you, those who use the law to their own advantage will also turn it against you. Don't put your trust in the laws of men, Alvin. They were designed by strong men to improve their power over weaker ones.
    • Chapter 14.
  • I think that a good person can sometimes do wrong out of ignorance or weakness or wrong thinking, but when hard times come, the goodness wins out after all. And a bad person can often seem good and trustworthy for a long time, but when hard times come, the evil in him gets revealed.
    • Chapter 14.
  • Debased men, but they all had something in common: They showed a keen regard for virtue, and tried to dress themselves in that costume. Hypocrisy, for all its bad reputation, at least showed a decent respect for goodness.
    • Chapter 14.
  • Verily wondered what the man could have the audacity to say, in the face of such evidence—what whining, sniveling complaint or protest he might utter.
    • Chapter 14.
  • “Our savior will resurrect us,” said Peggy, “but I haven’t noticed that Christians end up any less dead at the end of life than heathens.”
    • Chapter 14.
  • You think this because you are a nasty person by nature, Calvin, and you don't understand nice people. To you, the end of existence is to control things, and so you will never build anything, but rather will try to take control of what is already in existence. Your brother, though, is by nature a Maker, as you explain it; therefore he cares nothing about who rules, but only about what exists.
    • Chapter 17.
  • Never mind that the story had turned out to be lies and foolishness—there was always folks stupid enough to say, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” when the saying should have been, “Where there’s scandalous lies there’s always malicious believers and spreaders-around, regardless of evidence.
    • Chapter 17.
  • Andrew Jackson neatly resolved the issue by walking into congress and placing his hand on the Bible they kept there as a reminder of all the virtues they worked so hard to get the voters to believe they possessed.
    • Chapter 19.
  • And he wanted a wife. He wanted to raise children. He wanted to prove that goodness wasn’t beaten into children, that fear was not the fount from which virtue flowed. He wanted to be able to gather his family in his arms and know that not one of them dreaded the sight of him, or felt the need to lie to him in order to have his love.
    • (Chapter reference needed).

Heartfire (1998)

  • My father always said that government is like watching another man piss in your boot. Someone feels better but it certainly isn’t you.
    • Chapter 1.
  • The Lord took twice the time making thee, Alvin Smith, cause it took that long to put the mischief in.
    • Chapter 1.
  • War was never so careful as to inflict suffering only where it was merited.
    • Chapter 2.
  • “Don’t you think it’s ironic that you have no idea what you’re supposed to do,” said Verily, “and yet so many people have gone to so much trouble to prevent you from doing it?”
    • Chapter 3.
  • Evil people naturally assume that you will use that power exactly as they would use it.
    • Chapter 3.
  • “Calvin, what kind of trouble are you planning to make?”
    “No trouble at all,” said Calvin, annoyed. “Why do you think I want to cause trouble?”
    “Because you are awake.”
    • Chapter 4.
  • “This is Alvin Smith,” said Cooper. “He’s a man of inestimable abilities, but only because nobody has cared enough to estimate them.”
    • Chapter 5.
  • “You,” said Purity, “have been long enough out of England to pick up some American brag.”
    “But surrounded by Americans as I am,” said Cooper, “my brag is like a farthing in a sack of guineas.”
    • Chapter 5.
  • “Don’t press her,” said Cooper. “If someone decides to leave something unsaid, my experience is that everyone is happier if they don’t insist on his saying it.”
    • Chapter 5.
  • The desire to force others to bend or break to her will was always there, usually hidden deeply enough that she could forget she had that wish within her, but occasionally surfacing to dangle the ripe fruit of power just out of her reach. She knew, as few others did, that the power to coerce depended entirely on the fear or weakness of other human beings. It was possible to use coercion, yes, but in the end you found yourself surrounded only by the weak and fearful, with all those of courage and strength arrayed against you.
    • Chapter 6.
  • “I always play with everybody,” said Honoré. “It is my vocation. God put me on the earth to do with people what cats do to mice. Play with them, chew the last bit of life out of them, them pick them up in my mouth and drop them on people’s doorsteps. That is the business of literature.”
    • Chapter 6.
  • When I am drunk I am at my best. It is the national knack of the French.
    • Chapter 6.
  • “I don’t have to be a gentleman,” said Balzac. “I am an artist.”
    • Chapter 6.
  • Once you have the gallows, you'll find new reasons to hang people from it.
    • Chapter 7.
  • To expect wickedness from human beings is the best way I know of to avoid surprises. And when I am surprised, it's always pleasantly.
    • Chapter 7.
  • The first of a thousand lies. Truth flowed to Micah Quill, was sucked in and disappeared, and emerged again looking ever so much like it used to, but changed subtly, at the edges, where none would notice, so that simple truth became a complicated fabric indeed, one that could wrap you up so tightly and close you off from the air until you suffocated in it.
    • Chapter 9.
  • “This is today’s puzzle,” he said. “If the act of denial can be taken as proof of the crime, how can an innocent man defend himself?”
    The tithingmen caught him by the arms. “Come along now, Mr. Emerson, and don’t go trying any philosophy on us.”
    “Oh, I wouldn’t dream of it,” said Waldo. “Philosophy would be wasted against such sturdy-headed men as you.”
    “Glad you know it,” said the tithingman proudly. “Wouldn’t want you thinking we weren’t true Christians.”
    • Chapter 9.
  • Denmark nursed that anger and it kept him free.
    • Chapter 10.
  • It wasn't so bad being a slave when your owner was yourself and stood up for you.
    • Chapter 10.
  • Around here, ma'am, if folks got they mouth open, if they ain't eating then they lying.
    • Chapter 10.
  • “I knew God had heard my prayer when I learned that it was you and no other who drew this case.”
    “One judge is coughing his life out into bloody handkerchiefs and the other is burying his wife, and you think this is how God answers your prayers?”
    • Chapter 11.
  • “Are you all right, sir?” asked Hezekiah.
    “Just fighting over old battles in my mind,” said John. “It’s the problem with age. You have all these rusty arguments, and no quarrel to use them in. My brain is a museum, but alas, I’m the only visitor, and even I am not terribly interested in the displays.”
    • Chapter 11.
  • “I have no fear of war,” said Arthur Stuart. “That’s when kings get to show their mettle.”
    “You’re thinking of chess,” said Margaret. “In war, everyone has their chance to bleed.”
    • Chapter 14.
All page numbers from the mass market edition published by Tor
  • Once he had been so formidable that he was surrounded by enemies. Now even his enemies has lost interest in him. What clearer sign of failure could you find than that?
    • Chapter 1 “Nueva Barcelona” (p. 19).
  • I'm neutral on lying, seeing as how there's times when the truth just hurts people.
    • Chapter 2 “Squirrel and Moose” (p. 21).
  • Folks always seemed to think that as long as they didn't know about something bad, it wasn't happening, so whoever told them actually caused it to be true.
    • Chapter 2 “Squirrel and Moose” (p. 33).
  • “The woman is the subtlest beast in the garden,” said Papa Moose, “now that snakes can’t talk.”
    • Chapter 3 “Fever” (p. 41).
  • “Hey, you’re getting to be almost worth how much it costs to feed you.”
    “Good thing, ’cause I got no plan to eat less.”
    • Chapter 3 “Fever” (p. 48).
  • Every terrible thing in the world was caused by a whole combination of things. But everybody wanted to narrow it down to one cause—and not even the real one. Much better to have one cause—one person to punish. Then the unbearable could be borne.
    • Chapter 3 “Fever” (p. 56).
  • Knowing something may be a terrible burden to bear, but it holds no danger to them as aren't afraid of truth.
    • Chapter 4 “La Tia” (p. 72).
  • “Don’t talk to me like you understand my sins.”
    “Don’t talk to me like you know what I do and do not understand.”
    Alvin chuckled grimly. “Oh, that mouth you’ve got.”
    “You can’t answer what I said, so you’re going to talk about my saying it.”
    • Chapter 4 “La Tia” (p. 74).
  • “A man like that thinks that fear can win loyalty.”
    “Plenty of masters with a lash who can testify it works.”
    “Don’t win loyalty, just obedience, and only while the lash is in the room.”
    • Chapter 4 “La Tia” (p. 74).
  • The dreamers always seem to think their dream is worth the price that other people will pay. They also delude themselves that they will control whatever evil they use to try to bring about their dream.
    • Chapter 5 “Crystal Ball” (p. 82).
  • This is serious, and you gotta keep your mind open in case an idea comes along—you want there to be some room for it to fit in.
    • Chapter 5 “Crystal Ball” (p. 98).
  • Sometimes it felt to him as though he's spent most of his life traveling, and never quite got to anywhere that mattered.
    Then again, that might be as good a description of what life was supposed to be as anyone ever thought of. The only real destination was death, and our lives consisted of finding the most circuitous and pleasant path to get there.
    • Chapter 7 “Errand Boy” (p. 136).
  • How short life is for fools.
    • Chapter 8 “Plans” (p. 159).
  • It is the essence of dignity to pretend to desire what you cannot prevent.
    • Chapter 9 “Expeditions” (p. 166).
  • “He’s young,” she said.
    “We’ve all been guilty of that sin,” said Alvin. “And some never get over it.”
    • Chapter 9 “Expeditions” (p. 175).
  • La Tia was fearless, but that could mean either that she had no guile or that she had no conscience.
    • Chapter 10 “Mizzippy” (p. 188).
  • That is the ultimate power, to stare death in the face and be unafraid.
    • Chapter 11 “Flood” (p. 214).
  • “I’m a terrible salesman,” he finally said. “I always tell the truth about what I’m selling, and then nobody buys it.”
    • Chapter 12 “Springfield” (p. 250).
  • “I see Alvin with a son. That what he want most.”
    “I see him with a woman,” said Rien. “That is what he miss the most.”
    “I see him kneeling by a child’s grave,” said Dead Mary. “That is what he fears the most.”
    • Chapter 16 “Labor” (p. 307).
  • “Everybody thinks they want to see the truth,” said Tenkswa-Tawa. “That’s one of the lies we tell ourselves.”
    • Chapter 16 “Labor” (p. 307).
  • Arthur had heard Peggy say that she didn't wish for more comfortable furniture, because if the chairs were softer, company would be inclined to stay longer.
    • Chapter 17 “Foundation” (p. 334).
  • “I don’t plan to die for any cause,” said Jim Bowie. “Nor any man, excepting only myself. I know that ain’t noble, but it prolongs my days, which is philosophy enough for me.”
    • Chapter 17 “Foundation” (p. 334).

The Lost Gate (2010)

  • I was born with more power inside myself than I ever dreamed. But along with it there came no more sense than any other idiotic kid. Somewhere along in here I need to grow up into a man I can stand to live with. A man who doesn't just survive, but deserves to.

How Software Companies Die


(Windows Sources, March 1995, p. 208).

  • The environment that nutures creative programmers kills management and marketing types - and vice versa.
  • Programming is the Great Game. It consumes you, body and soul. When you're caught up in it, nothing else matters. When you emerge into daylight, you might well discover that you're a hundred pounds overweight, your underwear is older than the average first grader, and judging from the number of pizza boxes lying around, it must be spring already. But you don't care, because your program runs, and the code is fast and clever and tight. You won.
  • Here's the secret that every successful software company is based on: You can domesticate programmers the way beekeepers tame bees. You can't exactly communicate with them, but you can get them to swarm in one place and when they're not looking, you can carry off the honey.



See also