Orson Scott Card

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In the early days all I hoped was to make a living out of what I did best. But, since there's no real market for masturbation I had to fall back on my bass playing abilities.
Les Claypool
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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
    • [1979] (July 1980) A Planet Called Treason, 1st Dell printing, p. 240 of 299, New York: Dell Publishing. ISBN 0-440-16897-X.
  • 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 is 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.

Empire (2006)

  • War triggers human inventiveness at the most brilliant, because if you don't win your wars, your civilization disappears.
  • While war is the ultimate expression of mistrust, it cannot be waged without absolute trust. A soldier trusts his comrades to stand beside him and his commander to lead him wisely, so that he will not be led to a meaningless death. And the commander trusts his subordinates and soldiers to act with wisdom and courage in order to compensate for his own ignorance, stupidity, incompetence, and fear, which all commanders possess in ample measure.
  • There are hard wars and easy wars. It's easy to conquer a country whose people hate their own government more than they hate the invaders. It's hard to fight a war when your army knows that back home, their families are rooting for the other side.

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 (2002)

"Teacher's Pest"
  • What does it matter if, by following my heart, I also fulfill someone else's plan?
  • Even in cultures where marriages are arranged by parents, you're never actually forbidden to fall in love with your mate.
  • 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.

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)

  • Nafi 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.

The Tales of Alvin Maker

See the Wikipedia article on The Tales of Alvin Maker for more information.

Seventh Son (1987)

  • Everything possible to be believed is an image of the truth.
  • I always tell what I believe. Whether it's true, I'm no more sure than any man.
  • Sunday morning, he decided, is designed to let sinners have a sample of the first day of eternity in hell.
  • A duel is just two murderers who agree to take turns trying to kill each other.
  • 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.

Red Prophet (1988)

  • When both parties are lying and they both know the other party's lying, it comes powerfully close to being the same thing as telling the truth.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.

Prentice Alvin (1989)

  • A woman's wisdom is her gift to women. Her beauty is her gift to men. Her love is her gift to God.
  • Some men are great enough that they can love a whole woman, and not just part of her.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Alvin Journeyman (1995)

  • 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?
  • Do you speak scorn and mockery to everyone? Or just to your betters?
  • A liar sees lies, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You spend you're whole life grieving for those who haven't died yet.
  • 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.
  • Our savior will resurrect us, but I haven't noticed that Christians end up any less dead at the end of life than heathens.

See also

External links

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