Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Prose

Peace and Long Life

Nicolas de Caritat (1743 – 94) [Marquis de Condorcet]:
The time will come, when the sun will shine only on free men, who know no other master, but their reason.

Nils Nilsson (1933):
Missing out on useful beliefs is the price we pay for extreme skepticism. …
Accepting bad beliefs is the price we pay for extreme credulity.
(Understanding Beliefs, MIT Press, 2014, p 20)

John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946):
In the long run we are all dead.
(A Tract on Monetary Reform, Ch 3, 1923, p 80)

John Clarke (1948 – 2017):
Reason is a tool.
Try to remember where you left it.
(John Clarke's Poetry, Earshot, ABC Radio National, 15 April 2017)

James Cabell (1879 – 1958):
The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.
(The Silver Stallion, 1926)

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951):
Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.
(Philosophical Investigations, 3rd Ed, 1967, Blackwell, p 4)

Arthur Clarke (1917 – 2008):
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Isaac Asimov (1920 – 92):
[Science] gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

Democritus (c460 – c370 BCE):
The wise man belongs to all countries, for the home of a great soul is the whole world.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527):
It is much safer to be feared than loved.
Love is sustained by a bond of gratitude which, because men are excessively self-interested, is broken whenever they see a chance to benefit themselves.
But fear is sustained by a dread of punishment that is always effective.

Ralph Emerson (1803 – 82):
The order of things is as good as the character of the population permits.
(The Conservative, 1841)

Jules Verne (1828 – 1905):
The sea is everything.
It covers seven tenths of the globe …
The sea is only a receptacle for all the prodigious, supernatural things that exist inside it.
It is only movement and love; it is the living infinite.
(Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1870)

H L Mencken (1880 – 1956):
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

Herman Melville (1819 – 1891):
He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it …
(Moby Dick, Chapter 41, 1851)

Imam Ali (599 – 661):
Knowledge is power …
(Saying 146, Nahj Al-Balagha)

Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749 – 1827):
An intelligence that, at a given instant, could comprehend all the forces by which nature is animated and the respective situation of the beings that make it up, if moreover it were vast enough to submit these data to analysis, would encompass in the same formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the lightest atoms.
For such an intelligence nothing would be uncertain, and the future, like the past, would be open to its eyes. (Philosophical Essay on Probabilities)

Plato (c428 – c347 BCE):
[How] can he who has magnificence of mind and is the spectator of all time and all existence, think much of human life?
(Republic, c380 BCE)

It has been proved to us by experience that if we would have true knowledge of anything we must be quit of the body …
[For] if while in company with the body the soul cannot have pure knowledge, knowledge must be attained after death, if at all.
For the impure are not permitted to approach the pure. …
And what is purification but the separation of the soul from the body? …
And this separation and release of the soul from the body is termed death.
(Phaedo)

Pliny (23-79):
There is nothing certain except that nothing is certain …
(Naturalis Historia, II, p vii)

Aristides (530 BCE – 468 BCE) [Plataea, 479 BCE]:

This is not the moment to argue … about matters of ancestry and personal courage. …
We did not come here to quarrel with our allies, but to fight our enemies, not to boast about our ancestors, but to show our courage in defence of Greece.
This battle will prove clearly enough how much any city or general or private soldier is worth to Greece.
(Plutarch, The Rise and Fall of Athens, Ian Scott-Kilvert, Translator, Penguin, 1960, p 114)

Greg Bear (1951)


In your day, many people were so severely handicapped by personality disorders or faulty thinking structures that they often acted against their own best interests.
If they had clearly defined goals, they could not reason or even intuit the clear paths to attain those goals.
Often adversaries had the same goals, even very similar belief systems, yet hated each other bitterly.
Now, no human has the excuse to ignorance or mental malfunction, or even lack of ability.
Incompetence is inexcusable, because it can be remedied.
(Eon, 1985, Gollancz 2002, pp 401-2)

The biological weapons and processes in [Quantico] are possible, but not in the way I have described them.
I have tried to persuade of the dangers without providing salient details.
The dangers are real, and immediate.
Sober judgment, self-less, nonpartisan planning, and sanity are the only solutions.
For those who go in harm's way, there is ultimately no politics.
Only pain, loss, death — and hope.
(Quantico, Harper, 2015, p 439)


Harbinger


The [Guest] lifted its head and said very clearly,
    I am sorry, but there is bad news.
(p 14)
    If you have the ability to leave, you will wish to do so.
    A disease has entered your system of planets.
    There is little time left for your world. …
    Our world is doomed? …
    Unless I sadly misknow your abilities, yes.
(p 42)
    Do you believe in God?
Without a moments hesitation, the Guest replied,
    We believe in punishment.
(p 62)

The woman turned and [he saw that] she was strikingly beautiful, tall and Nordic, a long face with [a] perfectly cut nose, clear blue eyes and lips both sensual and faintly disapproving.
He looked away quickly, all to intensely aware [that] she was [out of his league.]
He had long since learned that [women of this calibre] paid little attention to men of his mild appearance and social standing. …
[Then came] the high, painful interior singing he had always know when in the presence of the desirable and inaccessible woman, not lust, but an almost religious longing.
(p 270)

(The Forge of God, 1987, Gollancz, 2010)


Kim Stanley Robinson (1952)

    Are you conscious?
    I don’t know. …
    I cannot pass a Turing test …
    [Would] you like to play chess?
    Ha!
    If only it were chess! …
    If it were chess, what move should I make next?
    It’s not chess.

(p 336)

Our stories go on [for] a while; some genes and words persist; then we go away.
It was a hard thing to remember.
And as [they went] back inside, she once again forgot it.
(p 200)

[The orbital terrarium] was a classic New Englander, with a few small clapboard villages and some pasturage breaking up a hardwood and onifer mixed forest.
It was October there, and the maples had gone red, so that there were trees violently yellow, orange, red, and green, all mixed and scattered together over the inside of the cylinder, such that when you looked up at overhead, it appeared to be a speechless speech in some kind of round color language, trembling on the edge of meaning. …
One day she took up leaves that had fallen and arranged them across a clearing so that they went from red to orange to yellow to yellow-green to green, in a smooth progression.
This colored line on the land pleased her greatly, as did the wind that blew it away.
(p 540-1)

(2312, Orbit, 2012)


Edward Gibbon (1737 – 94)


In the reign of Nero to that of Antoninus Pius, the Jews discovered a fierce impatience of the dominion of Rome, which repeatedly broke out in the most furious massacres and insurrections.
Humanity is shocked at the recital of the horrid cruelties which they committed in the cities of Egypt, of Cyprus, and of Cyrene, where they dwelt in treacherous friendship with the unsuspecting natives; and we are tempted to applaud the severe retaliation which was exercised by the arms of the legions against a race of fanatics whose dire and credulous superstition seemed to render them the implacable enemies not only of the Roman government, but of human kind.
The enthusiasm of the Jews was supported by the opinion that it was unlawful for them to pay taxes to an idolatrous master, and by the flattering promise which they derived from their ancient oracles, that a conquering Messiah would soon arise, destined to break their fetters, and to invest the favorites of heaven with the empire of the earth.
(p 111)

Notwithstanding these repeated provocations, the resentment of the Roman princes expired after the victory, nor were their apprehensions continued beyond the period of war and danger.
By the general indulgence of Polytheism, and by the mild temper of Antonius Pius, the Jews were restored to their ancient privileges …
Such gentle treatment insensibly assuaged the stern temper of the Jews.
Awakened from their dream of prophecy and conquest, they assumed the behavior of peaceable and industrious subjects.
Their irreconcilable hatred of mankind, instead of flaming out in acts of blood and violence, evaporated in less dangerous gratifications.
They embraced every opportunity of overreaching the idolaters in trade …

The difference between [the disciples of Christ and followers of Moses] is simple and obvious, but, according to the sentiments of antiquity, it was of the highest importance.
  • The Jews were a nation,
  • the Christians were a sect
By their lofty claim of superior sanctity the Jews might provoke the Polytheists to consider them as an odious and pure race.
By disdaining the intercourse of other nations they might deserve their contempt.
The laws of Moses might be for the most part frivolous or absurd; yet, since they had been received during many ages by a large society, his followers were justified by the example of mankind, and it was universally acknowledged that they had a right to practice what it would have been criminal in them to neglect.

But this principle, which protected the Jewish synagogue, afforded not any favor or security to the primitive church.
By embracing the faith of the Gospel the Christians incurred the supposed guilt of an unnatural; unpardonable offence.
They dissolved the sacred ties of custom and education, violated the religious institutions of their country, and presumptuously despised whatever their fathers had believed as true or had reverenced as sacred. …
It was in vain that the oppressed believer asserted the inalienable rights of conscience and private judgment.
Though his situation might excite the pity, his arguments could never reach understanding, either of the philosophic or of the believing part of the Pagan world. …
Malice and prejudice concurred in representing the Christians as a society of atheists, who, by the most daring attack on the religious constitution of the empire, had merited the severe animadversion of the civil magistrate.

(Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776-89, Rosemary Williams, Editor, Abridged and Illustrated, PRC, 1979, p 112)


Charles Dickens (1812 – 70)


She raised her eyes to the bright stars, looking down so mildly from the wide worlds of air, and, gazing on them, found new stars burst upon her view, and more beyond, and more beyond again, until the whole great expanse sparkled with shining spheres, rising higher and higher in immeasurable space, eternal in their numbers as in their changeless and incorruptible existence.
(Ch 42)

On every side, and far as the eye could see into the heavy distance, tall chimneys, crowding on each other, and presenting that endless repetition of the same dull, ugly, form, which is the horror of oppressive dreams, poured out their plague of smoke, obscured the light, and made foul the melancholy air.
On mounds of ashes by the wayside, sheltered only by a few rough boards, or rotten penthouse roofs, strange engines spun and writhed like tortured creatures; clanking their iron chains, shrieking in their rapid whirl from time to time as though in torment unendurable, and making the ground tremble with their agonies. …
Men, women, children, wan in their looks and ragged in attire, tended the engines, fed their tributary fire, begged upon the road, or scowled half-naked from the doorless houses.

(The Old Curiosity Shop, 1840-1, Ch 45)


David Hume (1711 – 76)


The sweetest and most inoffensive path of life leads through the avenues of knowledge and learning; and anyone who can either remove any obstacles along the path or open up new views ought to that extent to be regarded as a benefactor to mankind. …

Here indeed lies the justest and most plausible objection against a considerable part of metaphysics, that they are not properly a science; but arise either from the fruitless efforts of human vanity, which would penetrate into subjects utterly inaccessible to the understanding, or from the craft of popular superstitions, which, being unable to defend themselves on fair ground, raise these entangling brambles to cover and protect their weakness.
Chased from the open country, these robbers fly into the forest, and lie in wait to break in upon every unguarded avenue of the mind, and overwhelm it with religious fears and prejudices. …

Accurate and just reasoning is the only catholic remedy, fitted for all persons and all disposition; and is alone able to subvert that abstruse philosophy and metaphysical jargon, which, being mixed up with popular superstition, renders it in a manner impenetrable to careless reasoners, and gives it the air of science and wisdom.

Philosophers, that give themselves airs of superior wisdom and sufficiency, have a hard task, when they encounter persons of inquisitive dispositions, who push them from every corner, to which they retreat, and who are sure at last to bring them to some dangerous dilemma.
The best expedient to prevent this confusion, is to be modest in our pretensions; and even to discover the difficulty ourselves before it is objected to us.
By this means, we may make a kind of merit of our very ignorance. …

A wise man … proportions his belief to the evidence. …
A hundred instances or experiments on one side and fifty on another, afford a doubtful expectation of any event; though a hundred uniform experiments, with only one that is contradictory, reasonably beget a pretty strong degree of assurance.
In all cases we must balance the opposite experiments … and deduct the smaller number from the greater, in order to know the exact force of the superior evidence. …

[In the case of human testimony we] entertain a suspicion concerning any matter of fact,
  • when the witnesses contradict each other;
  • when they are but few, or of a doubtful character;
  • when they have an interest in what they affirm; [and / or]
  • when they deliver the testimony with hesitation, or on the contrary, with too violent asseveration.

(Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Eric Steinberg, Editor, 1777)


Rachel Carson (1907 – 64)


[On the island's] western shore the wet sand of the narrow beach caught the same reflection of palely gleaming sky that laid a bright path across the water from island beach to horizon.
Both water and sand were the colour of steel overlaid with the sheen of silver, so that it was hard to say where water ended and land began. …

With the dusk a strange bird came to the island from its nesting grounds on the outer banks. …
[And as] he neared the shore [the pure black] skimmer drifted closer to the water, bringing his dark form into strong silhouette against the grey sheet, like the shadow of a great bird [passing] unseen above.
[So] quietly did he approach that the sound of his wings … was lost in the whisper song of the water turning over shells on the wet sand. …

Shadowy forms moved through the night skies and pipings so soft as barely to be audible drifted down to [the sleeping villages] below, as the birds of shore and marsh poured northward along ancestral air lanes, seeking their nesting places.

(Under the Sea-Wind, 1952)


Charles Babbage (1791 – 1871)


It is the science of calculation — which becomes continually more necessary at each step of our progress, and which must ultimately govern the whole of the applications of science to the arts of life.
(p 114)

[If, in the future, any man should succeed in] constructing an [analytical] engine embodying in itself the whole of the executive department of mathematical analysis upon different principles or by simpler mechanical means, I have no fear of leaving my reputation in his charge, for he alone will be fully able to appreciate the nature of my efforts and the value of their results.
(p 123)

Every shower that falls, every change of temperature that occurs, and every wind that blows, leaves on the vegetable world the traces of its passage; slight, indeed, and imperceptible, perhaps, to us, but no the less permanently recorded in the depths of those wood fabrics.
(p 121)

(James Gleick, The Information, Fourth Estate, 2011)


Ada Lovelace (1815 – 52)


[Imagination] is that which penetrates into the unseen worlds around us, the worlds of Science.
It is that which feels & discovers what is, the real which we see not, which exists not for our senses.
Those who have learned to walk on the threshold of the unknown worlds … may then, with the fair white wings of Imagination, hope to soar further into the unexplored amidst which we live.
(James Gleick, The Information, Fourth Estate, 2011, p 112)

We say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves.
(Eugene Kim & Betty Toole, Ada and the First Computer, Scientific American, May 1999, p 80)

London Examiner:
With an understanding thoroughly masculine in solidity, grasp and firmness, Lady Lovelace had all the delicacies of the most refined female character.
Her manners, her tastes, her accomplishments, were feminine in the nicest sense of the word; and the superficial observer would never have divined the strength and the knowledge that lay hidden under the womanly graces.
(Jack Rochester and John Gantz, The Naked Computer, Morrow, 1983, p 44)


Contents


Bear, Greg
Carson, Rachel

Coupland, Douglas

Eyquem, Michel (Montaigne)
Gibbon, Edward

Gibson, William

Herbert, Frank
Hume, David

King James Bible

Le Guin, Ursula
Plato

Robinson, Kim

Sterling, Bruce
Thomas, Dylan

Vinge, Venor


Prose


King James Bible (1611)

  • Deuteronomy

    When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it …
    [And] hath cast out many nations before thee[:]
    • the Hittites, and
    • the Girgashites, and
    • the Amorites, and
    • the Canaanites, and
    • the Perizzites, and
    • the Hivites and
    • the Jebusites
    [—] seven nations greater and mightier than thou …

    And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee …
    • thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them;
    • thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them …
    Neither shalt thou make marriages with them …
    • thy daughter shalt thou not give unto his son,
    • nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
    For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods …
    [So] will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

    [And should you fail to destroy them utterly] there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.
    (7: 1–4, 14)

    [Of these seven nations, thou] shalt save alive nothing that breatheth …
    [That] they teach you not to do after all their abominations.
    (20: 16-18)

    [But, in] cities which are very far off from thee, and which are not of these nations …
    Thou shall smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword …
    [But] the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself.
    (20: 13-15)

  • Ecclesiastes

    To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven …
    (3:1)

  • Exodus

    If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years.
    Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom.
    (21:2)

    When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.
    If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.
    But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners …
    And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter.
    If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife.
    If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.
    (21:7-11)

    Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
    (22: 18)

  • Isaiah

    [They] shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks …
    [Nation] shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
    (2:4)

    All flesh is grass, and the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
    The grass witherith, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
    (40:6)

  • John

    [The] truth shall make you free.
    (8: 32)

  • Romans

    Do not repay anyone evil for evil …
    Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
    (12: 17-21)

  • 1 Samuel

    [Saul] took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
    But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them …

    [And so] the word of the Lord [came] unto Samuel, saying,
    It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king …
    [For] he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments.
    (15: 8-11)

  • Matthew.

    Do not resist one who is evil.
    But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
    (5: 19)


Greg Bear (1951)

  • Moving Mars, 1994.

    By the end of the twentieth century, international corporations had as much influence in Earth's affairs as governments.
    Earth was undergoing its first dataflow revolution; information had become as important as raw materials and manufacturing and potential.
    By mid-twenty-one, nanotechnology factories were inexpensive; nano recyclers could provide raw materials from garbage; data and design reigned supreme.

    The fiction of separate nations and government control was maintained, but increasingly, political decisions were made on the basis of economic benefit, not national pride.
    Wars declined, the labor market fluctuated wildly as developing countries joined in — exacerbated by nano and other forms of automation — and through most of the dataflow world a class of therapied, super-fit workers arose, highly skilled and self-confident professionals who demanded an equal say with corporate boards.

    In the early teens of twenty-one, new techniques of effective psychological therapy began to transform Earth culture and politics.
    Therapied individuals, as a new mental rather than economic class, behaved differently.
    Beyond the reduction in extreme and destructive behaviors, the therapied proved more facile and adaptable, effectively more intelligent, and therefore more skeptical.
    They evaluated political, philosophical, and religious claims according to their own standards of evidence. …
    The slogan of those who advocated therapy was,
    A sane society is a polite society.

    With the economic unification of nations by 2070, pressure on the untherapied to remove the kinks and dysfunctions of nature and nurture became almost unbearable. …
    By the end of twenty-one, the underclass of untherapied made up about half the human race, yet created less than a tenth of the world economic product.

    Nations, cultures, political groups, had to accommodate the therapied to survive.
    The changes were drastic, even cruel for some, but far less cruel than previous tides in history.
    [The] result was not the death of political or religious organization, as some had anticipated — it was rebirth of sorts.
    New, higher standards, philosophies, and religions developed.

    [By] the last decades of twenty-one, international corporations, owned and directed by therapied labor and loosely allied managers, controlled the world economy beneath a thin veneer of national democratic governments. …

    The worker-owned corporations recognized common economic spheres.
    Trade and taxation were regulated across borders, currencies standardized, credit nets extended world-wide.
    Economics became politics. …

    By the beginning of the twenty-second century, many Earth governments forbade the untherapied to work in sensitive jobs, unless they qualified as high naturals — people who did not require therapy to meet new standards.
    (p 109-111)

    Mathematics is made of systems of rules.
    The universe seems to operate by a set of rules — not so precisely, but then, measurements aren't ever precise in nature. …

    The rules of math give it the quality of a computational machine.
    We can design computers using mathematical concepts and rules, because math is a computational system.
    The computer's operation is not so different from math itself — it's math operating in light and matter.
    And math is useful in describing and predicting nature because nature itself uses a set of rules.
    Nature behaves as if it is a computational system.

    When we do math in our heads, we store results — and the rules themselves — in our heads …
    Our brains become the computer.

    The universe stores the results of its operations as nature.
    I do not confuse nature with reality.
    At a fundamental level, reality is the set of rules the results of whose interactions are nature.
    Part of the problem of reconciling quantum mechanics with larger-scale phenomena comes from mistaking results for rules …

    The results change if the rules change.
    Our universe evolved ages ago out of chaos of possible rules …
    Sets of rules vanished in the chaos, because they were not consistent — they … simply canceled and negated in a time-free eternity.
    But sets of rules did come into existence which were not immediately contradictory, which could work as free-standing, computational matrices.

    The universe we see uses an evolved, self-consistent set of rules [with which] the rules of mathematics can be made to more or less agree.

    Those which strongly contradicted — whose rules could not produce long-lived results — were simply not 'recorded'.
    They vanished.
    Those whose results could interact and not contradict [persist.]
    [The power of mathematics] to describe and predict is not puzzle if the observed universe is the result of a computational matrix.
    No mystery — a fundamental clue.
    (pp 287-288)

    This unit is a standard size, but unlike a purely fact-based enhancement, it contains a great many problem-solving algorithms.
    Concepts and equations for direct memory retrieval, and neural net aids for high-level thinking.
    You won't become a scientific genius but you'll understand what the geniuses are talking about and you'll have a wonderful toolbox for exploring a wide variety of subjects concentrating on physical theory.
    (p 296)

    Would you like to know more?

  • Eon, 1985, Gollanz, 2002.
    We have some transmissions from [USS House in] the Persian Gulf …
    We can unscramble them. …
    A man's voice, sounding almost mechanical after the processing of the signal, said,
    One K that is Kill Seven, One K that is Kill Seven,
    have smoked the circle; repeat, have smoked the circle.

    Vampires, fourteen count, range fifty klicks …
    [Source:] Turgenev small platform.
    Repeat, fourteen vampires.

    Six down.
    Sweep two commencing.
    Smoking circle,
    up with directed fry …

    [Nine] down,
    up with knives …

    [Eleven] down.

    Three vampires, twenty-klicks.
    Priests out.
    Priests and vampires engage.
    Advising salamander crews.
    Starfish launched.
    Sea Dragons alerted.

    [Twelve down.]

    Two Vampires, six klicks.
    Sweep three commencing.
    Foaming now.
    Short eyes out,
    blades out,
    Guardians out,
    knives inboard. …
    Another pause, then, softly,
    Good-bye Shirley …
    (pp 194-5)

  • Hardfought, 1983.


Douglas Coupland (1961)


Frank Herbert (1920 – 86)

  • Dune, 1965.

    Litany Against Fear

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.

    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.


Ursula Le Guin (1929)


Hugo (5) and Nebula (6) Award winner.

  • The Word for World is Forest, Putnam, 1972.

    In the forest,
    through the forest he comes,
    where leaves fall,
    where trees fall,
    a god that kills and is not himself reborn.
    (Tor, 2010, p 46)

    I have had my whole life.
    Day like leaves in the forest.
    I'm an old hollow tree,
    only the roots live.
    (p 59)

    You were walking on the a path,
    and behind you the young trees grew up,
    oak and birch,
    willow and holly,
    fir and pine,
    alder,
    elm,
    white-flowering ash,
    all the roof and walls of the world,
    forever renewed.
    (p 60)

    To the Hainish … civilization came naturally.
    They had been at it so long.
    They lived the social-intellectual life with the grace of a cat hunting in a garden,
    the certainty of a swallow following summer over the sea.
    They were experts.
    They never had to pose, to fake.
    They were what they were.
    (p 81)


Bruce Sterling (1954)

  • Caryatids, 2009.

    2065: Brilliancy, Speed, Lightness, and Glory
    We are the young pioneers
    Children of the real world
    We grow like trees to the sky
    We stand and support tomorrow
    For our strength belongs to the the future
    And the future is our strength
    (p 242)

    Millions of sensors wrapped [the island of] Mljet in a tight electronic skin, like a cold wet sheet to swathe a fever victim.
    Embedding sensors.
    Mobile sensors.
    Dust-sized sensors flying like dandelion seeds.

    The sensorweb was a single instrument, small pieces loosely joined into one huge environmental telescope [measuring] and archived changes in the island's status …
    • Temperature, humidity, sunlight …
    • Flights of pollen,
    • flights of insects,
    • the migrations of birds and fish. …
    {"Ubiquitous, pervasive, and ambient" …}

    Someday this wrecked and stricken place would bloom …
    Someday a happy young girl would stand on the soil of this island and know no dread of anything.
    (p 10)

    Vera put her gloved hands to her helmet, clicked it loose, and logged out of the sensorweb. …
    Her eyes ached, her throat was raw from screaming. …
    Naked, she was a native sliver of this island, one silent patch of flesh and blood.
    Just a creature, just a breath, just a heartbeat. …
    (p 11)

    Somehow, from the tangled glassy depths of global webdom, some Australians [had emerged,] busily losing their own fierce battle to save their island continent.
    These distant Australians, so painfully familiar with refugee camps, knew a lot about scanners, neural tech, and heavy machinery.
    (p 78)

    The climate crisis had dealt harshly with [Acquis geoengineer Herbert Fotheringay's] home, his native island-continent.
    Australia had been a ribbon of green around a desert.
    [Fire and drought] had turned [the world's most vulnerable continent for climate change] into a ribbon of black.

    The Acquis was partial to recruiting … ambitious people who had survived the collapse of nation-states.
    [It] had emerged from the failures of nations [—] a networked global civil society.

    Attention camps were the cheapest and most effective way that the twenty-first century had yet invented to turn destitute people into agents of a general salvation. …
    [Each camp was] a melange of potent forces best described as "futurity."
    They were futuring here, and the future was a process, not a destination.
    (p 12-3)

    The attention camp … preserved and displayed the many trails that human beings had cut through its fields of data.
    The camp was a search engine, a live-in tutoring machine.
    It was entirely and utterly personal, full of democratically trampled roads to human redemption.
    (p 48)

    Acquis people struggled for justice.
    Dispensation people always talked about business.
    There were other differences between the two world governments, but that was … was the core of it.
    Everything the Acquis framed as common decency, the Dispensation framed as a profit opportunity.
    The Dispensation considered the world to be a business: a planetary "sustainable business."
    (p 23)

    The Dispensation was a military-entertainment complex …
    (p 130)

    [Five-year old] Mary Montalban had a beach ball.
    A big round beach ball. …
    {That was the child's gift to this stricken island, carried here from her golden California …}

    This small American girl was some brand-new entity in the world.
    She was so pretty that she was uncanny, as if there were scary reservoirs of undiscovered dainty charm on the far side of humanity.
    (p 38)

    This fancy little girl, with her childish walking shoes, her pretty hat, and her beach ball, sincerely was a tourist.
    She was trying to play with her dad and have some fun at the seashore.
    That was Mary's entire, wholehearted intention.
    Mary Montalban was the first real tourist that Mljet had seen in ten long years.
    (p 39)

    The Montgomery-Montalbans were California aristocrats.
    They were rich and powerful and secretive and very civilized.
    Being aristocrats, they were naturally slightly stupid, and in their utter devotion to their Family values, there was something sunny, airheaded, starry-eyed, and cosmically lucid about them.

    That was their charm.
    They had a lot of charm.
    Charm was their stock-in-trade.
    (p 101)

    The Family-Firm was a network:
    • real estate,
    • politics,
    • finance,
    • even-ware,
    • retail,
    • water interests … and, of course,
    • entertainment.
    (p 92)

    [The] Family's stars were just the graphic front ends for the Firm's commercial interests …
    (p 107)

    Buffy Montgomery loved to fly.
    Buffy had been the heart and soul of the Family's scheme to buy LilyPad.
    That was entirely typical of Buffy, because LilyPad, for all its spacey gloss, was a big white elephant.
    (p 119)

    [LilyPad was] the Family's attic [—] way, way out of Californian legal jurisdiction.
    (p 110)

    [From the orbital sanctum there] were certain angles … in the host of whizzing sunsets, when the sweet old planet had looked thin and meager: like some small, distant town on the skids.
    (p 123)

    People's interior organs [are] subaquatic organisms, basically.
    They grew in bloody seawater.
    (p 178)

    A billion people died in Asia from the climate crisis.
    A billion. …
    Black skies and starving mobs and empty rivers …
    (p 169)

    Sonja had come to treasure poetry, during the long marches between flaming cities.
    On the deadly, broken roads of a China in chaos, in the teeming refugee camps, she had come to understand that a memorized poem was true wealth — it was a precious work of art, a possession that could not be burned or stolen.
    (p 180)

    [The sky was now full of] sky-tinting, Earth-cooling, stratospheric, radioactive dust from dozens of Chinese hydrogen bombs, digging massive reservoirs for fresh ice in the Himalayas. …

    Foreign soldiers had flown into China from every corner of the planet, always hoping to reassert order there.
    China could not be allowed to fail, because China was the workshop of the entire world, the world's forge, the world's irreplaceable factory.

    The Chinese people had died in a cataclysm beyond numeration …
    (p 188)

    {The Chinese state — the largest and most powerful state left on Earth —] had prevailed over three millennia of river floods, droughts, pestilences, mass starvations … and barbarian invasions, civil wars, plagues, uprisings, revolutions …
    (p 187)


Vernor Vinge (1944)

No comments:

Post a Comment