Favourite Quotations in Books

Just a repository for any interesting lines in the order I’ve come across them.

Steven Errikson – Malazan Series

“Betrayal was the greatest of all crimes in Rallick’s mind, for it took all that was human within a person and made it a thing of pain.”
Pg. 426 Gardens of the Moon, Book 1 of the Malazan Series.

“Such tears had been shed before, and would be again – by others like her and yet unlike her. And the winds would dry them all.”
Pg. 456 Gardens of the Moon, Book 1 of the Malazan Series.

“We do naught but scratch the world, frail and fraught. Every vast drama of civilisations, peoples with their certainties and gestures, means nothing, affects nothing. Life crawls on, ever on.”
Pg. 582 Deadhouse Gates, Book 2 of the Malazan Series

“You dream that with memories will come knowledge, and from knowledge, understanding. But for every answer you find, a thousand questions arise.”
Pg. 686 Deadhouse Gates, Book 2 of the Malazan Series

” ‘When I began this journey, I was young. I believed in one thing. I believed in glory. I know now, ‘Siballe, that glory is nothing. Nothing. This is what I now understand.’ ”
Pg. 789 House of Chains, Book 4 of the Malazan Series.

“It is a fool’s curse, to measure oneself in endless dissatisfaction.”
Midnight Tides, Book 5 of the Malazan Series

“. Both gods of war. Heboric, how many faces do you think the god of war has? Thousands. And in ages long past? Tens of thousands? Every damned tribe, old man. All different, but all the same.’ She lit her pipe, smoke wreathing her face, then said, ‘Wouldn’t surprise me if all the gods are just aspects of one god, and all this fighting is just proof that that one god is insane.’
‘Insane?’ Heboric was trembling. He could feel his heart hammering away like some ghastly demon at the door to his soul.
‘Or maybe just confused. All those bickering worshippers, each one convinced their version is the right one. Imagine getting prayers from ten million believers, not one of them believing the same thing as the one kneel¬ing beside him or her. Imagine all those Holy Books, not one of them agreeing on anything, yet all of them purport¬ing to be the word of that one god. Imagine two armies annihilating each other, both in that god’s name. Who wouldn’t be driven mad by all that?’ ”
The Bonehunters, Book 6 of the Malazan Series

“‘Has it ever occurred to you, Cuttle, that maybe not knowing anything has more to do with you than with anyone else?’
No.’
Fiddler stared at Cuttle, who stared back.”
Dust of Dreams, Malazan Book 9

“Journeying often enough for these explorers to return with knowledge of the strange, weak but profligate human creatures. Short-lived and truncated of thought. Incapable of planning ahead beyond a few years at most, and more commonly barely capable of thinking past a mere stretch of days.”
The Crippled God, Malazan Book 10

“‘We can’t win, can we?’
He glanced at her. ‘Among mortals, every victory is temporary. In the end, we all lose.’”
The Crippled God, Malazan Book 10

“To have a ruler one must choose to be ruled over, and that forces notions of inequity to the fore, until they become, well, formalized. Made central to education, made essential as a binding force in society, until everything exists to prop up those in power. The Empty Throne reminds us of all that.”
The Crippled God, Malazan Book 10

Kim Stanley Robinson – Mars Trilogy

“All a gravestone, of course, the people on it already dead at that point, burned away; but it was hard to think of them when the image was so utterly strange and beautiful, a vision of some kind of fantasy DNA, DNA from a macroworld made of pure light, plowing into our universe to germinate a barren planet…”
Red Mars, Book 1 of the Mars Trilogy

“You stood, breathing gases, while death rushed toward you—and were covered by boulders, and died, or covered by dust, and lived. And nothing you did mattered in that great either-or. Nothing you did mattered”
Green Mars, Book 2 of the Mars Trilogy

“In fact it often seemed to him that if everyone were a physicist then they would be very much better off.” – Sax
Blue Mars, Book 3 of the Mars Trilogy

“Why not? said the Dalai Lama, and he transmigrated into one of the little red specks, and that same instant he was there in all of them, all over Mars. The little red people looked up at the humans crashing around above them, a sight which before they had tended to regard as some kind of bad wide-screen movie, and now they found they were filled with all the compassion and wisdom of the eighteen previous lives of the Dalai Lama. They said to each other, Ka wow, these people really are messed up. We thought it was bad before, but look at that, it’s even worse than we thought. They’re lucky they can’t read each other’s minds or they’d kill each other. That must be why they’re killing each other—they know what they’re thinking themselves, and so they suspect all the others. How ugly. How sad.”
Blue Mars, Book 3 of the Mars Trilogy.

“Such faces. You could see people’s souls right there in their faces. Had they known that before”
Blue Mars, Book 3 of the Mars Trilogy.

“Thats the thing with Justice Wars – they never end and never will because Justice is a weak God with too many names …. its followers could not understand it. A mystery language, which is why it has no power because all its followers believe the wrong things – things they just make up and nobody can agree and that’s why the wars never end”
Pg. 560, Reaper’s Gale, Book 7 of the Malazan Series

“The Son of Darkness studied him with strangely veiled eyes, then rose and walked over to the window. ‘Look, the seas grow calm once more. A most worthy lesson, I think. Nothing lasts for ever. Not violence, not peace, Not sorrow, old friend, nor rage.”
Toll the Hounds, Book 8 of the Malazan Series

“This was, as far as he was concerned, the real mystery of civilization – and for all that he exploited it he was, by the end, no closer to understanding it. This willingness of otherwise intelligent (well, reasonably intelligent) people to parcel up and then bargain away appalling percentages of their very limited lives, all in service to someone else. And the rewards? Ah, some security, perhaps. The cement that is stability A sound roof, something on the plate, the beloved offspring each one destines to repeat the whole travail And was that an even exchange?”
Toll the Hounds, Book 8 of the Malazan Series

“Water in perfect illusion… was this fundamentally no different from real wa­ter? If the senses provide all that defines the world, then were they not the ar­biters of reality? As a young acolyte, fired with passions of all sorts, Endest Silann had argued bell after bell with his fellow students over such matters. All those ‘Essence of truth, senses will lie’ themes that seemed so important then, before every universe exploded in the conflagration of creation, shoving all those bright, Muring candles over the table edge, down into the swirling sea of wax where every notion, every idea, melted into one and none, into the scalding sludge that drowned everyone no matter how clever, how wise, how poetic.”
Toll the Hounds, Book 8 of the Malazan Series

“‘This kelyk is worse than a plague, because its victims invite it into their lives, and then are indifferent to their own suffering. It forces the question – have we any right to seek to put an end to it, to destroy it?’

‘Maybe not,’ Nimander conceded.

‘But there is another issue, and that is mercy.’

He shot his cousin a hard look. ‘We kill them all for their own good? Abyss take us, Skin—’

‘Not them – of course not. I was thinking of the Dying God.'”
Toll The Hounds, Book 8 of the Malazan Series.

“‘Because, sooner or later, the believers shatter their icons.'”
Toll The Hounds, Book 8 of the Malazan Series.

“Crope remembered glancing at the boat as he went about his work, watching as it slowly pulled away. That was what he hoped the past was like … a boat sailing away as you stood upon the shore.”
A Fortress of Gray Ice, Book 2 of the Sword of Shadows

“Hell knows me, and you cannot understand what that knowing brings. Every hour that passes I become less. The things that I want are beyond your power to hoard or steal. Help me and you will receive what I no longer desire.”
A Sword from Red Ice, Book 3 of the Sword of Shadows

Ian C. Esslemont – Return of the Crimson Guard

`Wise?’ the unnerving figure demanded. `Do you know the final attainment of absolute power, Cowl?’
`The final what of what?’
`Powerlessness, Cowl. Absolute power diffuses into powerlessness.’
Return of the Crimson Guard, Ian C. Esslemont

James Joyce – Ulysses

“History is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake.”
Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses

“What is God?…..A shout in the street.”
Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses

“Angry tulips with you darling manflower punish your cactus if you don’t please poor forgetmenot how I long violets to dear roses when we soon anemone meet all naughty nightstalk wife Martha’s perfume.”
Bloom in CH5 Ulysses

“Mr Bloom turned away his face. And if he was alive all the time? Whew! By jingo, that would be awful! No, no: he is dead, of course. Of course he is dead. Monday he died. They ought to have some law to pierce the heart and make sure or an electric clock or a telephone in the coffin and some kind of a canvas airhole. Flag of distress.”
Bloom in CH6 Ulysses

“First thing strikes anybody. Bury the dead. Say Robinson Crusoe was true to life. Well then Friday buried him. Every Friday buries a Thursday if you come to look at it.”
Bloom in CH6 Ulysses

“Besides how could you remember everybody? Eyes, walk, voice. Well, the voice, yes: gramophone. Have a gramophone in every grave or keep it in the house. After dinner on a Sunday. Put on poor old greatgrandfather. Kraahraark! Hellohellohello amawfullyglad kraark awfullygladaseeagain hellohello amawf krpthsth. Remind you of the voice like the photograph reminds you of the face.”
Bloom in CH6 Ulysses

“On a handsome mahogany table near him were neatly arranged the quartering knife, the various finely tempered disembowelling appliances (specially supplied by the worldfamous firm of cutlers, Messrs John Round and Sons, Sheffield), a terra cotta saucepan for the reception of the duodenum, colon, blind intestine and appendix etc when successfully extracted and two commodious milkjugs destined to receive the most precious blood of the most precious victim. The housesteward of the amalgamated cats’ and dogs’ home was in attendance to convey these vessels when replenished to that beneficent institution.”
Ch12 Ulysses

“The catastrophe was terrific and instantaneous in its effect. The observatory of Dunsink registered in all eleven shocks, all of the fifth grade of Mercalli’s scale, and there is no record extant of a similar seismic disturbance in our island since the earthquake of 1534, the year of the rebellion of Silken Thomas. The epicentre appears to have been that part of the metropolis which constitutes the Inn’s Quay ward and parish of Saint Michan covering a surface of fortyone acres, two roods and one square pole or perch.”
Ch12 Ulysses

And in the castle was set a board that was of the birchwood of Finlandy and it was upheld by four dwarfmen of that country but they durst not move more for enchantment. And on this board were frightful swords and knives that are made in a great cavern by swinking demons out of white flames that they fix then in the horns of buffalos and stags that there abound marvellously. And there were vessels that are wrought by magic of Mahound out of seasand and the air by a warlock with his breath that he blases in to them like to bubbles.
Ch 14 Ulysses

It was an ancient and a sad matron of a sedate look and christian walking, in habit dun beseeming her megrims and wrinkled visage, nor did her hortative want of it effect for incontinently Punch Costello was of them all embraided and they reclaimed the churl with civil rudeness some and shaked him with menace of blandishments others whiles they all chode with him, a murrain seize the dolt, what a devil he would be at, thou chuff, thou puny, thou got in peasestraw, thou losel, thou chitterling, thou spawn of a rebel, thou dykedropt, thou abortion thou, to shut up his drunken drool out of that like a curse of God ape, the good sir Leopold that had for his cognisance the flower of quiet, margerain gentle, advising also the time’s occasion as most sacred and most worthy to be most sacred.
Ch 14 Ulysses

that was sending over Doctor Rinderpest, the bestquoted cowcatcher in all Muscovy, with a bolus or two of physic to take the bull by the horns. Come, come, says Mr Vincent, plain dealing. He’ll find himself on the horns of a dilemma if he meddles with a bull that’s Irish, says he. Irish by name and irish by nature, says Mr Stephen, and he sent the ale purling about, an Irish bull in an English chinashop. I conceive you, says Mr Dixon. It is that same bull that was sent to our island by farmer Nicholas, the bravest cattlebreeder of them all, with an emerald ring in his nose. True for you, says Mr Vincent cross the table, and a bullseye into the bargain, says he, and a plumper and a portlier bull, says he, never shit on shamrock. He had horns galore, a coat of cloth of gold and a sweet smoky breath coming out of his nostrils so that the women of our island, leaving doughballs and
rollingpins, followed after him hanging his bulliness in daisychains.
Ch 14 Ulysses

For the enlightenment of those who are not so intimately acquainted with the minutiae of the municipal abattoir as this morbidminded esthete and embryo philosopher who for all his overweening bumptiousness in things scientific can scarcely distinguish an acid from an alkali prides himself on being, it should perhaps be stated that staggering bob in the vile parlance of our lowerclass licensed victuallers signifies the cookable and eatable flesh of a calf newly dropped from its mother.
Ch 14 Ulysses

Bloom embraces her tightly and bears eight male yellow and white children. They appear on a redcarpeted staircase adorned with expensive plants. All the octuplets are handsome, with valuable metallic faces, wellmade, respectably dressed and wellconducted, speaking five modern languages fluently and interested in various arts and sciences. Each has his name printed in legible letters on his shirtfront: Nasodoro, Goldfinger, Chrysostomos, Maindoree, Silversmile, Silberselber, Vifargent, Panargyros. They are immediately appointed to positions of high public trust in several different countries as managing directors of banks, traffic managers of railways, chairmen of limited liability companies, vicechairmen of hotel syndicates.
Ch 15 Ulysses

What advantages attended shaving by night?

A softer beard: a softer brush if intentionally allowed to remain from shave to shave in its agglutinated lather: a softer skin if unexpectedly encountering female acquaintances in remote places at incustomary hours:quiet reflections upon the course of the day: a cleaner sensation when awaking after a fresher sleep since matutinal noises, premonitions and perturbations, a clattered milkcan, a postman’s double knock, a paper read, reread while lathering, relathering the same spot, a shock, a shoot, with thought of aught he sought though fraught with nought might cause a faster rate of shaving and a nick on which incision plaster with precision cut and humected and applied adhered: which was to be done.
Ch 17, Ulysses

F. Scott Fitzgerald – Great Gatsby

“And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.”
End of the last chapter of the Great Gatsby

“At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes” – Ch3 Great Gatsby

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Last line of The Great Gatsby

William Gibson – The Sprawl Trilogy

“I speak as one who can no longer tolerate that simple state, the cells of my body having opted for the quixotic pursuit of individual careers.”
William Gibson – Count Zero

“She remembered Cleveland, ordinary kind of day before it was time to get working, sitting up in Lanette’s, looking at a magazine. Found this picture of Angie laughing in a restaurant with some other people, everybody pretty but beyond that it was like they had this glow, not really in the photograph but it was there anyway, something you could feel. Look, she said to Lanette, showing her the picture, they got this glow.

It’s called money, Lanette said.

It’s called money. You just slip it in.”
William Gibson – Mona Lisa Overdrive

“Kumiko would remember the alley always: dark brick slick with damp, hooded ventilators trailing black streamers of congealed dust, a yellow bulb in a cage of corroded alloy, the low growth of empty bottles that sprouted at the base of either wall, the man-sized nests of crumpled fax and white foam packing segments, and the sound of Sally’s bootheels.”
William Gibson – Mona Lisa Overdrive – a sublime example of his ability to describe the future his mind inhabits.

“After that, for a long time, nothing mattered. It wasn’t like the not caring of the stillness, the crystal overdrive, and it wasn’t like crashing, just this past-it feeling, the way maybe a ghost feels.”
William Gibson – Mona Lisa Overdrive

Philip K. Dick

“I’ll take the toxin, he said to himself. And I’ll go into court and sue the bastards for
Leo’s sake. Because I owe that to him. But I’m not returning to Earth; either I make it here or
not at all. With Anne Hawthorne, I hope, but if not, then alone or with someone else; I’ll live
out Doberman’s Law, as Faine predicts. Anyhow it’ll be here on this miserable planet, this
“promised land.”
Tomorrow morning, he decided, I’ll begin clearing away the sand of fifty thousand
centuries for my first vegetable garden. That’s the initial step.”
Pg. 62 Philip K.Dick – The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

“And he felt his own gaze, the perception and comprehension of the future, sear him.”
Pg. 76 Philip K.Dick – The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

“. . . and yet it knew much more than I did about the meaning of our finite lives, here; it saw in perspective. From its centuries of vacant drifting as it waited for some kind of life form to pass by which it could grab and become . . . maybe that’s the source of its knowledge: not experience but unending solitary brooding. And in comparison I knew–had done–nothing.”
Pg. 82 Philip K.Dick – The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Alastair Reynolds

‘A splendidly inept thing,’ Sylveste said, nodding despite himself.
‘What?’
‘The human capacity for grief. It just isn’t capable of providing an adequate emotional response once the dead exceed a few dozen in number. And it doesn’t just level off — it just gives up, resets itself to zero. Admit it. None of us feels a damn about these people.’
Alastair Reynolds – Revelation Space Pg. 181

‘From where Clavain stood, it was like watching fireworks above a remote town. From the colours of Agincourt to the flames of Guernica, to the pure shining light of Nagasaki like a cleansing sword blade catching the sun, to the contrails etched above the skies of the Tharsis Bulge, to the distant flash of heavy relativistic weapons against a starscape of sable-black in the early years of the twenty-seventh century: Clavain did not need to be reminded that war was horrific, but from a distance it could also have a terrible searing beauty.’
Alastair Reynolds – Revelation Ark Pg. 99

‘On a nameless waterlogged world on the ragged edge of human space, under dual suns, Nostalgia for Infinity had landed.’
Alastair Reynolds – Revelation Ark Pg. 512

Alexander Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

‘Standing there to be counted through the gate of an evening, back in camp after a whole day of buffeting wind, freezing cold, and an empty belly, the zek longs for his ladleful of scalding-hot watery evening soup as for rain in time of drought. He could knock it back in a single gulp. For the moment that ladleful means more to him than freedom, more than his whole past life, more than whatever life is left to him.’

‘Shukhov had received a couple of parcels back in Ust-Izhma, but he’d written to his wife not to send any more, not to rob the kids, it only went to waste.
It had been easier for Shukhov to feed his whole family as a free man than it was to feed just himself in the camps, but he knew what those parcels cost, and you couldn’t go on milking your family for ten years on end. Better to do without.
That’s what he’d decided, but whenever anybody in the gang or the hut got a parcel (somebody did almost every day) he felt a pang — why isn’t it for me? And although he had strictly forbidden his wife to send anything even at Easter, and never went to look at the list on the post — except for some rich workmate — he sometimes found himself expecting somebody to come running and say:
“Why don’t you go and get it, Shukhov? There’s a parcel for you.”
Nobody came running.
As time went by, he had less and less to remind him of the village of Temgenyovo and his cottage home. Life in camp kept him on the go from getting-up time to lights-out. No time for brooding on the past. ‘

“He began eating. First he just drank the juice, spoon after spoon. The warmth spread through his body, his insides greeted that skilly with a joyful fluttering. This was it! This was good! This was the brief moment for which a zek lives.
For a little while Shukhov forgot all his grievances, forgot that his sentence was long, that the day was long, that once again there would be no Sunday. For the moment he had only one thought: We shall survive. We shall survive it all. God willing, we’ll see the end of it! ”

“Shukhov felt pleased with life as he went to sleep. A lot of good things had happened that day. He hadn’t been thrown in the hole. The gang hadn’t been dragged off to Sotsgorodok. He’d swiped the extra gruel at dinnertime. The foreman had got a good rate for the job. He’d enjoyed working on the wall. He hadn’t been caught with the blade at the search point. He’d earned a bit from Tsezar that evening. And he’d bought his tobacco.
The end of an unclouded day. Almost a happy one. Just one of the 3,653 days of his sentence, from bell to bell.
The extra three were for leap years.”

Paolo Bacigalupi – The Windup Girl

“calorie detente”

Charles Stross – Accelerando

“matrioshka brain”

“The main life-form is an incredibly ornate corporate ecosphere, legal instruments breeding and replicating. They mug passing sapients and use them as currency.”

“Conscious civilizations sooner or later convert all their available mass into computronium, powered by solar output. They don’t go interstellar because they want to stay near the core where the bandwidth is high and latency is low, and sooner or later, competition for resources hatches a new level of metacompetition that obsoletes them”

“He’s also collating a series of interviews with resimulated logical positivists from Oxford, England (the ones who haven’t retreated into gibbering near catatonia upon realizing that their state vectors are all members of the set of all sets that do not contain themselves)”

“a body phobia of extropian proportions”

Charles Stross – Glasshouse

“We take it in turns, alternating, because it’s hard, stressful work. I grab a struggling victim, maybe a plump female orthohuman or a scrawny guy who really needs a new body—some of them have been living feral, refusing to go through the A-gates for fear of CuriousYellow, until they actually grow old—and I pinion the victims and lay them down on the slimy blood-slick floor of the room. They usually scream, and in many cases they piss themselves as Loral brings his Vorpal sword down on the back of their neck between the C7 and T1 vertebrae. A twitch on the power button and there’s more blood squirting and splashing everywhere than you could imagine, and they stop screaming. Loral pulls her sword out and I get off the body and chase the head, which is usually soaking wet, the eyelids twitching with postamputation shock. I throw the head into the A-gate, low and fast as I can, and the gate swallows it and processes the skull and hopefully gets them logged before permanent depolarization and osmotically induced apoptosis can set in. Then Loral grabs the discarded body and slings it onto the heap in the corner, which one of our fellow special action troops carts away on a pallet loader every so often, while I flail at the floor with a broom in a losing battle to stop the blood puddling around our feet.”

“Poetry really gums up conversational monitoring systems. Parsing metaphor and emotional states is an AI-complete
problem”

“Even without memory surgery, we are fragile beings, lights in the darkness that leave a trail fading out behind us as we forget who we have been”

Neal Stephenson – Snow Crash

“But in the bleak light of full adulthood, which is to one’s early twenties as Sunday morning is to Saturday night, he can clearly see what it really amounts to: He’s broke and unemployed.”

“To condense fact from the vapor of nuance”

“The kid’s name is Transubstanciacion. Tranny for short.”

Wheel of Time – A Memory of Light
“Death is as light as a feather”

Joseph Heller – Catch-22

“…when the moldy odor of mortality hung wet in the air with the sulphurous fog and every man scheduled to fly was already tainted.” Pg. 108 of Catch-22.

“Yossarian was alone in a ponderous, primeval lull in which everything green looked black and everything else was imbued with the color of pus. The breeze rustled leaves in a dry and and diaphanous distance.” Pg. 142 of Catch-22

“Aarfy was like an eerie ogre in a dream, incapable of being bruised or evaded, and Yossarian dreaded him for a complex of reasons he was too petrified to untangle. Wind whistling up through the jagged gash in the floor kept the myriad bits of paper circulating like alabaster particles in a paperweight and contributed to a sensation of lacquered, waterlogged reality. Everything seemed strange, so tawdry and grotesque.” Pg. 149 of Catch-22.

Andy Weir – The Martian

“Yes!” They said “Yes!”
I haven’t been this excited about a “yes” since prom night!
Pg. 105

“You know what? “Kilowatt-hours per sol” is a pain in the ass to say. I’m gonna invent a new scientific unit name. One kilowatt-hour per sol is… it can be anything… um… I suck at this… oh fuck it. I’ll call it a “pirate-ninja.”
Pg. 205.

“As with most of life’s problems, this one can be solved by a box of pure radiation.”
Pg. 214

“That’s why I needed the atmosphere. Without it, the urine would just boil immediately and I’d be hanging around in an piss-based atmosphere.”
Pg. 302

“I’m leaving 41 potatoes behind. That’s how close I came to starvation.”
Pg. 307

Hannu Rajaniemi – The Causal Angel

“Requesting Poincaré invariant surface access for Saturn kiloclick beam. Buying derivatives on future access rights to Saturn kiloclick beam.” Pg. 20

“It was an idea they already thought of in the twentieth century, that spacetime could compute … Something to do for the humming LHC, still warm from finding the first Higgs … Spacetime was not just a computer, it was a trusted quantum computer. To run anything on it, you needed a key, to open Planck-scale locks.” Pg. 40

Alan Moorehead – The White Nile

“It is worth noting the comment of a minor chief in northern Uganda, with whom Sir Samuel Baker stayed: “Most people are bad. If they are strong they take from the weak. The good people are all weak; they are good because they are not strong enough to be bad.” Commoro, a minor Ugandan chief, to Samuel Baker in 1864

“Peace is the dream of the wise. War is the history of man.” – proverb

Alan Moorehead – The Blue Nile

“The mamelukes in their gorgeous robes like great tropical flowers on the surface of the water.” Pg. 103

“The country is a palimpsest in which the Bible is written over Herodotus and the Quran over that” Pg. 106

“the intricate dovetailing of things that were astonishingly modem with others that were hopelessly antique -that is so impressive. Thus, for example, forty-four trained elephants were to be sent from India to carry the heavy guns on the march, while hiring commissions were dis-patched all over the Mediterranean and the Near East to obtain mules and camels to handle the lighter gear. A railway, complete with locomotives and some twenty miles of track, was to be laid across the coastal plain, and at the landing place large piers, lighthouses and warehouses were to be established. Two condensers to convert salt seawater into fresh were needed, and a telegraph line several hundred miles in length was to maintain communication between the front and the base on the coast. Three hospital ships were to be equipped with Keith’s ice-making machines, and among their stock of medicines were 250 dozen of port wine for each vessel. Then there was the question of the Maria Theresa dollars, the only general currency in Ethiopia. Not any dollar would do; only the 1780 minting that Baker described as showing la profusion of bust’ in the empress’s image was acceptable, and a search of the banks and money-lenders in Marseilles, Cairo and Vienna revealed that not nearly enough were available. A contract therefore had to be signed with the imperial mint in Vienna for a new issue of 500,000.”

“…  the official history of the campaign; and it adds, in one of its moments of skittishness,”No swarthy damsel was subjected to any rude gallantry on the part of the redcoats.”

“Three abortive cavalry charges against modern fire-arms had destroyed the isolation of the Nile Valley from Lake Tana to the sea. None of these engagements, whether of the Mamelukes against the French at the Battle of the Pyramids, of the Shaiqiya tribesmen against the Turks at Korti, or of the Ethiopians against the British at Magdala, had lasted more than an hour or two. Yet these were genuine crises: once their defences were breached none of these countries were ever to be the same again.” – Epilogue

“The spray that falls like gentle rain, wetting one to the skin, falls forever-two centuries and more ago on Lobo and Bruce, now on oneself, and still upon any traveller who chances to be at that beautiful place at this present moment. Sometimes a log, borne along by the current, teeters for a moment at the lip of the vast abyss, and then plunges downward on its long journey to Eygpt and the sea.” – Epilogue

E.M. Forster – A Passage to India

“Any man can travel light until he has wife or children.” Pg. 118

Andy Weir – The Martin

“Yes!” They said “Yes!”
I haven’t been this excited about a “yes” since prom night!

John Cleese – So Anyway

“Wanda, do you have any idea what it’s like being English? Being so correct all the time, being so stifled by this dread of, of doing the wrong thing, of saying to someone, “Are you married?” and hearing, “My wife left me this morning,” or saying, “Do you have children?” and being told they all burned to death on Wednesday. You see, Wanda, we’re all terrified of embarrassment. That’s why we’re all so  … dead.  Most of my friends are dead, you know; we have these piles of corpses to dinner.”

Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs, and Steel

Page 63
The trends reached their zenith on the Hawaiian Archipelago, consisting of the largest tropical Polynesian islands, where high population densities and large land areas meant that very large labor forces were potentially available to individual chiefs. The variations among Polynesian societies associated with different population densities and sizes were as follows. Economies remained simplest on islands with low population densities (such as the hunter-gatherers of the Chathams), low population numbers (small atolls), or both low densities and low numbers. In those societies each household made what it needed; there was little or no economic specialization. Specialization increased on larger, more densely populated islands, reaching a peak on Samoa, the Societies, and especially Tonga and Hawaii. The latter two islands supported hereditary part-time craft specialists, including canoe builders, navigators, stone masons, bird catchers, and tattooers. Social complexity was similarly varied. Again, the Chathams and the atolls had the simplest, most egalitarian societies. While those islands retained the original Polynesian tradition of having chiefs, their chiefs wore little or no visible Polynesian signs of distinction, lived in ordinary huts like those of commoners, and grew or caught their own food like everyone else. Social distinctions and chiefly powers increased on high-density islands with large political units, being especially marked on Tonga and the Societies.

Page 90
Hunter gatherer societies tend to be relatively egalitarian, to lack full-time bureaucrats and hereditary chiefs, and to have small-scale political organizations at the level of the band or tribe. That’s because all able-bodied hunter-gatherers are obliged to devote much of their time to acquiring food. In contrast, once food can be stockpiled, a political elite can gain control of food produced by others, assert the right of taxation, escape the need to feed itself, and engage full-time in political activities. Hence moderate-sized agricultural societies are often organized in chiefdoms, and kingdoms are confined to large agricultural societies. Those complex political units are much better able to mount a sustained war of conquest than is an egalitarian band of hunters. Some hunter-gatherers in especially rich environments, such as the Pacific Northwest coast of North America and the coast of Ecuador, also developed sedentary societies, food storage, and nascent chiefdoms, but they did not go farther on the road to kingdoms. A stored food surplus built up by taxation can support other full-time specialists besides kings and bureaucrats. Of most direct relevance to wars of conquest, it can be used to feed professional soldiers. … Stored food can also feed priests, who provide religious justification for wars of conquest; artisans such as metalworkers, who develop swords, guns, and other technologies; and scribes, who preserve far more information than can be remembered accurately.

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