“Hell of a world we live in, huh? (...) But it could be worse, huh?"
"That's right," I said, "or even worse, it could be perfect.”
“If poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, science fiction writers are its court jesters. We are Wise Fools who can leap, caper, utter prophecies, and scratch ourselves in public. We can play with Big Ideas because the garish motley of our pulp origins make us seem harmless.”
“It was hot, the night we burned Chrome.”
“You are exhibiting symptoms of urban singles angst. There are cures for this. Drink up. Go.”
“Yeah, it's so popular it's almost legal. The customers are torn between needing someone and wanting to be alone at the same time, which has probably always been the name of that particular game, even before we had the neuroelectronics to enable them to have it both ways.”
“What happened to your arm?" she asked me one night in the Gentleman Loser, the three of us drinking at a small table in a corner.
Hang-gliding," I said, "accident."
Hang-gliding over a wheatfield," said Bobby, "place called Kiev. Our Jack's just hanging there in the dark, under a Nightwing parafoil, with fifty kilos of radar jammed between his legs, and some Russian asshole accidentally burns his arm off with a laser."
I don't remember how I changed the subject, but I did.
I was still telling myself that it wasn't Rikki who getting to me, but what Bobby was doing with her. I'd known him for a long time, since the end of the war, and I knew he used women as counters in a game, Bobby Quine versus fortune, versus time and the night of cities. And Rikki had turned up just when he needed something to get him going, something to aim for. So he'd set her up as a symbol for everything he wanted and couldn't have, everything he'd had and couldn't keep.
I didn't like having to listen to him tell me how much he loved her, and knowing he believed it only made it worse. He was a past master at the hard fall and the rapid recovery, and I'd seen it happen a dozen times before. He might as well have had next printed across his sunglasses in green Day-Glo capitals, ready to flash out at the first interesting face that flowed past the tables in the Gentleman Loser.
I knew what he did to them. He turned them into emblems, sigils on the map of his hustler' s life, navigation beacons he could follow through a sea of bars and neon. What else did he have to steer by? He didn't love money, in and of itself , not enough to follow its lights. He wouldn't work for power over other people; he hated the responsibility it brings. He had some basic pride in his skill, but that was never enough to keep him pushing.
So he made do with women.
When Rikki showed up, he needed one in the worst way. He was fading fast, and smart money was already whispering that the edge was off his game. He needed that one big score, and soon, because he didn't know any other kind of life, and all his clocks were set for hustler's time, calibrated in risk and adrenaline and that supernal dawn calm that comes when every move's proved right and a sweet lump of someone else's credit clicks into your own account.”
“if poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, science-fiction writers are its court jesters.”
“...I knew he used women as counters in a game, Bobby Quine versus time and the night of cities. And Rikki had turned up just when he needed something to get him going, something to aim for. So he'd set her up as a symbol for everything he wanted and couldn't have, everything he'd had and couldn't keep.”
“Sometimes, at dawn, perched on the edge of his unmade bed, drifting into sleep—he never slept lying down, now—he thought about her. Antoinette. And them. The belonging kind. Sometimes he speculated dreamily. . . . Perhaps they were like house mice, the sort of small animal evolved to live only in the walls of man-made structures.”
“Architectural photography can involve a lot of waiting; the building becomes a kind of sundial, while you wait for a shadow to crawl away from a detail you want, or for the mass and balance of the structure to reveal itself in a certain way.”
“The Thirties dreamed white marble and slip-stream chrome, immortal crystal and burnished bronze, but the rockets on the covers of the Gernsback pulps had fallen on London in the dead of night, screaming.”
“Now that is the real thing, the straight goods from the mass unconscious, friend; that little girl is a witch. There’s just no place for her to function in this society. She’d have seen the devil, if she hadn’t been brought up on The Bionic Man and all those Star Trek reruns.”
“The concrete walls were overlaid with graffiti, years of them twisting into a single metascrawl of rage and frustration.”
“But the mind had its own ideas, and Kihn’s opinion of what I was already thinking of as my “sighting” rattled endlessly, through my head in a tight, lopsided orbit. Semiotic ghosts.”
“...era como si Dios revocara la ley de gravedad cuando tienes que cargar una maleta pesada por un corredor de aeropuerto de diez manzanas de largo.”
“Somos manchas vivas de aceite empujadas por pasillos de sombra”
“He did something with his mouth that approximated a grin. “Bein’ followed, you.” Far off, down in Nighttown, a water vendor cried his trade.”
“It's the long finger of Big Night, the darkness that feeds the muttering damned to the gentle white maw of Wards.”
“true home of a generation of completely uninhibited technophiles. She was talking about those odds and ends of “futuristic” Thirties and Forties architecture you pass daily in American cities without noticing;”
“I knew, somehow, that the city behind me was Tucson—a dream Tucson thrown up out of the collective yearning of an era. That it was real, entirely real. But the couple in front of me lived in it, and they frightened me.”
“And then you pushed through into a dim space inhabited by a faintly confusing sense of the half-dozen other bars that had tried and failed in the same room under different managements.”
“subgenres are products of the writers’ urgent necessity to avoid tangling with a realistic”
“Spire stood on spire in gleaming ziggurat steps that climbed to a central golden temple tower ringed with the crazy radiator flanges of the Mongo gas stations.”
“Fox was quick to see how we could use you, but not sharp enough to credit you with ambition. But then he never lay all night with you on the beach at Kamakura, never listened to your nightmares, never heard an entire imagined childhood shift under those stars, shift and roll over, your child’s mouth opening to reveal some fresh past, and always the one, you swore, that was really and finally the truth.”
“Nighttown, because the Pit’s inverted, and the bottom of its bowl touches the sky, the sky that Nighttown never sees, sweating under its own firmament of acrylic resin, up where the Lo Teks crouch in the dark like gargoyles,”
“trash fires gutter in steel canisters around the Market. The snow still falls and kids huddle over the flames like arthritic crows, hopping from foot to foot, wind whipping their dark coats. Up in Fairview’s arty slum-tumble, someone’s laundry has frozen solid on the line, pink squares of bedsheet standing out against the background dinge and the confusion of satellite dishes and solar panels. Some ecologist’s eggbeater windmill goes round and round, round and round, giving a whirling finger to the Hydro rates.”
“She was talking about those odds and ends of “futuristic” Thirties and Forties architecture you pass daily in American cities without noticing; the movie marquees ribbed to radiate some mysterious energy, the dime stores faced with fluted aluminum, the chrome-tube chairs gathering dust in the lobbies of transient hotels.”
“But newspapers have a duty to truth,' Van said.
Lev clucked his tongue. 'They tell the truth only as the exception. Zola wrote that the mendacity of the press could be divided into two groups: the yellow press lies every day without hesitating. But others, like the Times, speak the truth on all inconsequential occasions, so they can deceive the public with the requisite authority when it becomes necessary.'
Van got up from his chair to gather the cast-off newspapers. Lev took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. 'I don't mean to offend the journalists; they aren't any different from other people. They're merely the megaphones of the other people.”
“The trick would be to find which few of them had the potential for raw power, the nearly superhuman stamina, the indomitable willpower, and the intellectual capacity necessary to master the details of technique. And which of them, coupled improbably with all those other qualities, had the most important one: the ability to disregard his own ambitions, to throw his ego over the gunwales, to leave it swirling in the wake of his shell, and to pull, not just for himself, not just for glory, but for the other boys in the boat.”
“A good book, he had concluded, leaves you wanting to reread the book. A great book compels you to reread your own soul.”
“Nothing comforted Sabine like long division. That was how she had passed time waiting for Phan and then Parsifal to come back from their tests. She figured the square root of the date while other people knit and read. Sabine blamed much of the world's unhappiness on the advent of calculators.”
“I needed to temper (my dad's) enthusiasm a bit (about attending Princeton), and so I announced that I would be majoring in patricide...My mom was actually jealous.”
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