Terry Pratchett · 412 pages
Rating: (357.5K votes)
“God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.”
“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”
“An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards.”
“She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.”
“Many people, meeting Aziraphale for the first time, formed three impressions: that he was English, that he was intelligent, and that he was gayer than a treeful of monkeys on nitrous oxide.”
“Aziraphale collected books. If he were totally honest with himself he would have to have admitted that his bookshop was simply somewhere to store them. He was not unusual in this. In order to maintain his cover as a typical second-hand book seller, he used every means short of actual physical violence to prevent customers from making a purchase. Unpleasant damp smells, glowering looks, erratic opening hours - he was incredibly good at it.”
“25 And the Lord spake unto the Angel that guarded the eastern gate, saying 'Where is the flaming sword that was given unto thee?'
26 And the Angel said, 'I had it here only a moment ago, I must have put it down some where, forget my own head next.'
27 And the Lord did not ask him again.”
“The future came and went in the mildly discouraging way that futures do.”
“Anyway, if you stop tellin' people it's all sorted out afer they're dead, they might try sorting it all out while they're alive. ”
“All tapes left in a car for more than about a fortnight metamorphose into Best of Queen albums.”
“He had heard about talking to plants in the early seventies, on Radio Four, and thought it was an excellent idea. Although talking is perhaps the wrong word for what Crowley did.
What he did was put the fear of God into them.
More precisely, the fear of Crowley.
In addition to which, every couple of months Crowley would pick out a plant that was growing too slowly, or succumbing to leaf-wilt or browning, or just didn't look quite as good as the others, and he would carry it around to all the other plants. "Say goodbye to your friend," he'd say to them. "He just couldn't cut it. . . "
Then he would leave the flat with the offending plant, and return an hour or so later with a large, empty flower pot, which he would leave somewhere conspicuously around the flat.
The plants were the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in London. Also the most terrified.”
“You don't have to test everything to destruction just to see if you made it right.”
“People couldn't become truly holy, he said, unless they also had the opportunity to be definitively wicked.”
“If you want to imagine the future, imagine a boy and his dog and his friends. And a summer that never ends.”
“The men in the room suddenly realized that they did not want to know her better. She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.
And she held her sword, and she smiled like a knife.”
“Death and Famine and War and Pollution continued biking towards Tadfield. And Grievous Bodily Harm, Cruelty To Animals, Things Not Working Properly Even After You've Given Them A Good Thumping but secretly No Alcohol Lager, and Really Cool People travelled with them.”
“I mean, d'you know what eternity is? There's this big mountain, see, a mile high, at the end of the universe, and once every thousand years there's this little bird-"
"What little bird?" said Aziraphale suspiciously.
"This little bird I'm talking about. And every thousand years-"
"The same bird every thousand years?"
Crowley hesitated. "Yeah," he said.
"Bloody ancient bird, then."
"Okay. And every thousand years this bird flies-"
"-flies all the way to this mountain and sharpens its beak-"
"Hold on. You can't do that. Between here and the end of the universe there's loads of-" The angel waved a hand expansively, if a little unsteadily. "Loads of buggerall, dear boy."
"But it gets there anyway," Crowley persevered.
"It doesn't matter!"
"It could use a space ship," said the angel.
Crowley subsided a bit. "Yeah," he said. "If you like. Anyway, this bird-"
"Only it is the end of the universe we're talking about," said Aziraphale. "So it'd have to be one of those space ships where your descendants are the ones who get out at the other end. You have to tell your descendants, you say, When you get to the Mountain, you've got to-" He hesitated. "What have
they got to do?"
"Sharpen its beak on the mountain," said Crowley. "And then it flies back-"
"-in the space ship-"
"And after a thousand years it goes and does it all again," said Crowley quickly.
There was a moment of drunken silence.
"Seems a lot of effort just to sharpen a beak," mused Aziraphale.
"Listen," said Crowley urgently, "the point is that when the bird has worn the mountain down to nothing, right, then-"
Aziraphale opened his mouth. Crowley just knew he was going to make some point about the relative hardness of birds' beaks and granite mountains, and plunged on quickly.
"-then you still won't have finished watching The Sound of Music."
"And you'll enjoy it," Crowley said relentlessly. "You really will."
"My dear boy-"
"You won't have a choice."
"Heaven has no taste."
"And not one single sushi restaurant."
A look of pain crossed the angel's suddenly very serious face.”
“He couldn’t see why people made such a fuss about people eating their silly old fruit anyway, but life would be a lot less fun if they didn’t. And there was never an apple, in Adam’s opinion, that wasn’t worth the trouble you got into for eating it.”
“Hell may have all the best composers, but heaven has all the best choreographers.”
“Crowley had always known that he would be around when the world ended, because he was immortal and wouldn’t have any alternative. But he hoped it was a long way off. Because he rather liked people. It was major failing in a demon. Oh, he did his best to make their short lives miserable, because that was his job, but nothing he could think up was half as bad as the stuff they thought up themselves. They seemed to have a talent for it. It was built into the design, somehow. They were born into a world that was against them in a thousand little ways, and then devoted most of their energies to making it worse. Over the years Crowley had found it increasingly difficult to find anything demonic to do which showed up against the natural background of generalized nastiness. There had been times, over the past millennium, when he’d felt like sending a message back Below saying, Look we may as well give up right now, we might as well shut down Dis and Pandemonium and everywhere and move up here, there’s nothing we can do to them that they don’t do to themselves and they do things we’ve never even thought of, often involving electrodes. They’ve got what we lack. They’ve got imagination. And electricity, of course. One of them had written it, hadn’t he…”Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”
“Potentially evil. Potentially good, too, I suppose. Just this huge powerful potentiality waiting to be shaped.”
“Most of the members of the convent were old-fashioned Satanists, like their parents and grandparents before them. They'd been brought up to it, and weren't, when you got right down to it, particularly evil. Human beings mostly aren't. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye jeans and playing guitars at people. Offer people a new creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow. Anyway, being brought up as a Satanist tended to take the edge off it. It was something you did on Saturday nights.
And the rest of the time you simply got on with life as best you could, just like everyone else.”
“It's like you said the other day," said Adam. "You grow up readin' about pirates and cowboys and spacemen and stuff, and jus' when you think the world's full of amazin' things, they tell you it's really all dead whales and chopped-down forests and nucular waste hangin' about for millions of years. 'Snot worth growin' up for, if you ask my opinion.”
“Along with the standard computer warranty agreement which said that if the machine 1) didn't work, 2) didn't do what the expensive advertisements said, 3) electrocuted the immediate neighborhood, 4) and in fact failed entirely to be inside the expensive box when you opened it, this was expressly, absolutely, implicitly and in no event the fault or responsibility of the manufacturer, that the purchaser should consider himself lucky to be allowed to give his money to the manufacturer, and that any attempt to treat what had just been paid for as the purchaser's own property would result in the attentions of serious men with menacing briefcases and very thin watches. Crowley had been extremely impressed with the warranties offered by the computer industry, and had in fact sent a bundle Below to the department that drew up the Immortal Soul agreements, with a yellow memo form attached just saying: 'Learn, guys...”
“And then there were cats, thought Dog. He'd surprised the huge ginger cat from next door and had attempted to reduce it to cowering jelly by means of the usual glowing stare and deep-throated growl, which had always worked on the damned in the past. This time they had earned him a whack on the nose that had made his eyes water. Cats, Dog considered, were clearly a lot tougher than lost souls. He was looking forward to a further cat experiment, which he planned would consist of jumping around and yapping excitedly at it. It was a long shot, but it just might work.”
“Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men.”
“It has been said that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism.”
“You suck at crying, anyway,” I say. “Five tears and you’re done? I could’ve stretched that out for twenty minutes, at least.”
“What a lovely place this world would be if only people would feel affection for everyone else, and all the ugliness of the human heart were to vanish - our envy of those better off than ourselves and our scorn for those worse off.”
“Complaining about nothing doesn't seem like coping to you, but okay.”
“The mistake we make in putting emphasis on happiness is to forget that life is a process, defined by activity and motion, and to search instead for the one perfect state of being. There can be no such state, since change is the essence of life. Scholars who study meaning in life distinguish between synchronic meaning and diachronic meaning. Synchronic meaning depends on your state of being at any one moment in time: you are happy because you are out in the sunshine. Diachronic meaning depends on the journey you are on: you are happy because you are making progress toward a college degree. If we permit ourselves to take inspiration from what we have learned about ontology, it might suggest that we focus more on diachronic meaning at the expense of synchronic. The essence of life is change, and we can aim to make change part of how we find meaning in it.”
“A good social system is not to be secured by making people unselfish, but, by making their own vital impulses fit in with other peoples. This is feasible. Those who have produced stoic philosophies have all had enough to eat and drink.
I feel I shall find the truth on my deathbed and be surrounded by people too stupid to understand—fussing about medicines instead of searching for wisdom.
I hate being all tidy like a book in a library where nobody reads – prison is horribly like that.”
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