Coping the quote
29+ quotes from Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks

Quotes from Use of Weapons

Iain M. Banks ·  411 pages

Rating: (31.4K votes)


“Zakalwe, in all human societies we have ever reviewed, in every age and every state, there has seldom if ever been a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this simple fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“I just think people overvalue argument because they like to hear themselves talk.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“There has seldom if ever a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this simple fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“The bomb lives only as it is falling.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“Most people are not prepared to have their minds changed," he said. "And I think they know in their hearts that other people are just the same, and one of the reasons people become angry when they argue is that they realize just that, as they trot out their excuses."

"Excuses, eh?" Well, if this ain't cynicism, what is?" Erens snorted.

"Yes, excuses," he said, with what Erens thought might just have been a trace of bitterness. "I strongly suspect the things people believe in are usually just what they instinctively feel is right; the excuses, the justifications, the things you're supposed to argue about, come later. They're the least important part of the belief. That's why you can destroy them, win an argument, prove the other person wrong, and still they believe what they did in the first place." He looked at Erens. "You've attacked the wrong thing.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“But it was pointless, it was stupid; he thought about thoughtless things. If I were a seabird . . . but how could you be a seabird? If you were a seabird your brain would be tiny and stupid and you would love half-rotted fish guts and tweaking the eyes out of little grazing animals; you would know no poetry and you could never appreciate flying as fully as the human on the ground yearning to be you.
If you wanted to be a seabird you deserved to be one.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“He lay, often, looking at her sleeping face in the new light that fell in through the open walls of the strange house, and he stared at her skin and hair with his mouth open, transfixed by the quick stillness of her, struck dumb with the physical fact of her existence as though she was some careless star-thing that slept on quite unaware of its incandescent power; the casualness and ease with which she slept there amazed him; he couldn't believe that such beauty could survive without some superhumanly intense conscious effort.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“But just because something does not have an ending doesn't mean it doesn't have a conclusion.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“Everything was a metaphor; all things were something other than themselves. The pain, for example, was an ocean, and he was adrift on it. His body was a city and his mind a citadel. All communications between the two seemed to have been cut, but within the keep that was his mind he still had power. The part of his consciousness that was telling him the pain did not hurt, and that all things were like other things, was like...like...he found it hard to think of a comparison. A magic mirror, maybe.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“You're saying nothing lasts forever, he heard the fellow whine. (Well, pretty trite, he thought.)

No, he heard her say. I'm saying with very few exceptions nothing lasts forever, and amongst those exceptions, no work or thought of man is numbered.

She went on talking after this, but he homed in on that. That was better, he thought. I liked that.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“Myself,” said the drone sniffily, “I have never been able to see what virtue there could be in something that was eighty percent water.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“What is any achievement, however great it was, once time itself is dead?”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“You’ll run out of expletives soon; I’d advise saving some for later. Not that keeping forces in reserve has ever been precisely you guys’ strong point, has it?”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“An electronic computer is also made up of matter, but organised differently; what is there so magical about the workings of the huge, slow cells of the animal brain that they can claim themselves to be conscious, but would deny a quicker, more finely-grained device of equivalent power - or even a machine hobbled so that it worked with precisely the same ponderousness - a similar distinction?”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“You been mud wrestling..?' 'Only with my conscience.' 'Really? Who won?' 'Well, it was one of those rare occasions when violence really doesn't solve anything.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“The story,” the intruder said, settling back in the chair. “Once upon a time, over the gravity well and far away, there was a magical land where they had no kings, no laws, no money and no property, but where everybody lived like a prince, was very well-behaved and lacked for nothing. And these people lived in peace, but they were bored, because paradise can get that way after a time, and so they started to carry out missions of good works; charitable visits upon the less well-off, you might say; and they always tried to bring with them the thing that they saw as the most precious gift of all; knowledge; information; and as wide a spread of that information as possible, because these people were strange in that they despised rank, and hated kings . . . and all things hierarchic”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“They are. But in Special Circumstances we deal in the moral equivalent of black holes, where the normal laws — the rules of right and wrong that people imagine apply everywhere else in the universe — break down; beyond those metaphysical event horizons, there exist . . . special circumstances.” She smiled. “That’s us. That’s our territory; our domain.” “To some people,” he said, “that might sound like just a good excuse for bad behavior.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“There’s a saying: ‘War is a long cliff.’ You can avoid the cliff completely, you can walk along the top for as long as you have the nerve, you can even choose to leap off, and if you only fall a short way before you hit a ledge you can always scramble back up again. Unless you’re just plain invaded, there are always choices, and even then, there’s usually something you’ve missed — a choice you didn’t make — that could have avoided invasion in the first place. You people still have your choices. There’s nothing inevitable about it.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“The way to a man’s heart is through his chest!”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“The good soldier did as he was told, and if he had any sense at all volunteered for nothing, especially promotion.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“The right place; that was what he was looking for. The right place. Place was all important, place meant everything. Take this rock…
"Take you, rock," he said. He squinted at it.
Ah yes, here we have the nasty big flat rock, sitting doing nothing, just amoral and dull, and it sits like an island in the polluted pool. The pool is a tiny lake on the little island, and the island is in a drowned crater. The crater is a volcanic crater, the volcano forms part of an island in a big inland sea. The inland sea is like a giant lake on a continent and the continent is like an island sitting in the seas of the planet. The planet is like an island on the sea of space within its system, and the system floats within the cluster, which is like an island in the sea of the galaxy, which is like an island in the archipelago of of its local group, which is an island within the universe; the universe is like an island floating in a sea of space in the Continua, and they float like islands in the Reality, and…
But down through the Continua, the Universe, the Local Group, the Galaxy, the Cluster, the System, the Planet, the Continent, the Island, the Lake, the Island… the rock remained. AND THAT MEANT THE ROCK, THE CRAPPY AWFUL ROCK HERE WAS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE, THE CONTINUA, THE WHOLE REALITY!”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“then there’s nothing worse I can wish on you than to be exactly the fuckhead you so obviously are.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“Can I cuddle up with you when you sleep?”

Sma stopped, detached the creature from her shoulder with one hand and stared it in the face. “What?”

“Just for chumminess’ sake,” the little thing said, yawning wide and blinking. “I’m not being rude; it’s a good bonding procedure.”

Sma was aware of Skaffen-Amtiskaw glowing red just behind her. She brought the yellow and brown device closer to her face. “Listen, Xenophobe—”

“Xeny.”

“Xeny. You are a million-ton starship. A Torturer class Rapid Offensive Unit. Even—”

“But I’m demilitarized!”

“Even without your principle armament, I bet you could waste planets if you wanted to—”

“Aw, come on; any silly GCU can do that!”

“So what’s all this shit for?” She shook the furry little remote drone, quite hard. Its teeth chattered.

“It’s for a laugh!” it cried. “Sma, don’t you appreciate a joke?”

“I don’t know. Do you appreciate being drop-kicked back to the accommodation area?”

“Ooh! What’s your problem, lady? Have you got something against small furry animals, or what?” Look Ms. Sma, I know very well I’m a ship, and I do everything I’m asked to do—including taking you to this frankly rather fuzzily specified destination—and do it very efficiently, too. If there was the slightest sniff of any real action, and I had to start acting like a warship, this construct in your hands would go lifeless and limp immediately, and I’d battle as ferociously and decisively as I’ve been trained to. Meanwhile, like my human colleagues, I amuse myself harmlessly. If you really hate my current appearance, all right; I’ll change it; I’ll be an ordinary drone, or just a disembodied voice, or talk to you through Skaffen-Amtiskaw here, or through your personal terminal. The last thing I want is to offend a guest.”

Sma pursed her lips. She patted the thing on its head and sighed. “Fair enough.”

“I can keep this shape?”

“By all means.”

“Oh goody!” It squirmed with pleasure, then opened its big eyes wide and looked hopefully at her. “Cuddle?”

“Cuddle.” Sma cuddled it, patted its back.

She turned to see Skaffen-Amtiskaw lying dramatically on its back in midair, its aura field flashing the lurid orange that was used to signal Sick Drone in Extreme Distress.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“He saw a chair, and a ship that was not a ship; he saw a man with two shadows, and he saw that which cannot be seen — a concept; the adaptive, self-seeking urge to survive, to bend everything that can be reached to that end, and to remove and to add and to smash and to create so that one particular collection of cells can go on, can move onward and decide, and keeping moving and keeping deciding, knowing that — if nothing else — at least it lives. And it had two shadows, it was two things: it was the need and it was the method. The need was obvious: to defeat what opposed its life. The method was that taking and bending of materials and people to one purpose, the outlook that everything could be used in the fight; that nothing could be excluded, that everything was a weapon, and the ability to handle those weapons, to find them and choose which one to aim and fire; that talent, that ability, that use of weapons. A chair, and”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“He forgot about the woman. It was as if she didn't exist when he wasn't looking at her, and her voice and her attempt to cut herself free were the results of some absurd supernatural manifestation.

He opened the cottage door wide. You could see anything in the rain. The individual drops became streaks with the slowness of the eye; they merged and re-emerged as ciphers for the shapes you carried inside you; they lasted less than a heartbeat in your sight and they went on forever.

He saw a chair, and a ship that was not a ship; he saw a man with two shadows, and he saw that which cannot be seen - a concept; the adaptive, self-seeking urge to survive, to bend everything that can be reached to that end, and to remove and to add and to smash and to create so that one particular collection of cells can go on, can move onward and decide, and keeping moving and keeping deciding, knowing that - if nothing else - at least it lives.

And it had two shadows, it was two things: it was the need and it was the method. The need was obvious: to defeat what opposed its life. The method was that taking and bending of materials and people to one purpose, the outlook that everything could be used in the fight; that nothing could be excluded, that everything was a weapon, and the ability to handle those weapons, to find them and choose which one to aim and fire; that talent, that ability, that use of weapons.

A chair, and a ship that was not a ship, a man with two shadows, and...”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“I strongly suspect the things people believe in are usually just what they instinctively feel is right; the excuses, the justifications, the things you’re supposed to argue about, come later. They’re the least important part of the belief. That’s why you can destroy them, win an argument, prove the other person wrong, and still they believe what they did in the first place.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“In another large journal book, he wrote his notes out again, along with further notes on the notes, and then started to cross words out of the completed, annotated notes, carefully removing word after word until he had something that looked like a poem. This was how he imagined poetry to be made.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“he saw that which cannot be seen; a concept; the adaptive, self-seeking urge to survive, to bend everything that can be reached to that end, and to remove and to add and to smash and to create so that one particular collection of cells can go on, can move onwards and decide, and keeping moving, and keeping deciding, knowing that - if nothing else - at least it lives. And it had two shadows, it was two things; it was the need and it was the method. The need was obvious; to defeat what opposed its life. The method was that taking and bending of materials and people to one purpose, the outlook that everything could be used in the fight; that nothing could be excluded, that everything was a weapon, and the ability to handle those weapons, to find them and choose which one to aim and fire; that talent, that ability, that use of weapons.”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


“He was what she wanted, but it would mean so much more after a charged friendship; that long, exquisite exchange of gradually more intimate confidences, the slow accumulation of shared experiences, the languorous spiraling dance of attraction, coming and going and coming and going, winding closer and closer, until that laziness was sublimed in the engulfing heat of consummation. He”
― Iain M. Banks, quote from Use of Weapons


About the author

Iain M. Banks
Born place: in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
Born date February 16, 1954
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