For relaxation he could always engage Hal in a large number of semimathematical games, including checkers, chess, and polyominoes. If Hal went all out, he could win any one of them; but that would be bad for morale. So he had been programmed to win only fifty percent of the time, and his human partners pretended not to know this.
Think of such civilizations, far back in time against the fading afterglow of creation, masters of a universe so young that life as yet had come only to a handful of worlds. Theirs would have been a loneliness of gods looking out across infinity and finding none to share their thoughts.
Often we had no choice: we couldn't reform the whole world. And didn't somebody once say ‘Politics is the art of the possible'? Quite true—which is why only second-rate minds go into it. Genius likes to challenge the impossible.
Nevertheless, when you did not know what you were looking for, it was important to avoid all prejudices and preconceptions; something that at first sight seemed irrelevant, or even nonsensical, might turn out to be a vital clue.
There was nothing left of Earth. They had leeched away the last atoms of its substance. It had nourished them, through the fierce moments of their inconceivable metamorphosis, as the food stored in a grain of wheat feeds the infant plant while it climbs towards the Sun.
The creation of wealth is certainly not to be despised, but in the long run the only human activities really worthwhile are the search for knowledge, and the creation of beauty. This is beyond argument, the only point of debate is which comes first.
A major part of his job was deciding when warnings could be ignored, when they could be dealt with at leisure—and when they had to be treated as real emergencies. If he paid equal attention to all the ship's cries for help, he would never get anything done.
Norton tightened his arms around her. One of the nicest things about weightlessness, he often thought, was that you could really hold someone all night, without cutting off the circulation. There were those who claimed that love at one gee was so ponderous that they could no longer enjoy it.
This was the fundamental problem with rockets—and no one had ever discovered any alternative for deep-space propulsion. It was just as difficult to lose speed as to acquire it, and carrying the necessary propellant for deceleration did not merely double the difficulty of a mission; it squared it.
Jealousy is a terrible thing. It doth mock the meat it feeds upon is an understatement. Jealousy is completely consuming, totally irrational, and absolutely debilitating. The most wonderful people in the world are nothing but raging animals when trapped in the throes of jealousy.