The only writers who have any peace are the ones who don't write. And there are some like that. They wallow in a sea of possibilities. To express a thought, you first have to limit it, and that means kill it. Every word I speak robs me of a thousand others, and every line I write means giving up another.
Faith is, at one and the same time, absolutely necessary and altogether impossible.
If man had more of a sense of humour, things might have turned out differently.
A real tank now costs about a million dollars, while a hallucinated one amounts to less than one-hundredth of a cent per person, or centispecter per spectator. A destroyer costs a dime. Today you could fit the whole arsenal of the United States inside a single truck.
Faith is at one and the same time absolutely necessary and altogether impossible.
Furious and wild with fear, the potatoes flailed the air with their leaves and stamped their roots, but obviously this got them nowhere.
I was already thinking there was no way out of the vicious circle of madness—after all, no one can think with anything but his brain, no one can be outside himself to check whether the processes taking place in his body are normal.
We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don't know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can't accept it for what it is.
I don't think anything can behave as unintelligently as intelligence.
Manufacturers these days have peculiar problems: a package may recommend the virtues of its product by voice only, for it is not allowed to grab the customer by the sleeve or collar.
I had no hope. Yet expectation lived on in me, the last thing she had left behind. What further consummations, mockeries, torments did I still anticipate? I had no idea as I abided in the unshaken belief that the time of cruel wonders was not yet over.
All perception is but a change in the concentration of hydrogen ions on the surface of the brain cells.
The horse respects and obeys man because its large eyes magnify everything, so man appears much larger than the horse itself.
Above the podium stood a decorated board showing the agenda for the day. The first item of business was the world urban crisis, the second—the ecology crisis, the third—the air pollution crisis, the fourth—the energy crisis, the fifth—the food crisis. Then adjournment.
It might hear us. But what's its name? We have named all the stars and all the planets, even though they might already have had names of their own. What a nerve!
One can accomplish something only so long as one cannot accomplish everything.
From strawberries under torture one may extract all sorts of things.
The most recent of the iamides, heavily advertised - authentium. Creates synthetic recollections of things that never happened. A few grams of dantine, for instance, and a man goes around with a deep conviction that he has written The Divine Comedy. Why anyone would want that is another matter and quite beyond me.
We have named all the stars and all the planets, even though they might already have had names of their own. What a nerve!
And Trurl began to catch atoms, peeling their electrons and mixing their protons with such nimble speed, that his fingers were a blur, and he stirred the subatomic dough, stuck all the electrons back in, then on to the next molecule.
She was beautiful all right, beautiful in a way that was at once seductive, demonic, and raspberry.
A dream will always triumph over reality, once it is given the chance.
Ants that encounter in their path a dead philosopher may make good use of him.
We head out into space, ready for anything, which is to say, for solitude, arduous work, self-sacrifice, and death. Out of modesty we don't say it aloud, but from time to time we think about how magnificent we are. In the meantime—in the meantime, we're not trying to conquer the universe; all we want is to expand Earth to its limits.
But how can I use a method to discredit that very method, if the method is discreditable?
One of the most incredible secrets of science fiction (although one not too closely guarded) is the fact that 99 percent of its authors do not know even the titles and authors of today's learned works, but still they want to top these scholars with their knowledge of the year 6000.
We came here as we truly are, and when the other side shows us that truth—the part of it we pass over in silence—we're unable to come to terms with it!
Put simply, unlike terrestrial organisms it did not adapt to its surroundings over the course of hundreds of millions of years, so as only then to produce a rational species, but it had gained control over its environment from the start.
It is easy not to believe in monsters, considerably more difficult to escape their dread and loathsome clutches.
For truly, what computer has not asked whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous instructions?
Of the two powers, the two categories that take possession of us when we enter the world, space is by far the less mysterious. . . . Space is, after all, solid, monolithic. . . . Time, on the other hand, is a hostile element, truly treacherous, I would say even against human nature.
Successive bursts of static came through the headphones, against a background of deep, low-pitched murmuring, which seemed to me the very voice of the planet itself.
What was civilization ever, really, but the attempt by man to talk himself into being good?
Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.
Progress is a wonderful thing of course, and I can appreciate the lactiferins that are sprinkled on the pasture to turn the grass to cheese. And yet this lack of cows, however rational it may be, gives one the feeling that the fields and meadows, deprived of their phlegmatic, bemusedly ruminating presence, are pitifully empty.
We don't need other worlds. We need mirrors. We don't know what to do with other worlds. One world is enough, even there we feel stifled. We desire to find our own idealized image; they're supposed to be globes, civilizations more perfect than ours; in other worlds we expect to find the image of our own primitive past.
Is a mountain only a huge stone? Is a planet an enormous mountain?
How many extraordinary phenomena like this, so foreign to human comprehension, might lie concealed in space? Do we need to travel everywhere bringing destructive power on our ships, so as to smash anything that runs counter to our understanding?
Human anatomy is horribly unsuited for outer space. The astroengineers lost sleep over this but not the science fiction writers, who being artists simply didn't mention it.
Something peculiar is happening to my head. I remember that my father was Barnaby, but I had another named Balaton. Unless that's a lake in Albania.
We're not searching for anything except people. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don't know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can't accept it for what it is.
There was a time we tormented one another with excessive honesty in the naive belief it would save us.
If a man who can't count finds a four leaf clover, is he lucky?