Penitence is more attainable than permission.
The best artifact was the calendar of the ancients, a great carved piece of stone as big as a kitchen, circular, bolted to the wall like a giant clock. In the center was an angry face looking out, as if he'd come through that stone from some other place to have a look at us, and not very pleased about it.
Those first few weeks are an unearthly season. From the outside you remain so ordinary, no one can tell from looking that you have experienced an earthquake of the soul. You've been torn asunder, invested with an ancient, incomprehensible magic. It's the one thing that we never quite get over: that we contain our own future.
I never put real people into my fiction -- I can't see the slightest point of that, when I have the alternative of inventing utterly subservient slave-people, whose every detail of appearance and behavior I can bend to serve my theme and plot.
To people who think of themselves as God's houseguests, American enterprise must seem arrogant beyond belief. Or stupid. A nation of amnesiacs, proceeding as if there were no other day but today. Assuming the land could also forget what had been done to it.