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“We Think Therefore We Am”

Not so long ago I got into an argument about the validity of genre fiction in terms of intellectual and philosophical standings. I decided to create a list of quotations proving that SFF can deliver profound statements. Then I asked to see if anyone had any great quotations I should add to the list. This is the list so far. It will probably keep growing.

“The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.”
Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

“I never understood the injunction not to regret anything, couldn’t see how that wasn’t cowardice”
China Miéville, Embassytown

“If it is only after that we understand what has come before, then we understand nothing. Thus we shall define the soul as follows: that which precedes everything.”
R. Scott Bakker The Darkness That Comes Before

“Son. Everyone dies alone. That’s what it is. It’s a door. It’s one person wide. When you go through it, you do it alone. But it doesn’t mean you’ve got to be alone before you go through the door. And believe me, you aren’t alone on the other side.”
Jim Butcher, Dead Beat

“Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn’t believing. It’s where belief stops, because it isn’t needed any more.” Terry Pratchett, Pyramids
“There is something profoundly cynical, my friends, in the notion of paradise after death. The lure is evasion. The promise is excusative. One need not accept responsibility for the world as it is, and by extension, one need do nothing about it. To strive for change, for true goodness in this mortal world, one must acknowledge and accept, within one’s own soul, that this mortal reality has purpose in itself, that its greatest value is not for us, but for our children and their children. To view life as but a quick passage alone a foul, tortured path…is to excuse all manner of misery and depravity, and to exact cruel punishment upon the innocent lives to come.”
Steven Erikson, The Bonehunters
“I hope, or I could not live.”
H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau
“There are only two worlds – your world, which is the real world, and other worlds, the fantasy. Worlds like this are worlds of the human imagination: their reality, or lack of reality, is not important. What is important is that they are there. these worlds provide an alternative. Provide an escape. Provide a threat. Provide a dream, and power; provide refuge, and pain. They give your world meaning. They do not exist; and thus they are all that matters.”  
Neil Gaiman
, The Books of Magic
“Fantasy, if it’s really convincing, can’t become dated, for the simple reason that it represents a flight into a dimension that lies beyond the reach of time.”
Walt Disney Company
“Who would you be but who you are?”   
Terry Brooks, The Black Unicorn



“All things pass in time. We are far less significant than we imagine ourselves to be. All that we are, all that we have wrought, is but a shadow, no matter how durable it may seem. One day, when the last man has breathed his last breath, the sun will shine, the mountains will stand, the rain will fall, the streams will whisper—and they will not miss him.” 
Jim Butcher, Princeps Fury
 

“It could not be happening because this sort of thing did not happen. Any contradictory evidence could be safely ignored.”
Terry Pratchett, Jingo
“Life has always been a matter of putting one’s feet down carefully”  
Isobelle Carmody
, The Farseekers
“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.”  Dr. Seuss
“People were always sorry. Sorry they had done what they had done, sorry they were doing what they were doing, sorry they were going to do what they were going to do; but they still did whatever it is. The sorrow never stopped them; it just made them feel better. And so the sorrow never stopped.”
Iain M. Banks, Against a Dark Background
“Life isn’t fair, it’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”
William Goldman, The Princess Bride
“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“We all can be only who we are, no more, no less.”  
Terry Goodkind
, Stone of Tears
“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.”
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness
“There are no happy endings… There are no endings, happy or otherwise. We all have our own stories which are just part of the one Story that binds both this world and Faerie. Sometimes we step into each other’s stories – perhaps just for a few minutes, perhaps for years – and then we step out of them again. But all the while, the Story just goes on.”
Charles de Lint
, Dreams Underfoot
 “That was when I found out that the best way in the world to make yourself feel better when you have hit bottom is to try to get somebody else to feel better. There are certain things in life that are truly worth knowing, and that is one of the big ones.”
Gene Wolfe
, Pirate Freedom
“Let others determine your worth and you’re already lost, because no one wants people worth more than themselves.”
Peter V. Brett
, The Painted Man
“As for courage and will – we cannot measure how much of each lies within us, we can only trust there will be sufficient to carry through trials which may lie ahead.”
Andre Norton
“Nothing is done entirely for nothing. Nothing is wasted. You are older, and you have made decisions, and you are not the fox you were yesterday. Take what you have learned, and move on.”
Neil Gaiman
, The Sandman
“Imagine a man who stands before a mirror; a stone strikes it, and it falls to ruin all in an instant. And the man learns that he is himself, and not the mirrored man he had believed himself to be.”  
Gene Wolfe
, The Urth of the New Sun
With thanks to everyone who contributed both via email and on the comments section of the original blog post. I’m assuming that people who emailed me didn’t just leave a comment so it was anonymous so I’ll just link to the people who left comments. I’m guessing this topic isn’t going anywhere seeing as people keep saying silly things about genre fiction and so others will keep standing up for its honour. If anyone has links to other good articles please drop me a line so I can pop them up here, and read them myself of course!

Vick.

p.s. the title is taken from Small Gods by Sir Terry Pratchett.
 
p.p.s. all photographs were taken nearby in NW Leics and South Derbys/Notts because I had no idea what to use in here! 

p.p.p.s it’s really confusing living on the border of three counties…

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1 Comment

  1. You found them! A wonderful, inspirational collection of quotes.

    Reply

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