John Holbrook Vance
is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author, who wrote the four-book Dying Earth
The Killing Machine
- 'Humanity is old, civilization is new: the mesh of cogs is by no means smooth and this is as it should be. Never should a man enter a building of glass or metal, or a spaceship, or a submarine, without a small shock of astonishment; never should he avoid an act of passion without a small sense of effort. We of the Institute receive an intensive historical inculcation; we know the men of the past, and we have projected dozens of possible future variations, which, without exception, are repulsive. Man, as he exists now, with all his faults and vices, a thousand gloriously irrational compromises between two thousand sterile absolutes is optimal. Or so it seems to us who are men.'
- "Xaviar Skolcamp, Over-Centennial Fellow of the Institute" in The Killing Machine.
Quotes and text from the Dying Earth novels
- Cease the bickering! I am indulging the exotic whims of a beautiful princess and must not be distracted.
- Grue: man, ocular bat, the unusual hoon.
- Until work has reached its previous stage nympharium privileges are denied to all.
- My clever baton holds your unnatural sorcery in abeyance.
- My eye went to you like the nectar moth flits to jacynth.
- Gid: hybrid of man, gargoyle, whorl, leaping insect.
- Mischief moves somewhere near and I must blast it with my magic!
- She contrived to twist her body into first one luxurious position, then another.
- I become drunk as circumstances dictate.
- Am I known as Cugel the Clever for nothing?
- All is mutability, and thus your three hundred terces has fluctuated to three.
- We go to the image expander; there we will explode the ghost to the macroid dimension.
- First you are swathed head to foot in the intestines of fresh killed owls.
- The contingency is remote.
- (This is also a Jeeves quote in the PG Wodehouse Novels.)
- My talismans are not obviously useless.
- At his elbow a voice said, "I am Chun the Unavoidable."
- The creature displayed the qualities reminiscent of both coelenterate and echinoderm. A terrene nudibranch? A mollusc deprived of its shell? More importantly, was the creature edible?
- Ah! Five hundred years I have toiled to entice this creature, despairing, doubting, brooding by night, yet never abandoning hope that my calculations were accurate and my great talisman cogent. Then, when finally it appears, you fall upon it for no other reason than to sate your repulsive gluttony!
- The void in his mind athrob for the soothing pressure of knowledge.
- Sixty bobbins: Blikdak was no more.
- Are you ready for unorthodox procedures?
- So now, be off! Or I inflict upon you the Spell of the Macroid Toe, whereupon the signalized member swells to the proportions of a house.
- "At Gundar we conceive 'innocence' as a positive quality, not merely an insipid absence of guilt," stated the Nolde. — the Nolde Huruska, in "The Seventeen Virgins" from Cugel's Saga
- "So then: onward to Lumarth, and let meticulous discretion be the slogan!" — Shimilko, in "The Seventeen Virgins" from Cugel's Saga
- "The folk are peculiar in many ways," said Erwig. "They preen themselves upon the gentility of their habits, yet they refuse to whitewash their hair, and they are slack in their religious observances. For instance, they make obeisance to Divine Wiulio with the right hand, not on the buttock, but on the abdomen, which we here consider a slipshod practice." in "The Bagful of Dreams" from Cugel's Saga
- "What is all this commotion? Gookin, why do you lie among the cheeses?" Twango from Cugel's Saga
- "Excellent; all is well. The 'everlasting tedium' exactly countervenes the 'immediate onset of death' and I am left only with the 'canker' which, in the person of Firx, already afflicts me. One must use his wits in dealing with maledictions." - Cugel
- "What are your fees?" inquired Guyal cautiously. "I respond to three questions," stated the augur. "For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue." — From "Guyal of Sfere", The Dying Earth.
The Green Pearl
- I also am of noble blood, or so it seems to me. — Orlo
- A notable scheme has occurred to me. — Orlo
- Naturally! That is the whole point of robbery: to acquire the victim's valuables! — Long Liam the Barber
- You have frightened and daunted me. I will stop stealing at once. — Dhrun
- It would not do if both of us became addled, and later woke up in doubt as to who was who. — Shimrod
- Dango, Pume, Thwither: down with Visbhume's breeches; let him hold his backside at the ready. — King Throbius
- Dismount and kneel before me, that I may strike off your head with fullest ease. You shall die in this tragic golden light of sunset. — Torqual
- He lives among the far moons of Achernar, and he is accustomed to the most extreme outrages of terror and the hourly proximity of death. — Murgen
- I am not a sensitive person, but these remarks carry a sting. — Sir Lulie
- Zaxa rode a small pacing wole, and carried his fabulous sword Zil, while the others of the party rode steeds of other descriptions
- Orthodoxy derives from this axiomatic foundation, and the two systems are mutually reinforcing: hence each is doubly validated.
- Shimrod said: "Once I thought of you as a child in a woman's body." Melanchte smiled a cool smile. "And now?" "The child seems to have wandered away".
- "I have transcended that phase in my intellectual growth where I discover humour in simple freakishness. What exists is real; therefore it is tragic, since whatever lives must die. Only fantasy, the vapors rising from sheer nonsense, can now excite my laughter." - Lord Pirmence of Castle Lutez
- Refrain (as sung by Mikelaus):
Sigmo chaska yi yi yi
Varmous varmous oglethorpe.