Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn't exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.
If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.
When I was seven or eight years old, I began to read the science-fiction magazines that were brought by guests into my grandparents' boarding house in Waukegan, Illinois. Those were the years when Hugo Gernsback was publishing 'Amazing Stories,' with vivid, appallingly imaginative cover paintings that fed my hungry imagination.
If you are going to describe the history of animation, you'd look at the early Disney work, then 'Bugs Bunny,' 'Road Runner' and other Warner Brothers theatrical productions. But when you got to 'Rocky and Bullwinkle,' you'd see they were unique: They assumed you had a brain in your head.
I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it's better than college. People should educate themselves - you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I'd written a thousand stories.
We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.
In my later years, I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I've worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.
After Hiroshima was bombed, I saw a photograph of the side of a house with the shadows of the people who had lived there burned into the wall from the intensity of the bomb. The people were gone, but their shadows remained.
If you know how to read, you have a complete education about life, then you know how to vote within a democracy. But if you don't know how to read, you don't know how to decide. That's the great thing about our country - we're a democracy of readers, and we should keep it that way.
You can't learn to write in college. It's a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do - and they don't. They have prejudices. They may like Henry James, but what if you don't want to write like Henry James? They may like John Irving, for instance, who's the bore of all time.
We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.
Somewhere the saving and putting away had to begin again and someone had to do the saving and keeping, one way or another, in books, in records, in people's heads, any way at all so long as it was safe, free from moths, silverfish, rust and dry rot and men with matches.
The women in my life have all been librarians, English teachers, or booksellers. If they couldn't speak pidgin Tolstoy, articulate Henry James, or give me directions to Usher and Ox, it was no go. I have always longed for education, and pillow talk's the best.
Who wants to see the Future, who ever does? A man can face the Past, but to think- the pillars crumbled, you say? And the sea empty, and the canals dry, and the maidens dead, and the flowers withered?
And looking at one single label on a jar, he felt himself gone round the calendar to the private day this summer when he had looked at the circling world and found himself at its center.The word on the jar was RELISH.And he was glad that he had decided to live."
Sleep is a patch of death, but three in the morn, full wide-eyed staring, is living death! You dream with your eyes open. God, if you had the strength to rouse up, you'd slaughter your half-dreams with a buckshot! But no, you lie pinned to a deep well-bottom that's burned dry."
The rockets set the bony meadows afire, turned rock to lava, turned wood to charcoal, transmuted water to steam, made sand and silica into green glass which lay like shattered mirrors reflecting the invasion, all about. The rockets came like drums, beating in the night. The rockets came like locusts, swarming and settling in blooms of rosy smoke."
I wonder how many men, hiding their youngness, rise as I do, Saturday mornings, filled with the hope that Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam and Daffy Duck will be there waiting as our one true always and forever salvation?
All flesh is one: what matter scores; Or color of the suit Or if the helmet glints with blue or gold? All is one bold achievement, All is fine spring-found-again-in-autumn day When juices run in antelopes along our blood, And green our flag, forever green...
Gardening is the handiest excuse for being a philosopher. Nobody guesses, nobody accuses, nobody knows, but there you are, Plato in the peonies, Socrates force-growing his own hemlock. A man toting a sack of blood manure across his lawn is kin to Atlas letting the world spin easy on his shoulder.
The autumn leaves blew over the moonlit pavement in such a way as to make the girl who was moving there seem fixed to a sliding walk, letting the motion of the wind and the leaves carry her forward. [...] The trees overhead made a great sound of letting down their dry rain.
...if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don't even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is-- excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms.
Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can nowadays, is happier than any man who tries to slide-rule, measure, and equate the universe, which just won't be measured or equated without making man feel bestial and lonely.
I was partially raised by an aunt who was a dress designer, so I was around her studio all of my early life. I know materials. I can look through Harper's Bazaar and decide what works and what doesn't, or any other magazine, Seventeen if you wish.
The father hesitated only a moment. He felt the vague pain in his chest. If I run, he thought, what will happen? Is Death important? No. Everything that happens before Death is what counts. And we've done fine tonight. Even Death can't spoil it.
I've never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: 'Am I being joyful?' And if you've got a writer's block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you're writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject.
Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it's the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself. ...Science fiction is central to everything we've ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don't know what they're talking about.
All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It's my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch. I run the bases. At sunset, I've won or lost. At sunrise, I'm out again, giving it the old try.
We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.
Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I'm one of them.
Where would you like to go, what would you really like to do with your life? See Istanbul, Port Said, Nairobi, Budapest. Write a book. Smoke too many cigarettes. Fall off a cliff but get caught in a tree halfway down. Get shot at a few times in a dark alley on a Morrocan midnight. Love a beautiful woman.
The problem in our country isn't with books being banned, but with people no longer reading. Look at the magazines, the newspapers around us - it's all junk, all trash, tidbits of news. The average TV ad has 120 images a minute. Everything just falls off your mind. ... You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
When rivers flooded, when fire fell from the sky, what a fine place the library was, the many rooms, the books. With luck, no one found you. How could they!--when you were off to Tanganyika in '98, Cairo in 1812, Florence in 1492!?
The merry-go-round was running, yes, but... It was running backward. The small calliope inside the carousel machinery rattle-snapped its nervous-stallion shivering drums, clashed its harvest-moon cymbals, toothed its castanets, and throatily choked and sobbed its reeds, whistles, and baroque flutes.
As a result of reading science fiction when I was eight, I grew up with an interest in music, architecture, city planning, transportation, politics, ethics, aesthetics on any level, art...it's just total! It's a complete commitment to the whole human race on all the Earth. That's what science fiction is about.
The sun rose yellow as a lemon.The sky was round and blue.The birds looped clear water songs in the air.Will and Jim leaned from their windows.Nothing had changed.Except the look in Jim's eyes.Last night. . . said Will. Did or didn't it happen?
I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.
The train skimmed on softly, slithering, black pennants fluttering, black confetti lost on its own sick-sweet candy wind, down the hill, with the two boys pursuing, the air was so cold they ate ice cream with each breath.
The ability to "fantasize" is the ability to survive. It's wonderful to speak about this subject because there have been so many wrong-headed people dealing with it.... The so-called realists are trying to drive us insane, and I refuse to be driven insane.... We survive by fantasizing. Take that away from us and the whole damned human race goes down the drain.
I went to bed and woke in the middle of the night thinking I heard someone cry, thinking I myself was weeping, and I felt my face and it was dry. Then I looked at the window and thought: Why, yes, it's just the rain, the rain, always the rain, and turned over, sadder still, and fumbled about for my dripping sleep and tried to slip it back on.
Why the Egyptian, Arabic, Abyssinian, Choctaw? Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder goe when it dies?
In our time the search for extraterrestrial life will eventually change our laws, our religions, our philosophies, our arts, our recreations, as well as our sciences. Space, the mirror, waits for life to come look for itself there.
The sun burnt every day. It burnt Time. The world rushed in a circle and turned on its axis and time was busy burning the years and the people anyway, without any help from him. So if he burnt things with the firemen and the sun burnt Time, that meant that everything burnt!
We are all . . . children of this universe. Not just Earth, or Mars, or this system, but the whole grand fireworks. And if we are interested in Mars at all, it is only because we wonder over our past and worry terribly about our possible future.
The Greek philosophies teach us that we are a combination of dark and light, good and evil, and murderer and savior, hmm? And until we know this completely about ourselves we cannot love well, and we cannot forgive ourselves.
Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating, by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer's make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road he wants to go. I would only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.
In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I've worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.
I don't believe in government. I hate politics. I'm against it. And I hope that sometime this fall, we can destroy part of our government, and next year destroy even more of it. The less government, the happier I will be.
People want to be happy, isn't that right? Haven't you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren't they? Don't we keep them moving, don't we give them fun? That's all we live for, isn't it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these.
With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual,' of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.
The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.
What can we writers learn from lizards, lift from birds? In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping.
I was one of Them: the Strange Ones. The Funny People. The Odd Tribes of autograph collectors and photographers. The Ones who waited through long days and nights, who used other people's dreams for their lives.
There are certain kinds of people who write science fiction. I think a lot of us married late. A lot of us are mama's boys. I lived at home until I was 27. But most of the writers I know in any field, especially science fiction, grew up late. They're so interested in doing what they do and in their science, they don't think about other things.
Think of Shakespeare and Melville and you think of thunder, lightning, wind. They all knew the joy of creating in large or small forms, on unlimited or restricted canvases. These are the children of the gods.
They are so confident that they will run on forever. But they won't run on. They don't know that this is all one huge big blazing meteor that makes a pretty fire in space, but that some day it'll have to hit.
When your dawn theater sounds to clear your sinuses: don't delay. Jump. Those voices may be gone before you hit the shower to align your wits. Speed is everything. The 90-mph dash to your machine is a sure cure for life rampant and death most real. Make haste to live. Oh, God, yes. Live. And write. With great haste.
Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.
Only if the third necessary thing could be given us. Number one, as I said: quality of information. Number two: leisure to digest it. And number three: the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two.
And he remembered thinking then that if she died, he was certain he wouldn't cry. For it would be the dying face of an unknown, a street face, a newspaper image, and it was suddenly so very wrong that he had begun to cry, not at death but at the thought of not crying at death, a silly empty man near a silly empty woman.
The very first experiments with building rockets and firing them off were carried out by students at Cal Tech in 1937, '38 and '39. And later these people put together these jet propulsion labs in Pasadena and wound up sending aircraft and spacecraft to the moon. So it all began very primitively with love.
Christ is one of the 'family' now. I often wonder if God recognizes his own son the way we've dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He's regular peppermint stick now, all sugar crystal and saccharine - when he isn't making veiled references to certain commercial products that ever worshiper absolutely needs.
People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.
To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must write dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.
You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.
Since everything is but an apparition, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may well burst out in laughter. Longchenpa Let's stuff our eyes with wonder, let's live as if we'd drop dead in ten seconds. Let's see the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.
How must it have felt, Pikes, the night they seized your films, like entrails yanked from the camera, out of your guts, clutching them in coils and wads to stuff them up a stove to burn away! Did it feel as bad as having some fifty thousand books annihilated with no recompense? Yes. Yes. Stendahl felt his hands grow cold with the senseless anger.
A red ganglion, no bigger than a scarlet thread, snapped and quivered; a nerve, no greater than a red linen fiber twisted. Deep in her one little mech was gone and the entire machine, imbalanced, was about to steadily shake itself to bits.
It was like a great bee come home from some field where the honey is full of poison wildness, of insanity and nightmare, its body crammed with that over-rich nectar and now it was sleeping the evil out of itself.
Once you kill all of us, and you're alone, you'll die! The hate will die. That hate is what moves you, nothing else! That envy moves you. Nothing else! You'll die, inevitably. You're not immortal. You're not even alive, you're nothing but moving hate.
And then, to the sound of death, the sound of the jets cutting the sky in two black pieces beyond the horizon, he would lie in the loft, hidden and safe, watching those strange new stars over the rim of the earth, fleeing from the soft color of dawn.
He stood breathing, and the more he breathed the land in, the more he was filled up with all the details of the land. He was not empty. There was more than enough here to fill him. There would always be more than enough.
Why the Egyptian, Arabic, Abyssinian, Choctaw? Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder goe when it dies~?
There were so many things a tree could do: add color, provide shade, drop fruit or become a children's playground, a whole sky universe to climb and hang from; an architecture of food and pleasure, that was a tree.
A great thunderstorm of sound gushed from the walls. Music bombarded him at such an immense volume that his bones were almost shaken from their tendons; he felt his jaw vibrate, his eyes wobble in his head.
That's life for you," said MacDunn. "Someone always waiting for someone who never comes home. Always someone loving some thing more than that thing loves them. And after a while you want to destroy whatever that thing is, so it can't hurt you no more.
[His] library was a fine dark place bricked with books, so anything could happen there and always did. All you had to do was pull a book from the shelf and open it and suddenly the darkness was not so dark anymore.
Facts quite often, I fear to confess, like lawyers, put me to sleep at noon. Not theories, however. Theories are invigorating and tonic. Give me an ounce of fact and I will produce you a ton of theory by tea this afternoon. That is, after all, my job.
Halloween. Sly does it. Tiptoe catspaws. Slide and creep. But why? What for? How? Who? When! Where did it all begin? 'You don't know, do you?' asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud climbing out under the pile of leaves under the Halloween Tree. 'You don't really know!'
[He] was always here to offer cups of good clear Walden Pond, or shout down the deep well of Shakespeare and listen, with satisfaction, for echoes. Here the lion and the hartebeest lay together, here the jackass became a unicorn.
You learn to live with your crazy enthusiasms which nobody else shares, and then you find a few other nuts like yourself, and they're your friends for a lifetime. That's what friends are, the people who share your crazy outlook and protect you from the world, because nobody else is going to give a damn what you're doing, so you need a few other people like yourself.
I have a big box of autographs. I took photographs of me and Marlene Dietrich, me and Ida Lupino. I took pictures of Myrna Loy and Joel McCrea in front of the studios. I loved Hollywood. I have 500 autographs and 500 photographs I took.
Look at the Chandra Levy case. It's become a Star Chamber. The major networks, the cable networks, they're being prosecutors. They're judges and jurors and executioners. Well, c'mon, that's ridiculous. But they're doing it.
We've gotta become the Martians. I'm a Martian - I tell you to become Martians. And we've gotta go to Mars and civilize Mars and build a whole civilization on Mars and then move out, 300 years from now into the universe. And when we do that, we have a chance of living forever.
Love is the answer to everything. It's the only reason to do anything. If you don't write stories you love, you'll never make it. If you don't write stories that other people love, you'll never make it.