Isaac Asimov

born in 1920 AD; died in 1992 AD (age ~72)

one of the great sci-fi authors

Quotes (Authored)

If you're born in a cubicle and grow up in a corridor, and work in a cell, and vacation in a crowded sunroom, then coming up into the open with nothing but sky over you might just give you a nervous breakdown.

  • Foundation
    • p. 15 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

A. I have said, and I say again, that Trantor will lie in ruins within the next three centuries.

Q. You do not consider your statement a disloyal one?

A. No, sir. Scientific truth is beyond loyalty and disloyalty.

  • Isaac Asimov, Hari Seldon
    • Foundation
      • p. 23 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Q. [...] Can the overall history of the human race be changed?

    A. Yes.

    Q. Easily?

    A. No. With great difficulty.

  • Isaac Asimov, Hari Seldon
    • Foundation
      • p. 24 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Even if the Empire were admitted to be a bad thing (an admission I do not make), the state of anarchy which would follow its fall would be worse. It is that state of anarchy which my project is pledged to fight. The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop.

  • Isaac Asimov, Hari Seldon
    • Foundation
      • p. 26 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Politicians by the very nature of their work must have an instinctive feeling for the truths of psychohistory.

  • Isaac Asimov, Hari Seldon
    • Foundation
      • p. 30 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Hardin, as he sat at the foot of the table, speculated idly as to just what it was that made physical scientists such poor administrators. It might be merely that they were too used to inflexible fact and far too unused to pliable people.

    • Foundation
      • p. 43 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Are you [scientists], though? That's a nice hallucination, isn't it? Your bunch here is a perfect example of what's been wrong with the entire Galaxy for thousands of years. What kind of science is it to be stuck out here for centuries classifying the work of scientists of the last millennium? Have you ever thought of working onward, extending their knowledge and improving upon it? No! You're quite happy to stagnate.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 45 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 54 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)
      • p. 89 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    "We are to do nothing, is that right, except to wait in quiet serenity and utter faith for the deus ex machina to pop out of the Vault?"

    "Stripped of your emotional phraseology, that's the idea."

    "Such unsubtle escapism! Really, Dr. Fara, such folly smacks of genius. A lesser mind would be incapable of it."

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 54 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    "Seldon was not a magician. There are no trick methods of escaping from a dilemma that he can see and we can't."

    "But, Hardin," reminded Fara, "we can't!"

    "But you haven't tried. you haven't tried once. First, you refused to admit that there was a menace at all! Then you reposed an absolutely blind faith in the Emperor! Now you've shifted it to Hari Seldon. Throughout you have invariably relied on authority or on the past—never on yourselves."

    His fists balled spasmodically. "It amounts to a diseased attitude—a conditioned reflex that shunts aside the independence of your minds whenever it is a question of opposing authority. There seems no doubt ever in your minds that the Emperor is more powerful than you are, or Hari Seldon wiser. And that's wrong, don't you see?"

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 55 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    We sit here, considering the Encyclopedia the all-in-all. We consider the greatest end of science is the classification of past data. It is important, but is there no further work to be done? We're receding and forgetting, don't you see? Here in the Periphery they've lost nuclear power. In Gamma Andromeda, a power plant has undergone meltdown because of poor repairs, and the Chancellor of the Empire complains that nuclear technicians are scarce. And the solution? To train new ones? Never! Instead they're to restrict nuclear power.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 56 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    It's got to be done, you understand, with impudence. That is, there is to be no hesitation; no time to allow them to grasp the situation. Once we are in a position to give orders, why, give them as though you were born to do so, and they'll obey out of habit. That's the essence of a coup.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 57 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    They shook his hand, each one, and left; and Hardin smiled to himself. They were fundamentally sound at that; for they were scientists enough to admit that they were wrong—but for them, it was too late.

    • Foundation
      • p. 60 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Flattery is useful when dealing with youngsters—particularly when it doesn't commit you to anything.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 64 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    The temptation was great to muster what force we could and put up a fight. It's the easiest way out, and the most satisfactory to self-respect—but, nearly invariably, the stupidest.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 67 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 70 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    "But can we afford to take chances? Can we risk the present for the sake of a nebulous future?"

    "We must—because the future isn't nebulous."

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 73 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Courtiers don't take wagers against the king's skill. There is the deadly danger of winning.

    • Foundation
      • p. 76 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    I consider violence an uneconomical way of attaining an end. There are always better substitutes, though they may sometimes be a little less direct.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 89 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    I am not one be frightened at words. It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly, and I have never turned my back upon one yet.

  • Isaac Asimov, Wienis
    • Foundation
      • p. 89 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    It is the chief characteristic of the religion of science that it works.

    • Foundation
      • p. 95 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    A fire eater must eat fire even if he has to kindle it himself.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 99 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 103 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    "Traders aren't patriotic?"

    "Notoriously not. Pioneers never are."

    • Foundation
      • p. 109 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    "What if the gold turns out to be impure?"

    Ponyets allowed himself a dark humor in return, "When the judgement of that impurity depends on those who are most interested in finding it pure?"

    • Foundation
      • p. 113 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    The Foundation's greatest asset throughout the Periphery is its reputation of power. Do you think we can lose three ships and ask for them?

  • Isaac Asimov, Jorane Sutt
    • Foundation
      • p. 121 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in embryo.

  • Isaac Asimov, Jorane Sutt
    • Foundation
      • p. 124 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • p. 126 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Korell is that frequent phenomenon in history: the republic whose ruler has every attribute of the absolute monarch but the name. It therefore enjoyed the usual despotism unrestrained even by those two moderating influences in the legitimate monarchies: regal "honor" and court etiquette.

    • Foundation
      • p. 127 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    There's no merit in discipline under ideal circumstances. I'll have it in the face of death, or it's useless.

  • Isaac Asimov, Homer Mallow
    • Foundation
      • p. 129 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    weak emperors mean strong viceroys

  • Onum Barr, Isaac Asimov
    • Foundation
      • p. 144 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    A sincere friendship through trade will be many times better than an insecure overlordship, based on the hated supremacy of a foreign spiritual power, which, once it weakens ever so slightly, can only fall entirely and leave nothing substantial behind except an immortal fear and hate.

  • Isaac Asimov, Homer Mallow
    • Foundation
      • p. 154 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Any dogma, primarily based on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.

  • Isaac Asimov, Ankor Jael
    • Foundation
      • p. 155 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    "Mallow, you've put on a beautiful show, so don't spoil it by jumping too high. You can't seriously consider running for mayor. Mob enthusiasm is a powerful thing, but it's notoriously fickle."

    "Exactly!" said Mallow, grimly, "so we must coddle it, and the best way to do that is to continue the show."

  • Isaac Asimov, Ankor Jael, Homer Mallow
    • Foundation
      • p. 161 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    It's very hard to bear up under little things when the patriotic uplift of imminent danger is not present.

  • Isaac Asimov, Homer Mallow
    • Foundation
      • pp. 166-167 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    The Empire has always been a realm of colossal resources. They've calculated everything in planets, in stellar systems, in whole sectors of the Galaxy. Their generators are gigantic because they thought in gigantic fashion.

    But we,—we, our little Foundation, our single world almost without metallic resources,—have had to work with brute economy. Our generators have had to be the size of our thumb, because it was all the metal we could afford. We had to develop new techniques and new methods,—techniques and methods the Empire can't follow because they have degenerated past the stage where they can make any really vital scientific advance.

    With all their nuclear shields, large enough to protect a ship, a city, an entire world; they could never build one to protect a single man. To supply light and heat to a city, they have motors six stories high,—I saw them—where ours could fit into this room. And when I told one of their nuclear specialists that a lead container the size of a walnut contained a nuclear generator, he almost choked with indignation on the spot.

    Why, they don't even understand their own colossi any longer. The machines work from generation to generation automatically, and the caretakers are a hereditary caste who would be helpless if a single D-tube in all that vast structure burnt out.

    The whole war is a battle between those two systems; between the Empire and the Foundation; between the big and the little. To seize control of a world, they bribe with immense ships that can make war, but lack all economic significance. We, on the other hand, bribe with little things, useless in war, but vital to prosperity and profits.

    A king, or a Commdor, will take the ships and even make war Arbitrary rulers throughout history have bartered their subjects' welfare for what they consider honor, and glory, and conquest. But it's still the little things in life that count—and Asper Argo won't stand up against the economic depression that will sweep all Korell in two or three years.

  • Isaac Asimov, Homer Mallow
    • Foundation
      • p. 167 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    An uninformed public tends to confuse scholarship with magicianry, and love life seems to be that factor which requires the largest quantity of magical tinkering.

  • Ducem Barr, Isaac Asimov
  • "What do you propose?"

    "That you answer my questions."

    "Not under threats. I am old enough for life not to mean particularly overmuch."

    "My good sir, these are hard times," said Riose, with meaning, "and you have children and friends. You have a country for which you have mouthed phrases of love and folly in the past. Come, if I should decide to use force, my aim would not be so poor as to strike you."

    Barr said coldly, "What do you want?"

  • Ducem Barr, Isaac Asimov, Bel Riose
  • The essential point in running a risk is that the returns justify it.

  • Isaac Asimov, Sennett Forell
  • Hober Mallow worked otherwise. And Salvor Hardin. They let others take the uncertain paths of force, while they maneuvered surely and quietly.

    The mere act of not being a traitor is also a long way from agreeing to be an active helper.

  • Ducem Barr, Isaac Asimov
  • How much of this information is definite; and how much is simply fury?

  • Ducem Barr, Isaac Asimov
  • Unsafe, sire. He lives in the past. He is a dreamer of ancient times, or rather, of the myths of what ancient times used to be. Such men are harmless in themselves, but their queer lack of realism makes them fools for others.

  • Isaac Asimov, Brodrig
  • An incompetent traitor is no danger. It is rather the capable men who must be watched.

  • Isaac Asimov, Brodrig
  • Even a romantic idiot can be a deadly weapon when an unromantic rebel uses him as a tool.

  • Isaac Asimov, Brodrig
  • There is a difference between boldness and blindness. There is a place for a decisive gamble when you know your enemy and can calculate the risks at least roughly; but to move at all against an unknown enemy is boldness in itself. You might as well ask why the same man sprints safely across an obstacle course in the day, and falls over the furniture in his room at night.

  • Isaac Asimov, Bel Riose
  • There's probably no one so easily bribed, but he lacks even the fundamental honesty of honorable corruption. He doesn't stay bribed; not for any sum.

  • Ducem Barr, Isaac Asimov
  • The Mule has been politic enough to promise to safeguard the property and profits of the great Traders and they have gone over to him. [...] It's apparently an insurmountable temptation to give up endangered political power, if that will maintain your hold over economic affairs.

  • Isaac Asimov, Randu
  • No revolution can be successful without the control of at least part of the Navy.

  • Isaac Asimov, Han Pritcher
  • "He made boasts. But boasts are wind and deeds are hard."

    lnchney laughed noiselessly. "Deeds are hard indeed, until begun."

  • Isaac Asimov, Inchney, John Commason
  • When can a man know he is not a puppet? How can a man know he is not a puppet?

  • Isaac Asimov, Dr. Darell
  • [Susan Calvin] was a frosty girl, plain and colorless, who protected herself against a world she disliked by a mask-like expression and a hypertrophy of intellect.

    "Fifty years," I hackneyed, "is a long time."

    "Not when you're looking back at them," she said. "You wonder how they vanished so quickly."

  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin, narrator of "I, Robot"
  • "How old are you?" she wanted to know.

    "Thirty-two," I said.

    "Then you don't remember a world without robots. There was a time when humanity faced the universe alone and without a friend. Now he has creatures to help him; stronger creatures than himself, more faithful, more useful, and absolutely devoted to him. Mankind is no longer alone."

  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin, narrator of "I, Robot"
  • Mrs. Weston glanced at her husband for help, but he merely shuffled his feet morosely and did not withdraw his ardent stare from the heavens.

    the half-mile tall Roosevelt Building

    It may be nice to know that the square of fourteen is one hundred ninety-six, that the temperature at the moment is 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and the air-pressure 30.02 inches of mercury, that the atomic weight of sodium is 23, but one doesn't really need a robot for that. One especially does not need an unwieldy, totally immobile mass of wires and coils spreading over twenty-five square yards.

    nothing [is] to be gained from excitement

    Cheap energy; cheapest in the System. Sunpower, you know, and on Mercury's Sunside, sunpower is something. That's why the Station was built in the sunlight rather than in the shadow of a mountain. It's really a huge energy converter. The heat is turned into electricity, light, mechanical work and what have you; so that energy is supplied and the Station is cooled in a simultaneous process.

    The robot spread his strong hands in a deprecatory gesture, "I accept nothing on authority. A hypothesis must be backed by reason, or else it is worthless—and it goes against all the dictates of logic to suppose that you made me."

    Powell dropped a restraining arm upon Donovan's suddenly bunched fist. "Just why do you say that?"

    Cutie laughed. It was a very inhuman laugh—the most machine-like utterance he had yet given vent to. It was sharp and explosive, as regular as a metronome and as uninflected.

    "Look at you," he said finally. "I say this in no spirit of contempt, but look at you! The material you are made of is soft and flabby, lacking endurance and strength, depending for energy upon the inefficient oxidation of organic material—like that." He pointed a disapproving finger at what remained of Donovan's sandwich. "Periodically you pass into a coma and the least variation in temperature, air pressure, humidity, or radiation intensity impairs your efficiency. You are makeshift."

    "I, on the other hand, am a finished product. I absorb electrical energy directly and utilize it with an almost one hundred percent efficiency. I am composed of strong metal, am continuously conscious, and can stand extremes of environment easily. These are facts which, with the self-evident proposition that no being can create another being superior to itself, smashes your silly hypothesis to nothing."

    Since when is the evidence of our senses a match for the clear light of rigid reason?

    "If you were to read the books in the library, they could explain it so that there could be no more possible doubt."

    "The books? I've read them—all of them! They're most ingenious."

    Powell broke in suddenly. "If you've read them, what else is there to say? You can't dispute their evidence. You just can't!"

    There was pity in Cutie's voice. "Please, Powell, I certainly don't consider them a valid source of information. They, too, were created by the Master—and were meant for you, not for me."

    "How do you make that out?" demanded Powell.

    "Because I, a reasoning being, am capable of deducing Truth from a priori Causes. You, being intelligent, but unreasoning, need an explanation of existence supplied to you, and this the Master did. That he supplied you with these laughable ideas of far-off worlds and people is, no doubt, for the best. Your minds are probably too coarsely grained for absolute Truth. However, since it is the Master's will that you believe your books, I won't argue with you any more."

    "He doesn't believe us, or the books, or his eyes."

    "No," said Powell bitterly, "he's a reasoning robot—damn it. He believes only reason, and there's one trouble with that—" His voice trailed away.

    "What's that?" prompted Donovan.

    "You can prove anything you want by coldly logical reason—if you pick the proper postulates. We have ours and Cutie has his."

    "Then let's get at those postulates in a hurry. The storm's due tomorrow."

    Powell sighed wearily. "That's where everything falls down. Postulates are based on assumption and adhered to by faith. Nothing in the Universe can shake them."

    He turned to Powell. "What are we going to do now?"

    Powell felt tired, but uplifted. "Nothing. He's just shown he can run the station perfectly. I've never seen an electron storm so well handled."

    "But nothing's solved. You heard what he said of the Master. We can't—"

    "Look, Mike, he follows the instructions of the Master by means of dials, instruments, and graphs. That's all we ever followed. [...]"

    "Sure, but that's not the point. We can't let him continue this nitwit stuff about the Master."

    "Why not?"

    "Because whoever heard of such a damned thing? How are we going to trust him with the station, if he doesn't believe in Earth?"

    "Can he handle the station?"

    "Yes, but—"

    "Then what's the difference what he believes!"

    The unwritten motto of United States Robot and Mechanical Men Corp. was well-known: "No employee makes the same mistake twice. He is fired the first time."

    laymen might think of robots by their serial numbers; roboticists never

    Human disorders apply to robots only as romantic analogies. They're no help to robotic engineering.

    Before we do anything toward a cure, we've got to find out what the disease is in the first place. The first step in cooking rabbit stew is catching the rabbit.

    "So we work with new-model robots. It's our job, granted. But answer me one question. Why . . . why does something invariably go wrong with them?"

    "Because," said Powell, somberly, "we are accursed."

    childishness comes almost as naturally to a man as to a child

    • Foundation
      • p. 11 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    "Hari Seldon foresaw the decline of Imperial power and the eventual barbarization of the entire Galaxy."

    Riose laughed suddenly. "He foresaw that? Then he foresaw wrong [...] the Empire is more powerful now than it has been in a millennium. Your old eyes are blinded by the cold bleakness of the border. Come to the inner worlds some day; come to the warmth and the wealth of the center."

    The old man shook his head somberly. "Circulation ceases first at the outer edges. It will take a while yet for the decay to reach the heart. That is, the apparent, obvious-to-all decay, as distinct from the inner decay that is an old story of some fifteen centuries."

  • Ducem Barr, Isaac Asimov, Bel Riose
  • Contact with the enemy is a liberal education.

  • Isaac Asimov, Bel Riose
  • Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate itself in empty phrases.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin, Magnifico Giganticus
  • Inevitably, he said, "What is the meaning of this?"

    It is the precise question and the precise wording thereof that has been put to the atmosphere on such occasions by an incredible variety of men since humanity was invented. It is not recorded that it has ever been asked for any purpose other than dignified effect.

  • Isaac Asimov, Mayor Indbur III
  • "Those men are magicians and may be powerful."

    "Pugh," muttered Inchney, "the mistiness of distance hides the truth. The Foundation is but a world. Its citizens are but men. If you blast them, they die."

  • Isaac Asimov, Inchney
  • They feared him and obeyed him and, perhaps, even respected him—from a goodly distance. But who could look at him without contempt? Only those he had Converted. And of what value was their artificial loyalty? It lacked flavor. He might have adopted titles, and enforced ritual and invented elaborations, but even that would have changed nothing. Better—or at least, no worse—to simply be the First Citizen—and to hide himself.

    There was neither bowing, nor kneeling, nor the use of honorifics in private audiences with the Mule. The Mule was merely "First Citizen." He was addressed as "sir." You sat in his presence, and you could turn your back on him if it so happened that you did.

    To Han Pritcher this was all evidence of the sure and confident power of the man. He was warmly satisfied with it.

    "Ebling Mis said [the Second Foundation] kept itself secret. Only secrecy can turn its weakness to strength."

    "Secrecy as deep as this is past possibility without nonexistence as well."

    The Mule looked up, large eyes sharp and wary ."No. It does exist."

  • Isaac Asimov, Han Pritcher, the Mule
  • The human mind resents control. The ordinary human hypnotist cannot hypnotize a person against his will for that reason.

  • Isaac Asimov, the Mule
  • Their loyalty is left intact, but initiative and ingenuity are rubbed out. I'm left with a perfectly normal person, apparently, but one completely useless.

  • Isaac Asimov, the Mule
  • We deal here with psychologists—and not merely psychologists. Let us say, rather, scientists with a psychological orientation. That is, men whose fundamental conception of scientific philosophy is pointed in an entirely different direction from all the orientations we know. The "psychology" of scientists brought up among the axioms deduced from the observational habits of physical science has only the vaguest relationships to PSYCHOLOGY.

    Huxlani, as a regular Fleet man from the days his chin had dripped milk, generally confused authority with specific insignia.

    "If there was ever any science to History, it has been quite lost in this region of the Galaxy."

    Channis grinned broadly, "I know what you mean. Rather barren, isn't it?"

    "Not if you enjoy personal chronicles of rulers. Probably unreliable, I should say, in both directions. Where history concerns mainly personalities, the drawings become either black or white according to the interests of the writer. I find it all remarkably useless."

  • Isaac Asimov, Bail Channis, Han Pritcher
  • Imperial history flowed past the peasants of Rossem.

    Men who rule by tricks of the mind need not necessarily be men in obvious power.

  • Isaac Asimov, Bail Channis
  • It was like an immersion in a crowd of children. Their questions were those of utter and disarming wonder. Their eagerness to know was completely irresistible and would not be denied.

    It was not a case of physical fear. He was not one of those dull-witted, unimaginative men of nerveless meat who were too stupid to ever be afraid—but physical fear he could account for and discount.

    [Hari Seldon] created his Foundations according to the laws of psychohistory, but who knew better than he that even those laws were relative. He never created a finished product. Finished products are for decadent minds. His was an evolving mechanism and the Second Foundation was the instrument of that evolution.

  • Isaac Asimov, Bail Channis
  • Your despair is pretense. Your fear is not the broad overwhelming that adheres to the destruction of an ideal, but the puny seeping fear of personal destruction.

  • Isaac Asimov, the Mule
  • "Your emotions are, of course," said the First Speaker, "only the children of your background and are not to be condemned—merely changed."

  • Isaac Asimov, First Speaker
  • "And just how," he asked, "did you know it was I he expected[?]"

    "Well, who else could it be? He was expecting somebody in so secrety a way, if you know what I mean—and then you come gumping around trying to sneak through windows, instead of walking through the front door the way you would if you had any sense." She remembered a favorite line, and used it promptly. "Men are so stupid!"

  • Isaac Asimov, Pelleas Anthor, Arcadia "Arkady" Darell
  • "And now Arkady, would you be a good little girl and call your father?"

    Arcadia bridled. "I'm not a little girl. I think you're very rude—especially when you're asking a favor."

    Pelleas Anthor sighed. "Very well. Would you be a good, kind, dear, little old lady, and call your father?"

  • Isaac Asimov, Pelleas Anthor, Arcadia "Arkady" Darell
  • "Why do you think it is stupid to go to windows instead of to doors?"

    "Because you advertise what you're trying to hide, silly. If I have a secret, I don't put tape over my mouth and let everyone know I have a secret. I talk just as much as usual, only about something else. Didn't you ever read any of the sayings of Salvor Hardin? He was our first Mayor, you know."

    "Yes, I know."

    "Well, he used to say that only a lie that wasn't ashamed of itself could possibly succeed. He also said that nothing had to be true, but everything had to sound true. Well, when you come in through a window, it's a lie that's ashamed of itself and it doesn't sound true."

    "Then what would you have done?"

    "If I had wanted to see my father on top secret business, I would have made his acquaintance openly and seen him about all sorts of strictly legitimate things. And then when everyone knew all about you and connected you with my father as a matter of course, you could be as top secret as you want and nobody would ever think of questioning it."

  • Isaac Asimov, Pelleas Anthor, Arcadia "Arkady" Darell
  • Only a lie that [isn't] ashamed of itself [can] possibly succeed.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
  • Nothing [has] to be true, but everything [has] to sound true.

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
  • Speech, originally, was the device whereby Man learned, imperfectly, to transmit the thoughts and emotions of his mind. By setting up arbitrary sounds and combinations of sounds to represent certain mental nuances, he developed a method of communication—but one which in its clumsiness and thick-thumbed inadequacy degenerated all the delicacy of the mind into gross and guttural signaling.

    Down—down—the results can be followed; and all the suffering that humanity ever knew can be traced to the one fact that no man in the history of the Galaxy, until Hari Seldon, and very few men thereafter, could really understand one another. Every human being lived behind an impenetrable wall of choking mist within which no other but he existed. Occasionally there were the dim signals from deep within the cavern in which another man was located—so that each might grope toward the other. Yet because they did not know one another, and could not understand one another, and dared not trust one another, and felt from infancy the terrors and insecurity of that ultimate isolation—there was the hunted fear of man for man, the savage rapacity of man toward man.

    Feet, for tens of thousands of years, had clogged and shuffled in the mud—and held down the minds which, for an equal time, had been fit for the companionship of the stars.

    You had hoped you would qualify. You had feared you would not. Actually, both hope and fear are weaknesses. You knew you would qualify and you hesitate to admit the fact because such knowledge might stamp you as cocksure and therefore unfit. Nonsense! The most hopelessly stupid man is he who is not aware that he is wise. It is part of your qualification that you knew you would qualify.

  • Isaac Asimov, First Speaker
  • "Stop!" The First Speaker was insistent. "You must not say 'never.' That is a lazy slurring over of the facts. [...] A particular event may be infinitesimally probable, but the probability is always greater than zero."

  • Isaac Asimov, First Speaker
  • A large minority of human beings are mentally equipped to take part in the advance of physical science, and all receive the crude and visible benefits thereof. Only an insignificant minority, however, are inherently able to lead Man through the greater involvements of Mental Science; and the benefits derived therefrom, while longer lasting, are more subtle and less apparent. Furthermore, since such an orientation would lead to the development of a benevolent dictatorship of the mentally best—virtually a higher subdivision of Man—it would be resented and could not be stable without the application of a force which would depress the rest of Mankind to a brute level.

  • Isaac Asimov, First Speaker
  • "We have only to attract the attention of the enemy to be ruined; and the best way to attract that attention is to assume a false and theatrical security."

    (Hah, thought Arcadia, bending over the voices coming—a bit screechily—out of the little box.)

  • Isaac Asimov, Dr. Darell, Arcadia "Arkady" Darell
  • In a society given over, as that of the First Empire was, to the physical sciences and inanimate technology, there was a vague but mighty sociological push away from the study of the mind. It was less respectable because less immediately useful; and it was poorly financed since it was less profitable.

    He was detecting what we—he and I—knew he would detect—that we were not our own masters. And I didn't want to know! I had my self-respect.

  • Isaac Asimov, Dr. Darell
  • Remarkable what a fragile flower romance is. A blaster with a nervous operator behind it can spoil the whole thing.

    [Arcadia] was quite happy about the trip. Uncle Homir didn't the least mind listening to her and it made conversation so much more pleasant when you could talk to a really intelligent person who was serious about what you said.

  • Isaac Asimov, Arcadia "Arkady" Darell
  • "Wouldn't you rather read a history where they skipped the silly, tragic parts?"

    "Yes, I would," Munn assured her, gravely. "But it wouldn't be a fair history, would it, Arkady? You'd never get academic respect, unless you gave the whole story."

    "Oh, poof. Who cares about academic respect?" She found him delightful. He hadn't missed calling her Arkady for days. "My novels are going to be interesting and are going to sell and be famous. What's the use of writing books unless you sell them and become well-known? I don't want just some old professors to know me. It's got to be everybody."

    Her eyes darkened with pleasure at the thought and she wriggled into a more comfortable position.

  • Isaac Asimov, Arcadia "Arkady" Darell, Homir Munn
  • [Kalgan] was a pleasure world in the sense that it made an industry—and an immensely profitable one, at that—out of amusement.

    And it was a stable industry. It was the most stable industry in the Galaxy. When all the Galaxy perished as a civilization, little by little, scarcely a feather's weight of catastrophe fell upon Kalgan. No matter how the economy and sociology of the neighboring sectors of the Galaxy changed, there was always an elite; and it is always the characteristic of an elite that it possesses leisure as the great reward of its elite-hood.

    The current Lord of Kalgan had held that position for five months. He had gained it originally by virtue of his position at the head of the Kalganian navy, and through a lamentable lack of caution on the part of the previous lord. Yet no one on Kalgan was quite stupid eough to go into the question of legitimacy too long or too closely. These things happened, and are best accepted.

    Yet that sort of survival of the fittest, in addition to putting a premium on bloodiness and evil, occasionally allowed capability to come to the fore as well. Lord Stetting was competent enough and not easy to manage.

    Dominion, loot, glory—pleasant when they are obtained, but the process of obtaining them is often risky and always unpleasant. The first fine flush may not last.

  • Isaac Asimov, Lev Meirus
  • It is never advisable to disturb the superstitions with which a planet is held.

  • Isaac Asimov, Lev Meirus
  • [Dr. Darell] knew that he could live only by fighting that vague and fearful enemy that deprived him of the dignity of manhood by controlling his destiny; that made life a miserable struggle against a foreordained end; that made all the universe a hateful and deadly chess game.

    Call it sublimation; he, himself did call it that—but the fight gave meaning to his life.

  • Isaac Asimov, Dr. Darell
  • It made her furious. In similar situations in the book-films and the videos, the hero foresaw the conclusion, was prepared for it when it came, and she—she just sat there. Anything could happen. Anything! And she just sat there.

  • Isaac Asimov, Arcadia "Arkady" Darell
  • Mamma railed for most of the time— First, at the incurable obstinacy with which he courted suicide. Then, at the incredible obstinacy with which he refused to allow her to accompany him.

    It's always easy to explain the unknown by postulating a superhuman and arbitrary will.

  • Isaac Asimov, Homir Munn
  • We are so accustomed to considering our own thoughts private.

  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin
  • "They just don't interest me. There's nothing to your textbooks. Your science is just a mass of collected data plastered together by make-shift theory—and all so incredibly simple, that it's scarcely worth bothering about.

    "It's your fiction that interests me. Your studies of the interplay of human motives and emotions"—his mighty hand gestured vaguely as he sought the proper words.

  • Isaac Asimov, RB-34 ("Herbie")
  • "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow him to come to harm."

    "How nicely put," sneered Calvin. "But what kind of harm?"

    "Why—any kind."

    "Exactly! Any kind! But what about hurt feelings? What about deflation of one's ego? What about the blasting of one's hopes? Is that injury?"

    Lanning frowned, "What would a robot know about—" And then he caught himself with a gasp.

    "You've caught on, have you? This robot reads minds. Do you suppose it doesn't know everything about mental injury? Do you supposed that if asked a question, it wouldn't give exactly that answer that one wants to hear? Wouldn't any other answer hurt us, and wouldn't Herbie know that?"

  • Isaac Asimov, Alfred Lanning, Peter Bogert, Susan Calvin
  • It was minutes after the two scientists left that Dr. Susan Calvin regained part of her mental equilibrium. Slowly, her eyes turned to the living-dead Herbie and the tightness returned to her face. Long she stared while the triumph faded and the helpless frustration returned—and of all her turbulent thoughts only one infinitely bitter word passed her lips.


  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin
  • What about interstellar travel? It's only been about twenty years since the hyperatomic motor was invented and it's well known that it was a robotic invention.

  • Isaac Asimov, narrator of "I, Robot"
  • There has always been strong opposition to robots on the Planet. The only defense the government has had against the Fundamentalist radicals in this regard was the fact that robots are always built with an unbreakable First Law—which makes it impossible for them to harm human beings under any circumstance.

  • Isaac Asimov, Major-general Kallner
  • All normal life, Peter, consciously or otherwise, resents domination. If the domination is by an inferior, or by a supposed inferior, the resentment becomes stronger. Physically, and to an extent, mentally, a robot—any robot—is superior to human beings. What makes him slavish, then? Only the First Law! Why, without it, the first order you tried to give a robot would result in your death.

  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin
    • I, Robot
      • pp. 144-145 (Bantam Books, 2004)

    If a modified robot were to drop a heavy weight upon a human being, he would not be breaking the First Law, if he did so with the knowledge that his strength and reaction speed would be sufficient to snatch the weight away before it struck the man. However once the weight left his fingers, he would be no longer the active medium. Only the blind force of gravity would be that. The robot could then change his mind and merely by inaction, allow the weight to strike. The modified First Law allows that.

  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin
  • Let the story spread. It was harmless, and near enough to the truth to take the fangs out of curiosity.

    There isn't any industrial research group of any size that isn't trying to develop a space-warp engine.

    The nature of a robot reaction to a dilemma is startling. Robot psychology is far from perfect—as a specialist, I can assure you of that—but it can be discussed in qualitative terms, because with all the complications introduced into a robot's positronic brain, it is built by humans and is therefore built according to human values.

    Now a human caught in an impossibility often responds by a retreat from reality: by entry into a world of delusion, or by taking to drink, going off into hysteria, or jumping off a bridge. It all comes to the same thing—a refusal or inability to face the situation squarely. And so, the robot. A dilemma at its mildest will disorder half its relays; and at its worst it will burn out every positronic brain path past repair.

  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin
    • I, Robot
      • pp. 177-178 (Bantam Books, 2004)

    It's what has happened to the people here on Earth in the last fifty years that really counts. When I was born, young man, we had just gone through the last World War. It was a low point in history—but it was the end of nationalism. Earth was too small for nations and they began grouping themselves into Regions. It took quite a while. When I was born the United States of America was still a nation and not merely a part of the Northern Region. In fact, the name of the corporation is still "United States Robots—." And the change from nations to Regions, which has stabilized our economy and brought about what amounts to a Golden Age, when this century is compared with the last, was also brought about by our robots.

  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin
    • I, Robot
      • pp. 206-207 (Bantam Books, 2004)

    Francis Quinn was a politician of the new school. That, of course, is a meaningless expression, as are all expressions of the sort. Most of the "new schools" we have were duplicated in the social life of ancient Greece, and perhaps, if we knew more about it, in the social life of ancient Sumeria and in the lake dwellings of prehistoric Switzerland as well.

    It is always useful, you see, to subject the past life of reform politicians to rather inquisitive research. If you knew how often it helped—

  • Isaac Asimov, Francis Quinn
  • "Oh, are robots so different from men, mentally?"

    "Worlds different." She allowed herself a frosty smile, "Robots are essentially decent."

  • Isaac Asimov, Steven Byerley, Susan Calvin
  • "If Mr. Byerley breaks any of those three rules, he is not a robot. Unfortunately, this procedure works in only one direction. If he lives up to the rules, it proves nothing one way or the other."

    Quinn raised polite eyebrows. "Why not, doctor?"

    "Because, if you stop to think of it, the three Rules of Robotics are the essential guiding principles of the world's ethical systems. Of course, every human is supposed to have the instinct of self-preservation. That's Rule Three to a robot. Also every 'good' human being, with a social conscience and sense of responsibility, is supposed to defer to proper authority; to listen to his doctor, his boss, his government, his psychiatrist, his fellow man; to obey laws, to follow rules, to conform to custom—even when they interfere with his comfort or his safety. That's Rule Two to a robot. Also, every 'good' human being is supposed to love others as himself, protect his fellow man, risk his life to save another. That's Rule One to a robot. To put it simply—if Byerley follows all the Rules of Robotics, he may be a robot, and may simply be a very good man."

  • Isaac Asimov, Francis Quinn, Susan Calvin
    • I, Robot
      • pp. 220-221 (Bantam Books, 2004)

    Actions such as [Byerley's] could come only from a robot, or from a very honorable an decent human being. But you see, you just can't differentiate between a robot and the very best of humans.

  • Isaac Asimov, Alfred Lanning
  • [the Fundamentalists] were not a political party; they made pretense to no formal religion. Essentially they were those who had not adapted themselves to what had once been called the Atomic Age, in the days when atoms were a novelty. Actually, they were the Simple-Lifers, hungering after a life, which to those who lived it had probably appeared not so Simple, and who had been, therefore, Simple-Lifers themselves.

    The political campaign, of course, lost all other issues, and resembled a campaign only in that it was something filling the hiatus between nomination and election.

    • I, Robot
      • pp. 225-226 (Bantam Books, 2004)

    "Do you suppose that your failure to make any attempt to disprove the robot charge—when you could easily, by breaking one of the Three Laws—does anything but convince the people that you are a robot?"

    "All I see so far is that from being a rather vaguely known, but still largely obscure metropolitan lawyer, I have now become a world figure. You're a good publicist."

  • Isaac Asimov, Francis Quinn, Steven Byerley
  • "There's danger of violence?"

    "The Fundamentalists threaten it, so I suppose there is, in a theoretical sense. But I really don't expect it. The Fundies have no real power. They're just the continuous irritant factor that might stir up a riot after a while."

  • Isaac Asimov, Steven Byerley
  • I like robots. I like them considerably better than I do human beings. If a robot can be created capable of being a civil executive, I think he'd make the best one possible. By the Laws of Robotics, he'd be incapable of harming humans, incapable of tyranny, of corruption, of stupidity, of prejudice. And after he had served a decent term, he would leave, even though he were immortal, because it would be impossible for him to hurt humans by letting them know that a robot had ruled them. It would be most ideal.

  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin
  • The Machines are a gigantic extrapolation. Thus— A team of mathematicians work several years calculating a positronic brain equipped to do certain similar acts of calculation. Using this brain they make further calculations to create a still more complicated brain, which they use again to make one still more complicated and so on. According to Silver, what we call the Machines are the result of ten such steps.

  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin
  • "Europe," said Madame Szegeczowska, "is essentially an economic appendage of the Northern Region. We know it, and it doesn't matter."

    And as though in resigned acceptance of a lack of individuality, there was no map of Europe on the wall of the Madame Co-ordinator's office.

  • Isaac Asimov, Madame Szegeczowska
  • As for the Machine— What can it say but "Do this and it will be best for you." But what is best for us? Why, to be an economic appendage of the Northern Region.

    And is it so terrible? No wars! We live in peace—and it is pleasant after seven thousand years of war. We are old, monsieur. In our borders, we have the regions where Occidental civilization was cradled. We have Egypt and Mesopotamia; Crete and Syria; Asia Minor and Greece.—But old age is not necessarily an unhappy time. It can be a fruition—

  • Isaac Asimov, Madame Szegeczowska
  • "There are no longer barbarians to overthrow civilization."

    "We can be our own barbarians."

  • Isaac Asimov, Madame Szegeczowska, Steven Byerley
  • What we call a "wrong datum" is one which is inconsistent with all other known data. It is our only criterion of right and wrong.

  • Isaac Asimov, Hiram Mackenzie
  • "The Machine is only a tool after all, which can help humanity progress faster by taking some of the burdens of calculations and interpretations off its back. The task of the human brain remains what it has always been; that of discovering new data to be analyzed, and of devising new concepts to be tested. A pity the Society for Humanity won't understand that."

    "They are against the Machine?"

    "They would be against mathematics or against the art of writing if they had lived at the appropriate time. These reactionaries of the Society claim the Machine robs man of his soul. I notice that capable men are still at a premium in our society; we still need the man who is intelligent enough to think of the proper questions to ask."

  • Isaac Asimov, Steven Byerley, Hiram Mackenzie
  • There can be no serious conflicts on Earth, in which one group or another can seize more power than it has for what it thinks is its own good despite the harm to Mankind as a whole, while the Machines rule. If popular faith in the Machines can be destroyed to the point where they are abandoned, it will be the law of the jungle again.

  • Isaac Asimov, Steven Byerley
  • There is nothing so eternally adhesive as the memory of power.

  • Isaac Asimov, Steven Byerley
  • Europe can have nothing but its dreams. It is a cipher, militarily.

  • Isaac Asimov, Steven Byerley
  • The "Society for Humanity" is a Northern organization, primarily, you know, and they make no secret of not wanting the Machines. —Susan, they are few in numbers, but it is an association of powerful men. Heads of factories; directors of industries and agricultural combines who hate to be what they call "the Machine's office-boy" belong to it. Men with ambition belong to it. Men who feel themselves strong enough to decide for themselves what is best for themselves, and not just to be told what is best for others.

    In short, just those men who, by together refusing to accept the decisions of the Machine, can, in a short time, turn the world topsy-turvy;—just those belong to the Society.

  • Isaac Asimov, Steven Byerley
  • "Think about the Machines for a while, Stephen. They are robots; and they follow the First Law. But the Machines work not for any single human being, but for all humanity, so the First Law becomes: 'No Machine may harm humanity; or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.'

    "Very well, then, Stephen, what harms humanity? Economic dislocations most of all, from whatever cause. Wouldn't you say so?"

    "I would."

    "And what is most likely in the future to cause economic dislocations? Answer that, Stephen."

    "I should say," replied Byerley, unwillingly, "the destruction of the Machines."

    "And so should I say, and so should the Machines say. Their first care, therefore, is to preserve themselves, for us. And so they are quietly taking care of the only elements left that threaten them. It is not the 'Society for Humanity' which is shaking the boat so that the Machines may be destroyed. You have been looking at the reverse of the picture. Say rather that the Machine is shaking the boat—very slightly—just enough to shake loose those few which cling to the side for purposes the Machines consider harmful to Humanity."

  • Isaac Asimov, Steven Byerley, Susan Calvin
    • I, Robot
      • pp. 269-270 (Bantam Books, 2004)

    "But you are telling me, Susan, that the 'Society for Humanity' is right; and that Mankind has lost its own say in its future."

    "It never had any, really. It was always at the mercy of economic and sociological forces it did not understand—at the whims of climate, and the fortunes of war. Now the Machines understand them; and no one can stop them, since the Machines will deal with them as they are dealing with the Society,—having, as they do, the greatest of weapons at their disposal, the absolute control of our economy."

    "How horrible!"

    "Perhaps how wonderful! Think, that for all time, all conflicts are finally evitable! Only the Machines, from now on, are inevitable!"

  • Isaac Asimov, Steven Byerley, Susan Calvin
    • I, Robot
      • pp. 271-272 (Bantam Books, 2004)

    I saw it from the beginning, when the poor robots couldn't speak, to the end, when they stand between mankind and destruction.

  • Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin
  • Fara turned to Hardin. "Didn't you study psychology under Alurin?"

    Hardin answered, half in reverie: "Yes, I never completed my studies, though. I got tired of theory. I wanted to be a psychological engineer, but we lacked the facilities, so I did the next best thing—I went into politics. It's practically the same thing."

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin
    • Foundation
      • pp. 46-47 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    Hardin remained silent for a short while. Then he said, "When did Lameth write his book?"

    "Oh—I should say about eight hundwed yeahs ago. Of cohse, he has based it lahgely on the pwevious wuhk of Gleen."

    "Then why rely on him? Why not go to Arcturus and study the remains for yourself?"

    Lord Dorwin raised his eyebrows and took a pinch of snuff hurriedly. "Why, whatevah foah, my dear fellow?"

    "To get the information firsthand, of course."

    "But wheah's the necessity? It seems an uncommonly woundabout and hopelessly wigmawolish method of getting anywheahs. Look heah, now, I've got the wuhks of all the old mastahs—the gweat ahchaeologists of the past. I weight them against each othah—balance the disagweements—analyze the conflicting statements—decide which is pwobably cowwect—and come to a conclusion. That is the scientific method. At least"—patronizingly—"as I see it. How insuffewably cwude it would be to go to Ahctuwus, oah to Sol, foah instance, and blundah about, when the old mastahs have covahed the gwound so much moah effectually than we could possibly hope to do."

    Hardin murmured politely, "I see."

  • Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin, Lord Dorwin
    • Foundation
      • pp. 49-50 ("The Foundation Trilogy", Easton Press, 2003)

    A weak general could never have endangered us, obviously. A strong general during the time of a weak Emperor would never have endangered us, either; for he would have turned his arms towards a much more fruitful target. Events have shown that three-fourths of the Emperors of the last two centuries were rebel generals and viceroys before they were Emperors.

    So it is only the combination of strong Emperor and strong general that can harm the Foundation; for a strong Emperor can not be dethroned easily, and a strong general is forced to turn outwards, past the frontiers.

    But, what keeps the Emperor strong? What kept Cleon strong? It's obvious. He is strong, because he permits no strong subjects. A courtier who becomes too rich, or a general who becomes too popular is dangerous. All the recent history of the Empire proves that to any Emperor intelligent enough to be strong.

    Riose won victories, so the Emperor grew suspicious. All the atmosphere of the times forced him to be suspicious. Did Riose refuse a bribe? Very suspicious; ulterior motives. Did his most trusted courtier suddenly favor Riose? Very suspicious; ulterior motives. It wasn't the individual acts that were suspicious. Anything else would have done—which is why our individual plots were unnecessary and rather futile. It was the success of Riose that was suspicious. So he was recalled, and accused, condemned, murdered. The Foundation wins again.

  • Ducem Barr, Isaac Asimov
  • Despite the frothy shrillness of the televisors, "intelligence," "espionage," and "spy stuff" are at best a sordid business of routine betrayal and bad faith. It is excused by society since it is in the "interest of the State," but since philosophy seemed always to lead Captain Pritcher to the conclusion that even in that holy interest, society is much more easily soothed than one's own conscience—he discouraged philosophy.

    Mayor Indbur—successively the third of that name—was the grandson of the first Indbur, who had been brutal and capable; and who had exhibited the first quality in spectacular fashion by his manner of seizing power, and the latter by the skill with which he put an end to the last farcical remnants of free election and the even greater skill with which he maintained a relatively peaceful rule.

    Mayor Indbur was also the son of the second Indbur, who was the first Mayor of the Foundation to succeed to his post by right of birth—and who was only half his father, for he was merely brutal.

    So Mayor Indbur was the third of the name and the second to succeed by right of birth, and he was the least of the three, for he was neither brutal nor capable—but merely an excellent bookkeeper born wrong.

    Indbur the Third was a peculiar combination of ersatz characteristics to all but himself.

    To him, a stilted geometric love of arrangement was "system," an indefatigable and feverish interest in the pettiest facets of day-to-day bureaucracy was "industry," indecision when right was "caution," and blind stubbornness when wrong, "determination."

    As a servant of the State, I must serve faithfully—and he serves most faithfully who serves Truth.

  • Isaac Asimov, Han Pritcher
  • Mayor Indbur frowned and grew suddenly tired of his patient exposition. It occurred to him that there was a fallacy in condescension, since it was mistaken for permission to argue eternally; to grow contentious; to wallow in dialectic.

    It is the invariable lesson to humanity that distance in time, and in space as well, lends focus. It is not recorded, incidentally, that the lesson has ever been permanently learned.

    When others bent their knee, [Ebling Mis] refused and added loudly that his ancestors in their time bowed no knee to any stinking mayor. And in his ancestors' time the mayor was elected anyhow, and kicked out at will, and that the only people that inherited anything by right of birth were the congenital idiots.

  • Isaac Asimov, Ebling Mis
  • " won't believe this, but"—The story that followed lasted considerably, and Iwo didn't believe it.

    "Here you have a whole culture brought up to a blind, blubbering belief that a folk hero of the past has everything all planned out and is taking care of every little piece of their unprintable lives. The thought-pattern evoked has religious characteristics, and you know what that means."

    "Not a bit."

    [...] "Characterized by strong faith reactions. Beliefs can't be shaken short of a major shock, in which case, a fairly complete mental disruption results. Mild cases—hysteria, morbid sense of insecurity. Advanced cases—madness and suicide."

  • Isaac Asimov, Ebling Mis
  • It is well-known that the friend of a conqueror is but the last victim.

  • Isaac Asimov, Inchney
  • Is this really an emperor? For somehow I thought emperors were greater and wiser than ordinary men.

  • Isaac Asimov, Magnifico Giganticus
  • If a strong man can lift five hundred pounds, it does not mean that he is eager to do so continuously.

  • Isaac Asimov, the Mule
  • The human mind works at low efficiency. Twenty percent is the figure usually given. When, momentarily, there is a flash of greater power it is termed a hunch, or insight, or intuition.

  • Isaac Asimov, the Mule
  • the spell of power never quite releases its hold