11 August 2008


in addition to fiction, natural history, biography and history, once in a while i enjoy a solid work of science fiction. "solid" meaning well-grounded in physics, math, and astronomy. which narrows the field of eligible writers to an elite few, preeminent among whom is gregory benford, who has a PhD in physics, as well as a fecund imagination. i just finished one of his s.f. novels, Beyond Infinity. below please find a sampling of his wit and command of language:

~ hello, and welcome to my anecdote.

~ this reminds me of the time i felt deja vu.

~ i always wanted to be someone. (pause) maybe i should have been more specific.

~ the intellectual breeds of humans think in terms of abstractions. but most people have emotions and think that they are having ideas.

~ (referring to saintly types) they seldom have redeeming vices.

~ the past is not over. it is not even past.

~ i started out with nothing and still have most of it.

~ disasters, rather than being blows against life, were inevitable sways, bringing rejuvenation along with death. wildfires cleared tree canopies, letting in sunlight. floods swept silt from gravel beds, renewing river plains and deltas. nature's nature was change. it was not a museum.

~ this, even little children learned. that rapid selection pressure operated on what already existed. it added capability to minds, layering rather than snipping away parts that worked imperfectly. the human brain was always being retrofitted, and showed its origins in its cumbersome, layered workings.

~ though sunlight fell with the square of the distance from the sun, the available volume rose as the cube.

~ one of your philosophers remarked that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. you must live through your world.

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