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IAIN M. BANKS QUOTES

Scottish author (1954-2013)

All you ever were was a little bit of the universe, thinking to itself. Very specific; this bit, here, right now. All the rest was fantasy.

IAIN M. BANKS, Surface Detail

I'm saying with very few exceptions nothing lasts forever, and amongst those exceptions, no work or thought of man is numbered.

IAIN M. BANKS, Use of Weapons

Empathize with stupidity and you're halfway to thinking like an idiot.

IAIN M. BANKS, Consider Phlebas

A guilty system recognizes no innocents.

IAIN M. BANKS, The Player of Games

One should never regret one's excesses, only one's failures of nerve.

IAIN M. BANKS, The Hydrogen Sonata

There were few better ways of knocking the fight out of people than by convincing them that life was a joke, a contrivance under somebody else's ultimate control, and nothing of what they thought or did really mattered.

IAIN M. BANKS, Surface Detail

I am, as I have always been, of the opinion that while the niceties of normal moral constraints should be our guides, they must not be our masters.

IAIN M. BANKS, Excession

Perdition awaits at the end of a road constructed entirely from good intentions, the devil emerges from the details and hell abides in the small print.

IAIN M. BANKS, Transition

The trouble with writing fiction is that it has to make sense, whereas real life doesn't. It's incredibly annoying for us scribblers.

IAIN M. BANKS, "Iain Banks: The Final Interview," The Guardian, Jun. 14, 2013

We are a race prone to monsters ... and when we produce one we worship it.

IAIN M. BANKS, Against a Dark Background

The bomb lives only as it is falling.

IAIN M. BANKS, Use of Weapons

What was glory but something that reduced the more there were of you to share it?

IAIN M. BANKS, Surface Detail

All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word. In this, the future is a game; time is one of its rules.

IAIN M. BANKS, The Player of Games

In all the human societies we have ever reviewed, in every age and every state, there has seldom if ever been a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots.

IAIN M. BANKS, Use of Weapons

If this goes badly and I make a crater, I want it named after me!

IAIN M. BANKS, Against a Dark Background

You never risked everything; you risked as little as possible. You sold the idea of risking everything to the sort of idiot who thought that was how you got rich, but you kept your own risks to an absolute minimum. That way if you did make a mistake--and everybody made mistakes, or they weren't really trying--it didn't finish you. Let others ruin themselves--there were always rich pickings in the wreckage--but don't ever risk too much yourself.

IAIN M. BANKS, Surface Detail

There came a point when if a conspiracy was that powerful and subtle it became pointless to worry about it.

IAIN M. BANKS, Excession

Truth, I have learned, differs for everybody. Just as no two people ever see a rainbow in exactly the same place - and yet both most certainly see it, while the person seemingly standing right underneath it does not see it at all - so truth is a question of where one stands, and the direction one is looking in at the time.

IAIN M. BANKS, Inversions

There was nothing worse ... than a loser who'd made it. It was just part of the way things worked--part of the complexity of life ... that sometimes somebody who absolutely deserved nothing more than to be one of the downtrodden, the oppressed, the dregs of society, lucked out into a position of wealth, power and admiration. At least people who were natural winners knew how to carry themselves in their pomp, whether their ascendancy had come through the luck of being born rich and powerful or the luck of being born ambitious and capable. Losers who'd made it always let the side down.... Their only use ... was as examples to be held up to those who complained about their lack of status or money or control over their lives: look, if this idiot can achieve something, so can anybody, so can you. So stop whining about being exploited and work harder.

IAIN M. BANKS, Surface Detail

I had nightmares I thought were really horrible until I woke up and remembered what reality was at the moment.

IAIN M. BANKS, Consider Phlebas

As a writer – it must be the same for actors – you're used to dealing with the idea of death and all the big questions. Unless you're writing purely for five-year-olds, about bunnies, you're going to have to think about death. Your characters will die and people will live on afterwards who cared about them. You need to be able to empathise with them. Of course, we all go through it; we all have people close to us die. But as a writer you really have to think it through properly, or it'll all ring false. It's almost one of the perks of the trade that you're forced to think about that stuff fairly deeply. So maybe when it comes along in real life, you're slightly better prepared to deal with it.

IAIN M. BANKS, "Iain Banks: The Final Interview," The Guardian, Jun. 14, 2013

Most people are not prepared to have their minds changed, and I think they know in their hearts that other people are just the same, and one of the reasons people become angry when they argue is that they realize just that, as they trot out their excuses.

IAIN M. BANKS, Use of Weapons

Reason shapes the future, but superstition infects the present.

IAIN M. BANKS, The State of the Art

What is any achievement, however great it was, once time itself is dead?

IAIN M. BANKS, Use of Weapons

Experience as well as common sense indicated that the most reliable method of avoiding self-extinction was not to equip oneself with the means to accomplish it in the first place.

IAIN M. BANKS, Consider Phlebas

That was how divorced from the human scale modern warfare had become. You could smash and destroy from unthinkable distances, obliterate planets from beyond their own system and provoke stars into novae from light-years off ... and still have no good idea why you were really fighting.

IAIN M. BANKS, Consider Phlebas

That's the trouble with people like them, I suppose; whenever you think you’re detecting the first signs of them starting to behave responsibly, it’s just them being even more devious and underhand than usual.

IAIN M. BANKS, Excession

Hell was always for other people.

IAIN M. BANKS, Surface Detail

It was a truism that all civilizations were basically neurotic until they made contact with everybody else and found their place within the ever-changing meta-civilisation of other beings, because, until then, during the stage when they honestly believed they might be entirely alone in existence, all solo societies were possessed of both an inflated sense of their own importance and a kind of existential terror at the sheer scale and apparent emptiness of the universe.

IAIN M. BANKS, The Algebraist

One of the advantages of having laws is the pleasure one may take in breaking them.

IAIN M. BANKS, The Player of Games


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