Summer Reading

“You thought you had failed, Captain Ban. But you did not fail. My mission was to save the cosmos, but I could not function until I found the focal point. And that focal point was in your strength, your human defiance of all destiny. It was your voice, crying, ‘I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!’ that guided me, brought me here. I go now, forever from your cosmos and your consciousness. But there is no need for me any longer. The Covenant is ended. I leave you with all you require to survive—your humanity, which is your strength.”
– Robert Bloch, from Isaac Asimov’s 15 Short Stories

I read some really awesome books during my summer vacation: Isaac Asimov’s 15 Short Stories, David Z. Hirsch’s Didn’t Get Frazzled, and Irene Pepperberg’s Alex and Me. Here are some quotes from these books that I thought my readers might enjoy:

“There was a moment beyond which there was no next second.”
– Murray Leinster, from Isaac Asimov’s 15 Short Stories

“The feeling was that the cosmos had turned askew, and the horizon had tilted so that what should have been the east was up, and what should have been the west was down—and he tended to fall toward it—and the beach was merely before him and the sky behind.”
– Murray Leinster, from Isaac Asimov’s 15 Short Stories

“They have attained to thermonuclear power, have they?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Well, that’s the criterion.” Naro chuckled, “And soon their ships will probe out and contact the Federation.”
“Actually, Great One,” said the messenger, reluctantly, “the Observers tell us they have not yet penetrated space.”
Naron was astonished. “Not at all? Not even a space station?”
“Not yet, sir.”
“But if they have thermonuclear power, where then do they conduct their tests and detonations?”
“On their own planet, sir.”
Naron rose to his full twenty feet of height and thundered, “On their own planet?”
“Yes, sir.”
Slowly, Naron drew out his stylus and passed a line through the latest addition in the smaller book. It was an unprecedented act, but, then, Naron was very wise and could see the inevitable as well as anyone in the Galaxy.
– Isaac Asimov, 15 Short Stories

“This thing was important. He didn’t know why it was, of course. Grand Masters rarely did. That’s what made them Grand Masters; the fact that they were beyond reason.”
– Isaac Asimov, 15 Short Stories

“…always there was the driving effort on each side to break the stalemate, to develop a parry for every possible thrust, to develop a thrust that could not be parried in time—something that would make war possible again. And that was not because either side wanted war so desperately, but because both were afraid that the other side would make the crucial discovery first.”
– Isaac Asimov, 15 Short Stories

“Each different squiggle stood for a different number. For ‘one’ you made a kind of mark, for ‘two’ you make another kind of mark, for ‘three’ another one and so on.”
“What for?”
“So you could compute.”
“What for ? You just tell the computer—”
“Jimmy,” cried Paul, his face twisting with anger, “can’t you get it through your head? These slide-rules and things didn’t talk.”
“Then how–”
“The answers showed up in squiggles and you had to know what the squiggles meant. Mr. Daughterty says that in the olden days, everybody learned how to make squiggles when they were kids and how to decode them, too. Making squiggles was called ‘writing’ and decoding them was ‘reading.’ He says there was a different kind of squiggle for every word and they used to write whole books in squiggles. He said they had some at the museum and I could look at them if I wanted to. He said if I was going to be a real computer and programmer I would have to know about the history of computing and that’s why he was showing me all these things.”
Niccolo frowned. He said, “You mean everybody had to figure out squiggles for every word and remember them? Is this all real or are you making it up?”
– Isaac Asimov, 15 Short Stories

“Later on, I looked up how to spell Mesozoic, which is why I got it right, in case you’re wondering, and I found out that the Mesozoic Era is when all the dinosaurs were doing whatever dinosaurs do. But of course at the time this is just so much double-talk to me, and mostly I was thinking we had a lunatic talking to us. Joe claimed afterwards that he knew about this Mesozoic thing, but he’ll have to talk lots longer and louder before Ray and I believe him.”
– Isaac Asimov, 15 Short Stories

“Take an individual cell out of your body, even a brain cell, and what is it by itself ? Nothing. A little blob of protoplasm with no more capacity for anything human than an amoeba. Less capacity, in fact, since it couldn’t live by itself. But put the cells together and you have something that could invent a spaceship, or write a symphony.”
– Isaac Asimov, 15 Short Stories

“He focused on the other parts of the ship, marveling at the diversity of life. Each item, no matter how small, was sufficient to itself. He forced himself to contemplate this, until the unpleasantness of the thought grated on him and he longed for the normality of home.”
– Isaac Asimov, 15 Short Stories

“It was a terribly unhappy and unnatural thing to be parted from all the rest of the unified organism, to be a life fragment oneself. How could these aliens stand being fragments?”
– Isaac Asimov, 15 Short Stories

“I can’t find myself here, there are too many people.”
– David Z. Hirsch, Didn’t Get Frazzled 

“Listen. Forget about rounds, forget about everything except this: the patient comes first. You do what you need to do, even if it turns out you’d been wrong, or you’d overreacted, or you’d pissed somebody off to get it done — it doesn’t matter. As long as you have the patient’s best interests at heart, no one is going to be that mad at you, okay?” ​I nodded.
– David Z. Hirsch, Didn’t Get Frazzled 

“On my way back up here — and I had a good ten minutes to think while waiting once more for the two local elevators — questions racked my brain: Why had that been so difficult? Why do we have to fight the system to give our patients the care they need, the care that everyone here except me is paid to provide? And if nobody else cares, how long will it be until I break, too?”
– David Z. Hirsch, Didn’t Get Frazzled 

“But it’s not how it should be. It’s not conducive to developing thoughtful doctors. If you put all the emphasis on the cutting and devalue interactions with people, of course the patients will be thought of as no more than a slab of meat.”
– David Z. Hirsch, Didn’t Get Frazzled

“The intake paperwork identified him as Alexander Hamilton, but I had my doubts.”
– David Z. Hirsch, Didn’t Get Frazzled 

“But the one thing the Biblical period contained that the modern era did not was people communicating with God. At least, I used to believe that until I met patient after patient who regaled me with their idiosyncratic scriptures. ​This led me to the obvious question: were the biblical prophets schizophrenic, or were we medicating our modern prophets?”
– David Z. Hirsch, Didn’t Get Frazzled 

“Alex taught us that we are a part of nature, not apart from nature. The ‘separateness’ notion was a dangerous illusion that gave us permission to exploit every aspect of the natural world—animal, plant, mineral—without consequences. We are now facing those consequences: poverty, starvation, and climate change, for example.”
– Irene Pepperberg, Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence–and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process  

“Deb Rivel, a friend and The Alex Foundation board member, put it this way: ‘Alex taught me the meaning of oneness. What I learned from him also supported what I always have known to be true: that there is just one Creation, one Nature, one good, full, complete Idea, made up of individuals of all shapes and designs, all expressing their oneness with one God. We are not different because we look different, but we all reflect the eternal beauty and intelligence of one Creation in our own peculiar way. It’s what makes up the whole—this textured fabric of thought and existence—and knowing Alex has underscored to me how much the same we really are.’”
– Irene Pepperberg, Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence–and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process


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