Top 100

Top 500 Neal Stephenson Quotes (2024 Update)
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Neal Stephenson Quote: “The roads shed lanes, then insensibly narrowed, grew rougher and more tortuous, until without having noticed any sudden transitions we found ourselves driving on endless one-lane tracks and stopping to avoid flocks of livestock so tough and emaciated they looked like jerky on the hoof.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Judge Fang got to eat this way only when someone really important was trying to taint him, and though he had never knowingly allowed his judicial judgment to be swayed, he did enjoy the chow.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Now there are many Shaftoes – mostly in Tennessee – but the Shaftoe family tree still fits on a cross-stitch sampler.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “This made him a grad student, and grad students existed not to learn things but to relieve the tenured faculty members of tiresome burdens such as educating people and doing research.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Research on the long-term effects of spaceflight suggested that women were less susceptible to radiation damage than men. They were smaller on average, requiring less space, less food, less air. And sociological studies pointed to the idea that they did better when crammed together in tight spaces for long periods of time. This.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “She had grown tired of the pouffy floating hair of zero gravity and, after a few weeks of clamping it down with baseball caps, had figured out how to make this shorter cut work for her. The haircut had spawned terabytes of Internet commentary from men, and a few women, who apparently had nothing else to do with their time.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Yur heaved a sigh, then continued in a more moderate tone: “Never mind. I see it now. It’s some kind of Purpose thing. Above my pay grade. You should have just told me.” He drew himself up and saluted. “What are my orders, sir?”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “A long fall. Dinah had ceased to even think in terms of up and down. The concept of falling had become meaningless to her.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “That quieted her down a little bit. But after a while, she said: “Do you need transportation? Tools? Stuff?” “Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bombs,” I said. “We have a protractor.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Y’know, watching government regulators trying to keep up with the world is my favorite sport.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “They have parallel-parked their bimbo boxes in identical computer-designed Burbclave street patterns and secreted themselves in symmetrical sheetrock shitholes with vinyl floors and ill-fitting woodwork and no sidewalks, vast house farms out in the loglo wilderness, a culture medium for a medium culture.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Randy grinds his teeth for about a mile, and then says, “If there is any generalization at all that you can draw about how men think versus how women think, I believe it is that men can narrow themselves down to this incredibly narrow laser-beam focus on one tiny little subject and think about nothing else.” “Whereas women can’t?” “I suppose women can. They rarely seem to want to. What I’m characterizing here, as the female approach, is essentially saner and healthier.” “Hmmmm.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Our brains are flies, bats, and worms that clumped together for mutual advantage. These parts of our brains are talking to each other all the time. Translating what they perceive, moment to moment, into the shared language of geometry. That’s what a brain is. That’s what it is to be conscious.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “His real job – the job that the Owners paid him for – was to be an observer of the human condition as it was so richly displayed from day to day within these walls.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Ty got the feeling, from cues in the Teklan’s physique and general style of movement, that he was some manner of Snake Eater.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Mammon led them on, Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell From heav’n, for ev’n in heav’n his looks and thoughts Were always downward bent, admiring more The riches of Heav’ns pavement, trod’n Gold, Then aught divine or holy else enjoy’d In vision beatific; by him first Men also, and by his suggestion taught, Ransack’d the Center, and with impious hands Rifl’d the bowels of thir mother Earth For Treasures better hid. – MILTON, Paradise Lost.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “The ineffable talent for finding patterns in chaos cannot do its thing unless he immerses himself in the chaos first.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Felt-tip markers, always a scarce resource even on Earth, became objects of great value as people used them to mark directions on the walls of hamster tubes and habitat modules.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “He meant rather that the evolution of our minds from bits of inanimate matter was more beautiful and more extraordinary than any of the miracles cataloged down through the ages by the religions of our world. And so he had an instinctive skepticism of any system of thought, religious or theorical, that pretended to encompass that miracle, and in so doing sought to draw limits around it.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “All the people saying mean things about me on the Internet are gonna be dead in four hundred and thirty-three days,” she said, deadpan.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “No linear indexing system is adequate to express the multi-dimensionality of knowledge,” Dr. Waterhouse reminds him.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Einstein followed her as if his eyes were connected to her butt cheeks with fishhooks.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Find it on the map, you can always get to it. Try to follow someone’s half-assed directions, and once you lose the trail, you’re sunk.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “We can’t run this experiment a thousand times to see the range of different outcomes. We can only run it once. The human mind has trouble with situations like that. We see patterns where they don’t exist, we find meaning in randomness.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “It’s – my God – like you stretched a tarp across a stadium to turn it into a giant tom-tom and crashed a 747 into it.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Crying loudly is childish, in that it reflects a belief, on the cryer’s part, that someone is around to hear the noise, and come a-running to make it all better. Crying in absolute silence, as Daniel does this morning, is the mark of the mature sufferer who no longer nurses, nor is nursed by, any such comfortable delusions.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “He had always admired his colleagues in the life and earth sciences who could hit the road on short notice with a fully stocked backpack and live rugged adventuresome lives in exotic locales. But he had admired them from a distance.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “It’s when a society plunders its ability to look over the horizon and into the future in order to get short-term gain – sometimes illusory gain – that it begins a long slide nearly impossible to reverse.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “It was a smart cane. When he grabbed the handlebars it would help him stand up. It would then steady his locomotion even on the roughest terrain, adding its six legs to his two.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “The cathedral as a whole is awesome and stirring in spite, and possibly because, of the fact that we have no idea who built it. When we walk through it, we are communing not with individual stone carvers but with an entire culture.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “The Police Minister’s toilet chided him.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “No, rebellion is what the Duke of Monmouth did, it is a petty disturbance, an aberration, predestined to fail. Revolution is like the wheeling of stars round the pole. It is driven by unseen powers, it is inexorable, it moves all things at once, and men of discrimination may understand it, predict it, benefit from it.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “No surprises” is the motto of the franchise ghetto, its Good Housekeeping seal, subliminally blazoned on every sign and logo that make up the curves and grids of light that outline the Basin. The people of America, who live in the world’s most surprising and terrible country, take comfort in that motto.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “He was tempted to park the SUV illegally, since, according to his calculations, the authorities were not likely to catch up with him and demand payment of the parking ticket before the end of the world, but it seemed that most of the people of Seattle were still obeying the rules and so he did likewise.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Generally you pick the unoccupied workstation that’s closest to the door. That way, whoever came in earliest sits closest, whoever came in latest is way in the back, for the rest of the day it’s obvious at a glance who’s on the ball in this office and who is – as they whisper to each other in the bathrooms – having problems.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “We’re like meridians, all beginning and ending in the same place. We spread out from the beginning and go our separate ways, over seas and mountains and islands and deserts, each telling our own story, as different as they could possibly be. But in the end we all converge and our ends are as much the same as our beginnings.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “But then, Cap’n Crunch in a flake form would be suicidal madness; it would last about as long, when immersed in milk, as snowflakes sifting down into a deep fryer. No, the cereal engineers at General Mills had to find a shape that would minimize surface area, and, as some sort of compromise between the sphere that is dictated by Euclidean geometry and whatever sunken treasure related shapes that the cereal aestheticians were probably clamoring for, they came up with this hard -to-pin-down striated pillow formation.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “And yet people went on thinking this way, kind of in the way that someone who has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness will go on getting up and going to work every morning, not so much out of habit as because the knowledge of impending doom makes them wish to assert an identity.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Natural Philosophy cannot advance without attacking theories that are old, and beating back new ones that are wrong, neither of which may be accomplished without doing some injury to their professors.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “He has a kind of exaggerated politeness that is kind of like a military man.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “I was going to kill that doctor when he shoved his finger up my ass but then I realized the possibilities of that substance.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “People who claim they are motivated by the Purpose end up behaving differently – and generally better – than people who serve other masters.” “So it is like believing in God.” “Maybe yes. But without the theology, the scripture, the pigheaded certainty.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Okay, so divers have mastered a large body of occult knowledge. That explains their general resemblance to hackers, albeit physically fit hackers.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “One of the funny things about it, in retrospect, was its slowness, the lack of any dramatic Moment When It Had Happened. It was a little bit like the world’s adoption of the Internet, which had started with a few nerds and within decades become so ubiquitous that no person under thirty could really grasp what life had been like before you could Google everything.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Anyone who made it through the screening and the training required to become an Arkie” – which doesn’t include you, Julia – “will understand exactly what we are trying to do from an orbital mechanics standpoint.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “The Barkers are gratuitously radical, however – for example, they believe that Government and Church should have naught to do with each other, and that all slaves in the world should be set free.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “And once the lens was finally exposed, pure geometric equation made real, so powerful and vulnerable at once, Hiro could only think it was like nuzzling through skirts and lingerie and out labia and inner labia... It made him feel naked and weak and brave.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Dr. Turing of Cambridge says that the soul is an illusion and that all that defines us as human beings can be reduced to a series of mechanical operations.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “If the gathering had included more veterans of that elongated state of low-intensity warfare known as Society, this observation would have been keenly made by those soi-disant sentries who stood upon the battlements, keeping vigil against bounders who would struggle their way up the vast glacis separating wage slaves from Equity Participants.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “You work harder because everything is on the line. Your name, your honor, your family, your life. Those burger flippers might have a better life expectancy – but what kind of life is it anyway, you have to ask yourself.”
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