Top 100

Top 500 Neal Stephenson Quotes (2024 Update)
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Neal Stephenson Quote: “In most of the world, Magellan is thought of as the first guy who went around the world. Here, everyone knows he only made it as far as Mactan Island, where he was killed by Filipinos.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Their openness would probably be career suicide in the atmosphere of Byzantine court-eunuch intrigue that is public life in the United States today.”
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: “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: “I guessed that by pretending to be the leader I could make a few things go my way, at least for a little while, until they figured out I was faking it.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Spiders can tell from the vibrations what sort of insect they have caught, and home in on it. There is a reason why the webs are radial, and the spider plants itself at the convergence of the radii. The strands are an extension of its nervous system. Information propagates down the gossamer and into the spider, where it is processed by some kind of internal Turing machine.”
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: “It would be an idyllic tropical paradise if not for the malaria, the insects, the constant diarrhea and resulting hemorrhoids, and the fact that the people are dirty and smell bad and eat each other and use human heads for decoration.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “The imperative to develop new technologies and implement them on a heroic scale no longer seems like the childish preoccupation of a few nerds with slide rulers – It’s the only way for the human race to escape from its current predicaments – Too bad we’ve forgotten how to do it.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Much depended on how rapidly it would prove feasible to mass-produce inflatable structures; these made it possible to create much more spacious volumes by housing people in what amounted to thick-skinned balloons. But making balloons that could withstand atmospheric pressure indefinitely while also standing up to solar radiation, thermal swings, and micrometeoroids was no small project.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “That sounds like bulshytt!”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “She heaved two or three times, as if sobbing, and suddenly sneezed – not a polite ‘atchoo’ but a thermonuclear explosion so powerful that she staggered in place, nearly losing her balance, and some loitering Hispanic men on the other side of the boulevard looked up alertly, ready for action.”
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: “Moira wished she spoke better Russian so that she could talk to Tekla about her ideas regarding appearance and grooming. The facial scars put her well outside the norms of feminine beauty and she had doubled down by electing to keep the buzz cut. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, she was, to put it bluntly, kind of hot. Moira hated to say it. But hotness was a part of the human condition and it was pointless to pretend that it did not exist.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Far to the east, just above the horizon, was an especially big dot of light, like the clasp on a necklace. That would be the colossal structure of the Eye, currently stationed above the Atlantic.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Wealth that is stored up in gold is dead. It rots and stinks. True wealth is made every day by men getting up out of bed and going to work.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Maybe this was all down to some supernatural effect, such as grace, that flowed through people’s lives even if they didn’t understand why.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “And she went on in this vein for a minute or two; she could talk about alloys the way some girls talked about shoes.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “If a zombie attack had actually materialized, then they might have had a clue as to how to respond. But a stupendous machine-gun free-for-all in the apartment above them was not an eventuality that they had ever thought of and so it froze them for a time.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Magical?” “Non.” “Magnificent?” “Don’t be absurd.” “Less bleak than anything else we have seen?” “Now truly you are speaking French,” the ambassador said approvingly.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Earth looked as if some god had attacked it with a welder’s torch, slashing away at it and leaving thin trails of incandescence.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “The little boy in him was crestfallen that he wasn’t going on the adventure. Then he reminded himself that he was already part of the biggest adventure ever, and that, so far, it had been altogether miserable.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “People are my books,” Ty said. “But I did bring a couple, in case the people all go to sleep.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “So now, when the people of Earth looked up into the night sky at the place where they ought to have seen the moon, they saw instead this slowly tumbling constellation of white boulders.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “I doubt you even know what duty is,” she retorted. A risky response – such flippancy of the tongue – and it might provoke them, but showing fear would invite a response. Half of combat is causing your opponent to think you are stronger than you are, Gansukh had told her. Scarface.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “To Randy the party is like any other: he shakes hands with a few people, forgets their names, finds a place to sit down, and enjoys the wine and the food in blissful solitude.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Commemorating the Holocaust is not, not not not not not, the same thing as fighting to prevent future holocausts. Most of the commemorationists are just whiners. They think that if everyone feels bad about past holocausts, human nature will magically transform, and no one will want to commit genocide in the future.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “The temptation to cocoon in a microhotel pod on the slab, to eat hot noodles from a cup and watch videos, was strong.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Shaftoe and Bischoff are trudging through the dark Swedish woods like a pair of lost souls trying to find the side entrance to Limbo.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Conflict, acted out openly and publicly, was a male mode of social interaction – the foundation for patriarchal society which brought with it the usual litany of dreadful things. Regardless, Randy decided to get patriarchal with Dr. G. E. B. Kivistik.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “They have fled from the true America, the America of atomic bombs, scalpings, hip-hop, chaos theory, cement overshoes, snake handlers, spree killers, space walks, buffalo jumps, drive-bys, cruise missiles; Sherman’s March, gridlock, motorcycle gangs, and bungee jumping.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “The cosmos seems oblivious to time. It only matters to us. Consciousness is time-constituting. We build time up out of instantaneous impressions that flow in through our sensory organs at each moment. Then they recede into the past. What is this thing we call the past? It is a system of records encoded in our nerve tissue – records that tell a consistent story.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “It had a quaint twentieth-century feel and made Nell oddly nostalgic for the days when dangerousness was a function of mass and bulk. The passives of that era were so fun to watch, with their big, stupid cars and big, stupid guns and big, stupid people.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “I know,” Julia said. “It is so difficult rebuilding an intelligence community from scratch. One must make do with the materials at hand. Their youth, their inexperience, and the openness they’ve come to expect from living their whole lives on the Internet – all are inimical to doing things as they ought to be done. That is why we need more experienced hands – people who have learned the right instincts.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Just because the Panjandrums know how to run cheeseburg stands, they think they know how to run a Convox.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Occasionally a red taxi or Mercedes-Benz would squeeze by along the iron fence and burst free, the driver holding down the horn button so furiously that he might detonate the air bag.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “An impressionistic map of the South China Sea has been dashed across these covers by molecularly reconstructed Ming Dynasty calligraphers using brushes of combed unicorn mane dipped into ink made of grinding down charcoal slabs fashioned by blind stylite monks from hand-charred fragments of the True Cross.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “The two forms became intermingled as they struggled and writhed at the brink; then, with the slowness of a great tree that has been cut through at the root, they toppled into the Chasm and disappeared.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “They wanted to carry her, but she jumped to the stones of the plaza and strode away from the building, toward her ranks, which parted to make way for her. The streets of Pudong were filled with hungry and terrified refugees, and through them, in simple peasant clothes streaked with the blood of herself and of others, broken shackles dangling from her wrists, followed by her generals and ministers, walked the barbarian Princess with her book and her sword.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “The biggest single-celled organisms in the world. They live beneath the Antarctic ice. And as they grow, they take grains of sand from their environment and glue them together to form hard outer skins.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “What destroys it? Is it the Inquisition? Those idiot priests go chasing after innocent women, as if real witches would let themselves be caught and tortured and killed! Almost by definition, anyone who is caught and tortured, and doesn’t free themselves by magic, has no magic powers.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Edzard screamed at the men on the starboard side, threatening to throw them overboard if they didn’t match the pace of the port team.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “This may not however elevate your stature during the years you have remaining; for fame’s a weed, but repute is a slow-growing oak, and all we can do during our lifetimes is hop around like squirrels and plant acorns.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “It is what you don’t expect... that most needs looking for.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Most of the people around the entrance were, of course, bellhops and taxi drivers. Guests went in and out. Some were dressed in business suits, others in casual tourist attire. He did not see any commandos in tracksuits.”
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: “His rule of thumb, after a walk, is to drink water until he begins to urinate again. Then he can consider other activities.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “He has a kind of exaggerated politeness that is kind of like a military man.”
Neal Stephenson Quote: “Fearless for oneself, fear for others – that must be what it means to be a hero.”
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