Roger Zelazny quotes:

  • Strygalldwir is my name. Conjure with it and I will eat your heart and liver." "Conjure with it? I can't even pronounce it, and my cirrhosis would give you indigestion.

  • To paraphrase Oedipus, Hamlet, Lear, and all those guys, I wish I had known this some time ago.

  • Nick swore he'd die with this boots on, on some exotic safari, but he found his Kilimanjaro in a hospital on Earth, where they'd cured everything that was bothering him, except for the galloping pneumonia he'd picked up in the hospital. That had been, roughly, two hundred and fifty years ago. I'd been a pallbearer.

  • Thus did I bear Sir Lancelot de Lac to the Keep of Ganleon, whom I trusted like a brother. That is to say, not at all.

  • To paraphrase Oedipus, Hamlet, Lear, and all those guys, "I wish I had known this some time ago.

  • Two days like icebergs bleak, blank, half-melting, all frigid, mainly out of sight, and definitely a threat to peace of mind drifted by and were good to put behind.

  • Once a Buddha, always a Buddha, Sam. Dust off some of your old parables. You have about fifteen minutes.' Sam held out his hand. "Give me some tobacco and a paper.

  • When you are about to die, a wombat is better than no company at all.

  • His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god, but then he never claimed not to be a god.

  • Dwelling beside a body of water is tonic for the weary psyche. Sea smells, sea birds, seawrack, sands - alternately cool, warm, moist and dry - a taste of brine and the presence of the rocking, slopping bluegraygreen spit-flecked waters, has the effect of rinsing the emotions, bathing the outlook, bleaching the conscience.

  • The enemy of the moment is not as important as our own inner weakness. If this is not mended we are already defeated, though no foreign conqueror stands within our walls.

  • I know, too, that death is the only god who comes when you call.

  • You are a fool to speak of last great battles ... for the last great battle is always the next one.

  • It is no shame to lose to me, mortal. Even among mythical creatures there are very few who can give a unicorn a good game.

  • There's no such thing as civilization. The word just means the art of living in cities.

  • Why could you not have left me as I was, in the sea of being?""Because the world has need of your humility, your piety, your great teaching and your Machiavellian scheming.

  • There are none of you, good doctors, could cope with my family anyway.

  • Good evening, Lord Corwin,' said the lean, cadaverous figure who rested against a storage rack, smoking his pipe, grinning around it. Good evening, Roger. How are things in the nether world?' A rat, a bat, a spider. Nothing much else astir. Peaceful.' You enjoy this duty?' He nodded. I am writing a philosophical romance shot through with elements of horror and morbidity. I work on those parts down here.

  • Ill met by moonlight,' said Deirdre.'You could still be tied to a stake,' said Random, and she did not reply.

  • It is a pain in the ass waiting around for someone to try to kill you.

  • No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words.

  • Don't wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.

  • I have decided, it is fruitless. For I am no longer sure of anything concerning my existance. A philosopher is a dead poet and a dying theologian.

  • To waste! You are unknown and unwanted, save by me. This, because you are fairly adept at the various embalming arts and you occasionally compose a clever epitaph.

  • I'm a lost soul. We do wail.

  • While I had often said that I wanted to die in bed, what I really meant was that in my old age I wanted to be stepped on by an elephant while making love.

  • An army, great in space, may offer opposition in a brief span of time. One man, brief in space, must spread his opposition across a period of many years if he is to have a chance of succeeding.

  • When inspiration is silent reason tires quickly.

  • I have a better idea,' said she. 'Know that under a mortal name am I mistress of the Palace of Kama in Khaipur.''The Fornicatorium, madam?'She frowned. 'As such is it often known to the vulgar, and do not call me 'madam' in the same breath-- it smacks of ancient jest. It is a place of rest, pleasure, holiness and much of my revenue.

  • Life is full of doors that don't open when you knock, equally spaced amid those that open when don't want them to.

  • Siddhartha considered the ways of the demon, and in that moment he struck.

  • Once past the comfort zone in either direction, humans soon lost the ability to discriminate bad from worse.

  • You are a fool to speak of last great battles, Sam, for the last great battle is always the next one.

  • I watched the spinning stars, grateful, sad and proud, as only a man who has outlived his destiny and realizes he might yet forge himself another, can be.

  • I'm very gullible when it comes to my own words. I believe everything I say, though I know I'm a liar.

  • One of my standard - and fairly true - responses to the question as to how story ideas come to me is that story ideas only come to me for short stories. With longer fiction, it is a character (or characters) coming to visit, and I am then obliged to collaborate with him/her/it/them in creating the story.

  • The power to hurt ... has evolved in a direct relationship to technological advancement.

  • There's really nothing quite like someone's wanting you dead to make you want to go on living.

  • ... "fire" does not matter, "earth" and "air" and "water" do not matter. "I" do not matter. No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words. The more words he remembers, the cleverer do his fellows esteem him. He looks upon the great transformations of the world, but he does not see them as they were seen when man looked upon reality for the first time. Their names come to his lips and he smiles as he tastes them, thinking he knows them in the naming.

  • ...even a mirror will not show you yourself, if you do not wish to see.

  • A bizarrerie of fires, cunabulum of light, it moved with a deft, almost dainty deliberation, phasing into and out of existence like a storm-shot piece of evening; or perhaps the darkness between the flares was more akin to its truest nature swirl of black ashes assembled in prancing cadence to the lowing note of desert wind down the arroyo behind buildings as empty yet filled as the pages of unread books or stillnesses between the notes of a song.

  • A powerful flight of the imagination . . . an entirely enjoyable reading experience, wrought by a pair of writers noted for excellence.

  • After a while the business end of writing takes too much of the writing time. Better to pay someone ten percent and find that you're still more than ten percent ahead in the end. Which is true. My present agent says that he always feels that a good agent during the course of a year should earn back for his client at least the ten percent he takes by way of commission, so the client's really nothing out. And what he should ideally do is make him more money than the ten percent.

  • Any man would be forsworn to gain a kingdom.

  • At the end of the season of sorrows comes the time of rejoicing. Spring, like a well-oiled clock, noiselessly indicates this time.

  • Be warned, therefore, that one does not go to hell to light a cigarette.

  • Between the black of yesterday and the white of tomorrow is the great gray of today.

  • Beware the meek ... for we shall attempt to inherit the Earth.

  • Death and Light are everywhere, always, and they begin, end, strive, attend, into and upon the Dream of the Nameless that is the world, burning words within Samsara, perhaps to create a thing of beauty.

  • Death is mighty, and is no one's friend.

  • Death is the only limit to the road you travel.

  • Do you work for the government, any government?" "I pay taxes, which means I work for the government, part of the time. Yes.

  • Even the most heartening of philosophical vistas is no match for, say, a toothache, if it happens to be your own.

  • Go and copulate with yon purple lizard.

  • Good-bye and hello, as always.

  • I don't know that I ever wanted greatness, on its own. It seems rather like wanting to be an engineer, rather than wanting to design something--or wanting to be a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip.

  • I enjoy slaughtering beasts, and I think of my relatives constantly.

  • I fail to see what difference it makes whether it be supernatural or not--so long as it is malefic, possesses great powers and life span and has the ability to change its shape at will.

  • I guess you have to be a little arrogant to be a writer. I decided early on that just because a lot of other writers were bothered by getting bad reviews didn't really mean that the things were particularly important. By the same token, the good ones didn't mean all that much either. So I just forget about reviews and I wrote what I wanted.

  • I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.

  • I never plan ahead, with the exception of the Amber books which had to proceed in sequence. But I don't really like to know what I'm going to be working on a year in advance. So I just sign blank contracts for books and whatever strikes me as a good idea is what I write about.

  • I saw my earlier selves as different people, acquaintances I had outgrown. I wondered how I could ever have been some of them.

  • I see myself as a novelist, period. I mean, the material I work with is what is classified as science fiction and fantasy, and I really don't think about these things when I'm writing. I'm just thinking about telling a story and developing my characters.

  • I tried a very fancy attack I'd learned in France, which involved a beat, a feint in quarte, a feint in sixte, and a lunge veering off into an attack on his wrist. I nicked him, and the blood flowed.

  • I try to sit down at the typewriter four times a day, even if it's only five minutes, and write three sentences.

  • I walked among Shadows, and found a race of furry creatures, dark and clawed and fanged, reasonably manlike, and about as intelligent as a freshman in the high school of your choice-sorry, kids, but what I mean is they were loyal, devoted, honest, and too easily screwed by bastards like me and my brother. I felt like the dee-jay of your choice.

  • I worked out a book which I thought was just straight science fiction -- with everything pretty much explained, and suddenly I got an idea which I thought was kind of neat for working in a mythological angle. I'm really struggling with myself. It would probably be a better book if I include it, but on the other hand I don't always like to keep reverting to it. I think what I'm going to do is vary my output, do some straight science fiction and some straight fantasy that doesn't involve mythology, and composites.

  • I would never rest until I held vengeance and the throne within my hand, and good night sweet prince to anybody who stood between me and these things.

  • If a building is falling on you, you don't concern yourself with the horn of an approaching car. You deal with the most immediate peril first. That's survival.

  • If I get enough letters saying you never explained this or that, I suppose I'll have to write another book.

  • If the liberal arts do nothing else they provide engaging metaphors for the thinking they displace.

  • If you ever loved anything in your life, try to remember it. If you ever betrayed anything, pretend for a moment that you have been forgiven. If you ever feared anything, pretend for an instant that those days are gone and will never return. Buy the lie and hold to it for as long as you can. Press your familiar, whatever its name, to your breast and stroke it till it purrs.

  • In the mirrors of the many judgments, my hands are the color of blood. I sometimes fancy myself an evil which exists to oppose other evils; and on that great Day of which the prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe, on the day the world is utterly cleansed of evil, then I too will go down into darkness, swallowing curses. Until then, I will not wash my hands nor let them hang useless.

  • It is anticipation and recollection that fill the heart"?never the sensation of the moment.

  • It would be nice if there were some one thing constant and unchanging in the universe. If there is such a thing, then it is a thing which would have to be stronger than love, and it is a thing which I do not know.

  • Life is full of doors that don't open when you knock, equally spaced amid those that open when you don't want them to.

  • Love is a negative form of hatred.

  • My favorite form is the short story. From an aesthetics stand point you really have to pare down to the bone. You can't write a throw-away scene.

  • My mind spun for a second before it drifted, and in that second I knew that of all pleasures a drink of cold water when you are thirsty, liquor when you are not, sex, a cigarette after many days without one there is none of them can compare with sleep. Sleep is best....

  • Nobody steals books but your friends.

  • Nothing we did in those days has caused a change." "Because of what we did, things remained as they were, rather than getting worse," I told him.

  • Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don't know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place. Trust your demon.

  • Of all the things a man may do, sleep probably contributes most to keeping him sane. It puts brackets about each day. If you do something foolish or painful today, you get irritated if somebody mentions it, today. If it happened yesterday, though, you can nod or chuckle, as the case may be. You've crossed through nothingness or dream to another island in Time.

  • Of course it does not apply to me. I am the soul of honor, kindness, mercy and goodness. Trust me in all things.

  • Once a Buddha, always a Buddha.

  • Sleep is perhaps the only among life's great pleasures which need not be of short duration.

  • That's life: trust and you're betrayed; don't trust and you betray yourself.

  • The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.

  • The day of battle dawned pink as the fresh-bitten thigh of a maiden.

  • The dead are too much with us.

  • The death of an illusion tends to disconcert.

  • The four points of the compass be logic, knowledge, wisdom and the unknown. Some do bow in that final direction. Others advance upon it. To bow before the one is to lose sight of the three. I may submit to the unknown, but never to the unknowable. The man who bows in that final direction is either a saint or a fool. I have no use for either.

  • The function of criticism should not be confused with the function of reform.

  • The most difficult thing about Time, I have learned, is doing it.

  • The stars blazed like the love of God, cold and distant.

  • The universe did not invent justice. Man did. Unfortunately, man must reside in the universe.

  • Then you must reconcile yourself to the fact that something is always hurt by any change. If you do this, you will not be hurt yourself.

  • There are stars, stars, scattered stars, blackness all between. They ripple and fold and bend, and they rush toward him, rush by him. Their colors are blazing and pure as angels' eyes.

  • Time passed slowly, like and old man climbing a hill.

  • Tonight I will suck the marrow from your bones!" it said. "I will dry them and work them most cunningly into instruments of music! Whenever I play upon them, your spirit will writhe in bodiless agony!" "You burn prettily," I said.

  • When your bow is broken and your last arrow spent, then shoot, shoot with your whole heart.

  • You who are dead ... tonight you will disport yourselves for my pleasure. Food and wine will pass between your dead lips, though you will not taste it. Your dead stomachs will hold it within you, while your dead feet take the measure of a dance. Your dead mouths will speak words that will have no meaning to you, and you will embrace one another without pleasure. You will sing for me if I wish it. You will lie down again when I will it.... Let the revelry begin.