The Songs Of Distant Earth

Apart from this common Lassan tendency to procrastinate, Kumar’s chief defects were an adventurous nature and a fondness for sometimes risky practical jokes. This,

Death focuses the mind on the things that really matter: why are we here, and what should we do?

Don’t believe anything I’ve told you—merely because I said it.

harsh verdict of the great philosopher Lucretius: all religions were fundamentally immoral, because the superstitions they peddled wrought more evil than good.

He felt like a young student again, confronted with all the art and knowledge of mankind. The experience was both exhilarating and depressing; a whole universe lay at his fingertips, but the fraction of it he could explore in an entire lifetime was so negligible that he was sometimes overwhelmed with despair.

Here the trees surrounded them with an invisible, anechoic blanket, so that every word seemed sucked into silence the moment it was uttered.

He’s a creature of today—not haunted by the past or fearful of the future!

...if one had to think about every footstep one took, ordinary walking would be impossible.

Moses Kaldor had always loved mountains; they made him feel nearer to the God whose nonexistence he still sometimes resented.


Now I can rejoice that I knew you, rather than mourn because I lost you.

Problems seldom go away if they’re ignored.

Sometimes a decision has to be made by a single individual, who has the authority to enforce it. That’s why you need a captain. You can’t run a ship by a committee—at least not all the time.

Soon after her beloved young brother was killed, she asked me, “What is the purpose of grief? Does it serve any biological function?

So the problem of Evil never really existed. To expect the universe to be benevolent was like imagining one could always win at a game of pure chance.

The greatest danger is panic

The Lassans were insatiably inquisitive, and the concept of privacy was almost unknown to them. A Please Do Not Disturb sign was often regarded as a personal challenge, which led to interesting complications...

There’s an ancient philosophical joke that’s much subtler than it seems. Question: Why is the Universe here? Answer: Where else would it be?

The sign of its passing was written there upon the sky as if a giant hand had drawn a piece of chalk across the blue dome of heaven. Even as they watched, the gleaming vapor trail began to fray at the edges, breaking up into wisps of cloud, until it seemed that a bridge of snow had been thrown from horizon to horizon.

This was the fundamental problem with rockets—and no one had ever discovered any alternative for deep-space propulsion. It was just as difficult to lose speed as to acquire it, and carrying the necessary propellant for deceleration did not merely double the difficulty of a mission; it squared it.