Saturday, March 1, 2008

Quotes from Eric Frank Russell's "Wasp" (novel, science fiction)

Quote from the novel titled Wasp by Eric Frank RussellI've been postponing the note on my favorite novel for a long time; so may be I'll just do the quotes & a bug at the back of my mind might vanish!

Story is of a single human spy, James Mowry, on an entire alien planet. His job is to bug & irritate the enemy - like a buzzing wasp - so their resources are diverted away from war with humans.

  1. "by scrawling suitable words upon a wall, the right man in the right place at the right time might immobilize an armored division with the aid of nothing more than a piece of chalk."
  2. "We'll send you to a school... By the time they've finished with you, you'll be fully qualified to function as a complete and absolute pain-in-the-neck."
  3. "In every war, no matter how great a government's power, its rule is never absolute. In every war, no matter how allegedly righteous the cause, the effort is never total. No campaign has ever or will ever be fought with the leadership united in favor of it and with the rank and file unitedly behind them.

    Always there is a disgruntled minority that opposes a war for a multitude of reasons such as reluctance to make necessary sacrifices, fear of personal loss or suffering, philosophical and ethical objection to warfare as a method of settling disputes, lack of confidence in the ability of the leadership, resentment at being called upon to play a subordinate role, pessimistic belief that victory is far from certain and defeat very possible, egoistic satisfaction of refusing to run with the herd, psychological opposition to being yelled at on any and every petty pretext, a thousand and one other reasons.
    No political or military dictatorship ever has been one hundred percent successful in identifying and suppressing the malcontents who, typically, conceal themselves behind a veil of silence and bide their time."
  4. Protagonist (James Mowry aka Shir Agavan) is human spy in the alien world; Kaitempi is aliens' local police. Idea is to keep them busy so they won't bother humans.: "he mentally enrolled the whole of this secret opposition in a mythical, dreamed-up organisation called Dirac Angestun Gesept, the Sirian Freedom Party. He then appointed himself the DAG's president, secretary, treasurer and field-director for the planetary district of Jaimec. The fact that the entire membership was unaware of its status and had no hand in the election did not matter a hoot. It was irrelevant.

    Neither did it matter that sooner or later the aggravated Kaitempi would start organizing the collection of members dues in the form of strangled necks, or that some members might be so lacking in enthusiasm for the cause as to resist payment. If some Sirians could be given the full-time job of hunting down and garrotting other Sirians, and if other Sirians could be given the full-time job of dodging or shooting down the garrotters, then a distant and different lifeform would be saved a few unpleasant chores."
  5. "The more persistently a government maintains silence on a given subject of discussion, the more the public talks about it, thinks about it. The longer and more stubborn the silence the guiltier it looks to the talkers and thinkers. In time of war the most morale-lowering question that can be asked is, 'What are they hiding from us now?'"
  6. "Nobody questions the activities of a man who clambers over roofs or disappears down grids in the street providing he does it openly and with quiet confidence."
  7. "Authority is maintained and wars are fought by propaganda, a cover word for cynical perversion of the facts."
  8. First 2 of the 5 steps to foment trouble: "'First of all you must establish the existence of an internal opposition. Doesn't matter whether it is real or imaginary so long as the enemy becomes convinced of its actuality.'
    'Secondly, you must create fear of that opposition and provoke the enemy into striking back at it as best he can.'"
Related: All stories of Eric Frank Russell.