Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quotes from Murray Leinster's "A Matter of Importance"

This story offers a lot of interesting quotes. I collect them here.

Story uses the word "delinks" where it means"terrorists".


  1. "The importance of a matter is almost entirely a matter of your attitude."
  2. "delinks... They practice adolescent behavior even after they grow up--but they never grow up. It is delinks who put stink-bombs in public places and write threatening letters and give warnings of bombs about to go off--and sometimes set them... Delinks do most of the damaging things that have no sense to them. There is no cop who has not wanted to kill some grinning, half-scared, half-defiant delink who hasn't yet realized that he's destroyed half a million credits' worth of property or crippled somebody for life--for no reason at all."
  3. "Learned books explained why people went delink... Mostly it was that they were madly ambitious to be significant, to matter in some fashion, and didn't have the ability to matter in the only ways they could understand. They wanted to drive themselves to eminence, and frantically snatched at chances to make themselves nuisances because they couldn't wait to be important any other way."
  4. "A superior officer should never do anything useful, so long as a subordinate isn't making a serious mistake."
  5. "Intelligent nonhumans would have to have hands, and with some equivalent of opposable thumbs, if their intelligence was to be of any use to them. They pretty well had to be bipeds, too, and if they weren't warm-blooded they couldn't have the oxygen-supply that highgrade brain cells require."
  6. "Huks are soldiers. Which means that they're after feeling important--after glamour.

    A delink tries to matter in the world he lives in. It's a small world, with only him and his close pals in it. So he struts before his pals. He don't realize that anybody but him and his pals are human.

    A soldier lives in a bigger world he tries to matter in. He's protectin' that world and being admired for it. In old, old days his world was maybe a day's march across. Later it got to be continents... there've got to be enemies to protect a world against, or a soldier isn't important."
  7. On cops vs soldiers: "Soldiers couldn't do what we've got to. They'd fight, to be admired. We can't. It'd spoil our job. We've got to persuade 'em to behave themselves."
  8. "Huks or their ancestors would need to have been flesh-eaters also, for brains to be useful in hunting and therefore for mental activity to be recognized as useful. A vegetarian community can maintain a civilization, but it has to start off on meat."
  9. "They couldn't even tell us to go to hell, because it looked like we didn't care what they said... Characters that make trouble ... do it to feel important. And we'd left them without a thing to tell us that was important enough to mention--unless they told us about the _Cerberus_. We had 'em baffled. They needed to say something, and that was the only thing they could say!"