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Robert A. Heinlein Quotes

40 of the best book quotes from Robert A. Heinlein
  1. #1
    “The woman’s last speech had contained symbols new to him and those which were not new had been arranged in fashions not easily understood. But he was happy that the flavor had been suitable for communication between water brothers—although touched with something disturbing and terrifyingly pleasant.”
  2. #2
    ″‘Yes, Jubal. You—’ Smith stopped, looked embarrassed. ‘I again have not words. I will read and read and read, until I find words. Then I will teach my brother.‘”
  3. #3
    “It was not possible to separate in the Martian tongue the human concepts: ‘religion,’ ‘philosophy,’ and ‘science’—and, since Mike thought in Martian, it was not possible for him to tell them apart.”
  4. #4
    “On Mars there is never anything to laugh at. All the things that are funny to us humans either cannot happen on Mars or are not permitted to happen—sweetheart, what you call ‘freedom’ doesn’t exist on Mars; everything is planned by the Old Ones.”
  5. #5
    “You need to think in Martian to grok the word ‘grok.‘”
  6. #6
    “The only religious opinion I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together.”
  7. #7
    “A person must start with a willingness to learn and follow it with long, hard study. I grok that is salutary.”
  8. #8
    “Jill, of all the nonsense that twists the world, the concept of ‘altruism’ is the worst. People do what they want to, every time.”
  9. #9
    “I never spoke more plainly in my life. Try believing the evidence instead of insisting that the cameras must be at fault because what they saw was not what you expected.”
  10. #10
    “And now (he felt sure) Mike was about to be treated as a sovereign by those nabobs—with the world watching. Let ‘em try to roust the boy around after this!”
  1. #11
    “Democracy is a poor system; the only thing that can be said for it is that it’s eight times as good as any other method. Its worst fault is that its leaders reflect their constituents— low level, but what can you expect?”
  2. #12
    “I have learned two ways to tie my shoes. One way is only good for lying down. The other way is good for walking.”
  3. #13
    “A prude thinks that his own rules of propriety are natural laws.”
  4. #14
    “The truth can’t be stated in English any more than Beethoven’s Fifth can be.”
  5. #15
    “There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.”
  6. #16
    “Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.”
  7. #17
    ″‘Peace’ is a condition in which no civilian pays any attention to military casualties which do not achieve page-one, lead-story prominence-unless that civilian is a close relative of one of the casualties. But, if there ever was a time in history when ‘peace’ meant that there was no fighting going on, I have been unable to find out about it.”
  8. #18
    “War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose.”
  9. #19
    “I told you that ‘juvenile delinquent’ is a contradiction in terms. ‘Delinquent’ means ‘failing in duty.’ But duty is an adult virtue—indeed a juvenile becomes an adult when, and only when, he acquires a knowledge of duty and embraces it as dearer than the self-love he was born with. There never was, there cannot be a ‘juvenile delinquent.’ But for every juvenile criminal there are always one or more adult delinquents—people of mature years who either do not know their duty, or who, knowing it, fail.”
  10. #20
    “When you come right to it, it is easier to die than it is to use your head.”
  1. #21
    “I always get the shakes before a drop. I’ve had the injections, of course, and hypnotic preparation, and it stands to reason that I can’t really be afraid. The ship’s psychiatrist has checked my brain waves and asked me silly questions while I was asleep and he tells me that it isn’t fear, it isn’t anything important — it’s just like the trembling of an eager race horse in the starting gate. I couldn’t say about that; I’ve never been a race horse. But the fact is: I’m scared silly, every time.”
  2. #22
    “That old saw about ‘to understand all is to forgive all’ is a lot of tripe. Some things, the more you understand the more you loathe them.”
  3. #23
    “Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms.”
  4. #24
    “The purpose of war is to support your government’s decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him...but to make him do what you want him to do. Not killing...but controlled and purposeful violence. But it’s not your business or mine to decide the purpose of the control. It’s never a soldier’s business to decide when or where or how—or why—he fights; that belongs to the statesmen and the generals. The statesmen decide why and how much; the generals take it from there and tell us where and when and how. We supply the violence; other people—‘older and wiser heads,’ as they say—supply the control. Which is as it should be.”
  5. #25
    “To permit irresponsible authority is to sow disaster.”
  6. #26
    “Basic truths cannot change and once a man of insight expresses one of them it is never necessary, no matter how much the world changes, to reformulate them. This is immutable, true everywhere, throughout all time, for all men and all nations.”
  7. #27
    “The third ‘right’?—the ‘pursuit of happiness’? It is indeed unalienable but it is not a right; it is simply a universal condition which tyrants cannot take away nor patriots restore. Cast me into a dungeon, burn me at the stake, crown me king of kings, I can ‘pursue happiness’ as long as my brain lives—but neither gods nor saints, wise men nor subtle drugs, can ensure that I will catch it.”
  8. #28
    “He sighed. ‘Another year, another class — and for me another failure. One can lead a child to knowledge but one cannot make him think.‘”
  9. #29
    ″‘You! I’ve just awarded you the prize for the hundred-meter dash. Does it make you happy? […] No dodging, please. You have the prize — here, I’ll write it out: ‘Grand prize for the championship, one hundred-meter sprint.‘” He had actually come back to my seat and pinned it on my chest. ‘There! Are you happy? You value it — or don’t you?’ Mr. Dubois had looked surprised. ‘It doesn’t make you happy?’
    ‘You know darn well I placed fourth!’
    ‘Exactly! The prize for first place is worthless to you . . . because you haven’t earned it. But you enjoy a modest satisfaction in placing fourth; you earned it.‘”
  10. #30
    ″‘You. What is the moral difference, if any, between the soldier and the civilian?’
    ‘The difference, I said carefully, ‘lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not.‘”
  1. #31
    “The best things in life are beyond money; their price is agony and sweat and devotion . . . and the price demanded for the most precious of all things in life is life itself — ultimate cost for perfect value.”
  2. #32
    “I made a very important discovery at Camp Currie. Happiness consists in getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more. All the wealthy, unhappy people you’ve ever met take sleeping pills; Mobile Infantrymen don’t need them. Give a cap trooper a bunk and time to sack out in it, and he’s as happy as a worm in an apple—asleep.”
  3. #33
    “The most noble fate a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and the war’s desolation.”
  4. #34
    ″‘Value’ has no meaning other than in relationship to living beings. The value of a thing is always relative to a particular person, is completely personal and different in quantity for each living human — ‘market value’ is a fiction, merely a rough guess at the average of personal values, all of which must be quantitatively different or trade would be impossible. … This very personal relationship, “value”, has two factors for a human being: first, what he can do with a thing, its use to him… and second, what he must do to get it, its cost to him.”
  5. #35
    “The sky held scattered clouds; at that instant the sun came out from behind one and a shaft of light hit him.
    His clothes vanished. He stood before them, a golden youth, clothed only in beauty—beauty that made Jubal’s heart ache, thinking that Michelangelo in his ancient years would have climbed down from his high scaffolding to record it for generations unborn. Mike said gently, ‘Look at me. I am a son of man.‘”
  6. #36
    “You don’t have any feeling for what makes a chump a chump. A real magician can make the marks open their mouths by picking a quarter out of the air. That levitation you do—I’ve never seen it done before, but the marks don’t warm to it. No psychology. Now take me, I can’t even pick a quarter out of the air. I got no act—except the one that counts. I know marks. I know what he hungers for, even if he don’t. That’s showmanship, son, whether you’re a politician, a preacher pounding a pulpit—or a magician. Find out what the chumps want and you can leave half your props in your trunk.”
  7. #37
    ″‘It is later than you think’ could not be expressed in Martian—nor could ‘Haste makes waste,’ though for a different reason: the first notion was inconceivable while the latter was an unexpressed Martian basic, as unnecessary as telling a fish to bathe. But ‘As it was in the Beginning, is now and ever shall be’ was so Martian in mood that it could be translated more easily than ‘two plus two makes four’—which was not a truism on Mars.”
  8. #38
    “Around a minor G-type star toward one edge of a medium-sized galaxy planets swung as they had for billions of years, under a modified inverse square law that shaped space. Four were big enough, as planets go, to be noticeable; the rest were pebbles, concealed in the fiery skirts of the primary or lost in the black reaches of space. All, as is always the case, were infected with that oddity of distorted entropy called life; on the third and fourth planets surface temperatures cycled around the freezing point of hydrogen monoxide; in consequence they had developed life forms similar enough to permit a degree of social contact.”
  9. #39
    “His idea is that whenever you encounter any other grokking thing—man, woman, or stray cat…you are meeting your ‘other end.’ The universe is a thing we whipped up among us and agreed to forget the gag.
    Jubal looked sour. ‘Solipsism and pantheism. Together they explain anything. Cancel out any inconvenient fact, reconcile all theories, include any facts or delusions you like. But it’s cotton candy, all taste and no substance—as unsatisfactory as solving a story by saying: ‘—then the little boy fell out of bed and woke up.‘”
  10. #40
    “All symbols were in Smith’s vocabulary but he had trouble believing that he had heard rightly.”
Book Topics › freedom
Children's Books About Freedom
Book Topics › communication
Children's Books About Communication

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