If a man walks in dressed as a hick and acting as if he owned the place, he’s a spaceman. – Robert Heinlein’s Double Star
It was a pleasure to burn. - Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451
It was a bright day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen. George Orwell's 1984
All of this happened, more or less. - Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five
The manhunt extended across more than one hundred light years and eight centuries. - Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky
I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. - Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness
The space lift rose from the Pacific, climbing the cords of anthrax bacteria. - Joan Slonczewski's The Highest Frontier
Go, traveler. Go anywhere. The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest. - Philip Jose Farmer's Venus on the Half-Shell
Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. - Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
This book is predominantly concerned with making money, and from its pages a reader may learn much about the character and the literary integrity of the authors. Of boggies, however, he will discover next to nothing... -- The Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings.
His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god; he preferred to drop the Maha- and -atman, and called himself Sam. - Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light.
The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door... - Fredric Brown's Knock.
Let's start with the end of the world, why don't we? - N.K. Jemison's The Fifth Season.
We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck. - M.T. Anderson's Feed
The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason. - Neal Stephenson's Seveneves
He was one hundred and seventy days dying, and not yet dead. - Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination
Tonight we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man. - Joe Haldeman's The Forever War.
I first saw the light in the city of Boston in the year 1857. - Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward
"In five years, the penis will be obsolete," said the salesman. - John Varley's Steel Beach.
"Afterwards, Thomas Blaine thought about the manner of his dying and wished it had been more interesting. - Robert Sheckley's Immortality Incorporated.
The female of the species vanished on the afternoon of the second Tuesday of February at four minutes and fifty-two seconds past four o'clock, Eastern Standard Time. - Philip Wylie's The Disappearance.
She was born a thing and as such would be condemned if she failed to pass the encephalograph test required of all newborn babies. - Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang.
The student wouldn't stop doing her homework, and it was going to kill her. - Annalee Newitz's Autonomous.
I'm pretty much fucked. That's my considered opinion. Fucked. - Andy Weir's The Martian.
Rarely is it given man to know the day or the hour when fate intervenes in his destiny, but, because he had checked his watch just before he saw the girl with the hips, Haldane IV knew the day, the hour, and the minute. - John Boyd's The Last Starship from Earth.
Of course there’s William Gibson’s Neuromancer opening: The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
And Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.
Other classic openings come from The Hobbit, The Handmaid's Tale, Clockwork Orange, Dhalgren, The Color of Magic, Beggars in Spain, The Dispossessed, The War of the Worlds, and of course, The Princess Bride. Oh, that one is so wonderful I dare not sully William Goldman's wit by typing it myself. I dare you to read it... and not keep reading, entranced.
== A few of my own! ==
But what the heck, let me offer up some of my own. (I can cut and paste them in, easier than sifting and retyping from my shelves of other books, so it’s laziness, less than self-promotion!)
Twenty-six months before her second birthday, Maia learned the true difference between winter and summer. - Glory Season
It’s hard to stay cordial while fighting for your life, even when your life doesn’t amount to much. Even when you’re just a lump of clay. – Kiln People
Long ago, Gordon once heard someone contend that there was nothing more dangerous than a desperate man. No defeat was so total that a determined person could not pull something from the ashes by negotiation . . . by risking all he had left. - The Postman
An angry deity glowered at Alex. Slanting sunshine cast shadows across the incised cheeks and outthrust tongue of Great Tu, Maori god of war. - Earth
Kato died first. - Heart of the Comet
“As for me... I am finished.” Those words resonated -- they clung, like the relentless blanket that Hari Seldon’s nurse kept straightening across his legs, though it was a warm day in the Imperial Gardens. – Foundation's Triumph
The lecture was really boring. - The Practice Effect
As a little kid, I used to think every family was annoyed by time travelers. After all, why should visitors from the future want to bother us, in particular? – “Gawkers”
I started out this life, if you call it life, as a simple message -- a walking, talking Dear-Jane letter -- dispatched by a cad who lacked enough guts to break up with his girlfriend in person. – Kiln Time (unfinished)
== Brin news ==
TIME Magazine on August 2018 listed Earth as one of “8 books that eerily predicted the future.” And in the same week, Barnes & Noble published a run-down of novels that won both Hugo and Nebula Awards. Startide Rising is rated in the upper half, so…
Another for the registry? Fred R. writes: “In Earth, you had people who fought to preserve quiet areas, untrammeled by human activity. Another prediction!”
And folks have been writing in about the “augment” super soldiers from the last portion of The Postman. Mind you I was glad Costner left them out of the film – (though with a sly dig at me in the Sound of Music scene). And yet… The Defense Dept is developing techniques, including genetic engineering, brain implants, and shrinking robotics, for augmented soldiers. For example, "a soldier wears a skullcap that stimulates his brain to make him learn skills faster, or reads his thoughts as a way to control a drone. Another is plugged into a Tron-like "active cyber defense system," in which she mentally teams up with computer systems "to successfully multitask during complex military missions." Augmented muscles and reactions? Yes, those too.
Now onward. Remember how rare science-fictional (impudent!) thinking has been, across 6000 years of feudalism and darkness. Our impudence will be repressed, if feudalism returns. So resist. And vote.