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Paolo Bacigalupi quotes (showing 1-30 of 88)

“Killing isn't free. It takes something out of you every time you do it. You get their life; they get a piece of your soul. It's always a trade.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker
“I'm a chess piece. A pawn,' she said. 'I can be sacrificed, but I cannot be captured. To be captured would be the end of the game.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker
“We are nature. Our every tinkering is nature, our every biological striving. We are what we are, and the world is ours. We are its gods. Your only difficulty is your unwillingness to unleash your potential fully upon it.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Politics is ugly. Never doubt what small men will do for great power.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“The problem with surviving was that you ended up with the ghosts of everyone you’d ever left behind riding on your shoulders.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“The more I write stories for young people, and the more young readers I meet, the more I'm struck by how much kids long to see themselves in stories. To see their identities and perspectives—their avatars—on the page. Not as issues to be addressed or as icons for social commentary, but simply as people who get to do cool things in amazing worlds. Yes, all the “issue” books are great and have a place in literature, but it's a different and wildly joyous gift to find yourself on the pages of an entertainment, experiencing the thrills and chills of a world more adventurous than our own.

And when you see that as a writer, you quickly realize that you don't want to be the jerk who says to a young reader, “Sorry, kid. You don't get to exist in story; you're too different.” You don't want to be part of our present dystopia that tells kids that if they just stopped being who they are they could have a story written about them, too. That's the role of the bad guy in the dystopian stories, right? Given a choice, I'd rather be the storyteller who says every kid can have a chance to star.”
Paolo Bacigalupi
“Short fiction seems more targeted - hand grenades of ideas, if you will. When they work, they hit, they explode, and you never forget them. Long fiction feels more like atmosphere: it's a lot smokier and less defined.”
Paolo Bacigalupi
“I do not fight battles that cannot be won. Do not confuse that with cowardice.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“Don't tell me about worth," Nita said. "My father commands fleets."

"The wealthy measure everything with the weight of their money." Tool leaned close. "Sadna once risked herself and the rest of her crew to help me escape from an oil fire... Your father commands fleets. And thousands of half-men, I am sure. But would he risk himself to save a single one?”
Paolo Bacigalupi
“Crew up, Nailer!" Lucky Girl shouted. "You think I'm going to pull your ass up here like a damn swank?”
Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker
“It’s human nature to tear one another apart. Be glad you come from such a successful line of killers.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker
“When you were alone in the rising ocean, you grabbed whatever raft passed by.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“Food should come from the place of its origin, and stay there. It shouldn't spend its time crisscrossing the globe for the sake of profit.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Pain held no terror for him. Pain was, if not friend, then family, something he had grown up with in his crèche, learning to respect but never yield to. Pain was simply a message, telling him which limbs he could still use to slaughter his enemies, how far he could still run, and what his chances were in the next battle.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
tags: pain
“Some things, it was better not to think about. It just made you mad and angry.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“They’d blame a castoff just for breathing. You could be good as gold and they’d still blame you.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“Your body is full of rage. Every sinew. It is easy to read. You speak volumes with a clenched fist.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
tags: rage
“Blood is not destiny.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker
“She smiles at him, too young to know him for a stranger, and too innocent yet to care.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“No one else noticed, or cared. It was just something they did. Taking other people’s livestock. Other people’s lives. She watched the soldiers, hating them. They were different in so many ways, white and black, yellow and brown, skinny, short, tall, small, but they were all the same. Didn’t matter if they wore finger-bone necklaces, or baby teeth on bracelets, or tattoos on their chests to ward off bullets. In the end, they were all mangled with battle scars and their eyes were all dead.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“But then, that was the problem with pretty toy stitches. When real life got hold of them, they always tore out.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“You couldn’t live close to war and not have it grab you eventually.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
tags: war
“The thought burrowed into her heart as darkness fell. It coiled in her guts as she wedged herself amongst the boughs of a tree to sleep. And in the morning, it woke with her and clung to her back, riding on her shoulders as she climbed down, hungry and exhausted from nightmares.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“She’d survived the Drowned Cities because she wasn’t anything like Mouse. When the bullets started flying and warlords started making examples of peacekeeper collaborators, Mahlia had kept her head down, instead of standing up like Mouse. She’d looked out for herself, first. And because of that, she’d survived.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“Never beg for mercy. Accept that you have failed. Begging is for dogs and humans.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“Mahlia… understood Doctor Mahfouz and his blind rush into the village. He wasn’t trying to change them. He wasn’t trying to save anyone. He was just trying to not be part of the sickness. Mahlia had thought he was stupid for walking straight into death, but now, as she lay against the pillar, she saw it differently. She thought she’d been surviving. She thought that she’d been fighting for herself. But all she’d done was create more killing, and in the end it had all led to this moment, where they bargained with a demon … not for their lives, but for their souls” (p. 403)”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“Knowledge is always two-edged. For every benefit, there is hazard. For every good, evil.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, Pump Six and Other Stories
“No one else could see all the bodies she’d left behind, but they were there, looking at her. Or maybe that was just her, looking at herself, and not liking what she saw. Knowing she could never escape her own judging gaze.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
tags: guilt
“Knowing all and having the necessary tools are two different things. This is hardly a hospital. We make do with what we have, and none of that is Mahlia’s fault. Tani is the victim of many evils, but Mahlia is not the beginning of that chain, nor the end. I am responsible, if anyone is.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities
“Lock it away,” the half-man whispered. “You feel, after. Not now. Now you are a soldier. Now you do your duty for your pack. If you break, your Mouse will die, and you with him. Feel, after. Not now.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities

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