Monday, 31 August 2015

Some of my Favourite Pratchett Quotes

Arranged A - Z
First draft: let it run. Turn all the knobs up to 11. Second draft: hell. Cut it down and cut it into shape. Third draft: comb its nose and blow its hair. I usually find that most of the book will have handed itself to me on that first draft.

After you’ve learned to shout you have to learn not to!

A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.

All tapes left in a car for more than about a fortnight metamorphose into Best of Queen albums.

Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual.

Always remember that the crowd that applauds your coronation is the same crowd that will applaud your beheading. People like a show.

And no practical definition of freedom would be complete without the freedom to take the consequences. Indeed, it is the freedom upon which all the others are based

And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things.

And so the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn't that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people. As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn't measure up.

Anyway, if you stop tellin' people it's all sorted out after they're dead, they might try sorting it all out while they're alive.

An angel who did not so much fall as saunter vaguely downwards. 

Ankh-Morpork had dallied with many forms of government and had ended up with that form of democracy known as One Man, One Vote. The Patrician was the Man; he had the Vote


“Bandits and governments 'ave so much in common that they might be interchangeable anywhere in the world...” 

Beer! It was only water, really, with stuff in it. Wasn’t it? And most of what was in it was yeast, which was practically a medicine and definitely a food. In fact, when you thought about it, beer was only a kind of runny bread.

Belief is one of the most powerful organic forces in the multiverse. It may not be able to move mountains, exactly. But it can create someone who can. People get exactly the wrong idea about belief. They think it works back to front. They think the sequence is, first object, then belief. In fact, it works the other way.

Books must be treated with respect, we feel that in our bones, because words have power. Bring enough words together they can bend space and time.

Building a temple didn't mean you believed in gods, it just meant you believed in architecture.

But here's some advice, boy. Don't put your trust in revolutions. They always come around again. That's why they're called revolutions.


Cats will amusingly tolerate humans only until someone comes up with a tin opener that can be operated with a paw.

Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized.

Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

Consciousness to sarcasm in five seconds.

Destiny is important, see, but people go wrong when they think it controls them. It's the other way around.

Do not seek perfection. None exists. All we can do is strive.

Even if it's not your fault, it's your responsibility.

Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.

Evil. Human beings mostly aren't. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye jeans and and playing guitar at people. Offer people a new creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow

Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. Of course, I could be wrong.

Geography is just physics slowed down, with a couple of trees stuck in it. 

Gods prefer simple, vicious games, where you Do Not Achieve Transcendence but Go Straight To Oblivion; a key to the understanding of all religion is that a god's idea of amusement is Snakes and Ladders with greased rungs.

Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to.

He's out of his depth on a wet pavement.

He says gods like to see an atheist around. Gives them something to aim at.

He was talking in philosophy, but they were listening in gibberish.

History isn't like that. History unravels gently, like an old sweater. It has been patched and darned many times, reknitted to suit different people, shoved in a box under the sink of censorship to be cut up for the dusters of propaganda, yet it always - eventually - manages to spring back into its old familar shape. History has a habit of changing the people who think they are changing it. History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It's been around a long time.


I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are good people and bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people,but some of them are on opposite sides.

I do note with interest that old women in my books become young women on the covers... this is discrimination against the chronologically gifted.

I'd rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.

If cats looked like frogs we'd realize what nasty, cruel little bastards they are. Style. That's what people remember.

If failure had no penalty success would not be a prize.

If you sit down and think about it , you come up with some very funny ideas. Like: why make people inquisitive, and then put some forbidden fruit where they can see it with a big neon finger flashing on and off saying 'THIS IS IT!'? ... I mean, why do that if you really don't want

If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.

If you want to change a whole people, then you start with the girls. It stands to reason: they learn faster, and they pass on what they learn to their children

In fact the mere act of openng the box will determine the state of the cat, although in this case there were three determinate states the cat could be in: these being Alive, Dead, and Bloody Furious.

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded. 

It has been said that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism. 

It is hard to convey five-dimensional ideas in a language evolved to scream defiance at the monkeys in the next tree. 

It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.

It is true that words have power, and one of the things they are able to do is get out of someone’s mouth before the speaker has the chance to stop them.

It's a sword …. they're not meant to be safe.

It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.

It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things.

  Joy is to fun what the deep sea is to a puddle.
Just because things are obvious doesn’t mean they’re true. "Just because someone's a member of an ethnic minority doesn't mean they're not a nasty small-minded little jerk.


Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

"Listen, Peaches,  trickery is what humans are all about," said the voice of Maurice. "They're so keen on tricking one another all the time that they elect governments to do it for them.

Mere animals couldn’t possibly manage to act like this. You need to be a human being to be really stupid.

Modesty is only arrogance by stealth.

Most species do their own evolving, making it up as they go along, which is the way Nature intended. And this is all very natural and organic and in tune with mysterious cycles of the cosmos, which believes that there's nothing like millions of years of really frustrating trial and error to give a species moral fiber and, in some cases, backbone.

No-one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away... The span of someone's life, they say, is only the core of their actual existence.

Of course, it is very important to be sober when you take an exam. Many worthwhile careers in the street-cleansing, fruit-picking and subway-guitar-playing industries have been founded on a lack of understanding of this simple fact..

Once we were blobs in the sea, and then fishes, and then lizards and rats and then monkeys, and hundreds of things in between. This hand was once a fin, this hand once had claws! In my human mouth I have the pointy teeth of a wolf and the chisel teeth of a rabbit and the grinding teeth of a cow! Our blood is as salty as the sea we used to live in! When we're frightened, the hair on our skin stands up, just like it did when we had fur. We > history! Everything we've ever been on the way to becoming us, we still are. [...] I'm made up of the memories of my parents and my grandparents, all my ancestors. They're in the way I look, in the colour of my hair. And I'm made up of everyone I've ever met who's changed the way I think.

Personal's not the same as important. People just think it is.

Quaffing is like drinking, but you spill more.

Real children do not go hoppity skip unless they are on drugs.

Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.

Scientists have calculated that the chances of something so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one.  But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry.

Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn't believing. It's where belief stops, because it isn't needed any more.

Sometimes I really think people ought to have to pass a proper exam before they're allowed to be parents. Not just the practical, I mean.

Sometimes words need music too. Sometimes the descriptions are not enough. Books should be written with soundtracks, like films.

Space. It's sometimes called the final frontier. (Except that of course you can't have a final frontier, because there'd be nothing for it to be a frontier, but as frontiers go, it's pretty penultimate. . . .)

"The female mind is certainly a devious one, my lord."
Vetinari looked at his secretary in surprise. "Well, of course it is. It has to deal with the male one.

The intelligence of that creature known as a crowd is the square root of the number of people in it..

Then there was the puzzle of why the sun came out during the day, instead of at night when the light would come in useful.

The people who really run organizations are usually found several levels down, where it is still possible to get things done.

There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do.

There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.

There may be something called 

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

The truth isn't easily pinned to a page. In the bathtub of history the truth is harder to hold than the soap and much more difficult to find.

The universe is, instant by instant, recreated anew. There is in truth no past, only a memory of the past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.

They didn't know why these things were funny. Sometimes you laugh because you've got no more room for crying. Sometimes you laugh because table manners on a beach are funny. And sometimes you laugh because you're alive, when you really shouldn't be.

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.

Things had all the grace and coordination of a deck-chair.

Things just happen, one after another. They don't care who knows. But history... ah, history is different. History has to be observed. Otherwise it's not history. It's just... well, things happening one after another.
Tourist, Rincewind had decided, meant 'idiot'.

Using a metaphor in front of a man as unimaginative as Ridcully was like a red flag to a bu... was like putting something very annoying in front of


What kind of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter.

"What're quantum mechanics? "

"I don't know, people who repair quantums I suppose."

What kind of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter. 

 “What's a philosopher?' said Brutha. 'Someone who's bright enough to find a job with no heavy lifting."

When all else failed, she tried being reasonable.

When you seek advice from someone it's certainly not because you want them to give it. You just want them to be there while you talk to yourself.

Why bother with a cunning plan when a simple one will do?

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

 comes from experience. Experience> is often a result of lack of wisdom


You can't second-guess ineffability.

You had to deal every day with people who were foolish and lazy and untruthful and downright unpleasant, and you could certainly end up thinking that the world would be considerably improved if you gave them a slap.

Your own brain ought to have the decency to be on your side!

You were so worried about legal and illegal that you never stopped to think about whether it was right or wrong.