TANSTAAFL ~ Robert Heinlein. This quote appeared in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, itself an allusion to, “The Sea is a cruel mistress.” The acronym stands for: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. The saying is adopted as a national motto by the loonies of Earth’s separatist lunar colonies. Many of the interconnected outposts were penal colonies like Australia in Heinlein’s novel. They band together to declare independence.
The motto is more than it first appears. Of course there’s always someone or something to pay for lunch (survival, peace, or any other worthy endeavor). It also sums up both the loonies’ determination to live free, and their self-reliance to build a better moon for their children. A lot of the story in the book revolves around changing appreciation for the motto and independence.
Next I chose: “I must not fear. Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death that brings obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. When the fear is gone I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone will be nothing, only I will remain.” ~ Frank Herbert. I memorized this in high school and found it useful on more than one occasion.
Herbert created a galaxy sprawling world for the characters in his Dune series. The “Litany Against Fear” quoted above, is a tiny sliver of Paul Atreides training. Paul uses it first to withstand the pain box test administered by Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. Threatened by her poisonous Gom Jabbar, Paul recites the litany to endure searing agony. The use of the litany is the first glimpse readers have that Paul possesses will and latent abilities beyond his extensive physical and mental training.
Finally, from one of my favorite fantasy series. “Almost dead yesterday, maybe dead tomorrow, but alive, gloriously alive, today.” ~ Robert Jordan. Mattrim Cauthon, a Two Rivers contemporary and fellow Ta’Veren with Perrin Aybarra, Goldeneyes, and Rand Al’Thor, the bloody Dragon Reborn, dropped this beautiful line. Mat is a trickster, loyal friend, and eternal soldier from the Wheel of Time series. This line sums up the life Mat cherishes against the struggles he knows will come again.
Mat is a fascinating character. He’s not ultra-powerful like Rand, or an animalistic dream walker like Perrin. He carries so many memories of so many lifetimes he can’t sort them out, and doesn’t bother trying. He likes what he likes, and says what’s on his mind, even if the consequences turn out for the worst. As the Hornsounder, Mat’s guaranteed a place at the Last Battle. Still, no one foresees him leading the forces of the Dragon, or helping Rand and Perrin at Shayol Ghul.
I’d love to hear some of your favorite quotes, feel free to comment and add them!