Who knew what evil lurked in the hearts of men? A copper, that’s who. (…)You saw how close men lived to the beast. You realized that people like Carcer were not mad. They were incredibily sane. They were simply men without a shield. They’d looked at the world and realized that all the rules didn’t have to apply to them, not if they didn’t want them to. They weren’t fooled by all the little stories. They shook hands with the beast.

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I know it’s not thematically in tune with my new job and all, but I find it effective. Build a man a fire and he’s warm for a day,” I say. “But set a man on fire and he’s warm for the rest of his life. Tao of Pratchett. I live by it.

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But what was the point of it all? Sister Agnes used to tell him that the purpose of life was to be all that you could be – with a side helping, of course, of helping others to do the same. And maybe the Long Earth was a place where, as Lobsang might put it, human potentially could be maximally expressed… Was there some sense in which that was what the Long Earth was for? To allow manking to make the most of itself?

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That seems to point up a significant difference between Europeans and Americans. A European says: “I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with me?” An American says: “I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with him?

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You build little worlds, little stories, little shells around your minds, and that keeps infinity at bay and allows you to wake up in the morning without screaming.

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