“On some subjects—for instance, writers’ workshops—one is tempted to pull punches or rest satisfied with oversimplified answers; but I’m assuming, as the primary reader of this book, an intensely serious beginning novelist who wants the strict truth (as I perceive it) for his life’s sake, so that he can plan his days of technique, theory, and attitude; and become as quickly and efficiently as possible a master of his craft” (p xxii).
“Suppose a vast number of civilizations are distributed throughout the universe, on the order of the number of detectable stars. Lots and lots of them. Those civilizations make up the body of a cosmic society. Cosmic sociology is the study of the nature of this super-society” (p 12).
“And then, on Christmas Eve, a miracle occurred: Ting-Pei Warren, the Judeo-Christian Buddhist cat, high on catnip and tuna water, silently scaled the six-foot spruce while her family sat by the fire, making short work of a pecan-encrusted cheese log. The three of us turned just in time to see her, a silver star atop the highest bough. And just in time to see her lose her balance and take the entire tree down with her.”