“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).
“It had rained Saturday night, but the rain had dwindled to a stop before dawn, and across the river, above and beyond the belfry and steeple, the green whaleback of Monadnock was wreathed in gossamer wisps of fog.”
“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.”
“To travel through Sichuan countryside is to feel the history, the years of work that have shaped the land, the sheer weight of humanity on patches of earth that have been worked in the same way for centuries.”