The Hydrogen Sonata

“…Nice people who are beginning to live to a great age – as it were – react with such revulsion to the burgeoning horrors that confront them, they generally prefer suicide. It’s only us slightly malevolent types who are able to survive that realisation and find a kind of pleasure – or at least satisfaction – in watching how the latest generation or most recently evolved species can re-discover and beat out afresh the paths to disaster, ignominy and shame we had naively assumed might have become hopelessly over-grown.”

“So basically you’re sticking around to watch us all fuck up?”

“Yes. It’s one of life’s few guaranteed constants.”

Cossont thought about this. “If that’s true, it’s a bit sad.”

“Tough. Life is sometimes.”

“And you’re right: it doesn’t exactly show you in the best light.”

“You’re supposed to admire me for my honesty.”

“Am I?” she said, and reached over and turned the grey cube off.

Iain M. Banks, Orbit 2012


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