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492 pages, Kindle Edition
First published May 7, 2019
“They grew up sort of weird and sort of wonderful and they found each other and lost each other over and over again. But this time, when they found each other, they came as close as they could to the Impossible City. They walked the length of the improbable road, and the girl wrote down everything she knew about the universe, and the boy read it all aloud, and everything was okay.”
Smart kids get put on a pedestal by parents and teachers alike, and the rest of the class gathers around the base of it throwing rocks, trying to knock them down. People who say ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ don’t understand how words can be stones, hard and sharp-edged and dangerous and capable of doing so much more harm than anything physical.McGuire has such a gift for putting profound insights into words that strike your heart. As Roger and Dodger, both lonely children who don’t really fit in with others, get to know each other through their long-distance telepathic relationship, they realize how much they fit together, the scholastic strengths of one matching the weaknesses of the other.
They can help each other. They can shore up the broken places. He knows the words for this: cooperation, symbiosis, reciprocity. So many words, and he’ll teach her all of them, if she’ll just keep being his friend.I realized, not long before Roger and Dodger themselves mention it, that their last names, Middleton and Cheswich, combine to make Midwich, a clever reference to The Midwich Cuckoos, a classic SF horror novel about a group of alien children (partially) concealed among humans. In Middlegame, though, the cuckoos have our undivided sympathy.
“You can’t skip to the end of the story just because you’re tired of being in the middle. You’d never survive.”
“[…] Can anything really be ridiculous when your starting point is “we’re secret twins who found each other across a continent through quantum entanglement, which is slightly more useful than a telephone, without being as good as telepathy”? Everything about them is ridiculous. It always has been.”
“You’re late,” she says. It’s not “hello,” but it’s the only thing she feels: he’s late. He’s seventeen minutes and five years late, and she’s been alone too long.”
“They destroy themselves every time they destroy the world. Their past is littered with the unburied bodies of the people they chose never to become.”
Life Sciences Annex at UC Berkeley and a bench where I’m sure they had the “weird DNA” conversation by Strawberry Creek.
“Sacrifice. That’s what they’ve each done, at least once: they’ve sacrificed the other for their own protection.”
“He can’t be real, because if he’s real, she’s a monster for what she did to him.”
“I’m saying if they wanted to control the elemental forces of creation, they shouldn’t have turned us into people. People have their own agendas. Mine doesn’t match theirs anymore.”
Sutro Baths in San Francisco, 1896 and current ruins.
“They’d been working for the glory of the cause, working for citizenship in the Impossible City, and they had made her the kind of weapon that could be used to change the world.
The trouble with weapons is that they can be aimed in any direction.”
“Magic doesn't have to be flashy and huge. Sometimes it's the subtle things that are the most effective of all.”