Thu
Jul 23 2009 4:19pm

Famous Last Lines of Speculative Fiction

It seems like the first lines of books always get the most press. From Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, "“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains,” to The Lord of the Rings: "When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton," there is a special significance to the first lines of novels.

But what about the last lines? How come they don't get much press?

Tolkien’s The Hobbit  ends with "'You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all! ‘Thank goodness!’ said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco jar.” And these two sentences sum up so completely what the book is about.

Or take G. K. Chesterton’s conclusion to The Man Who Was Thursday, “There he saw the sister of Gregory, the girl with the gold-red hair, cutting lilac before breakfast, with the great unconscious gravity of a girl,” which  says so much in it prosaicness.

So I’d like to extend a challenge to the readers of Tor.com. What are your favorite last lines from speculative fiction? Pick a book off your shelf that you have enjoyed, and give us the author, the title, and the line in the comments below. Let’s share our favorites and relive that thrill of having completed the novel, of having shared the mysterious reader-writer bond. 

94 comments
WandaWolfe
1. WandaWolfe
He was beginning to be very curious about his future.

_Memory_ by Lois McMaster Bujold
Chris Hsiang
2. Grey_Area
Thi sun shines a teeny bit strongir evry day, & tho itl b a long time b4 nybody can c it wif thi naykid I, thi starz 1/2 moovd.

_Feersum Endjinn_ by Iain M. Banks
Beth Friedman
3. carbonel
"Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."

"The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke

*********

"...Sam woke."

Fury by Henry Kuttner
WandaWolfe
4. JWezy
Spoiler Heaven, here. Lots of short stories (I think they have more good last lines than novels to, for obvious reasons). Also, interestingly, nothing written in the last 40 years, possibly longer.

One of my favorites, it always creeps me out a bit: Arthur C. Clarke's The Nine Billion Names of God: "Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."

Isaac Asimov, Second Foundation, "... the face of Preem Palver, First Speaker of the Second Foundation."

George Orwell, 1984, "He loved Big Brother."

Isaac Asimov, Nightfall (the short story), "The long night had come again."

Robert Heinlein, By His Bootstraps, "There's a great future in store for us, my boy, a great future."

Robert Heinlein, The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, "every night, before going to sleep, he handcuffs one of her wrists to one of his."

I could go on. But I am at work, so I am doing this from memory and google.
WandaWolfe
5. Lsana
In general, I think the reason that last lines don't tend to get much love in speculative fiction is because there are so few endings in this genre. I could mention the last line to Eye of the World, for example ("So that's it. The dragon has been reborn."), but it isn't really a "last line" so much as the end of a chapter.

In terms of ones that are finished, how about the last line of the Narnia books? The Last Battle itself is...problematic to say the least, but I thought that the last line was about perfect (I'm quoting from memory here, so this isn't right, but this is the general idea of it):

"That is the end of the books for us, but for them, it was just the beginning. The great book which no one has ever read, in which each chapter is more beautiful than the last."

The last line of the Dark Tower books is probably also worth noting, though whether it's a good or not depends on how you feel about the end:

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed."
WandaWolfe
6. cmk
All those are great--and you started with the first line from LOTR--but to my mind nothing bests "Well, I'm back, he said."
Christopher Key
7. Artanian
"We shall swim out to that brooding reef in the sea and dive down through black abysses to Cyclopean and many-columned Y'ha-nthlei, and in that lair of the Deep Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever."

H.P. Lovecraft - The Shadow over Innsmouth.
WandaWolfe
8. Gervase Fen
Another great Heinlein:

"Puppet Masters - the free men are coming to kill you!

Death and destruction!"
WandaWolfe
9. Dave Fried
I do particularly like the Dark Tower ending, along with the ending of Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana, though it's probably not meaningful outside the context of Kay's mythology.

But the BEST LAST LINE EVER in a story goes to Stephen King/Richard Bachman for The Running Man: "it rained fire twenty blocks away". Yeah.
M T
10. Firekeeper
"Damn it all, I can't think of anything, except those words of his … 'HAPPINESS FOR EVERYBODY, FREE, AND NO ONE WILL GO AWAY UNSATISFIED!' "

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky - Roadside Picnic


It was actually pretty difficult to find a decent last line.
WandaWolfe
11. cvrowe
Oh, what a great idea. And since you fudged a little bit and used more than one sentence as a "last line" from The Hobbit, I'll take the same liberties, thank you. I chose these either because they're just wonderful on their own or because they so perfectly open up the novel (or in a couple of cases, the novels that precede[s] them.

"My search kept me at home; I sat before the TV set in my living room. I sat; I waited; I watched; I kept myself awake. As we had ben told, originally, long ago, to do; I kept my commission." --Philip K. Dick, VALIS

"I planted it deep in the rich soil of the riverbank. Seconds after I had expelled it, I felt it begin the tiny positioning movements of life." --Octavia E. Butler, Imago (last book in the Xenogenesis sequence)

"'In the realm of light there is no time,' according to J.S. Bell. That is said nowdays by the modern of the physicists. If so, then that is how it is with Pooch and with Carmen and with all the others." --Carol Emshwiller, Carmen Dog

"As for Crystal, she learned to plow with a mule, but she never liked it as much as that old John Deer 'A,' which always reminded her of her father, Talking Man, and their auto trip to the North Pole." --Terry Bisson, Talking Man

"And in the Worldwide Gazette: 'Flea Circus Horror! Trainer Attacked b Ravenous Fleas!'" --Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary (Ha!)

"We walked hand in hand down the street. When I met my family again, I would introduce them to both of us." --Nicola Griffith, Slow River

"The bones of things stuck out everywhere. Waves broke in swift lines on the beach, and she walked over the sand toward her friends, in the wind, on Mars, on Mars, on Mars, on Mars, on Mars." --Kim Stanley Robinson, Blue Mars (the last book of his Martian sequence)
WandaWolfe
12. Patmcc19
Two of my favorites

From The Name of The Wind

"It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die"

and from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

"They kissed once. Then he turned upon his heel and disappeared into the Darkness"
Katy Coole
13. k8ekol
Well, how about the last two sentances?

"And always Ender carried with him a dry white cocoon, looking for a place where the hive-queen could awaken and thrive in peace. He looked a long time."

Ender's Game/Orson Scott Card
WandaWolfe
14. Carole McDonnell
"But it's not now and that's not my place. This is where I'm standing, on a station between worlds." Warchild, Karin Lowachee

"We are," he said. "And now that the boy is dead, we have some chance of staying that way." Kindred, Octavia Butler

"For the twelve that were of the Parliament of Erl looked through the window of that inner room, wherein they planned their plans by the forge of Narl, and gazing over their familiar lands, perceived that they were no longer the fields we know." The King of Elfland's Daughter, Lord Dunsany.

"My name's Alkhes." Amberlight, Sylvia Kelso.

Last two lines:
"Some scars never heal. Then again, some do." The Book of Fate, Brad Meltzer.
Richard Fife
15. R.Fife
It is hard to say exactly what the true "last line" of "House of Leaves" by Danielewski is, but I think they are (quite fittingly):

"He ends instead on what he knows is true and always will be true. Letting the parade pass from sight, he focuses on the empty road beyond, a pale curve vanishing into the woods where nothing moves and a street lamp flickers on and off until at last it flickers out and darkness sweeps in like a hand."

Of course, as I said, due to the nature of the book, it is hard to say that those are really the last two sentences, but I think they were meant to be read last.
WandaWolfe
16. DerBonk
I'm still very fond of the last line of "The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov

"And AC said, “let there be light!”
And there was light--"

I just like how it turns the whole story around and shows Asimov's great talent of ending his short stories with a bang. A big one.
Jeremy Heater
17. nexus
With that disappearence, he knew, even as Noys moved slowly into his arms, came the end, the final end of Eternity.
- And the beginning of Infinity.
The End of Eternity, Isaac ASIMOV.

Perhaps their lives have no cosmic significance, but they have feelings. They can hurt.
Double Star, Robert A. Heinlein.
WandaWolfe
18. DBratman
There are a number of truly memorable killer last lines to SF short stories, from "Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out" (already mentioned) and "It's a cookbook" (perhaps too obvious to be mentioned), but one of my favorite lesser-known ones in the genre is:

"And when they arrived, what do you think they found? Yep - exactly. That's exactly what they found." - "Me, Myself, and I" by William Tenn
Paul Howard
19. DrakBibliophile
It was the wrong thing to say about an immortal.


A Matter of Oaths By Helen S. Wright
WandaWolfe
20. eris esoteric
"Man, I'm glad all that supernatural stuff is over," the bat said.


Christopher Moore, Island of the Sequined Love Nun.
Rikka Cordin
21. Rikka
"Think on it, Chani: that princess will have the name, yet she'll live as less than a concubine -- never to know a moment of tenderness from the man to whom she is bound. While we, Chani, we who carry the name of concubine -- history will call us wives."

Dune, Frank Herbert


We dream of carving our dragon.

Assassin's Quest, Robin Hobb


But they never learned what Mrs, Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which had to do, for there was a gust of wind, and they were gone.

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
Richard Fife
22. R.Fife
@21 Rikka
I thought of using Dune, but then I remembered why it was memorable to me. The book ended on that note after all the other stuff that was going on. It was like "buwha?" After I'd walked away from the book for a day or so then picked it up and read the last page again, I was more OK with it, but yeah, first read, I was actually kinda disappointed with it.

Although, I guess that still does make it a famous last line and memorable, eh?
Kenneth Sutton
23. kenneth
Even the weather isn't as we remember it clearly once being; never lately does there come a summer day such as we remember, never clouds as white as that, never grass as odorous or shade as deep and full of promise as we remember they can be, as once upon a time they were.

Little, Big by John Crowley
WandaWolfe
24. martyhalpern
The last paragraph (two sentences) from The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers:


He climbed in and fitted the thole pins into the oarlocks, and after three strong strokes he was well out onto the face of the river. And as he rowed on, toward whatever might prove to be the true destiny of the man who'd been Brendan Doyle and Dumb Tom and Eshvlis the cobbler and William Ashbless, and was not any of them any longer, he regaled the river birds with every Beatles song he could remember... except Yesterday.
Duane Swab
25. Qtip-the-Sixth
Together the man and the boy danced their way back up the sand to the house, singing a wordless song that they made up as they went along, which lingered in the air even after they had gone in for breakfast.

"Anansi Boys", Neil Gaiman
Dave Thompson
26. DKT
Nobody's quoted Get Shorty yet? I guess it's kind of outside the SF/F genre, but it's still one of the best!!!

"Fucking endings, man," says a chastened Chili. "They weren't as easy as they looked."
Luke M
27. lmelior
"I'm going to have a lot of fun with Dudley this summer."
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
WandaWolfe
28. Rich Horton
"Together they looked up at the white stars.
'What shall we do?'" -- THE DYING EARTH, Jack Vance

"like stars and gatherings of stars, depth below depth without end, the light." -- "The Stars Below", Ursula Le Guin

"'Remember me to her.'" -- ROGUE MOON, Algis Budrys

"Ever after. I promise. Now close your eyes." -- ENGINE SUMMER, John Crowley

"The only way to protect myself from the jinx, I guess, would be to abandon it before I finished the last" -- NOVA, Samuel R. Delany
WandaWolfe
29. Dietes
"My pen halts, though I do not. Reader, you will walk no more with me. It is time we both take up our lives.
To this account, I, Severian the Lame, Autarch, do set my hand in what shall be called the last year of the old sun."
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe

"Brawne let herself weep and waved again, continued waving, at the departing Consul, at the sky, and at friends she would never see again, and at part of her past. and at the ship rising above like a perfect, ebony arrow shot from some god's bow.
On he flared..."
The Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons

"He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance."
Frankenstein, Mary Shelly


"And there they died upon a Good Friday, for God's sake."
La Morte D'Arthur, Sir Thomas Mallory

"That was the funeral of Hector"
The Iliad, Homer
WandaWolfe
30. Bluejay
Does magical realism qualify as speculative fiction? These last lines (like the entire novel) blew me away:

"Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) wold be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forevermore, because races condemned to one hundred yers of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth."

-- One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Brandy Thomas
31. Roese
"He is coming, and I am here" "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger

It really sums up the whole book.
WandaWolfe
32. Cyorgey
I agree with #21 (Rikka).
"History will remember us as wives." - Dune: Frank Herbert.

When I think of a perfect ending, I always think of that line.
WandaWolfe
33. kellykelly
What a lovely idea!

"Because some stories end, but old stories go on, and you gotta dance if you want to stay ahead."

~The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett


""The Basileus was a prince of his people, what we call a king now," Teleus explained. "That one"- he nodded toward the closed door - "will rule more than just Attolia before he is done. He is Annux, a king of kings."

~The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner


"In this fateful hour, it was herself she placed between us and the powers of darkness."

~A Swiftly Tilting Planet, buy Madeleine L'Engle.
Peter Nein
34. gimpols1908
Well I was going to use the last line of Revelations from the bible, but really that is no fun. What you really need is the last couple of paragraphs where John basically says "Don't mess with my prophecies or my copyright lawyer (God) will visit all the fore mentioned plagues on you at one time."

Talk about a brilliant EULA
WandaWolfe
35. seth e.
"How strange are the ways of the gods," he said. "How cruel."
- Soldier of the Mist, Gene Wolfe. This ending is so good there shouldn't have been a sequel.

"He entered within, and the Golden Age was over."
- The Charwoman's Shadow, Lord Dunsany.
Rikka Cordin
36. Rikka
Do short stories count? I love the end of The Stranger's Hands by Tad Williams...

"I am a wizard remember? We know almost everything."


And a book I only recently finished that was so epic that I bought the next in the series in hardcover... The Confusion by Neal Stephenson.

"Enjoy your perch up there, Mister Newton, because Jack the Coiner has come back to London-town, and he aims to knock you down; the game has begun, and may the best man win!"
WandaWolfe
37. ArtfulMagpie
"...for the not quite mortal part of her did sleep, that she might love her country and her husband."

-- "The Hero and the Crown," by Robin McKinley.


Something about the elegant ring of that line always stays with me. :-)
WandaWolfe
38. Chris Willrich
Good-bye and hello, as always.

--The Courts of Chaos, Roger Zelazny
les kaye
39. hapax
Two favorites:

"Naturally not. Fountains keep nothing for themselves."

SHARDS OF HONOR, by Lois McMaster Bujold

"Well," the captain muttered, heading hurriedly across the outer room towards the passage, "here we go again!"

THE WITCHES OF KARRES, by James Schmitz
JS Bangs
40. jaspax
Great entries, all. Here's my pick:

"In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery."

The Road, Cormac McCarthy.
M Linden
41. mlinden
"The Martians stared back up at them for a long. long time from the rippling water." (Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles) It loses a bit all by itself...promising to show his son a "real Martian", the father brings his son to a pool of water and they see their own reflections...
WandaWolfe
42. Tom Whitmore
"With several pieces of Atlach-Naha's weaving clutched in his fingers, he was precipitated into that gulf which noone had ever voluntarily tried to plumb.

This, unfortunately, was a contingency that had not been provided against by the terms of the seventh geas."

Clark Ashton Smith, "The Seven Geases"

"Up and down." Samuel R. Delany, "Aye, and Gomorrah".

"If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity, ang I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie don on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who." Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

And, one of the most famous closing lines in fantasy deserves a mention -- Robert E. Howard's suicide note:

"All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre;
The feast is over, and the lamps expire."
WandaWolfe
43. Dietes
"lady fingers they taste like lady fingers"
-Survivor Type, Stephen King

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
jazz tigan
44. tredeger
Yes to the Time Traveler's Wife! Roese :-)

The entire last section (and the whole thing really) are exquisite; the last sentence is:
"then I put my fists into my overall pouch and crunched homeward along the Edge, while on my left the worldwind roared." - Samuel R. Delany, The Star Pit

and as far as final paragraphs go, even though it isn't SF, the close of A River Runs Through It is just about perfect.
j p
45. sps49
Edgar Rice Burroughs could write a story, I always liked them, and apparently Hollywood has reached back to him for yet another series.

There's the end of A Princess of Mars:

I can see her shining in the sky through the little window by my desk, and tonight she seems calling to me again as she has not called before since that long dead night, and I think I can see, across that awful abyss of space, a beautiful black-haired woman standing in the garden of a palace, and at her side is a little boy who puts his arm around her as she points into the sky toward the planet Earth, while at their feet is a huge and hideous creature with a heart of gold.

I believe that they are waiting there for me, and something tells me that I shall soon know.

And the end of the series (Skeleton Men of Jupiter)isn't too different:

Soon my incomparable Dejah Thoris would be again in my arms.
Ed Rafferty
46. BigBoy57
The face of Tschai receded; the planet exhibited rotundity, became a gray-brown ball, and presently was gone.

The Pnume (Book 4 of Planet of Adventure), Jack Vance.

This line left me so sad and depressed the first time I read it - I hated to leave the series, the characters, the world.


Again - Jack Vance, and I can't just pick the last sentence - I'll pick the last two lines which make up an amazing SIX sentences.

"Quite well.Deflated, perhaps. I have been deserted by my enemies. Treesong is dead.The affair is over. I am done." - The Book of Dreams (Book 5 of The Demon Princes).

A fitting end to Gersen's mono-maniacal pursuit of vengeance against the so-called Demon Princes which took us across the Oikumene and the Beyond.
Arthur D. Hlavaty
47. supergee
"He didn't much like cops either."

"Some of those old games go way back."

"A boy loves his dog."

All Harlan Ellison
Jeremy Heater
48. nexus
How about the end of Foundation and Earth by Asimov:

"And he did not look down to meet the brooding eyes of Fallom - hermaphroditic, transductive, different - as they rested, unfathomably, on him."
WandaWolfe
49. Rich Horton
@41 (mlinden) -- the Bradbury quote, yes, that's a beautiful one. And echoed (I have just realized) by another of my favorite last lines, Kim Stanley Robinson's conclusion to the novella (not the novel!) "Green Mars": "A new creature steps on the peak of green Mars."
WandaWolfe
50. RobMRobM
Ah, the Martian Chronicles....

I also liked the last line of Bradbury's October Game (spoiler below, warning warning!!), where the protagonist father is hosting a creepy Halloween party for his daughter while mulling over his troubled marriage and the story is building to a crescendo as they are playing the game of handing around "body parts" in a darkened cellar and someone is crying and another says let's turn on the lights and the protagonist says please under no circumstances turn on the lights: "And then some idiot turned on the lights."
WandaWolfe
51. Odessa
What about comic books?

"I've got to get out of here..."

The Inspectre: the ghost who solves crime
written by Mark Cooper
illustrated by Allen Gladfelter
WandaWolfe
52. SteveW
50 posts and nobody uses:

And on far-off Earth, Dr. Carlisle Perera had as yet told no one how he had wakened from a restless sleep with the message from his subconscious still echoing in his brain: The Ramans do everything in threes.
Roland of Gilead
53. pKp
One of my favourite opening line, and also the last line of the serie's last book :

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed".
WandaWolfe
54. Joe Parrish
What about the final line from the last Corum book by Michael Moorcock (very much a spoiler.) And then Corum died.
Roland of Gilead
55. pKp
Oh, and :
"And they walked away together through the hole in the wall, back into the darkness, leaving nothing behind them ; not even the doorway."

(Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere. Maybe not his best book, but the end is just about perfect).

"It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was."
(The Picture of Dorian Gray. Chilling, innit ?)
WandaWolfe
56. Chris Eagle
I am legend.
WandaWolfe
57. Bluejay
This too:

"Then he waited, marshaling his thoughts and brooding over his still untested powers. For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next.

"But he would think of something."

-- Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey
M Linden
58. mlinden
@SteveW: Ooh. Rendezvouz with Rama. Good call...

As an overall observation, it seems like the best of the best involve either a line of quietly profound introspection, or a slightly chilling indication of Very Big Things to come.
WandaWolfe
59. Nicholas Waller
Of course, last lines are far more likely to be SPOILERS than first lines. (If a first line is a spoiler, then the author is not fully in control of his or her material; either that or channelling Douglas Adams in ensuring his readers don't suffer undue stress and tension).

There's Orwell's Animal Farm: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." That rather sums up the point of the book.

JG Ballard's Concrete Island ends in a very Ballardian manner: "When he had eaten, it would be time to rest, and plan his escape from the island."

Ballard's Crash may have one of the more unusual last lines: "The aircraft rise from the runways of the airport, carrying the remnants of Vaughan's semen to the instrument panels and radiator grilles of a thousand crashing cars, the leg stances of a million passengers".
Brook Freeman
60. longstrider
I think one reason we talk about first lines instead of last lines is that what makes those first lines memorable is the promise they hold. It has to be a very well constructed story for the last line to hold promise and not be a crappy book. Also part of the reason so many here are coming up with short stories instead of novels. That said I'll grab a couple books nearby :-)

Dracula, either of
'And, to our bitter grief, with a smile and in silence, he died, a gallant gentleman.' or if you count the note, '"We want no proofs; we ask none to believe us! This boy will some day know what a brave and gallant woman his mother is. Already he knows her sweetness and loving care; later on he will understand how some men so loved her, that they did dare much for her sake."'

And of course
Explicit liber regis quondam regisque futuri
THE BEGINNING
Joseph Blaidd
61. SteelBlaidd
Some of My Favorites

Even with nougat, you can have a perfect moment.
- Terry Pratchett - Thief of Time

"A purely Militayry operation. Straight-up good guys and bad guys"
"Great," said Quinn. "Which are we?"
Miles was still thinking about the answer to that one when the fleet broke orbit.
- Lois McMaster Bujold - Brothers in Arms

"If it's any of my Business, how the devil did you get in to that bloody jungle?"
"I was born there," said Tarzan, quietly. "My mother was an Ape, and of course she couldn't tell me much about it. I never knew who my was."
- Tarzan of the Apes - Burroughs - he had some good ones.
WandaWolfe
62. Mr. J
This always gave me a chill to read.

The Prophecies will be fulfilled." the Aes Sedai whispered. "The Dragon is Reborn."

The Eye of the World
Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
WandaWolfe
63. landondyer
He never saw Molly again.

- Neuromancer
WandaWolfe
64. WereGopher
Opening the door to the visiting doctor, all set to apologize for the flour on her hands - she had been baking - Mrs Byrne sniffed. Smoke! And if she could smell it with her heavy head cold, it must be a tremendous fire!
"We ought to call the brigade!" she exclaimed. "Is it a hayrick?"
"The brigade would have a long way to go," the doctor told her curtly. "It's from America. The wind's blowing that way."
WandaWolfe
65. etv13
"But the boy, Therem's son, said stammering, 'Will you tell us how he died? -- Will you tell us about the other worlds out among the stars 00 the other kinds of men, the other lives?'"

Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness

"Joanna smiled down at her, at the little bulldog, and then looked back at the Yorktown. 'All ships sink sooner or later,' she said, and raised her hand to wave in greeting. 'But not today. Not today.'"

Connie Willis, Passage
Dru O'Higgins
66. bellman
"P.S. please tel prof Nemur not to be such a grouch when pepul laff at him and he woud have more frends. Its easy to have frends if you let pepul laff at you. Im going to have lots of frends where I go.

P.S. please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard."

Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon (obviously)
WandaWolfe
67. Waltlaw
"He would not witness but he would aid in the formation of the planets."

A. E. Van Vogt, The Weapon Shops Of Isher
graham roche
68. scrochum
John Scalzi, Old mans war

I haven’t seen her again, but I know I will. Soon. Soon enough.


great portents of things to come
WandaWolfe
69. F. P.
What a naughty thread--it's full of spoilers! (I'm half-closing my eyes as I write this lol. I've barely skimmed the thread as I don't want to see anything I'll regret having seen already.)

And that's why I think last lines don't get as much press: many people probably don't want to either reveal or know them.

I really don't like spoilers. As a reader I like going into a fictional world blind; as a writer I like when my readers go into my fictional worlds blind. I craft my stories so they maintain a sense of mystery from beginning to end; I think good fiction must maintain this. And I want readers to first learn of just about everything from inside my narratives.

I always avoid reading too many descriptions of books and movies beforehand. And I've become leery of describing my own as I feel that spoils the read I've carefully set up.

Oh well, I'm probably in a minority here.
WandaWolfe
70. -dsr-
There was a line printed beneath the two letters she had typed, unreadable from that distance. She went back to read it. It said: OOLCAY ITAY


-- The Adolescence of P-1, Thomas Ryan
WandaWolfe
71. Adelheid
"I really do think that love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops. But I also have to say, for the umpty-umpth time, that life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all. -- The Princess Bride by William Goldman

"The earth below him cracked." -- The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson

"Here lived a stupid vulgar son of a b*tch who thought he could hire DEATH as a company cop" -- Ah Pook is Here by William S. Burroughs

"And there never was an apple, in Adam's opinion, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it." -- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Soon Lee
72. SoonLee
cmk #6:
Wholehearted agreement.

One of my favourites:

"Placet", she said.
-- To say nothing of the dog by Connie Willis
WandaWolfe
73. RobMRobM
How bout a last paragraph - an alltime great (that I won't even name unless people really can't figure it out).

No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!

Rob
MC Pye
74. Mez
"I miss you terribly." -- All You Zombies, by Robert Heinlein
WandaWolfe
75. DennisH
How about the last sentence of The Triumph of Time, and by extension "Cities in Flight":

Creation began.
Steve Downey
76. sdowney
"I remember the first time that I saw Purgatory, Linda," I told
her. "I looked at it and I was sick. I wondered, where did it
lead...?"
(Stars.
Oh let there be.
This once to end with.
Please.)
"Stars?"
"This Mortal Mountain", Zelazny


But I still hear them walking in the trees: not speaking.
Waiting here, away from the terrifying weaponry, out of
the halls of vapor and light, beyond holland into the
hills, I have come to

Dhalgren, Delany



So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.

The House at Pooh Corner, A.A.Milne


(and now I'm all sniffly)
WandaWolfe
77. Cutsnake
I always liked this one:

'"The gift of humor is gone," said Trask drearily. "No man will ever laugh again."
And they remained there, staring, feeling the world shrink down to the dimensions of an experimental rat cage-with the maze removed and something, something about to be put in its place.'

Jokester, by Issac Asimov
WandaWolfe
78. Yehuda
I have known well all three of the deadliest night faces the human race has ever produced: Shiva Curiachen, and Ola who was Lady Blue, and Camber Tremodian himself.
Of the long list of regrets that define my life, I most regret the fact that I never knew Trent the Uncatchable.

Emerald Eyes, by Daniel Keys Moran

The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, Ursula Le Guin
WandaWolfe
79. Dan Guy
"These hands--the hands that care, the hands that mold; the hands that touch the lips, the lips that speak the words--the words that tell us we are whole."

_Life After God_, Douglas Coupland
Marcus W
80. toryx
F.P. 69:

Actually, I agree with you. I avoid spoilers as best I can, so I've been skimming most of these as well.

Obviously, though, I'm a glutton for punishment since I'm still reading them. I just like seeing if someone else picked a book I might have chosen as well.
WandaWolfe
81. AusJeb
"No sound was there in that high presence chamber in Galing till in a minute's space the serving man returned with startled countenance, and, bowing before Lord Juss, said, 'Lord, it is an Ambassador from Witchland and his train. He craveth present audience'."

~The Worm Ouroboros, E.R. Eddison
WandaWolfe
82. Yehuda
One more, because I'm almost finished rereading everything he ever wrote and that's sad:

The the greatest of living warriors was among them, and his sword was singing.

-King Chondos' Ride, Paul Edwin Zimmer
WandaWolfe
83. TJ Rourke
I have no mouth. And I must scream.

- Two lines, actually, I guess. From Harlan Ellison's story. A long time ago, some friends and I would get drunk sometimes and try to come up with similar lines like, "I have no toilet. And I must pee."
WandaWolfe
84. ppint.
"The doorknob opened a blue eye and looked at him."
WandaWolfe
85. xpontus
"And then there were none." (Eric Frank Russel)
WandaWolfe
86. J Sherer (@Timeslingers)
It was said earlier, I believe, and I agree. It's hard to beat:

I am Legend.

"I am Legend" by Richard Matheson.
WandaWolfe
87. Fogwoman
Men go and come, but earth abides.
WandaWolfe
88. Pixley
What smells Purple?
The man with English – H. L. Gold

“You Foreigner!” she screamed.
Her hand cracked on his cheek. She rose and ran down the dais steps and out of the hall.
The Sky People – Poul Anderson

It was going to be fun to play God.
The Power – Frank M. Robinson
WandaWolfe
89. Bill McDaniel
and Randy turned away to face the thousand-year night.
Pat Frank, Alas Babylon

Certainly the Harlan Ellison mentioned above..."I have no mouth. And I must scream."

History will remember us as wives ... Dune

Flowers for algernon...the most poignant last line ever

"Remember me to her" ... Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys

I think last lines ARE better remembered than first lines...they resonate with our sense of closure
WandaWolfe
90. Bill McDaniel
And

"Soldiers live. And wonder why" ... Soldiers live, Glen Cook
WandaWolfe
91. Devadatta
This is not speculative fiction, but a brilliant last line nevertheless:

Each understood the meaning of happiness in his ownway. But one and all knew and understood that they must livehonourably, work hard, and love and cherish the vast, happyland known as the Soviet Union.

(Chuck and Geck, Arkady Gaidar)
WandaWolfe
92. Atul Kherde
O. Henry. "The cop and the Anthem"

“What are you doin’ here?” asked the officer.
“Nothin’,” said Soapy.
“Then come along,” said the policeman.
“Three months on the Island,” said the Magistrate in the Police Court the next morning.
WandaWolfe
93. Atul Kherde
Frederic Forsyth "No comebacks"

"Don't worry. There will be no comebacks. I shot them both."
WandaWolfe
94. CinIN
Thank You, Pixley. The line "What smells purple?" has been stuck in my mind for over 50 years. I couldn't remember the name of the short story or the author and not much more than a partial outline of the plot but I remembered that last line! Now I have to find it and read it again.

SteveW. I agree. "The Ramans do everything in threes." When I read that last line I closed the book, said WOW! Then turned back to page one and started reading it again from the beginning. The only time in my life I ever done that.

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