"We are to be men of steel and ice and walk immune amidst the suppuration of the Earth" This quote is from an sf story I read when I was a child and I've never been able to find it again. Does anyone have an idea where it comes from?

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    And when was 'when I was a child' ? Any other details beyond the quote ? You must have some ideas because you state that it was a SF story. – Stan Dec 3 '13 at 22:12
  • It's a long time ago! A classic sf novel or short story from the 1970's. This has bothered me for years. Someone must remember such a striking phrase, surely? – Sarah Clothier Dec 5 '13 at 0:12
  • The impression I get from the quote is that it could be from characters from a rigid/conservative/religious society coming to a cosmopolitan earth. Unfortunately, that isn't very specific. – ImaginaryEvents Dec 8 '13 at 16:55
  • It could be. My very vague memory is that these are cyborgs, half human, half machine moving through an Earth ravaged by some apocalyptic disaster. – Sarah Clothier Dec 8 '13 at 19:10

The phrase "suppuration of the earth" has one Google hit other than this question. It's from a book about the works of David Rudkin:


As you can see, the partial quote mentioning that phrase also mentions immunity: "Searching the corridors, Gideon finds Jed in one cell... bowed by the weight of his head 'keeping all [his] foulness in', fixed on immunity from 'the suppuration of the earth'."

From what I gather, this would be from Rudkin's "Sons of Light," which seems to be a play. It's not much to go on, but it may be a clue for you or others.

  • Thanks you for the insight. Certainly this is an unusual phrase and I'm wondering if it has an origin independent of the story in my recollection. – Sarah Clothier Dec 8 '13 at 19:12

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