"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
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 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? Commented Dec 5, 2013 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. Commented Dec 8, 2013 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. Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


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. Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 19:12

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