Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British author, inventor and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Clarke were known as the "Big Three" of science fiction.
- I can never look now at the Milky Way without wondering from which of those banked clouds of stars the emissaries are coming. If you will pardon so commonplace a simile, we have broken the glass of the fire-alarm and have nothing to do but to wait.
I do not think we will have to wait for long
- "The Sentinel" (1948), originally titled "Sentinel of Eternity" this is the short story which later provided the fundamental ideas for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) written by Clarke and Stanley Kubrick. Full text in 10 Story Fantasy, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 1951), p. 41. Two versions of the next to the last sentence have been widely published since at least 1951, the other being: "If you will pardon so commonplace a simile, we have set off the fire alarm and have nothing to do but to wait."
- If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run — and often in the short one — the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.
- The Exploration of Space (1951), p. 111
- It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true perspective as a single small globe against the stars.
- The Exploration of Space (1951), p. 187
- Others, one suspects, are afraid that the crossing of space, and above all contact with intelligent but nonhuman races, may destroy the foundations of their religious faith. They may be right, but in any event their attitude is one which does not bear logical examination — for a faith which cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.
- The Exploration of Space (1951)
- We stand now at the turning point between two eras. Behind us is a past to which we can never return ... The coming of the rocket brought to an end a million years of isolation ... the childhood of our race was over and history as we know it began.
- Exploration of Space (1952)
- Science can destroy religion by ignoring it as well as by disproving its tenets. No one ever demonstrated, so far as I am aware, the non-existence of Zeus or Thor — but they have few followers now.
- Childhood's End (1953), p. 15
- Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.
- "The Nine Billion Names of God" (1953)
The City and the Stars (1956)
- All page numbers from the 1957 mass market edition (1975 printing) published by Signet Books (Y6452)
- If the artist did not know his goal, even the most miraculous of tools could not find it for him.
- Ch. 2, p. 13
- Somewhere back at the beginning I was chosen to be Jester, and there is only one Jester at a time in Diaspar. Most people think that is one too many.
- Ch. 5, p. 33
- There still remained, for all men to share, the linked worlds of love and art. Linked, because love without art is merely the slaking of desire, and art cannot be enjoyed unless it is approached with love.
- Ch. 5, p. 37
- Khedron was content with the order of things as it was. True, he might upset that order from time to time—but only by a little. He was a critic, not a revolutionary. On the placidly flowing river of time, he wished only to make a few ripples; he shrank from diverting its course.
- Ch. 7, p. 44
- There was only one thing of which he could be certain now. Boredom would not be a serious problem for a considerable time to come.
- Ch. 11, p. 77
- The fact was that he suffered from an incurable malady which, it seemed, attacked only Homo sapiens among all the intelligent races of the universe. That disease was religious mania.
Throughout the earlier part of its history, the human race had brought forth an endless succession of prophets, seers, messiahs, and evangelists who convinced themselves and their followers that to them alone were the secrets of the universe revealed. Some of them succeeded in establishing religions which survived for many generations and influenced billions of men; others were forgotten even before their deaths.
The rise of science, which with monotonous regularity refuted the cosmologies of the prophets and produced miracles which they could never match, eventually destroyed all these faiths. It did not destroy the awe, not the reverence and humility, which all intelligent beings felt as they contemplated the stupendous universe in which they found themselves. What it did weaken, and finally obliterate, were the countless religions, each of which claimed with unbelievable arrogance, that it was the sole repository of the truth and that its millions of rivals and predecessors were all mistaken.
- Ch. 13, p. 99
- After a while Hilvar did his best to steer the conversation away from these meaningless morasses of theology in order to concentrate on the ascertainable facts.
- Ch. 13, p. 100
- All explorers are seeking something they have lost. It is seldom that they find it, and more seldom still that the attainment brings them greater happiness than the quest.
- Ch. 23, p. 174
- It is not my duty as an historian to predict the future, only to observe and interpret the past. But its lesson is clear enough; we have lived too long out of contact with reality, and now the time has come to rebuild our lives.
- Ch. 24, p. 183
- He had discharged his destiny; now, perhaps, he could begin to live.
- Ch. 25, p. 187
- They will have time enough, in those endless aeons, to attempt all things, and to gather all knowledge ... no Gods imagined by our minds have ever possessed the powers they will command ... But for all that, they may envy us, basking in the bright afterglow of Creation; for we knew the Universe when it was young.
- Profiles of the Future (1962)
- Yet now, as he roared across the night sky toward an unknown destiny, he found himself facing that bleak and ultimate question which so few men can answer to their satisfaction. What have I done with my life, he asked himself, that the world will be poorer if I leave it.
- Glide Path (1963) Chapter 27
- Human judges can show mercy. But against the laws of nature, there is no appeal.
- "Maelstrom II" (1965)
- As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying.
- Voices from the Sky : Previews of the Coming Space Age (1967)
- Behind every man now alive stand 30 ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) "Foreword"
We'll Never Conquer Space (1960)
- Essay, published in Science Digest (June 1960); later published in Profiles of the Future : An Inquiry Into the Limits of the Possible (1962), Voices from the Sky (1965), and Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! : Collected Essays, 1934-1998 (1999)
- Our age is in many ways unique, full of events and phenomena that never occurred before and can never happen again. They distort our thinking, making us believe that what is true now will be true forever, though perhaps on a larger scale. Because we have annihilated distance on this planet, we imagine that we can do it once again. The facts are otherwise, and we see them more clearly if we forget the present and turn our minds towards the past.
- When the pioneers and adventurers of our past left their homes in search of new lands, they said good-bye forever to the place of their birth and the companions of their youth. Only a lifetime ago, parents waved farewell to their emigrating children in the virtual certainty that they would never meet again.
And now, within one incredible generation, all this has changed.
- We have abolished space here on the little Earth; we can never abolish the space that yawns between the stars. Once again, as in the days when Homer sang, we are face-to-face with immensity and must accept its grandeur and terror, its inspiring possibilities and its dreadful restraints.
- To obtain a mental picture of the distance to the nearest star, compared to the nearest planet, you must imagine a world in which the closest object to you is only five feet away — and there is nothing else to see until you have travelled a thousand miles.
- Space can be mapped and crossed and occupied without definable limit; but it can never be conquered. When our race has reached its ultimate achievements, and the stars themselves are scattered no more widely than the seed of Adam, even then we shall still be like ants crawling on the face of the Earth. The ants have covered the world, but have they conquered it — for what do their countless colonies know of it, or of each other?
So it will be with us as we spread out from Earth, loosening the bonds of kinship and understanding, hearing faint and belated rumors at second — or third — or thousandth hand of an ever dwindling fraction of the entire human race. Though the Earth will try to keep in touch with her children, in the end all the efforts of her archivists and historians will be defeated by time and distance, and the sheer bulk of material. For the numbers of distinct human societies or nations, when our race is twice its present age, may be far greater than the total number of all the men who have ever lived up to the present time.
We have left the realm of comprehension in our vain effort to grasp the scale of the universe; so it must ever be, sooner rather than later.
- When you are next out of doors on a summer night, turn your head towards the zenith. Almost vertically above you will be shining the brightest star of the northern skies — Vega of the Lyre, twenty-six years away at the speed of light, near enough to the point of no return for us short-lived creatures. Past this blue-white beacon, fifty times as brilliant as our sun, we may send our minds and bodies, but never our hearts.
For no man will ever turn homewards beyond Vega, to greet again those he knew and loved on Earth.
Clarke's Three Laws, et al (1962; 1973…)
- Clarke's First Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
- "Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination" in Profiles of the Future (1962)
- Perhaps the adjective "elderly" requires definition. In physics, mathematics, and astronautics it means over thirty; in the other disciplines, senile decay is sometimes postponed to the forties. There are, of course, glorious exceptions; but as every researcher just out of college knows, scientists of over fifty are good for nothing but board meetings, and should at all costs be kept out of the laboratory!
- "Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination" in Profiles of the Future (1962; as revised in 1973)
- Clarke's Second Law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- "Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination" in Profiles of the Future (1962)
- Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Profiles of the Future (revised edition, 1973)
- The following statements have also been cited as further "Clarke's Laws"
- Clarke's Law of Revolutionary Ideas: Every revolutionary idea — in science, politics, art, or whatever — seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases:
- All truth passes through three stages.
First it is ridiculed.
Second it is violently opposed.
And third it is accepted as self-evident.
- As quoted in Seeds of Peace : A Catalogue of Quotations (1986) by Jeanne Larson, Madge Micheels-Cyrus, p. 244
- All truth passes through three stages.
- I am afraid that this chapter will amply demonstrate the truth of Clarke's 69th Law, viz., "Reading computer manuals without the hardware is as frustrating as reading sex manuals without the software." In both cases the cure is simple though usually very expensive.
- "Appendix II: MITE for Morons," The Odyssey File (1984), p. 123
Space and the Spirit of Man (1965)
- We seldom stop to think that we are still creatures of the sea, able to leave it only because, from birth to death, we wear the water-filled space suits of our skins.
- We cannot predict the new forces, powers, and discoveries that will be disclosed to us when we reach the other planets and set up new laboratories in space. They are as much beyond our vision today as fire or electricity would be beyond the imagination of a fish.
- The rash assertion that 'God made man in His own image' is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths, and as the hierarchy of the universe is disclosed to us, we may have to recognize this chilling truth: if there are any gods whose chief concern is man, they cannot be very important gods.
- One of the biggest roles of science fiction is to prepare people to accept the future without pain and to encourage a flexibility of mind. Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories. Two-thirds of 2001 is realistic — hardware and technology — to establish background for the metaphysical, philosophical, and religious meanings later.
- As quoted in The Making of Kubrick's 2001 (1970) by Jerome Agel, p. 300
- Perhaps our role on this planet is not to worship God — but to create Him.
- "The Mind of the Machine" in Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations (1972)
- The Ramans do everything in threes.
- Rendezvous with Rama (1972)
- "… we have a situation in which millions of vehicles, each a miracle of often unnecssary complication, are hurtling in all directions under the impulse of anything up to 200 horsepower. Many of them are the size of small houses and contain a couple of tons of sophisticated alloys — yet often carry a single passenger. They can travel at a hundred miles an hour, but are lucky if they average forty. In one lifetime they have consumed more irreplaceable fuel than has been used in the whole previous history of mankind. The roads to support them, inadequate though they are, cost as much as a small war; the analogy is a good one, for the casualties are on the same scale."
- Ch. 3 (The Future of Transport) in Profiles of the Future (7th printing, 1972)
- This is the first age that's ever paid much attention to the future, which is a little ironic since we may not have one.
- As quoted in The Peter Plan : A Proposal for Survival (1976) by Laurence J. Peter
The Fountains of Paradise (1979)
- All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Del Rey (First Ballantine Books edition, February 1980)
- Through long and bitter experience, Rajasinghe had learned never to trust first impressions, but also never to ignore them.
- Ch. 2 “The Engineer”, p. 10
- Since women are better at producing babies, presumably Nature has given men some talent to compensate. But for the moment I can't think of it.
- Ch. 10 “The Ultimate Bridge”, p. 52
- “I am the King.” Ah, but which king? The monarch who had stood on these granite flagstones — scarcely worn then, eighteen hundred years ago — was probably an able and intelligent man; but he failed to conceive that the time could ever come when he would fade into an anonymity as deep as that of his humblest subjects.
- Ch. 11 “The Silent Princess”, p. 65
- Even though you were once a goddess, Kalidasa's heaven was only an illusion.
- Ch. 11 “The Silent Princess”, p. 67
- I am unable to distinguish clearly between your religious ceremonies and apparently identical behavior at the sporting and cultural functions you have transmitted to me.
- Ch. 16 “Conversations with Starglider”, p. 94
- The hypothesis you refer to as God, though not disprovable by logic alone, is unnecessary for the following reason.
If you assume that the universe can be quote explained unquote as the creation of an entity known as God, he must obviously be of a higher degree of organization than his product. Thus you have more than doubled the size of the original problem, and have taken the first step on a diverging infinite regress. William of Ockham pointed out as recently as your fourteenth century that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily. I cannot therefore understand why this debate continues.
- Ch. 16 “Conversations with Starglider”, p. 95
- Meanwhile, among all its countless other effects upon human culture, Starglider had brought to its climax a process that was already well under way. It had put an end to the billions of the words of pious gibberish with which apparently intelligent men had addled their minds for centuries.
- Ch. 16 “Conversations with Starglider”, p. 96
- There was no substitute for reality; one should be aware of imitations.
- Ch. 23 “Moondozer”, p. 129
- Belief in God is apparently a psychological artifact of mammalian reproduction.
- Ch. 35 “Starglider Plus Eighty”, p. 190
- Long ago, he had made that choice between work and life that can seldom be avoided at the highest levels of human endeavor ... Any fool could shuffle genes, and most did. But whether or not history gave him credit, few men could have achieved what he had done — and was about to do.
- Ch. 39 “The Wounded Sun”, p. 208
- One fail-safe after another had let them down. Helped by the ionospheric storm, the sheer perversity of inanimate things struck again.
- Ch. 43 “Fail-Safe”, p. 223
- The fates could not possibly be so malevolent, now that he had only a few hundred meters to go.
He was whistling in the dark, of course. How many aircraft had crashed at the very edge of the runway, after safely crossing an ocean? How many times had machines or muscles failed when there were only millimeters to go? Every possible piece of luck, bad as well as good, happened to somebody, somewhere. He had no right to expect any special treatment.
- Ch. 53 “Fade-Out”, p. 272
- Plans for the final assault on Big Brother had already been worked out and agreed upon with Mission Control. Leonov would move in slowly, probing at all frequencies, and with steadily increasing power — constantly reporting back to Earth at every moment. When final contact was made, they would try to secure samples by drilling or laser spectroscopy; no one really expected these endeavours to succeed, as even after a decade of study TMA-1 resisted all attempts to analyse its material. The best efforts of human scientists in this direction seemed comparable to those of Stone Age men trying to break through the armour of a bank vault with flint axes.
- 2010: Odyssey Two (1982), Ch. 43: Thought Experiment
- I wanted to kill myself. I would have done it, too, if I had owned a gun. I was considering the gruesome alternatives — pills, slitting my wrists with a razor blade, jumping off a bridge — when another student called to ask me a detailed question on relativity. There was no way, after fifteen minutes of thinking about Mr. Einstein, that suicide was still a viable option. Divorce, certainly. Celibacy, highly likely. But death was out of the question. I could never have prematurely terminated my love affair with physics.
- "Richard Wakefield" in Rama II (1989)
- I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent.
- 1984: Spring (1984)
- Reading computer manuals without the hardware is as frustrating as reading sex manuals without the software.
- The Odyssey File (1984), also quoted in The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners (2004) by Geoff Tibballs, p. 128
- I have encountered a few "creationists" and because they were usually nice, intelligent people, I have been unable to decide whether they were really mad, or only pretending to be mad. If I was a religious person, I would consider creationism nothing less than blasphemy. Do its adherents imagine that God is a cosmic hoaxer who has created the whole vast fossil record for the sole purpose of misleading humankind? And, although I do not necessarily agree with the paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin's advocacy of evolution as a major proof of the glory of God, de Chardin's attitude is both logical and inspiring. A creator who laid the foundations for the entire future at the beginning of time is far more awesome than a clumsy tinkerer who constantly modifies his creations and throws away entire species in the process.
- Presidents, Experts, and Asteroids, essay for journal Science, pp 1532-3 (5 June 1998)
- The fact that we have not yet found the slightest evidence for life — much less intelligence — beyond this Earth does not surprise or disappoint me in the least. Our technology must still be laughably primitive, we may be like jungle savages listening for the throbbing of tom-toms while the ether around them carries more words per second than they could utter in a lifetime.
- "Credo" (1991); also in Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! : Collected Essays, 1934-1998 (1999), p. 360
- The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.
- "Credo" (1991); also in Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! : Collected Essays, 1934-1998 (1999), p. 360
- CNN is one of the participants in the war. I have a fantasy where Ted Turner is elected president but refuses because he doesn't want to give up power.
- Quoted in And I Quote: The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker (1992) by Ashton Applewhite, Tripp Evans and Andrew Frothingham, p. 279
- It is later than you think. May it not be true for this Sundial.
- I'm sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It's just been too intelligent to come here.
Richter 10 (1996)
- Co-written with Mike McQuay. All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Bantam Books, May 1997, 1st printing ISBN 0-553-57333-0
- “My system saves lives!”
Crane sighed and took a long pull from his bottle. “Few would consider that a compelling argument, doctor. Saving money is more to peoples tastes.”
- Chapter 2, “Eruptions” (p. 42)
- “Civilization exists,” Crane said, “by geological consent, subject to change without notice.”
- Chapter 3, “The Great Rift, The Pacific Ocean” (p. 55)
- “The nature of life is struggle, doctor,” Brother Ishmael said.
Crane stopped walking and addressed the man. “And the nature of man is to try and rise above the struggle.”
“To deny God!” Ishmael persisted.
“To make a better world.”
- Chapter 3, “The Great Rift, The Pacific Ocean” (pp. 55-56)
- So many people did it that it was no longer an obsession; it was a demographic.
- Chapter 4, “Geomorphological Processes” (p. 77)
- “I’m giving you an order, lady.”
“You’ve probably seen how well I respond to orders,” she said. “Look, you may as well save your breath.”
- Chapter 5, “Fade-Away” (p. 99)
- Another cheer. He turned to Newcombe. “Still think I’m crazy?”
“Crazy for trying,” the man said. “Brilliant for succeeding.”
- Chapter 11, “The Wager” (p. 220)
- People don't know what's good for them; they only know what they want. I learned to keep my expectations low a long time ago. It's good advice for anyone.
- Chapter 12, “Continental Drift” (p. 227)
- Man's bodily functions moved only toward death, but the mind could continue to enrich itself even as everything else embraced entropy.
- Chapter 18, “Hidden Faults” (p. 323)
- Thinkers prepare the revolution; bandits carry it out.
- Chapter 18, “Hidden Faults” (p. 327)
- “That’s what I think they’re doing, eating themselves alive. They murder in the name of God and blindly destroy the very ecosystem that sustains them.”
“People are people.” Bert shrugged.
“What you’re really saying is that people are animals,” Crane replied. “And I say to you, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can make a civilization, a real civilization, built on real understanding of ourselves and our universe.”
- Chapter 20, “Shimani-Gashi” (p. 362)
- Crane, I love you, but you're bullheaded and blind when you want to be. You preach tolerance, politeness, but you do the same thing everyone else does—you try and build some cumulative tally of pain and loss, then compete to see who got hurt more. You can't base your relationship with the world on that.
- Chapter 21, “Firestorm” (p. 374)
- His mistake was that he traded gods, science for Allah, and hence, traded goals without knowing it. He is as much a manufactured product of his religion as I am of mine, and as much a victim of it. But this is not about victims. Everybody's a victim. That's what Kate Masters prompted me to remember. Before it's done, we all lose everyone and everything that was ever important to us, and then we lose ourselves. We've got to get beyond our own victimhood and take the long view, the view to what we leave behind and what follows us.
- Chapter 21, “Firestorm” (p. 379)
- Years compress like fault lines in the mind. While everything else changes, the mind remembers exactly what it wants to remember. A decade can be lost and a year seem like forever.
- Chapter 22, “Richter Ten” (p. 386)
3001: The Final Odyssey (1997)
- A depressing thought occurred to him, soon after he had started exploring - much of the time in fast-forward - these relics of the past. He had read somewhere that by the turn of the century - his century! - there were approximately fifty thousand television stations broadcasting simultaneously. If that figure had been maintained and it might well have increased - by now millions of millions of hours of TV programming must have gone on the air. So even the most hardened cynic would admit that there were probably at least a billion hours of worthwhile viewing... and millions that would pass the highest standards of excellence. How to find these few - well, few million - needles in so gigantic a haystack? The thought was so overwhelming - indeed, so demoralizing - that after a week of increasingly aimless channel surfing Poole asked for the set to be removed. p. 13
- Within a few days he was being measured for his wings, not in the least like the elegant versions worn by the performers of Swan Lake. Instead of feathers there was a flexible membrane, and when he grasped the hand-holds attached to the supporting ribs, Poole realized that he must look much more like a bat than a bird.... For his first lessons he was restrained by a light harness, so that he did not move anywhere while he was taught the basic strokes - and, most important of all, learned control and stability. Like many acquired skills, it was not quite as easy as it looked. p.27
- I suppose they can detect sound vibrations - most marine creatures can - though this atmosphere may be too thin to carry my voice very far... Hello, can you hear me? My name is Frank Pool... ahem... I come in peace for all mankind. Makes me feel rather stupid, but can you suggest anything better? And it will be good for the record... Nobody's taking the slightest notice. Big ones and little ones, they're all creeping towards their igloos. Wonder what they actually do when they get there p. 29
- I've just had an amusing flashback. All these creatures going in the same direction - they look like the commuters who used to surge back and forth twice a day between home and office, before electronics made it unnecessary. p.29
- People are always asking me why I've devoted my life to such a horrible period of history, and it's not much of answer to say that there were even worse ones.' 'Then why are you interested in my century?' 'Because it marks the transition between barbarism and civilization.'...
- Of course, we in the so-called developed countries thought we were civilized. At least war wasn't respectable any more, and the United Nations was always doing its best to stop the wars that did break out.' 'Not very successfully: I'd give it about three out of ten...'
- What we find incredible is the way that people - right up to the early 2000s! - calmly accepted behaviour we would consider atrocious. And believed in the most mindboggled... Nonsense, which surely any rational person would dismiss out of hand.'...
'Examples, please.' 'Well... every year in some countries thousands of little girls were hideously mutilated to preserve their virginity? Many of them died - but the authorities turned a blind eye.' 'I agree that was terrible - but what could my government do about it?' 'A great deal - if it wished. But that would have offended the people who supplied it with oil and bought its weapons, like the landmines that killed and maimed civilians by the thousand.' p.32
- Then, one day, an unusually tasty dish appeared, which brought back vivid memories of the deer - hunts and barbecues of his youth. However, there was something unfamiliar about both flavour and texture, so Poole asked the obvious question. Anderson merely smiled, but for a few seconds Indra looked as if she was about to be sick. Then she recovered and said: 'You tell him - after we've finished eating.'... 'Corpse-food was on the way out even in your time,' Anderson explained. 'Raising animals to - ugh -eat them became economically impossible. I don't know how many acres of land it took to feed one cow, but at least ten humans could survive on the plants... And probably a hundred, with hydroponic techniques. 'But what finished the whole horrible business was not economics - but disease. It started first with cattle, then spread to other food animals - a kind of virus, I believe, that affected the brain, and caused a particularly nasty death.... Synthetic foods were now far cheaper, and you could get them in any flavour you liked. p.32 -33
- Above all, there was the memory - and mystery - of Helena... It had begun as a casual affair, in the early days of his astrotraining, but had become more and more serious as the years went by. Just before he had left for Jupiter, they had planned to make it permanent when he returned. And if he did not, Helena wished to have his child. He still recalled the blend of solemnity and hilarity with which they had made the necessary arrangements...
- Once you asked me about crime nowadays - I said any such interest pathological - maybe prompted by the endless sickening television programmes of your time - never able to watch more than few minutes myself... disgusting!
- Yes - crime. Always some... Society's irreducible noise level. What to do? Your solution - prisons. State-sponsored perversion factories - costing ten times average family income to hold one inmate! Utterly crazy... Obviously something very wrong with people who shouted loudest for more prisons - They should be psychoanalysed! But let's be fair - really no alternative before electronic monitoring and control perfected - you should see the joyful crowds smashing the prison walls then - nothing like it since Berlin fifty years earlier! p. 39
- 'I'm sorry,' he said. 'You're Commander Poole, of course. But I'm sure we've never met before.'...He was glad of the encounter, and was pleased to know that Danil was back in normal society. Whether his original crime had been axe-murders or overdue library books should no longer be the concern of his one-time employer; the account had been settled, the books closed. p. 73
- Although Poole sometimes missed the cops-and-robbers dramas he had often enjoyed in his youth, he had grown to accept the current wisdom: excessive interest in pathological behaviour was itself pathological. p. 73
- Whatever godlike powers and principalities lurked beyond the stars, Poole reminded himself, for ordinary humans only two things were important - Love and Death. p. 87
- Their little universe is very young, and its god is still a child. But it is too soon to judge them; when We return in the Last Days, We will consider what should be saved. p. 88, Epilogue
- The search for alien artefacts in the Solar System should be a perfectly legitimate branch of science ('exoarchaeology'?). Unfortunately, it has been largely discredited by claims that such evidence has already been found - and has been deliberately suppressed by NASA! p. 97, Acknowledgements
- Finally, I would like to assure my many Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim friends that I am sincerely happy that the religion which Chance has given you has contributed to your peace of mind (and often, as Western medical science now reluctantly admits, to your physical well-being). Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is best of all to be sane and happy. Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future. p. 97, Acknowledgements
2000s and posthumous publications
- The dinosaurs disappeared because they could not adapt to their changing environment. We shall disappear if we cannot adapt to an environment that now contains spaceships, computers — and thermonuclear weapons.
- Foreword to The Collected Stories (June 2000)
- There is the possibility that humankind can outgrow its infantile tendencies, as I suggested in Childhood's End. But it is amazing how childishly gullible humans are. There are, for example, so many different religions — each of them claiming to have the truth, each saying that their truths are clearly superior to the truths of others — how can someone possibly take any of them seriously? I mean, that's insane. ...Though I sometimes call myself a crypto-Buddhist, Buddhism is not a religion. Of those around at the moment, Islam is the only one that has any appeal to me. But, of course, Islam has been tainted by other influences. The Muslims are behaving like Christians, I'm afraid.
- Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.
- As quoted in Visions : How Science Will Revolutionize the Twenty-First Century (1999) by Michio Kaku, p. 295
- It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.
- As quoted in Duh! : The Stupid History of the Human Race (2000) by Bob Fenster, p. 208
- The intelligent minority of this world will mark 1 January 2001 as the real beginning of the 21st century and the Third Millennium.
- As quoted in the [Sri Lanka] Sunday Times (31 December 2000)
- We should be less concerned about adding years to life, and more about adding life to years. I have been very fortunate to have witnessed some of humanity's greatest achievements during the 20th century that is nearing its end. Yet we must admit that it has also been the most savage century in the history of our kind. If I can have one more wish, I want to see lasting and meaningful peace achieved in Sri Lanka as early as possible. But I am aware that peace cannot just be wished; it involves hard work, courage and persistence.
As we welcome 2001, let us harness our collective energies to create a culture of peace and a land of prosperity.
- As quoted in the [Sri Lanka] Sunday Times (31 December 2000)
- The danger of asteroid or comet impact is one of the best reasons for getting into space ... I'm very fond of quoting my friend Larry Niven: "The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program. And if we become extinct because we don't have a space program, it'll serve us right!"
- I've been saying for a long time that I'm hoping to find intelligent life in Washington ... I'm reasonably sure there must be life in this solar system, on Mars or on Europa, and other places. I think life is probably going to be ubiquitous, though we still don't have any proof of that yet — and still less, any proof of intelligent life anywhere. But I hope that will be coming in the next decade or so through radio astronomy or, perhaps, the discovery of objects in space which are obviously artificial. Astronomical engineering — that may be the other thing to look for.
- I don't pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about..
- As quoted in An Enchanted Life : An Adept's Guide to Masterful Magick (2001) by Patricia Telesco, p. 135
- The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information — in the sense of raw data — is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these.
- There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum.
- As quoted in Values of the Wise : Humanity's Highest Aspirations (2004) by Jason Merchey, p. 31
- The best measure of a man's honesty isn't his income tax return. It's the zero adjust on his bathroom scale.
- As quoted in The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners (2004) by Geoff Tibballs, p. 264
- SETI is probably the most important quest of our time, and it amazes me that governments and corporations are not supporting it sufficiently.
- I don't believe in God but I'm very interested in her.
- As quoted in Multiple Intelligences in Practice : Enhancing Self-esteem and Learning in the Classroom (2006) by Mike Fleetham, Section 2 : Using MI
- 2001 was written in an age which now lies beyond one of the great divides in human history; we are sundered from it forever by the moment when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out on to the Sea of Tranquility. Now history and fiction have become inexorably intertwined.
The Light of Other Days (2000)
- If the house is to be demolished tomorrow anyhow, people seem to feel, we may as well burn the furniture today. None of our problems are insoluble...But it seems clear that to prevail we humans will have to act with a smartness and selflessness that has so far eluded us during our long and tangled history.
- Ch. 4
- What we need is a machine that will let us see the other guy’s point of view.
- Ch. 5
- A single test which proves some piece of theory wrong is more valuable than a hundred tests showing that idea might be true.
- Ch. 6
- Science demands patience.
- Ch. 6
- What is becoming more interesting than the myths themselves has been the study of how the myths were constructed from sparse or unpromising facts—indeed, sometimes from no facts—in a kind of mute conspiracy of longing, very rarely under anybody’s conscious control.
- Ch. 19
- Just as the human memory is not a passive recorder but a tool in the construction of the self, so history has never been a simple record of the past, but a means of shaping peoples.
- Ch. 19
- If the WormCam had shown nothing else, he thought, it was this, with pitiless clarity: that the lives of most humans had been miserable and short, deprived of freedom and joy and comfort, their brief moments in the light reduced to sentences to be endured.
- Ch. 26
- The vendors seemed comical, so intent were they on their slivers of meaningless profit, all unaware of the desolate ages that lay in their own near future, their own imminent deaths.
- Ch. 26
- Maybe those nihilist philosophers are right; maybe this is all we can expect of the universe, a relentless crushing of life and spirit, because the equilibrium state of the cosmos is death...
- Ch. 28
- We always thought the living earth was a thing of beauty. It isn’t. Life has had to learn to defend itself against the planet’s random geological savagery.
- Ch. 28
- Page numbers from the trade paperback edition, published by the Orb; ISBN 978-0-312-87860-3 first printing, January 2002
- See Arthur C. Clarke's Internet Science Fiction Database page for original publication details
- What was the use of wealth and power unless they could be used to shape one’s dreams?
- The Wall of Darkness, p. 111
- He knew something of the emotion the artist must feel when his dreams become reality.
- The Wall of Darkness, p. 114
- Why should one be afraid of something merely because it is strange?
- The Wall of Darkness, p. 114
- When I was a boy, Brayldon, my old master once said that time could never destroy the truth—it could only hide it among legends. He was right.
- The Wall of Darkness, p. 114
- He had wished to convince himself that Comarre was evil. Now he knew that it was not. There would always be, even in Utopia, some for whom the world had nothing to offer but sorrow and disillusion.
- The Lion of Comarre, p. 151
- He was suddenly struck by an idea so brilliant that he was quite sure it could not possibly work.
- Hide-and-Seek, p. 166
- News that is sufficiently bad somehow carries its own guarantee of truth. Only good reports need confirmation.
- Breaking Strain, p. 170
- It is surprising how long it takes to do a simple addition when your life depends on the answer.
- Breaking Strain, p. 172
- A single neutron begins the chain-reaction that in an instant can destroy a million lives and the toil of generations. Equally insignificant and unimportant are the trigger-events which can sometimes change a man’s course of action and so alter the whole pattern of his future.
- Breaking Strain, p. 181
- Now there are some forms of apparel that may be worn or discarded as the fancy pleases with no other ill effects than a possible loss of social prestige. But spacesuits are not among them.
- Breaking Strain, p. 184
- “Very ingenious, like all your theories,” said Stormgren. “I wish you’d give them Opus numbers so that I could keep up with them. The objections to this one—”
- Guardian Angel, p. 220
- The extremists in his movement had discredited themselves thoroughly, and it would be a long time before the world heard of them again.
- Guardian Angel, p. 220
- There were some things that only time could cure. Evil men could be destroyed but nothing could be done about good men who were deluded.
- Guardian Angel, p. 220
- Purvis looked at him as though seeing something that had no right to be around in a world that had invented penicillin.
- Silence Please, p. 247
- I doubt if such a word exists, and if it does, it shouldn’t.
- Silence Please, p. 247
- The future is built on the rubble of the past; wisdom lies in facing that fact, not in fighting against it.
- The Road to the Sea, p. 265
- The person one loves never really exists, but is a projection focused through the lens of the mind onto whatever screen it fits with least distortion.
- The Road to the Sea, p. 269
- It was very pleasant to be loved, but it had its disadvantages if one stopped to look beyond the immediate moment. For a fleeting instant Yradne wondered if she had been fair to Jon, to Brant—even to herself. One day the decision would have to be made; it could not be postponed forever. Yet she could not for the life of her decide which of the boys she liked the better; and she did not know if she loved either.
No one had ever told her, and she had not yet discovered, that when one has to ask “Am I really in love?” the answer is always “No”.
- The Road to the Sea, p. 282
- There are some things that no amount of pure intelligence can anticipate, but which can only be learned by bitter experience.
- The Road to the Sea, p. 284
- It was good to be alive; it was better to be young; it was best of all to be in love.
- The Road to the Sea, p. 284
- Yet it was the impression that the unknown master has set out to create, Phoenix-like, from the dying embers of a great legend. He had captured, and held for all future ages to see, that beauty whose service is the purpose of life, and it sole justification.
- The Road to the Sea, p. 292
- You won’t be an artist if you live a thousand years. You’re merely an expert, and you know it. Those who can—do, those who can’t—criticise.
- The Road to the Sea, p. 294
- Though I've often made fun of the scientists, they've freed us forever from the stagnation that was overtaking your race.
- The Road to the Sea, p. 298
- Great art and domestic bliss are mutually incompatible. Sooner or later, you'll have to make your choice.
- The Road to the Sea, p. 298
- History, it has been said, never repeats itself but historical situations recur.
- Earthlight, p. 347
- “Censorship does raise some very difficult problems, doesn’t it? I’ve always argued that there’s an inverse correlation between a country’s degree of civilisation and the restraints it puts on its press.”
A New English voice from the back of the room cut in: “On that argument, Paris is a more civilised place than Boston.”
“Precisely,” answered Purvis. For once, he waited for a reply.
“OK,” said the New England voice mildly. “I’m not arguing. I just wanted to check.”
- Patent Pending, p. 500
- Like the atom bomb, it arose out of equally academic research. Never, gentlemen, underestimate science. I doubt if there is a single field of study so theoretical, so remote from what is laughingly called everyday life, that it may not one day produce something that will shake the world.
- Patent Pending, p. 500
- Captain Saunders, who came from Dallas and had no intention of being impressed by any prince, found himself unexpectedly moved by the wide, sad eyes. There were eyes that had seen too many receptions and parades, that had had to watch countless totally uninteresting things, that had never been allowed to stray far from the carefully planned official routes. Looking at that proud but weary face, Captain Saunders glimpsed for the first time the ultimate loneliness of royalty.
- Patent Pending, p. 508
- There may be a moral here. For the life of me I can't find it.
- What Goes Up, p. 529
- “You’re a gang of robbers,” he said once. “You’re seeing how quickly you can loot this planet of its resources, and you don’t give a damn about the next generation.”
“And what,” answered McKenzie, not very originally, “has the next generation ever done for us?”
- The Man Who Ploughed the Sea, p. 620
- For what is life but organized energy?
- Out of the Sun, p. 656
- This sounded promising, and my coefficient of cupidity jumped several points.
- I Remember Babylon, p. 705
- Why should men travel, he asked himself bitterly, across the gulf of stars at such expense and risk—merely to land on a spinning slag heap? For the same reason, he knew, that they had once struggled to reach Everest and the Poles and the far places of the Earth—for the excitement of the body that was adventure, and the more enduring excitement of the mind that was discovery.
- Summertime on Icarus, p. 730
- There was nothing like a museum for calming the mind, for putting the problems of everyday life in their true perspective. Here, surrounded by the infinite variety and wonder of Nature, he was reminded of truths he had forgotten. He was only one of a million million creatures that shared this planet Earth. The entire human race, with its hopes and fears, its triumphs and its follies, might be no more than an incident in the history of the world.
- Death and the Senator, p. 744
- It is hardly necessary for me to say that I do not believe in the supernatural; everything that happened has a perfectly rational explanation, obvious to any man with the slightest knowledge of psychology.
- Dog Star, p. 786
- The idea of death was utterly incongruous—as it is to all men until the final second.
- Maelstrom II, p. 789
- Christine would surely be talking, even if she had only an ape as audience. To her, any silence was as great a challenge as a blank canvas; it had to be filled with the sound of her own voice.
- An Ape About the House, p. 802
- The false logic involved is: “We exist; therefore something—call it X—created us.” Once this assumption is made, the properties of the hypothetical X can be fantasied in an unlimited number of ways.
But the entire process is obviously fallacious; for by the same logic something must have created X—and so on. We are immediately involved in an infinite regress, which can have no meaning in the real universe.
- Crusade, p. 878
90th Birthday Reflections (2007)
- As I approach my 90th birthday, my friends are asking how it feels like, to have completed 90 orbits around the Sun. Well, I actually don't feel a day older than 89!
- I now spend a good part of my day dreaming of times past, present and future. As I try to survive on 15 hours sleep a day, I have plenty of time to enjoy vivid dreams. Being completely wheel-chaired doesn't stop my mind from roaming the universe — on the contrary!
- In my time I've been very fortunate to see many of my dreams come true! Growing up in the 1920s and 1930s, I never expected to see so much happen in the span of a few decades. We "space cadets" of the British Interplanetary Society spent all our spare time discussing space travel — but we didn't imagine that it lay in our own near future... I still can't quite believe that we've just marked the 50th anniversary of the Space Age! We've accomplished a great deal in that time, but the "Golden Age of Space" is only just beginning. Over the next 50 years, thousands of people will travel to Earth orbit — and then, to the Moon and beyond. Space travel — and space tourism — will one day become almost as commonplace as flying to exotic destinations on our own planet.
- Communication technologies are necessary, but not sufficient, for us humans to get along with each other. This is why we still have many disputes and conflicts in the world. Technology tools help us to gather and disseminate information, but we also need qualities like tolerance and compassion to achieve greater understanding between peoples and nations.
I have great faith in optimism as a guiding principle, if only because it offers us the opportunity of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I hope we've learnt something from the most barbaric century in history — the 20th. I would like to see us overcome our tribal divisions and begin to think and act as if we were one family. That would be real globalisation...
- If I may be allowed just three wishes, they would be these.
Firstly, I would like to see some evidence of extra-terrestrial life. I have always believed that we are not alone in the universe. But we are still waiting for ETs to call us — or give us some kind of a sign. We have no way of guessing when this might happen — I hope sooner rather than later!
Secondly, I would like to see us kick our current addiction to oil, and adopt clean energy sources. ... Climate change has now added a new sense of urgency. Our civilisation depends on energy, but we can't allow oil and coal to slowly bake our planet...
The third wish is one closer to home. I've been living in Sri Lanka for 50 years — and half that time, I've been a sad witness to the bitter conflict that divides my adopted country.
I dearly wish to see lasting peace established in Sri Lanka as soon as possible.
- I'm sometimes asked how I would like to be remembered. I've had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer, space promoter and science populariser. Of all these, I want to be remembered most as a writer — one who entertained readers, and, hopefully, stretched their imagination as well.
Quotes about Clarke
- One of the English science-fiction writers once said, "Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering." ... I must say I agree with him.
- Stanley Kubrick, quoting a writer, who is usually assumed to be Clarke, as quoted in a 1966 interview with Jeremy Bernstein; later published in Stanley Kubrick : Interviews edited by Gene D. Phillips, p. 35, This has sometimes been quoted in published works as if it were a direct quote of Clarke, and is similar to one quoted above: "Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying." .
- In "Credo," an essay published in 1991, Clarke lays out a belief system by distinguishing between two views of God: Alpha, who "rewards good and evil in some vaguely described afterlife," and Omega, "Creator of Everything … a much more interesting character and not so easily dismissed." Clarke writes, "No intelligent person can contemplate the night sky without a sense of awe. The mind-boggling vista of exploding supernovae and hurtling galaxies does seem to require a certain amount of explaining."
Commentary on — or derivatives of — Clarke's Laws
- When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion — the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right.
- Isaac Asimov, in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ('Asimov's Corollary', February 1977 issue, compiled in F & SF essay collection "Quasar, Quasar, Burning Bright", page 212, Avon Discus Books, pub. June, 1979.)
- When an official declares something false, chances are that it is. When he or she says it is absolutely false, chances are it is true. ... The overemphasis sticks out like Pinocchio's nose.
- Jack Rosenthal, "On Language: Frame of Mind" in The New York Times Magazine (21 September 1994)
- Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.
- Anonymous saying, this is an inversion of the third of Clarke's three laws : "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." It has been called "Niven's Law" and attributed to Larry Niven by some, and to Terry Pratchett by others, but without any citation of an original source in either case — the earliest occurrence yet located is an anonymous one in Keystone Folklore (1984) by the Pennsylvania Folklore Society.
- Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
- Barry Gehm, as quoted by Stan Schmidt in Analog magazine (1991)
- Any technology that does not appear magical is insufficiently advanced.
- Clarke's Third Law doesn't work in reverse. Given that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," it does not follow that "any magical claim that anybody may make at any time is indistinguishable from a technological advance that will come some time in the future." ... There have admittedly been occasions when authoritative, pontificating skeptics have come away with egg on their faces, even within their own lifetimes. But there have been a far greater number of occasions when magical claims have never been vindicated. An apparent magical claim might eventually turn out to be true. In any age there are so many magical claims that are, or could be, made. They can't all be true; many are mutually contradictory. We have no reason to suppose that, simply by the act of sitting down and dreaming up a magical claim, we shall make it come true in some future technology. Some things that would surprise us today will come true in the future. But lots and lots of things that would surprise us today will not come true ever.
- Richard Dawkins, in "Putting Away Childish Things" in The Skeptical Inquirer (January-February 1995)