Arthur C. Clarke

Author of The War of the Worlds and 20+ Books

Arthur C. Clarke

105 Quotes

One of the most important and influential figures in science fiction in the 20th century was Arthur Charles Clarke. Before emigrating to Ceylon in 1956, he spent the first half of his life in England where he served as a radar operator in World War Two. He is best known for the 2001 novel and film: A Space Odyssey, which he co-created with the help of Stanley Kubrick. Clarke was a graduate of Kings College, London, where he was awarded first-clas... s honors in physics and math. He is past Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society, a member of the Academy of Astronautics, the Royal Astronomical Society, and many other scientific organizations. Author of over 50 books, his numerous awards include the 1961 Kalinga Prize, the AAAS-Westinghouse Science Writing Prize, the Bradford Washburn Award, and the John W. Campbell Award for his novel Rendezvous With Rama. Clarke also won the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula Award in 1972, 1974 and 1979, the World Science Fiction Convention's Hugo Award in 1974 and 1980, and the Science Fiction Writers of America's Grand Master in 1986. In 1989, he was awarded the CBE.READ MORE

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My favourite definition of an intellectual: 'Someone who has been educated beyond his/her intelligence.
[
Sources and Acknowledgements
: Chapter 19]

Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the idea is quite staggering.

La única posibilidad de descubrir los límites de lo posible es aventurarse un poco más allá de ellos, hacia lo imposible.

Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.

..the happy hum of humanity.

Then he [The Star Child] 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.

. . . Moon-Watcher felt the first faint twinges of a new and potent emotion. It was a vague and diffuse sense of envy--of dissatisfaction with his life. He had no idea of its cause, still less of its cure; but discontent had come into his soul, and he had taken one small step toward humanity.

It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.

Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

Now, before you make a movie, you have to have a script, and before you have a script, you have to have a story; though some avant-garde directors have tried to dispense with the latter item, you'll find their work only at art theaters.

Though the man-apes often fought and wrestled one another, their disputes very seldom resulted in serious injuries. Having no claws or fighting canine teeth, and being well protected by hair, they could not inflict much harm on one another. In any event, they had little surplus energy for such unproductive behavior; snarling and threatening was a much more efficient way of asserting their points of view.

The confrontation lasted about five minutes; then the display died out as quickly as it had begun, and everyone drank his fill of the muddy water. Honor had been satisfied; each group had staked its claim to its own territory.

Now times had changed, and the inherited wisdom of the past had become folly.

As his body became more and more defenseless, so his means of offense became steadily more frightful.

The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be.

. . . the newspapers of Utopia, he had long ago decided, would be terribly dull.

Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: (1) It's completely impossible. (2) It's possible, but it's not worth doing. (3) I said it was a good idea all along.

The best measure of a man's honesty isn't his income tax return. It's the zero adjust on his bathroom scale.

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.

I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.

In this universe the night was falling; the shadows were lengthening towards an east that would not know another dawn. But elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered; and along the path he once had followed, Man would one day go again.

But it had been widely argued that advanced intelligence could never arise in the sea; there were not enough challenges in so benign and unvarying an environment.

Humor was the enemy of desire.

After their encounter on the approach to Jupiter, there would aways be a secret bond between them---not of love, but of tenderness, which is often more enduring.

It must be wonderful to be seventeen, and to know everything.

What was more, they had taken the first step toward genuine friendship. They had exchanged vulnerabilities.

Floyd could imagine a dozen things that could go wrong; it was little consolation that it was always the thirteenth that actually happened.

They had not yet attained the stupefying boredom of omnipotence; their experiments did not always succeed.

Some dangers are so spectacular and so much beyond normal experience that the mind refuses to accept them as real, and watches the approach of doom without any sense of apprehension. The man who looks at the onrushing tidal wave, the descending avalanche, or the spinning funnel of the tornado, yet makes no attempt to flee, is not necessarily paralyzed with fright or resigned to an unavoidable fate. He may simply be unable to believe that the message of his eyes concerns him personally. It is all happening to somebody else.

At the present rate of progress, it is almost impossible to imagine any technical feat that cannot be achieved - if it can be achieved at all - within the next few hundred years.

It is a good principle in science not to believe any 'fact'---however well attested---until it fits into some accepted frame of reference. Occasionally, of course, an observation can shatter the frame and force the construction of a new one, but that is extremely rare. Galileos and Einsteins seldom appear more than once per century, which is just as well for the equanimity of mankind.

He found it both sad and fascinating that only through an artificial universe of video images could she establish contact with the real world.

Almost any seat was comfortable at one-sixth of a gravity.

How inappropriate to call this planet "Earth," when it is clearly "Ocean.

Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.

I am an optimist. Anyone interested in the future has to be otherwise he would simply shoot himself.

One of the greatest tragedies in mankind's entire history may be that morality was hijacked by religion.

Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.

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.

I'm sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It's just been too intelligent to come here.

Toda tecnología lo suficientemente avanzada es indistinguible de la magia.

El futuro no es ya lo que solía ser.

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.

In my life I have found two things of priceless worth - learning and loving. Nothing else - not fame, not power, not achievement for its own sake - can possible have the same lasting value. For when your life is over, if you can say 'I have learned' and 'I have loved,' you will also be able to say 'I have been happy.

What is human memory?" Manning asked. He gazed at the air as he spoke, as if lecturing an invisible audience - as perhaps he was. "It certainly is not a passive recording mechanism, like a digital disc or a tape. It is more like a story-telling machine. Sensory information is broken down into shards of perception, which are broken down again to be stored as memory fragments. And at night, as the body rests, these fragments are brought out from storage, reassembled and replayed. Each run-through etches them deeper into the brain's neural structure. And each time a memory is rehearsed or recalled it is elaborated. We may add a little, lose a little, tinker with the logic, fill in sections that have faded, perhaps even conflate disparate events.
"In extreme cases, we refer to this as confabulation. The brain creates and recreates the past, producing, in the end, a version of events that may bear little resemblance to what actually occurred. To first order, I believe it's true to say that everything I remember is false.

Open the pod bay doors, Hal.

I don't believe in God but I'm very interested in her.

In accordance with the terms of the Clarke-Asimov treaty, the second-best
science writer dedicates this book to the second-best science-fiction
writer.
[dedication to Isaac Asimov from Arthur C. Clarke in his book Report on Planet Three]

Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet Earth.
Now this is an interesting number, for by a curious coincidence there are approximately a hundred billion stars in our local universe, the Milky Way. So for every man who has ever lived, in this Universe there shines a star.
But every one of those stars is a sun, often far more brilliant and glorious than the small, nearby star we call the Sun. And many--perhaps most--of those alien suns have planets circling them. So almost certainly there is enough land in the sky to give every member of the human species, back to the first ape-man, his own private, world-sized heaven--or hell.
How many of those potential heavens and hells are now inhabited, and by what manner of creatures, we have no way of guessing; the very nearest is a million times farther away than Mars or Venus, those still remote goals of the next generation. But the barriers of distance are crumbling; one day we shall meet our equals, or our masters, among the stars.
Men have been slow to face this prospect; some still hope that it may never become reality. Increasing numbers, however are asking; 'Why have such meetings not occurred already, since we ourselves are about to venture into space?'
Why not, indeed? Here is one possible answer to that very reasonable question. But please remember: this is only a work of fiction.
The truth, as always, will be far stranger.

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