Top 10 Arthur C. Clarke Quotes

"Civilization cannot exist without new frontiers; it needs them both physically and spiritually. The physical need is obvious—new lands, new resources, new materials. The spiritual need is less apparent, but in the long run it is more important. We do not live by bread alone; we need adventure, variety, novelty, romance. As the psychologists have shown by their sensory-deprivation experiments, a man goes swiftly mad if he is isolated in a silent, darkened room, cut off completely from the external world. What is true of individuals is also true of societies; they, too, can become insane without sufficient stimulus."
—"Rocket to the Renaissance," Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! Collected Essays, 1934-1998, 1999


"Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying."
—quoted in Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the Twenty-First Century, 1999, by Michio Kaku


"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


"The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion."
—"Credo," Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! Collected Essays, 1934-1998, 1999


"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 set off 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

#05 - QUEST

"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."
The City and the Stars, 1956


"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 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?"
—"We'll Never Conquer Space," Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! Collected Essays, 1934-1998, 1999


"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible."
The Lost Worlds of 2001, 1972


"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 then they could utter in a lifetime."
—"Credo," Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! Collected Essays, 1934-1998, 1999


"There is no reason to assume that the universe has the slightest interest in intelligence—or even in life. Both may be random accidental by-products of its operations like the beautiful patterns on a butterfly's wings. The insect would fly just as well without them."
The Lost Worlds of 2001, 1972

User Comments - Add a Comment
Ramon - 2008-05-04 14:24:40
Just beautiful...
KesheR - 2008-05-06 17:54:15
This Top 10 is just awesome.
MobyD - 2008-06-07 16:35:54
Clarke's three "laws" of prediction: 1. 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. 2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible. 3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. I'm surprised only one of the three made the "top 10." The third one always comes to mind when I think of Sir Arthur.
daz - 2008-11-18 21:49:38

Such a deep thinking man, A forward thinking guy .Ahead of his time .Read his RAMA trio of books .

Ben - 2009-01-03 04:56:41

Number one breaks my heart. "fly just as well with out them" It kills me. Really fucking kills me.

kevin - 2010-06-23 03:28:52

Give me a break. What a bunch of crap.

Zerg - 2013-03-27 17:10:17

So edgy Kevin. You're just 3edgy5me buddy.

Simon Jester - 2013-04-02 05:43:02

Flies, yes. Survives, no.

John Ramsey - 2013-05-29 22:29:39

Absolutely top stuff.Arthur C.Clarke an complete visionary of his age,or any age.

TK - 2013-10-07 20:50:29

My problem with his quote about religion and morality is that most of the best SF stories include religion as one of their key components. What is it you would then write about?

La Bose - 2013-10-27 00:21:10

Religion being part of a story is different than what it has done. You can easily find issue with the man (or woman) hijacking a bus. But that is just what they have become and what they have done. You find no fault with them existing, had they not hijacked the bus.

Alan - 2013-11-28 15:37:08

Typical juvenile university "profundity".

Mook Dubious - 2013-12-02 15:35:11

Hmmm... Concerning Arthur C. Clarke being a visionary, I imagine that the imminently capable Clarke would say something like "I did some good work on some important stuff." Concerning the butterfly comment of "Flies, yes. Survives, no." I'm not sure that it's necessary to turn it into a "let's take a cheap shot at the "Yoda Looking" Scientist." Neither you nor I probably know as much about natural selection as he did. Zerg. I had to read your post at LEAST 4 times before I got it. Sneaky... Unfair. (Do you give lessons? :) ) Ben, back in 2009. Don't let it rip ya up, man. So what if it's got olive drab wings and lives a short life even if it dies of old age. That sucker can FLY!!! TK. I've been reading scifi for forever. And frankly, to say "most scifi books have relgion as a key point" is not accurate in my experience. (Note: Key point is NOT the same as it being mentioned.) And, I'd guess that less than 25% have it as a key point. Sure, there are many fine examples to draw on for religion in scifi. ("A Canticle for Leibowitz" is probably one of the BEST examples of religion not only done as a key point in scifi but also done intelligently and with a clear-eyed sensibility. And to dear, precious Alan. I'm glad to see you've made your mark on the profundity wall. I'll be sure to give it a sniff on my way by. Lastly, for all you folks that suffered thru this post. I stumbled here and saw stuff I wanted to reply to. I also figured I'd never be here again. So, I made some fairly inane comments to posts that I found I wished to. I hope you gotta giggle out of a few of them. And, I hope it didn't take you as long to figure out "Serg's post" as it did me....