Arthur Cee Clarke

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, One of the greatest ScienceFiction and Science writers ever. His influence on our culture and civilization is considerable; you've read his books, been touched by his ideas and your world would be different from what it is today without him.

You might have always realized how great 2001: A SpaceOdyssey and such were. Then pick up the mammoth The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke and realize he had so many absolutely brilliant short stories too.




Some great quotes from Clarke's works are on the Clarke page here: (BrokenLink 2008/03/19)

The Three Laws:

Writer and critic George Zebrowski, a good friend of Clarke and a recognized expert on his work, has stated that Clarke's Three Laws are central to appreciating the man's work.

Not only are these aphorisms fundamental elements of Clarke's literary legacy, but some would argue that they comprise a valuable contribution to 20th-Century popular thought. He set them out in his book "Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible", and they are:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. Corollary: When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. ("Elderly" he defined as "In physics, mathematics and astronautics it means over thirty; in 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.")

  2. The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to venture beyond them into the impossible.

  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (See also ClarkesLaw.)

The Third Law is widely quoted and appears in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Although he then wrote after defining the laws "Since three laws was sufficient for both the Isaacs - Newton and Asimov - I have decided to stop here", he later stated Clarke's 69th Law:

"Reading computer manuals without the hardware is as frustrating as reading sex manuals without the software."

Paul Clarke on rec.arts.sf.written proposed a modification, which he called Clarke's Fourth Law :

Any sufficiently advanced technology becomes a GregEgan story. (He added: "I don't see why Arthur should be the only Clarke who gets to formulate them.")

I observe that, strictly speaking, the second part of the first "law" is not a corollary.


"A-Five [a little guide robot] started all over again with its set speech. It seemed very incongruous now to find so simple a machine in this place where automatronics had reached their ultimate development. Then Peyton realised that perhaps the robot was deliberately uncomplicated. There was little purpose in using a complex machine where a simple one would serve as well--or better" (second paragraph of chapter 5 in "The Lion of Comarre").

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