Isaac Asimov (c. 2 January 1920 – 6 April 1992) was a Russian-born American biochemist who was a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction, his most famous works being the Foundation series and I, Robot.

Isaac Asimov was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards.

May these Isaac Asimov Quotes on many subjects inspire you to never give up and keep working towards your goals. Who knows—success could be just around the corner.

Please DO page find from your browser for your subject SEARCH.

Isaac Asimov

A chipped pebble is almost part of the hand it never leaves. A thrown spear declares a sort of independence the moment it is released… The whole trend in technology has been to devise machines that are less and less under direct control and more and more seem to have the beginning of a will of their own. – Isaac Asimov

A fire eater must eat fire even if he has to kindle it himself. – Isaac Asimov

A good question is, of course, the key by which infinite answers can be educed. – Isaac Asimov

A myth or legend is simply not made up out of a vacuum. Nothing is–or can be. Somehow there is a kernel of truth behind it, however distorted that might be. – Isaac Asimov

A neat and orderly laboratory is unlikely. It is, after all, so much a place of false starts and multiple attempts. – Isaac Asimov

A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. – Isaac Asimov, “The First Law of Robotics”
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. – Isaac Asimov, “The Second Law of Robotics”
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. – Isaac Asimov, “The Third Law of Robotics”
A robot may not injure humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. – Isaac Asimov, “The Zeroth Law of Robotics”

A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. – Isaac Asimov

A scientist is as weak and human as any man, but the pursuit of science may ennoble him even against his will. – Isaac Asimov

A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value. – Isaac Asimov

After years of finding mathematics easy, I finally reached integral calculus and came up against a barrier. I realized that this was as far as I could go, and to this day I have never successfully gone beyond it in any but the most superficial way. – Isaac Asimov

All evil is good become cancerous. – Isaac Asimov

[A]ll knowledge is one. When a light brightens and illuminates a corner of a room, it adds to the general illumination of the entire room. Over and over again, scientific discoveries have provided answers to problems that had no apparent connection with the phenomena that gave rise to the discovery. – Isaac Asimov

All humanity could share a common insanity and be immersed in a common illusion while living in a common chaos. That can’t be disproved, but we have no choice but to follow our senses. – Isaac Asimov

All life is nucleic acid; the rest is commentary – Isaac Asimov

All normal life, Peter, consciously or otherwise, resent domination. If the domination is by an inferior, or by a supposed inferior, the resentment becomes stronger. – Isaac Asimov

All of a sudden, space isn’t friendly. All of a sudden, it’s a place where people can die. . . . Many more people are going to die. But we can’t explore space if the requirement is that there be no casualties; we can’t do anything if the requirement is that there be no casualties. – Isaac Asimov

All roads lead to Trantor, and that is where all stars end. – Isaac Asimov

All sorts of computer errors are now turning up. You’d be surprised to know the number of doctors who claim they are treating pregnant men. – Isaac Asimov

All the hundreds of millions of people who, in their time, believed the Earth was flat never succeeded in unrounding it by an inch. – Isaac Asimov

All the suffering that humanity ever knew can be traced to the one fact that no man in the history of the Galaxy … could really understand one another. Every human being lived behind an impenetrable wall of choking mist within which no other but he existed.

Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism. – Isaac Asimov

Although we will hate and fight the machines, we will be supplanted anyway, and rightly so, for the intelligent machines to which we will give birth may, better than we, carry on the striving toward the goal of understanding and using the Universe, climbing to heights we ourselves could never aspire to. – Isaac Asimov

An atom-blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways. – Isaac Asimov

And [Asimov]’ll sign anything, hardbacks, softbacks, other people’s books, scraps of paper. Inevitably someone handed him a blank check on the occasion when I was there, and he signed that without as much as a waver to his smile — except that he signed: ‘Harlan Ellison. – Isaac Asimov

And above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning. – Isaac Asimov

And in man is a three-pound brain which, as far as we know, is the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe. – Isaac Asimov

And it came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy. But there was now no man to whom AC might give the answer of the last question. No matter. The answer–by demonstration–would take care of that, too. For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully, AC organized the program. The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done. And AC said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!” And there was light– – Isaac Asimov

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’Isaac Asimov

Any book worth banning is a book worth reading. – Isaac Asimov

Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in embryo. – Isaac Asimov

Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those that live on it. – Isaac Asimov,  Pebble in the Sky

Any system which allows men to choose their own future will end by choosing safety and mediocrity, and in such a Reality the stars are out of reach. – Isaac Asimov

Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer should be replaced by a computer. – Isaac Asimov

Anything you make forbidden gains sexual attractiveness. Would you be particularly interested in women’s breasts if you lived in a society in which they were displayed at all times? – Isaac Asimov, Prelude to Foundation

Arthur Clarke says that I am first in science and second in science fiction in accordance with an agreement we have made. I say he is first in science fiction and second in science. – Isaac Asimov

As artists and traders in medieval cities began to form organizations, they instituted tough initiation ceremonies. Journeymen in Bergen, Norway, were shoved down a chimney, thrown three times into the sea, and soundly whipped. Such rites made belonging to the guild or corporation more precious to those who were accepted, and survived. – Isaac Asimov

At odd and unpredictable times, we cling in fright to the past . – Isaac Asimov

At two-tenths the speed of light, dust and atoms might not do significant damage even in a voyage of 40 years, but the faster you go, the worse it is–space begins to become abrasive. When you begin to approach the speed of light, hydrogen atoms become cosmic-ray particles, and they will fry the crew. …So 60,000 kilometers per second may be the practical speed limit for space travel. – Isaac Asimov

Author’s Notes: This story starts with section 6. This is not a mistake. I have my own subtle reasoning. So, just read, and enjoy. – Isaac Asimov

Before another century is done it will be hard for people to imagine a time when humanity was confined to one world, and it will seem to them incredible that there was ever anybody who doubted the value of space and wanted to turn his or her back on the Universe. – Isaac Asimov

Boasts are wind and deeds are hard. – Isaac Asimov

But life is glorious when it is happy; days are carefree when they are happy; the interplay of thought and imagination is far and superior to that of muscle and sinew. Let me tell you, if you don’t know it from your own experience, that reading a good book, losing yourself in the interest of words and thoughts, is for some people (me, for instance) an incredible intensity of happiness. – Isaac Asimov

Computerization eliminates the middleman – Isaac Asimov

Congratulations on the new library, because it isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you-and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life. – Isaac Asimov

Considering what human beings do and have done to human beings (and to other living things as well) … I can never imagine what the devil people think computers can add to the horrors. – Isaac Asimov

Courtiers don’t take wagers against the king’s skill. There is the deadly danger of winning. – Isaac Asimov

Creationists make it sound as though a “theory” is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night. – Isaac Asimov

Custom is second nature. Be accustomed to a bald head, sufficiently accustomed, and hair on it would seem monstrous. – Isaac Asimov

Dalton’s records, carefully preserved for a century, were destroyed during the World War II bombing of Manchester. It is not only the living who are killed in war. – Isaac Asimov

Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. – Isaac Asimov

Despite all that education and experience can do, I retain a certain level of unsophistication that I cannot eradicate and that my friends find amusing. In fact, I think I sometimes detect conspiratorial plottings among my friends to protect me against my own lack of sophistication. I don’t mind. I suspect that I am never quite as unsophisticated as they think I am, but I don’t mind. – Isaac Asimov

Do not forget that a traitor within our ranks, known to us, can do more harm to the enemy than a loyal man can do good to us. – Isaac Asimov

Dreams may be impossible, yet still be dreamed. – Isaac Asimov

During the century after Newton, it was still possible for a man of unusual attainments to master all fields of scientific knowledge. But by 1800, this had become entirely impracticable. – Isaac Asimov

Early in my school career, I turned out to be an incorrigible disciplinary problem. I could understand what the teacher was saying as fast as she could say it, I found time hanging heavy, so I would occasionally talk to my neighbor. That was my great crime, I talked in school. – Isaac Asimov

Economics is on the side of humanity now. – Isaac Asimov

Education isn’t something you can finish – Isaac Asimov

Emotionally I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time. – Isaac Asimov

Even as a youngster, though, I could not bring myself to believe that if knowledge presented danger, the solution was ignorance. – Isaac Asimov

Every human being lived behind an impenetrable wall of choking mist within which no other but he existed. Occasionally there were the dim signals from deep within the cavern in which another man was located so that each might grope toward the other. Yet because they did not know one another, and could not understand one another, and dared not trust one another, and felt from infancy the terrors and insecurity of that ultimate isolation there was the hunted fear of man for man, the savage rapacity of man toward man. – Isaac Asimov

Every period of human development has had its own particular type of human conflict—its own variety of problem that, apparently, could be settled only by force. And each time, frustratingly enough, force never really settled the problem. Instead, it persisted through a series of conflicts, then vanished of itself—what’s the expression—ah, yes, ‘not with a bang, but a whimper,’ as the economic and social environment changed. And then, new problems, and a new series of wars. – Isaac Asimov

Every religion seems like a fantasy to outsiders, but as holy truth to those of the faith. – Isaac Asimov

Experimentation is the least arrogant method of gaining knowledge. The experimenter humbly asks a question of nature. – Isaac Asimov

Feminine intuition? Is that what you wanted the robot for? You men. Faced with a woman reaching a correct conclusion and unable to accept the fact that she is your equal or superior in intelligence, you invent something called feminine intuition. – Isaac Asimov

Fertility is hereditary. If your parents didn’t have any children, neither will you. I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them. – Isaac Asimov

Fifty years,” I hackneyed, “is a long time.” “Not when you’re looking back at them,” she said. “You wonder how they vanished so quickly. – Isaac Asimov

Finished products are for decadent minds. – Isaac Asimov

Flattery is useful when dealing with youngsters. – Isaac Asimov

From my close observation of writers … they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review. – Isaac Asimov

God, how that stings! I’ve spent a lifetime loving science fiction and now I find that you must expect nothing of something that’s just science fiction. – Isaac Asimov

Goodbye, Hari, my love. Remember always–all you did for me.” -I did nothing for you.” -You loved me and your love made me–human. – Isaac Asimov

Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate itself in empty phrases. – Isaac Asimov, Foundation and Empire

Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate itself in empty phrases. – Isaac Asimov

Grip the nettle firmly and it will become a stick with which to beat your enemy. – Isaac Asimov

Happiness is doing it rotten your own way. – Isaac Asimov

Having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be. – Isaac Asimov

Having reached 451 books as of now doesn’t help the situation. If I were to be dying now, I would be murmuring, “Too bad! Only four hundred fifty-one.” (Those would be my next-to-last words. The last ones will be: “I love you, Janet.”) [They were. -Janet.] – Isaac Asimov

He always pictured himself a libertarian, which to my way of thinking means “I want the liberty to grow rich and you can have the liberty to starve”. It’s easy to believe that no one should depend on society for help when you yourself happen not to need such help. – Isaac Asimov

He had read much, if one considers his long life; but his contemplation was much more than his reading. He was wont to say that if he had read as much as other men he should have known no more than other men. – Isaac Asimov

How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics! This is a mnemonic phrase: the number of letters in each word of the phrase is a decimal digit of pi(π). – Isaac Asimov

How many people is the earth able to sustain? – Isaac Asimov

How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason. A scientist is cold, they think, and uses only his reason; he argues carefully step by step, and needs no imagination. That is all wrong. The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers. – Isaac Asimov

How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection…That is all wrong. The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers. – Isaac Asimov

How then to enforce peace? Not by reason, certainly, nor by education. If a man could not look at the fact of peace and the fact of war and choose the former in preference to the latter, what additional argument could persuade him? What could be more eloquent as a condemnation of war than war itself? What tremendous feat of dialectic could carry with it a tenth the power of a single gutted ship with its ghastly cargo? – Isaac Asimov

However much the creationist leaders might hammer away at their scientific and philosophical points, they would be helpless and a laughing-stock if that were all they had. It is religion that recruits their squadrons. Tens of millions of Americans, who neither know nor understand the actual arguments for – of even against – evolution, march in the army of the night, their Bibles held high. And they are a strong and frightening force, impervious to, and immunized against, the feeble lance of mere reason. – Isaac Asimov

However, I continue to try and I continue, indefatigably, to reach out. There’s no way I can single-handedly save the world or, perhaps, even make a perceptible difference – but how ashamed I would be to let a day pass without making one more effort. – Isaac Asimov

Human beings sometimes find a kind of pleasure in nursing painful emotions, in blaming themselves without reason or even against reason. – Isaac Asimov

Human beings thought with their hands. It was their hands that were the answer of curiosity, that felt and pinched and turned and lifted and hefted. There were animals that had brains of respectable size, but they had no hands and that made all the difference. – Isaac Asimov

Humanists recognize that it is only when people feel free to think for themselves, using reason as their guide, that they are best capable of developing values that succeed in satisfying human needs and serving human interests. – Isaac Asimov

Humanity is cutting down its forests, apparently oblivious to the fact that we may not be able to live without them. – Isaac Asimov

I am all for cultural diversity and would be willing to see each recognizable group value its cultural heritage. I am a New York patriot, for instance, and if I lived in Los Angeles, I would love to get together with other New York expatriates and sing “Give My Regards to Broadway”. – Isaac Asimov

I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. – Isaac Asimov

I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time. – Isaac Asimov, Free Inquiry, spring 1982

I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or agnostic. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.

I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander. – Isaac Asimov

I am not responsible for what other people think. I am responsible only for what I myself think, and I know what that is. No idea I’ve ever come up with has ever struck me as a divine revelation. Nothing I have ever observed leads me to think there is a God watching over me. – Isaac Asimov

I am the beneficiary of a lucky break in the genetic sweepstakes. – Isaac Asimov

I believe that only scientists can understand the universe. It is not so much that I have confidence in scientists being right, but that I have so much in nonscientists being wrong. – Isaac Asimov

I can’t bear to hear a human being spoken of with contempt just because of his group identification…It’s these respectable people here who create those hooligans out there. – Isaac Asimov

I consider violence an uneconomical way of attaining an end. There are always better substitutes, though they may sometimes be a little less direct. – Isaac Asimov

I discovered, to my amazement, that all through history there had been resistance … and bitter, exaggerated, last-stitch resistance … to every significant technological change that had taken place on earth. Usually the resistance came from those groups who stood to lose influence, status, money…as a result of the change. Although they never advanced this as their reason for resisting it. It was always the good of humanity that rested upon their hearts. – Isaac Asimov, lecture at Newark College of Engineering, Nov. 8, 1974

I do not fear computers. I fear lack of them. – Isaac Asimov

I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them. – Isaac Asimov

I do not use airplanes. They strike me as unsporting. You can have an automobile accident-and survive. You can be on a sinking ship-and survive. You can be in an earthquake, fire, volcanic eruption, tornado, what you will-and survive. But if your plane crashes, you do not survive. And I say the heck with it. – Isaac Asimov

I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse. – Isaac Asimov

I don’t believe in extraordinary concatenations of coincidence. – Isaac Asimov

I don’t like anything that’s got to be. I want to know why. – Isaac Asimov

I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse. – Isaac Asimov

I don’t believe in personal immortality; the only way I expect to have some version of such a thing is through my books. – Isaac Asimov

I don’t expect to live forever, but I do intend to hang on as long as possible. – Isaac Asimov

I don’t expect to live forever, nor do I repine over that, but I am weak enough to want to be remembered forever. – Yet how few of those who have lived, even of those who have accomplished far more than I have, linger on in world memory for even a single century after death. – Isaac Asimov

I don’t subscribe to the thesis, ‘Let the buyer beware,’ I prefer the disregarded one that goes, ‘Let the seller be honest.’

I don’t think I’ve ever held a racket in my hand … There’s got to be somebody in the US who isn’t trying to play tennis and stinking up the court. – Isaac Asimov

I even got a letter from a young woman in British Columbia that began as follows: ‘Today I am eighteen. I am sitting at the window, looking out at the rain, and thinking how much I love you.’ – Isaac Asimov

I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism. – Isaac Asimov

I figure that if God actually does exist, he is big enough to understand an honest difference of opinion. – Isaac Asimov

I have been told that a young would-be composer wrote to Mozart asking advice about how to compose a symphony. Mozart responded that a symphony was a complex and demanding form and it would be better to start with something simpler. The young man protested, ‘But, Herr Mozart, you wrote symphonies when you were younger than I am now.’ Mozart replied, ‘I never asked how. – Isaac Asimov

I have never written a book that didn’t teach me far more than it taught my reader. – Isaac Asimov

I have never, in all my life, not for one moment, been tempted toward religion of any kind. The fact is that I feel no spiritual void. I have my philosophy of life, which does not include any aspect of the supernatural and which I find totally satisfying. I am, in short, a rationalist and believe only that which reason tells me is so. – Isaac Asimov

I have written 240 books on a wide variety of topics. . . . Some of it I based on education I received in my school, but most of it was backed by other ways of learning – chiefly in the books I obtained in the public library. – Isaac Asimov

I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing — to be clear. – Isaac Asimov

I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing-to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics-Well, they can do whatever they wish. – Isaac Asimov

I never considered myself a patriot. I like to think I recognize only humanity as my nation. – Isaac Asimov, Foundation’s Edge

I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don’t have to waste your time in either attacking or defending. – Isaac Asimov

I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. – Isaac Asimov

I stand four-square for reason, and object to what seems to me to be irrationality, whatever the source. If you are on my side in this, I must warn you that the army of the night has the advantage of overwhelming numbers, and, by its very nature, is immune to reason, so that it is entirely unlikely that you and I can win out. We will always remain a tiny and probably hopeless minority, but let us never tire of presenting our view, and of fighting the good fight for the right. – Isaac Asimov

I type 90 words per minute on the typewriter; I type 100 words per minute on the word processor. But, of course, I don’t keep that up indefinitely – every once in a while I do have to think a few seconds. – Isaac Asimov

I type and think at 90 words a minute. – Isaac Asimov

I want to be a human being, nothing more and nothing less. … I don’t suppose we can ever stop hating each other, but why encourage that by keeping the old labels with their ready-made history of millennial hate? – Isaac Asimov

I wanted to be a psychological engineer, but we lacked the facilities, so I did the next best thing – I went into politics. It’s practically the same thing. – Isaac Asimov

I was once being interviewed by Barbara Walters…In between two of the segments she asked me…”But what would you do if the doctor gave you only six months to live?” I said, “Type faster.” This was widely quoted, but the “six months” was changed to “six minutes,” which bothered me. It’s “six months. – Isaac Asimov

I wish that I could say I was optimistic about the human race. I love us all, but we are so stupid and shortsighted that I wonder if we can lift our eyes to the world about us long enough not to commit suicide. – Isaac Asimov, Yours, Isaac Asimov

I would argue that a truly developed country would be beyond Presidents and Kings. In a world with some semblance of equality, each liberal-minded woman, each gay person, and indeed almost every person could be their own President. In a world of equals, what real service does a ruler provide? – Isaac Asimov

 I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die. – Isaac Asimov

I, on the other hand, am a finished product. I absorb electrical energy directly and utilize it with an almost one hundred percent efficiency. I am composed of strong metal, am continuously conscious, and can stand extremes of environment easily. These are facts which, with the self-evident proposition that no being can create another being superior to itself, smashes your silly hypothesis to nothing. – Isaac Asimov

If a conclusion is not poetically balanced, it cannot be scientifically true. – Isaac Asimov

If all human beings understood history, they might cease making the same stupid mistakes over and over. – Isaac Asimov, Prelude to Foundation

If I am right, then (religious fundamentalists) will not go to Heaven, because there is no Heaven. If they are right, then they will not go to Heaven, because they are hypocrites. – Isaac Asimov

If I could trace my origins to Judas Maccabaeus or King David, that would not add one inch to my stature. It may well be that many East European Jews are descended from Khazars, I may be one of them. Who knows? And who cares? – Isaac Asimov

If I had felt then as I feel now, or as I felt a few years after I had married her, nothing could possibly have persuaded me to marry a woman who smoked. Dates, yes. Sexual adventures, yes. But to pin myself permanently inside closed quarters with a smoker? Never. Never. Never. Beauty wouldn’t count, sweetness wouldn’t count, suitability in every other respect wouldn’t count. – Isaac Asimov

If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul. – Isaac Asimov

If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them. – Isaac Asimov

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster. – Isaac Asimov, Life, Jan. 1984

If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I’d type a little faster. – Isaac Asimov

If there is a category of human being for whom his work ought to speak for itself, it is the writer. – Isaac Asimov

If we only obey those rules that we think are just and reasonable, then no rule will stand, for there is no rule that some will not think is unjust and unreasonable. – Isaac Asimov

If you ask for too much, you lose even that which you have. – Isaac Asimov

If you suspect that my interest in the Bible is going to inspire me with sudden enthusiasm for Judaism and make me a convert of mountain?moving fervor and that I shall suddenly grow long earlocks and learn Hebrew and go about denouncing the heathen you little know the effect of the Bible on me. Properly read, it is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived. – Isaac Asimov

If you were to insist I was a robot, you might not consider me capable of love in some mystic human sense, but you would not be able to distinguish my reactions from that which you would call love so what difference would it make? – Isaac Asimov

If you’re born in a cubicle and grow up in a corridor, and work in a cell, and vacation in a crowded sun-room, then coming up into the open with nothing but sky over you might just give you a nervous breakdown. – Isaac Asimov

I’m an indoors person. I’m not afraid of the outdoors and I penetrate it easily and cheerfully. However, I must admit I like Central Park better than the wilderness, and I like the canyons of Manhattan better than Central Park, and I like the interior of my apartment better than the canyons of Manhattan, and I like my two rooms better with the shades down at all times than with the shades up. I’m not an agoraphobe at all, but I am a claustrophile, if you see the distinction. – Isaac Asimov

I’m gradually managing to cram my mind more and more full of things. I’ve got this beautiful mind and it’s going to die, and it’ll all be gone. And then I say, not in my case. Every idea I’ve ever had I’ve written down, and it’s all there on paper. And I won’t be gone; it’ll be there. – Isaac Asimov

I’m not a speed reader. I’m a speed understander. – Isaac Asimov

Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centures since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly. – Isaac Asimov, Canadian Atheists Newsletter, 1994

In 1936, I first wrote science fiction. It was a long-winded attempt at writing an endless novel … which died. I remember one sentence: ‘Whole forests stood sere and brown in midsummer.’ That was the first Asimovian science-fiction sentence. – Isaac Asimov

In a properly automated and educated world, then, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence. It may be that machines will do the work that makes life possible and that human beings will do all the other things that make life pleasant and worthwhile. – Isaac Asimov

In all the known history of Mankind, advances have been made primarily in physical technology; in the capacity of handling the inanimate world about Man. Control of self and society has been left to to chance or to the vague gropings of intuitive ethical systems based on inspiration and emotion. As a result no culture of greater stability than about fifty-five percent has ever existed, and these only as the result of great human misery. – Isaac Asimov

In life, people will take you at your own reckoning. – Isaac Asimov

In my life there have been several individuals whose presence made it easier for me to think, pleasanter to make my responses. – Isaac Asimov

In the presence of total Darkness, the mind finds it absolutely necessary to create light. – Isaac Asimov

In theory, there is nothing the computer can do that the human mind can not do. The computer merely takes a finite amount of data and performs a finite number of operations upon them. The human mind can duplicate the process – Isaac Asimov

Increasingly, our leaders must deal with dangers that threaten the entire world, where an understanding of those dangers and the possible solutions depends on a good grasp of science. The ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, questions of diet and heredity. All require scientific literacy. Can Americans choose the proper leaders and support the proper programs if they themselves are scientifically illiterate? The whole premise of democracy is that it is safe to leave important questions to the court of public opinion-but is it safe to leave them to the court of public ignorance? – Isaac Asimov

Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today – but the core of science fiction, its essence has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all. – Isaac Asimov

Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today — but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept around which it revolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all. – Isaac Asimov

Inertia! Our ruling class knows one law; no change. Despotism! They know one rule; force. Maldistribution! They know one desire; to hold what is theirs. – Isaac Asimov

Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What does the scientist have to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity! – Isaac Asimov

Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket. – Isaac Asimov

Intelligence is a valuable thing, but it is not usually the key to survival. Sheer fecundity … usually counts. The intelligent gorilla doesn’t do as well as the less intelligent but more-fecund rat, which doesn’t do as well as the still-less-intelligent but still-more-fecund cockroach, which doesn’t do as well as the minimally-intelligent but maximally-fecund bacterium.

Intelligence is an accident of evolution, and not necessarily an advantage. – Isaac Asimov

Intelligence is an extremely subtle concept. It’s a kind of understanding that flourishes if it’s combined with a good memory, but exists anyway even in the absence of good memory. It’s the ability to draw consequences from causes, to make correct inferences, to foresee what might be the result, to work out logical problems, to be reasonable, rational, to have the ability to understand the solution from perhaps insufficient information. You know when a person is intelligent, but you can be easily fooled if you are not yourself intelligent – Isaac Asimov

Intuition is the art, peculiar to the human mind, of working out the correct answer from data that is, in itself, incomplete or even, perhaps, misleading. – Isaac Asimov

Isn’t it sad that you can tell people that the ozone layer is being depleted, the forests are being cut down, the deserts are advancing steadily, that the greenhouse effect will raise the sea level 200 feet, that overpopulation is choking us, that pollution is killing us, that nuclear war may destroy us — and they yawn and settle back for a comfortable nap. But tell them that the Martians are landing, and they scream and run. – Isaac Asimov, The Secret of the Universe

It has always been my ambition to die in harness with my head face down on a keyboard and my nose caught between two of the keys.

It is almost impossible to think of something no one has thought of before, but it is always possible to add different frills. – Isaac Asimov

It is always useful, you see, to subject the past life of reform politicians to rather inquisitive research. – Isaac Asimov

It is change continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today. – Isaac Asimov

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our every man must take on a science fictional way of thinking. – Isaac Asimov

It is in meeting the great tests that mankind can most successfully rise to great heights. Out of danger and restless insecurity comes the force that pushes mankind to newer and loftier conquests. – Isaac Asimov

It is no defense of superstition and pseudoscience to say that it brings solace and comfort to people. . . . If solace and comfort are how we judge the worth of something, then consider that tobacco brings solace and comfort to smokers; alcohol brings it to drinkers; drugs of all kinds bring it to addicts; the fall of cards and the run of horses bring it to gamblers; cruelty and violence bring it to sociopaths. Judge by solace and comfort only and there is no behavior we ought to interfere with. – Isaac Asimov

It is not only the living who are killed in war. – Isaac Asimov

It is not so much that I have confidence in scientists being right, but that I have so much in nonscientists being wrong. – Isaac Asimov

It is precisely because it is fashionable for Americans to know no science, even though they may be well educated otherwise, that they so easily fall prey to nonsense. – Isaac Asimov

It is quite clear that as long as the nations of the world spend most of their energy, money, and emotional strength in quarreling with words and weapons, a true offensive against the common problems that threaten human survival is not very likely. A world government that can channel human efforts in the direction of the great solutions seems desirable, even essential. Naturally, such a world government should be a federal one, with regional and local autonomy safeguarded and with cultural diversity promoted. – Isaac Asimov

It is remarkable, Hardin, how the religion of science has grabbed hold. – Isaac Asimov

It is the chief characteristic of the religion of science that it works. – Isaac Asimov

It is the invariable lesson to humanity that distance in time, and in space as well, lends focus. It is not recorded, incidentally, that the lesson has ever been permanently learned. – Isaac Asimov

It is the nature of the mind that makes individuals kin, and the differences in the shape, form or manner of the material atoms out of whose intricate relationships that mind is built are altogether trivial. – Isaac Asimov

It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you? – Isaac Asimov

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition. – Isaac Asimov

It is well-known that the friend of a conqueror is but the last victim. – Isaac Asimov

It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety. – Isaac Asimov

It seems to me that God is a convenient invention of the human mind – Isaac Asimov

It seems to me, Golan, that the advance of civilization is nothing but an exercise in the limiting of privacy. – Isaac Asimov

It takes more than capital to swing business. You’ve got to have the A. I. D. degree to get by — Advertising, Initiative, and Dynamics. – Isaac Asimov

It took me thirty-six years; and, in some fifty stories, ranging in length from short-shorts to novels, I think I must have touched, in one way or another, on every aspect of computers and computerization. And (mark this!) I did it without ever knowing anything at all about computers in any real sense. To this day, I don’t. I am totally inept with machinery… on my typewriter I turn out books at the contemptible rate of one a month – Isaac Asimov

It was childish to feel disappointed, but childishness comes almost as naturally to a man as to a child. – Isaac Asimov

It was easy to cover up ignorance by the mystical word “intuition. – Isaac Asimov

It was obvious that bigotry was never a one-way operation, that hatred bred hatred! – Isaac Asimov

It’s a poor atom blaster that won’t point both ways. – Isaac Asimov

It’s humbling to think that all animals, including human beings, are parasites of the plant world. – Isaac Asimov

It’s just science fiction so it’s allowed to be silly, and childish, and stupid. It’s just science fiction, so it doesn’t have to make sense. It’s just science fiction, so you must ask nothing more of it than loud noises and flashing lights. – Isaac Asimov

It’s not so much what you have to learn if you accept weird theories, it’s what you have to UNlearn. – Isaac Asimov

It’s the writing that teaches you. – Isaac Asimov

It’s your fiction that interests me. Your studies of the interplay of human motives and emotion. – Isaac Asimov

John Dalton’s records, carefully preserved for a century, were destroyed during the World War II bombing of Manchester. It is not only the living who are killed in war. – Isaac Asimov

Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments. – Isaac Asimov

Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise — even in their own field. – Isaac Asimov

Korell is that frequent phenomenon in history : the republic whose ruler has every attribute of the absolute monarch but the name. It therefore enjoyed the usual despotism unrestrained even by those two moderating influences in the legitimate monarchies: regal “honor” and court etiquette. – Isaac Asimov

Life is a journey, but don’t worry, you’ll find a parking spot at the end. – Isaac Asimov

Life is glorious when it is happy; days are carefree when they are happy; the interplay of thought and imagination is far superior to that of muscle and sinew. – Isaac Asimov

Life originated in the sea, and about eighty percent of it is still there. – Isaac Asimov

Life would be impossible on such a planet. It wouldn’t get enough heat and light, and if it rotated there would be total darkness half of every day. There wouldn’t be any native inhabitants. You couldn’t expect life—which is fundamentally dependent on light—to develop under such extreme conditions of light deprivation. Half of every axial rotation spent in Darkness! No, nothing could exist under conditions like that. – Isaac Asimov

Like Rolling Uphill : Realizing the Hone… – Isaac Asimov

Love life seems to be that factor which requires the largest quantity of magical tinkering. – Isaac Asimov

Many a prophecy, by the mere force of its being believed, is transmuted to fact. – Isaac Asimov

Many adults, whether consciously or unconsciously, find it beneath their adult dignity to do anything as childish as read a book, think a thought, or get an idea. Adults are rarely embarrased at having forgotten what little algebra or geography they once learned – Isaac Asimov

Married life had taught him the futility of arguing with a female in a dark-brown mood. – Isaac Asimov

Mathematicians deal with large numbers sometimes, but never in their income. – Isaac Asimov

Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else. – Isaac Asimov

Meanwhile, fears of universal disaster sank to an all time low over the world. – Isaac Asimov

Modern science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us. – Isaac Asimov

My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required. Creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones. – Isaac Asimov

My feeling is, quite simply, that if there is a God, He has done such a bad job that he isn’t worth discussing. – Isaac Asimov

Naturally, since [the Sumerians] didn’t know what caused the flood anymore than we do, they blamed the gods. (That’s the advantage of religion. You’re never short an explanation for anything.) – Isaac Asimov

Naturally, there’s got to be a limit for I don’t expect to live forever, but I do intend to hang on as long as possible. – Isaac Asimov

Never judge your own writing. You’re not fit to do so. – Isaac Asimov

Night will always be a time of fear and insecurity, and the heart will sink with the sun. – Isaac Asimov

No matter how carefully records are kept and filed and computerized, they grow fuzzy with time. Stories grow by accretion. Tales accumulate–like dust. The longer the time lapse, the dustier the history–until it degenerates into fables. – Isaac Asimov

No one can possibly have lived through the Great Depression without being scarred by it. No amount of experience since the depression can convince someone who has lived through it that the world is safe economically. – Isaac Asimov

No one suggests that writing about science will turn the entire world into a model of judgment and creative thought. It will be enough if they spread the knowledge as widely as possible. – Isaac Asimov

No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. – Isaac Asimov

No vision of God and heaven ever experienced by the most exalted prophet can, in my opinion, match the vision of the universe as seen by Newton or Einstein – Isaac Asimov

Nothing has to be true, but everything has to sound true. – Isaac Asimov

Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put on an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up. Well, maybe once. – Isaac Asimov

Now any dogma, based primarily on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user. – Isaac Asimov

Of course there are worlds. Millions of them! Every star you see has worlds, and most of those you don’t see. – Isaac Asimov

Oh, for a pin that would puncture pretension! – Isaac Asimov

Old men tend to forget what thought was like in their youth; they forget the quickness of the mental jump, the daring of the youthful intuition, the agility of the fresh insight. They become accustomed to the more plodding varieties of reason, and because this is more than made up by the accumulation of experience, old men think themselves wiser than the young. – Isaac Asimov

Old people think young people haven’t learned about love. Young people think old people have forgotten about love. – Isaac Asimov

On Earth, we are unmanned by our longing for a pastoral past that never really existed; and that, if it had existed, could never exist again…on the Moon, there is no past to long for or dream about. There is no direction but forward. – Isaac Asimov

Once you get it into your head that somebody is controlling events, you can interpret everything in that light and find no reasonable certainty anywhere. – Isaac Asimov

Once, when a religionist denounced me in unmeasured terms, I sent him a card saying, “I am sure you believe that I will go to hell when I die, and that once there I will suffer all the pains and tortures the sadistic ingenuity of your deity can devise and that this torture will continue forever. Isn’t that enough for you? Do you have to call me bad names in addition?” – Isaac Asimov, I, Asimov: A Memoir

Isaac Asimov Quotes

Once, when a religionist denounced me in unmeasured terms, I sent him a card saying, “I am sure you believe that I will go to hell when I die, and that once there I will suffer all the pains and tortures the sadistic ingenuity of your deity can devise and that this torture will continue forever. Isn’t that enough for you? Do you have to call me bad names in addition?” – Isaac Asimov

One might accept death reasoningly, with every aspect of the conscious mind, but the body was a brute beast that knew nothing of reason. – Isaac Asimov

One might suppose that reality must be held to at all costs. However, though that may be the moral thing to do, it is not necessarily the most useful thing to do. The Greeks themselves chose the ideal over the real in their geometry and demonstrated very well that far more could be achieved by consideration of abstract line and form than by a study of the real lines and forms of the world; the greater understanding achieved through abstraction could be applied most usefully to the very reality that was ignored in the process of gaining knowledge. – Isaac Asimov

One of Walt Whitman’s best-known poems is this one: When I heard the learn’d astronomer,…. The trouble is, Whitman is talking through his hat, but the poor soul didn’t know any better – Isaac Asimov

One thought that occurs to me is that men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better. – Isaac Asimov

One would suppose that the battle for religious liberty was won in the United States two hundred years ago. However, in the time since, and right now, powerful voices are always raised in favor of bigotry and thought control. – Isaac Asimov

One would suppose that the battle for religious liberty was won in the United States two hundred years ago. However, in the time since, and right now, powerful voices are always raised in favor of bigotry and thought control. It is useful, then, to have a compendium of the thoughts of great men and women of all faiths (and of none) on the subject, to convince us that we men and woman of freedom are not and never have been alone. – Isaac Asimov

Only a lie that wasn’t ashamed of itself could possibly succeed. – Isaac Asimov

Our lifetime may be the last that will be lived out in a technological society. – Isaac Asimov

[O]ur statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.

Outside intelligences, exploring the Solar System with true impartiality, would be quite likely to enter the Sun in their records thus: Star X, spectral class G0, 4 planets plus debris. – Isaac Asimov, Often misquoted as “Jupiter plus debris”

Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest. – Isaac Asimov

Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest. – Isaac Asimov

Past glories are poor feeding. – Isaac Asimov

People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. – Isaac Asimov

People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it. I, on the other hand, see coincidence everywhere as an inevitable consequence of the laws of probability, according to which having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be. – Isaac Asimov

People think of education as something they can finish. – Isaac Asimov

Pierre Curie, a brilliant scientist, happened to marry a still more brilliant one-Marie, the famous Madame Curie-and is the only great scientist in history who is consistently identified as the husband of someone else. – Isaac Asimov

Plate glass… has no beauty of its own. Ideally, you ought not to be able to see it at all, but through it you can see all that is happening outside. That is the equivalent of writing that is plain and unadorned. Ideally, in reading such writing, you are not even aware that you are reading. Ideas and events seem merely to flow from the mind of the writer into that of the reader without any barrier between. I hope that is what is happening when you read this book – Isaac Asimov

Politically popular speech has always been protected: even the Jews were free to say ‘Heil Hitler.’ – Isaac Asimov

Postulates are based on assumption and adhered to by faith. Nothing in the Universe can shake them. – Isaac Asimov

Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived. – Isaac Asimov

Radiation, unlike smoking, drinking, and overeating, gives no pleasure, so the possible victims object. – Isaac Asimov

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil-but there is no way around them. – Isaac Asimov

Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. – Isaac Asimov

Saying something is ‘too bad’ is easy. You say you disapprove, which makes you a nice person, and then you can go about your business and not be interested anymore. It’s a lot worse than ‘too bad.’ It’s against everything decent and natural. – Isaac Asimov

Scientific apparatus offers a window to knowledge, but as they grow more elaborate, scientists spend ever more time washing the windows. – Isaac Asimov

Scientific truth is beyond loyalty and disloyalty. – Isaac Asimov

Scientists derive satisfaction from figuring out the puzzle. It’s about the quest, not the grail. – Isaac Asimov

Scientists expect to be improved on and corrected; they hope to be – Isaac Asimov

Self-education is a continuing source of pleasure to me, for the more I know, the fuller my life is and the better I appreciate my own existence – Isaac Asimov

Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is. The only function of a school is to make self-education easier; failing that, it does nothing. – Isaac Asimov

Since emotions are few and reasons are many (said the robot Giscard) the behavior of a crowd can be more easily predicted than the behavior of one person. – Isaac Asimov

So the universe is not quite as you thought it was. You’d better rearrange your beliefs, then. Because you certainly can’t rearrange the universe. – Isaac Asimov

So, then, what is style? There are two chief aspects of any piece of writing: 1) what you say and 2) how you say it. The former is “content” and the latter is “style.” – Isaac Asimov

[Social] science fiction is that branch of literature which is concerned with the impact of scientific advance on human beings. – Isaac Asimov

Society is much more easily soothed than one’s own conscience. – Isaac Asimov

Speech as known to us was unnecessary. A fragment of a sentence amounted almost to a long-winded redundancy. A gesture, a grunt, the curve of a facial line–even a significantly timed pause yielded informational juice. – Isaac Asimov

Speech, originally, was the device whereby Man learned, imperfectly, to transmit the thoughts and emotions of his mind. By setting up arbitrary sounds and combinations of sounds to represent certain mental nuances, he developed a method of communication–but one which in its clumsiness and thick-thumbed inadequacy degenerated all the delicacy of the mind into gross and guttural signaling. – Isaac Asimov

Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know — and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know — even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction — than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too. – Isaac Asimov

Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know – and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. – Isaac Asimov

Suppose we were to teach creationism. What would be the content of the teaching? Merely that a creator formed the universe and all species of life ready-made? Nothing more? No details? – Isaac Asimov

Surely no child, and few adults, have ever watched a bird in flight without envy. – Isaac Asimov

Surely, if we take on thinking partners – or, at the least, thinking servants – in the form of machines, we will be more comfortable with them, and will relate to them more easily, if they are shaped like humans. It will be easier to be friends with human-shaped robots than with specialized machines of unrecognizable shape. And I sometimes think that, in the desperate straits of humanity today, we would be grateful to have nonhuman friends, even if they are only the friends we build ourselves. – Isaac Asimov

Tell me why the stars do shine, Tell me why the ivy twines, Tell me what makes skies so blue, And I’ll tell you why I love you. Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine, Tropisms make the ivy twine, Raleigh scattering make skies so blue, Testicular hormones are why I love you. – Isaac Asimov

Tens of millions of Americans who neither know or understand the actual arguments for, or even against, evolution, march in the Army of the Night with their Bibles held high – Isaac Asimov

That’s the harm of Close Encounters: that it convinces tens of millions that that’s what just science fiction is. – Isaac Asimov

The advance of genetic engineering makes it quite conceivable that we will begin to design our own evolutionary progress. – Isaac Asimov

The age of the pulp magazine was the last in which youngsters, to get their primitive material, were forced to be literate. – Isaac Asimov

The appearance of strength is all about you. It would seem to last forever. However… the rotten tree-trunk, until the very moment when the storm-blast breaks it in two, has all the appearance of might it ever had. The storm-blast whistles through the branches of the Empire even now. Listen… and you will hear the creaking. – Isaac Asimov

The Bible contains legendary, historical, and ethical contents. It is quite possible to consider them separately, and one doesn’t have to accept the legends in order to get the ethics. Fundamentalists make a grave mistake to insist on the letter of the writings, because they drive away many who can’t swallow the Adam-and-Eve bit. – Isaac Asimov

The bible must be seen in a cultural context. It didn’t just happen. These stories are retreads. But, tell a Christian that — No, No! What makes it doubly sad is that they hardly know the book, much less its origins. – Isaac Asimov

The closer to the truth, the better the lie, and the truth itself, when it can be used, is the best lie. – Isaac Asimov

The cure for advanced gullibility is to go to sleep and consider matters again the next day. – Isaac Asimov

The dangers that face the world can, every one of them, be traced back to science. The salvations that may save the world will, every one of them, be traced back to science. – Isaac Asimov

[The dignity of the human species] will be completely destroyed [if the population growth continues at its present rate]. I use what I call the bathroom metaphor: if two people live in an apartment and there are two bathrooms, then both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want to stay as long as you like for whatever you need. But if you have twenty people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person; you have to bang on the door, “Aren’t you done yet?” In the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive. Convenience and decency can’t survive. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one person matters. – Isaac Asimov, As guest of Bill Moyers on PBS

The downtrodden are more religious than the satisfied. – Isaac Asimov

The Earth faces environmental problems right now that threaten the imminent destruction of civilization and the end of the planet as a livable world. Humanity cannot afford to waste its financial and emotional resources on endless, meaningless quarrels between each group and all others. there must be a sense of globalism in which the world unites to solve the real problems that face all groups alike. – Isaac Asimov

The Earth should not be cut up into hundreds of different sections, each inhabited by a self-defined segment of humanity that considers its own welfare and its own “national security” to be paramount above all other consideration. – Isaac Asimov

The energy requirements for interstellar travel are so great that it is inconceivable to me that any creatures piloting their ships across the vast depths of space would do so only in order to play games with us over a period of decades. If they want to make contact, they would make contact; if not, they would save their energy and go elsewhere. – Isaac Asimov

The essential building block is…the true love that is impossible to define for those who have never experienced it and unnecessary to define for those who have. – Isaac Asimov

The facts, gentlemen, and nothing but the facts, for careful eyes are narrowly watching. – Isaac Asimov

The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity — a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop. – Isaac Asimov

The false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge. – Isaac Asimov

The final end of Eternity, and the beginning of Infinity – Isaac Asimov

The first law of dietetics seems to be if it tastes good, its bad for you. – Isaac Asimov

The first step in making rabbit stew is catching the rabbit. – Isaac Asimov

The fundamentalists deny that evolution has taken place; they deny that the earth and the universe as a whole are more than a few thousand years old, and so on. There is ample scientific evidence that the fundamentalists are wrong in these matters, and that their notions of cosmogony have about as much basis in fact as the Tooth Fairy has. – Isaac Asimov

The great secret of the successful fool is that he’s no fool at all – Isaac Asimov

The greatest inventors are unknown to us. Someone invented the wheel – but who? – Isaac Asimov

The greatest weapons in the conquest of knowledge are an understanding mind and the inexorable curiosity that drives it on. – Isaac Asimov

The history of science is full of revolutionary advances that required small insights that anyone might have had, but that, in fact, only one person did. – Isaac Asimov

The human brain, then, is the most complicated organization of matter that we know. – Isaac Asimov

The human mind works at low efficiency. Twenty percent is the figure usually given. When, momentarily, there is a flash of greater power it is termed a hunch, or insight, or intuition. – Isaac Asimov, Foundation and Empire

The important prediction is not the automobile, but the parking problem; not radio, but the soap opera; not the income tax, but the expense account; not the Bomb, but the nuclear stalemate – Isaac Asimov

The intelligent man is never bored. – Isaac Asimov

The Iranians are Moslems and the Iraqi are Moslems. Both are certain that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet and believe it with all their hearts. And yet, at the moment, Iraq doesn’t trust Iran worth a damn, and Iran trusts Iraq even less than that. In fact, Iran is convinced that Iraq is in the pay of the Great Satan (that’s God-fearing America, in case you’ve forgotten) and Iraq counters with the accusation that it is Iran who is in the pay of the Great Satan. Neither side is accusing the Godless Soviets of anything, which is a puzzle – Isaac Asimov

The Law of conservation of energy tells us we can’t get something for nothing, but we refuse to believe it. – Isaac Asimov

The laws of history are as absolute as the laws of physics, and if the probabilities of error are greater, it is only because history does not deal with as many humans as physics does atoms, so that individual variations count for more. – Isaac Asimov

The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine. – Isaac Asimov

The Master created humans first as the lowest type, most easily formed. Gradually, he replaced them by robots, the next higher step, and finally he created me, to take the place of the last humans. – Isaac Asimov

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny… – Isaac Asimov

The most hopelessly stupid man is he who is not aware he is wise. – Isaac Asimov

The peace and joy of the Christmas season was marred by a proclamation of a general strike of all the military forces of the world. Panic reigns in the hearts of all the patriots of every persuasion. Meanwhile, fears of universal disaster sank to an all-time low over the world. – Isaac Asimov

The significant chemicals of living tissue are rickety and unstable, which is exactly what is needed for life. – Isaac Asimov

The soft bonds of love are indifferent to life and death. They hold through time so that yesterday’s love is part of today’s and the confidence in tomorrow’s love is also part of today’s. And when one dies, the memory lives in the other, and is warm and breathing. And when both die – I almost believe, rationalist though I am – that somewhere it remains, indestructible and eternal, enriching all of the universe by the mere fact that once it existed. – Isaac Asimov

The spell of power never quite releases its hold. – Isaac Asimov

The temptation was great to muster what force we could and put up a fight. It’s the easiest way out, and the most satisfactory to self-respect–but, nearly invariably, the stupidest. – Isaac Asimov

The Three Laws of Robotics: 1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; 2: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; 3: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law; The Zeroth Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. – Isaac Asimov

The Three Theorems of Psychohistorical Quantitivity: The population under scrutiny is oblivious to the existence of the science of Psychohistory. The time periods dealt with are in the region of 3 generations. The population must be in the billions (±75 billions) for a statistical probability to have a psychohistorical validity. – Isaac Asimov

The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. – Isaac Asimov

The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing. – Isaac Asimov

The Tyranni rule fifty worlds; they are outnumbered hundreds to one. In such a position, simple force is insufficient. Devious methods, intrigue, assassination are their specialties. The net they weave across space is a wide one, and close-meshed. I can well believe that it extends across five hundred light-years to Earth. – Isaac Asimov

The tyranny that now exists is actual. That which may exist in the future is potential. If we are always to draw back from change with the thought that the change may be for the worse, then there is no hope at all of ever escaping injustice. – Isaac Asimov

The vast majority, who believe in astrology and think that the planets have nothing better to do than form a code that will tell them whether tomorrow is a good day to close a business deal or not, become all the more excited and enthusiastic. – Isaac Asimov

The whole business is the crudest sort of stratagem, since we have no way of foreseeing it to the end. It is a mere paying out of rope on the chance that somewhere along the length of it will be a noose. – Isaac Asimov

The whole world might know you and acclaim you, but someone in the past, forever unreachable, forever unknowing, spoils it all. – Isaac Asimov

The world in general disapproves of creativity, and to be creative in public is particularly bad. Even to speculate in public is rather worrisome. – Isaac Asimov

The world is being Americanized and technologized to its limits, and that makes it dull for some people. Reaching the Moon restores the frontier and gives us the lands beyond. – Isaac Asimov

The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders. – Isaac Asimov

The young specialist in English Lit, …lectured me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the Universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern “knowledge” is that it is wrong. – Isaac Asimov

Theories are not so much wrong as incomplete – Isaac Asimov

There are many aspects of the universe that still cannot be explained satisfactorily by science; but ignorance only implies ignorance that may someday be conquered. To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today. – Isaac Asimov

There are no happy endings in history, only crisis points that pass. – Isaac Asimov, The Gods Themselves

There are so many benefits to be derived from space exploration and exploitation; why not take what seems to me the only chance of escaping what is otherwise the sure destruction of all that humanity has struggled to achieve for 50,000 years?

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” – Isaac Asimov, “A Cult of Ignorance”, Newsweek, Jan. 21, 1980

There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere. – Isaac Asimov

There is an art to science, and a science in art; the two are not enemies, but different aspects of the whole. – Isaac Asimov

There is as yet insufficient data for a meaningful answer. – Isaac Asimov

There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death. – Isaac Asimov

There is no Master but the Master,” he said, “and QT-1 is his prophet. – Isaac Asimov

There is no merit to discipline under ideal circumstances. I must have it in the face of death or it is worthless. – Isaac Asimov

There is no more desire to live past one’s time than to die before it. – Isaac Asimov

There is no one so insufferable as a person who gives no other excuse for a peculiar action than saying he had been directed to it in a dream. – Isaac Asimov

There is no right to deny freedom to any object with a mind advanced enough to grasp the concept and desire the state. -(from “The Bicentennial Man) story) – Isaac Asimov

There is not a discovery in science, however revolutionary, however sparkling with insight, that does not arise out of what went before. – Isaac Asimov

There is nothing frightening about an eternal dreamless sleep. Surely it is better than eternal torment in Hell and eternal boredom in Heaven. – Isaac Asimov

There is nothing so eternally adhesive as the memory of power. – Isaac Asimov

There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save. – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky

There seems to be a feeling that anything that is natural is good. Strychnine is natural. – Isaac Asimov

There was this superstitious fear on the part of the pygmies of the present for the relics of the giants of the past. – Isaac Asimov

There’s nothing to it. All you have to do is take a close look at yourself and you will understand everyone else. We’re in no way different ourselves… You show me someone who can’t understand people and I’ll show you someone who has built up a false image of himself. – Isaac Asimov

There’s so much knowledge to be had that specialists cling to their specialties as a shield against having to know anything about anything else. They avoid being drowned. – Isaac Asimov

There’s something about a pious man such as he. He will cheerfully cut your throat if it suits him, but he will hesitate to endanger the welfare of your immaterial and problematical soul. – Isaac Asimov

They absorb carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. What could be more desirable? And they look good in the bargain. Stop chopping down the rain forests and plant more saplings, and we’re on our way. – Isaac Asimov

They don’t want equal time – they want all the time there is. – Isaac Asimov

They won’t listen. Do you know why? Because they have certain fixed notions about the past. Any change would be blasphemy in their eyes, even if it were the truth. They don’t want the truth; they want their traditions. – Isaac Asimov

Things do change. The only question is that since things are deteriorating so quickly, will society and man’s habits change quickly enough? – Isaac Asimov

Thinking is the activity I love best, and writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers. I can write up to 18 hours a day. Typing 90 words a minute, I’ve done better than 50 pages a day. Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up-well, maybe once. – Isaac Asimov

This game the Persian Magi did invent, The force of Eastern wisdom to express: From thence to busy Europeans sent, And styled by modern Lombards pensive chess. – Isaac Asimov

This idea [standardized time zones] was first advanced and fought for by Sandford Fleming of Canada and Charles F. Dowd of the United States. I mention them chiefly because like so many benefactors of mankind they have been rewarded by total obscurity. – Isaac Asimov

Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do. – Isaac Asimov

Though science can cause problems, it is not by ignorance that we will solve them. – Isaac Asimov

To all my gentle readers who have treated me with love for over 30 years, I must say farewell. It has always been my ambition to die in harness with my head face down on a keyboard and my nose caught between two of the keys, but that’s not the way it worked out. I have had a long and happy life and I have no complaints about the ending, thereof, and so farewell – farewell. – Isaac Asimov

To any who know the star field well from one certain reference point, stars are as individual as people. Jump ten parsecs, however, and not even your own sun is recognizable. – Isaac Asimov

To bring about destruction by overcrowding, mass starvation, anarchy, the destruction of our most cherished values, there is no need to do anything. We need only do nothing except what comes naturally, and breed. And how easy it is to do nothing – Isaac Asimov

To insult someone we call him ‘bestial’. For deliberate cruelty and nature, ‘human’ might be the greater insult. – Isaac Asimov

To introduce something altogether new would mean to begin all over, to become ignorant again, and to run the old, old risk of failing to learn. – Isaac Asimov

To make discoveries, you have to be curious about why the universe is the way it is. – Isaac Asimov

To me it seems to be important to believe people to be good even if they tend to be bad, because your own joy and happiness in life is increased that way, and the pleasures of the belief outweigh the occasional disappointments. To be a cynic about people works just the other way around and makes you incapable about enjoying the good things. – Isaac Asimov

To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today. – Isaac Asimov

To test a perfect theory with imperfect instruments did not impress the Greek philosophers as a valid way to gain knowledge. – Isaac Asimov

To those who are trained in science, creationism seems a bad dream, a sudden coming back to life of a nightmare, a renewed march of an Army of the Night risen to challenge free thought and enlightenment. – Isaac Asimov

Today’s science fiction is tomorrow’s science fact. – Isaac Asimov

True literacy is becoming an arcane art and the nation [United States] is steadily dumbing down. – Isaac Asimov

True literacy is becoming an arcane art and the United States is steadily dumbing down. – Isaac Asimov

Unfortunately, in many cases, people who write science fiction violate the laws of nature, not because they want to make a point, but because they don’t know what the laws of nature are. – Isaac Asimov

University President: Why is it that you physicists always require so much expensive equipment? Now the Department of Mathematics requires nothing but money for paper, pencils, and erasers . . . and the Department of Philosophy is better still. It doesn’t even ask for erasers. – Isaac Asimov

Until I became a published writer, I remained completely ignorant of books on how to write and courses on the subject … they would have spoiled my natural style; made me observe caution; would have hedged me with rules. – Isaac Asimov

Until now in world’s history, whenever we’ve had a dark age, its been temporary and local. And other parts of the world have been doing fine. And eventually, they help you get out of the dark age. We are now facing a possible dark age which is going to be world-wide and permanent! That’s not fun. That’s a different thing. But once we have established many worlds, we can do whatever we want as long as we do it one world at a time. – Isaac Asimov

Was there anything more exciting in life than seeking answers? – Isaac Asimov

We all know we fall. Newton’s discovery was that the moon falls, too-and by the same rule that we do. – Isaac Asimov

We are all victimized by the natural perversity of inanimate objects…and the assorted human beings who perpetuate and maintain this perversity – Isaac Asimov

We are reaching the stage where the problems we must solve are going to become insoluble without computers. I do not fear computers, I fear the lack of them. – Isaac Asimov

We can make inspired guesses, but we don’t. – Isaac Asimov

We mythologists know very well that myths and legends contain borrowings, moral lessons, nature cycles, and a hundred other distorting influences, and we labor to cut them away and get to what might be a kernel of truth. In fact, these same techniques must be applied to the most sober histories, for no one writes the clear and apparent truth-if such a thing can even be said to exist. – Isaac Asimov

Well, I can type all day without getting tired. Response to a question as to which he preferred, women or writing. – Isaac Asimov

We’re forever teetering on the brink of the unknowable, and trying to understand what can’t be understood. – Isaac Asimov

What do you call that nice, shiny white metal they use to make sidings and airplanes out of? Aluminum, right? Aluminum, pronounced ‘uh-LOO-mih-num’, right? Anybody knows that! But do you know how the British spell it? ‘Aluminium’, pronounced ‘Al-yoo-MIH-nee-um’. Ever hear anything so ridiculous? The French and Germans spell it ‘aluminium’, too, but they’re foreigners who don’t speak Earth-standard. You’d think the British, however, using our language, would be more careful – Isaac Asimov

What I will be remembered for are the Foundation Trilogy and the Three Laws of Robotics. What I want to be remembered for is no one book, or no dozen books. Any single thing I have written can be paralleled or even surpassed by something someone else has done. However, my total corpus for quantity, quality and variety can be duplicated by no one else. That is what I want to be remembered for.
Yours, Isaac Asimov

What is really amazing, and frustrating, is mankind’s habit of refusing to see the obvious and inevitable until it is there, and then muttering about unforeseen catastrophes. – Isaac Asimov

What lasts in the reader’s mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what’s it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse. – Isaac Asimov

What would I do if I knew I only had six months to live? Type faster. – Isaac Asimov

What would you consider a good job?” Answered as follows: “A good job is one in which I don’t have to work, and get paid a lot of money.” When I heard that I cheered and yelled and felt that he should be given an A+, for he had perfectly articulated the American dream of those who despise knowledge. What a politician that kid would have made. – Isaac Asimov

When asked for advice by beginners. Know your ending, I say, or the river of your story may finally sink into the desert sands and never reach the sea. – Isaac Asimov

When asked what he would do if he only had six months to live: Type faster. – Isaac Asimov

When I die I won’t go to heaven or hell; there will just be nothingness. – Isaac Asimov

When I feel difficulty coming on, I switch to another book I’m writing. When I get back to the problem, my unconscious has solved it. – Isaac Asimov

When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself. – Isaac Asimov

When I sit down at the typewriter, I write. Someone once asked me if I had a fixed routine before I start, like setting up exercises, sharpening pencils, or having a drink of orange juice. I said, “No, the only thing I do before I start writing is to make sure that I’m close enough to the typewriter to reach the keys.” – Isaac Asimov

When life is so harsh that a man loses all hope in himself, then he raises his eyes to a shining rock, worshipping it, just to find hope again, rather than looking to his own acts for hope and salvation. Yes, atheism IS a redemptive belief. It is theism that denies man’s own redemptive nature. – Isaac Asimov

When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together. – Isaac Asimov

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

Whenever I have endured or accomplished some difficult task — such as watching television, going out socially or sleeping — I always look forward to rewarding myself with the small pleasure of getting back to my typewriter and writing something. – Isaac Asimov

Where any answer is possible, all answers are meaningless. – Isaac Asimov

Where is the world whose people don’t prefer a comfortable, warm, and well-worn belief, however illogical, to the chilly winds of uncertainty. – Isaac Asimov

While he lives, he must think; while he thinks, he must dream. – Isaac Asimov

Why … did so many people spend their lives not trying to find answers to questions — not even thinking of questions to begin with? Was there anything more exciting in life than seeking answers? – Isaac Asimov

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast. – Isaac Asimov

Why is it, I wonder, that anyone who displays superior athletic ability is an object of admiration to his classmates, while one who displays superior mental ability is an object of hatred? – Isaac Asimov

Why this reluctance to make the change? We fear the process of reeducation. – Isaac Asimov

With both people and computers on the job, computer error can be more quickly tracked down and corrected by people and, conversely, human error can be more quickly corrected by computers. What it amounts to is that nothing serious can happen unless human error and computer error take place simultaneously. And that hardly ever happens. – Isaac Asimov

Words are a pretty fuzzy substitute for mathematical equations. – Isaac Asimov

Working ten hour days allows you to fall behind twice as fast as you could working five hour days. – Isaac Asimov

Writing is a lonely job. Even if a writer socializes regularly, when he gets down to the real business of his life, it is he and his type writer or word processor. No one else is or can be involved in the matter. – Isaac Asimov

Writing is my only interest. Even speaking is an interruption. – Isaac Asimov

You can prove anything you want by coldly logical reason—if you pick the proper postulates. – Isaac Asimov

You can’t assert an answer just because it’s not something else. – Isaac Asimov

You don’t have to be able to lay eggs to know when one of them is rotten. – Isaac Asimov

You don’t need to predict the future. Just choose a future — a good future, a useful future — and make the kind of prediction that will alter human emotions and reactions in such a way that the future you predicted will be brought about. Better to make a good future than predict a bad one. – Isaac Asimov, Prelude to Foundation

 … you just can’t differentiate between a robot and the very best of humans.

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist. – Isaac Asimov

You see, proteins, as I probably needn’t tell you, are immensely complicated groupings of amino acids and certain other specialized compounds, arranged in intricate three-dimensional patterns that are as unstable as sunbeams on a cloudy day. It is this instability that is life, since it is forever changing its position in an effort to maintain its identity–in the manner of a long rod balanced on an acrobat’s nose. – Isaac Asimov

You show me someone who can’t understand people and I’ll show you someone who has built up a false image of himself. – Isaac Asimov

You wait for the war to happen like vultures. If you want to help, prevent the war. Don’t save the remnants. Save them all. – Isaac Asimov

On the Science of Life

A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value. – Isaac Asimov

Above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning. – Isaac Asimov

All you have to do is take a close look at yourself and you will understand everyone else. – Isaac Asimov

Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. – Isaac Asimov

If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist. – Isaac Asimov

In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate. – Isaac Asimov

It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly. – Isaac Asimov

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome. – Isaac Asimov

Man’s greatest asset is the unsettled mind. – Isaac Asimov

Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else. – Isaac Asimov

Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right. – Isaac Asimov

People think of education as something that they can finish. – Isaac Asimov

People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do. – Isaac Asimov

Science can amuse and fascinate us all, but it is engineering that changes the world. – Isaac Asimov

Science can be introduced to children well or poorly. If poorly, children can be turned away from science; they can develop a lifelong antipathy; they will be in a far worse condition than if they had never been introduced to science at all. – Isaac Asimov

Science does not promise absolute truth, nor does it consider that such a thing necessarily exists. Science does not even promise that everything in the Universe is amenable to the scientific process. – Isaac Asimov

Science doesn’t purvey absolute truth. Science is a mechanism… for testing your thoughts against the universe. – Isaac Asimov

Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not. – Isaac Asimov

Science is a mechanism, a way of trying to improve your knowledge of nature. It’s a system for testing your thoughts against the universe, and seeing whether they match. – Isaac Asimov

Science is a set of rules to keep us from telling lies to each other. All scientists really have is a reputation for telling the truth. – Isaac Asimov

Science is complex and chilling. The mathematical language of science is understood by very few. The vistas it presents are scary-an enormous universe ruled by chance and impersonal rules, empty and uncaring, ungraspable and vertiginous. How comfortable to turn instead to a small world, only a few thousand years old, and under God’s personal; and immediate care; a world in which you are His peculiar concern. – Isaac Asimov

Science is dangerous. There is no question but that poison gas, genetic engineering, and nuclear weapons and power stations are terrifying. It may be that civilization is falling apart and the world we know is coming to an end. In that case, why no turn to religion and look forward to the Day of Judgment, … [being] lifted into eternal bliss … [and] watching the scoffers and disbelievers writhe forever in torment. – Isaac Asimov

Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel amongst themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think. – Isaac Asimov

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. – Isaac Asimov

Science-fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not. – Isaac Asimov

Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is. The only function of a school is to make self-education easier; failing that, it does nothing. – Isaac Asimov

The day you stop learning is the day you begin decaying. – Isaac Asimov

The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists. – Isaac Asimov

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. – Isaac Asimov

There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don’t come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity. – Isaac Asimov

To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well. – Isaac Asimov

Uncertainty that comes from knowledge (knowing what you don’t know) is different from uncertainty coming from ignorance. – Isaac Asimov

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. – Isaac Asimov

When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent. – Isaac Asimov

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers. – Isaac Asimov

Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in. – Isaac Asimov

Quotes from Wikiquote

General sources

  • Confidence is rewarded, apparently. There was a homewhen proverb that went, “Grip the nettle firmly and it will become a stick with which to beat your enemy.”
    • The End of Eternity (1955)
  • It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable.
    • “How Do People Get New Ideas?” (1959)
  • The dullness of fact is the mother of fiction.
    • Fact and Fancy (1962), p. 11
  • The facts, gentlemen, and nothing but the facts, for careful eyes are narrowly watching.
    • Fact and Fancy (1962), p. 11
  • Outside intelligences, exploring the Solar System with true impartiality, would be quite likely to enter the Sun in their records thus: Star X, spectral class G0, 4 planets plus debris.
    • “By Jove!” in View from a Height (1963); often misquoted as “Jupiter plus debris”.
  • An observer studying the Solar system dispassionately, and finding himself capable of bringing the four giant planets to his notice, could reasonably say that the Solar system consisted of one star, four planets, and some traces of debris.
    • “Worlds In Order” in The Secret of the Universe (1992), p. 63
  • The fact that the general incidence of leukemia has doubled in the last two decades may be due, partly, to the increasing use of x-rays for numerous purposes. The incidence of leukemia in doctors, who are likely to be so exposed, is twice that of the general public. In radiologists … the incidence is ten times greater.
    • Statement of 1965, as quoted without citation of a specific work in Isaac Asimov’s Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988), edited by Asimov and Jason A. Shulman, p. 233
  • Religion is more conservative than any other aspect of human life.
    • The Near East (1968), p. 14
  • [N]o matter how outrageous a lie may be, it will be accepted if stated loudly enough and often enough.
    • The Near East (1968), p. 31
  • It is by the Imperial Capital that contemporaries (and posterity, too) judge an Empire, and its magnificence impresses them mightily and leads them to judge the Emperor a great man and hero, even though it may all be based on robbery, and though the provinces of the Empire may be sunk in misery.
    • The Near East (1968), p. 33
  • We can hope that the ways of peace will attract the Arabic nations, for their territory and opportunities are broad enough for immeasurable advance, if the energies vented in spleen, are turned instead to a modernisation of the technology, a restoration of the soil, and a renovation of the economic, social, and political structure of those great and venerable lands.
    • The Near East (1968), p. 260
  • It is an odd fact that anyone who wishes to start a war must always make it appear that he is fighting in a just cause even if the real motive is naked aggression. Fortunately for the would-be aggressor, a “just cause” is very easy to find.
    • The Dark Ages (1968), p. 69
  • Probably, the most-often-repeated lesson in history is that foreigners who are called in to help one side in a civil war take over for themselves. It is a lesson that seems never to be learned despite endless repetition.
    • The Dark Ages (1968), p. 188
  • There has never been any custom, however useless it may become with changing conditions, that isn’t clung to desperately simply because it is something old and familiar.
    • The Dark Ages (1968), p. 193
  • It is all too easy to forget that there are emotional motivations in history, as well as economic ones.
    • The Shaping of England (1969), p. 15
  • I consider one of the most important duties of any scientist the teaching of science to students and to the general public.
    • “Academe and I” (May 1972), in The Tragedy of the Moon (1973), p. 224
  • I recognize the necessity of animal experiments with my mind but not with my heart.
    • “Doctor, Doctor, Cut My Throat” (August 1972), in The Tragedy of the Moon (1973), p. 153
  • Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What does the scientist have to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!
    • Asimov’s Guide to Science (1972), p. 15
  • For man to become successful, for man to establish himself as the ruler of the planet, it was necessary for him to use his brain as something more than a device to make the daily routine of getting food and evading enemies a little more efficient. Man had to learn to control his environment.”
    • “The Tragedy of the Moon,” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (July 1972)
  • Can the word ‘best’ mean anything at all, except to some particular person in some particular mood? Perhaps not — so if we allow the word to stand as an absolute, you, or you, or perhaps you, may be appalled at omissions or inclusions or, never having read me before, may even be impelled to cry out, ‘Good heavens, are those his best?’
    • “Introduction” in The Best of Isaac Asimov (1973)
  • Hypocrisy is a universal phenomenon. It ends with death, but not before.
    • “By the Numbers” (May 1973), in The Tragedy of the Moon (1973), p. 188
  • Science is a systematic method for studying and working out those generalizations that seem to describe the behavior of the universe. It could exist as a purely intellectual game that would never affect the practical life of human beings either for good or evil, and that was very nearly the case in ancient Greece, for instance. Technology is the application of scientific findings to the tools of everyday life, and that application can be wise or unwise, useful or harmful. Very often, those who govern technological decisions are not scientists and know little about science.
    • “By the Numbers” (May 1973), in The Tragedy of the Moon (1973), p. 190
  • What I will be remembered for are the Foundation Trilogy and the Three Laws of Robotics. What I want to be remembered for is no one book, or no dozen books. Any single thing I have written can be paralleled or even surpassed by something someone else has done. However, my total corpus for quantity, quality and variety can be duplicated by no one else. That is what I want to be remembered for.
    • Yours, Isaac Asimov (20 September 1973)
  • Surely there is no language more majestic than that of Shakespeare, Milton, and the King James Bible, and if I am to have one language that I know as only a native can know it, I consider myself unbelievably fortunate that it is English.
    • Before the Golden Age (1974), Vol. 1, p. 5 of the 1975 Orbit edition
  • There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death.
    • The Stars in Their Courses (1974), p. 36
  • Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.
    • “How Easy to See the Future”, Natural History magazine (April 1975);
  • Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.
    • “Science Past, Science Future” (1975) p. 208
  • Straightforward preaching spoils the effectiveness of a story. If you can’t resist the impulse to improve your fellow human beings, do it subtly.
    • Buy Jupiter and Other Stories (1975), p. 21
  • There is no way of being almost funny or mildly funny or fairly funny or tolerably funny. You are either funny or not funny and there is nothing in between. And usually it is the writer who thinks he is funny and the reader who thinks he isn’t.
    • Buy Jupiter and Other Stories (1975), p. 33
  • [S]cientific writing is abhorrently stylized and places a premium on poor quality.
    • Buy Jupiter and Other Stories (1975), p. 82
  • If you’re going to write a story, avoid contemporary references. They date a story and they have no staying power.
    • Buy Jupiter and Other Stories (1975), p. 134
  • People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it. I, on the other hand, see coincidence everywhere as an inevitable consequence of the laws of probability, according to which having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be.
    • “The Planet that Wasn’t” originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (May 1975)
  • The history of science is full of revolutionary advances that required small insights that anyone might have had, but that, in fact, only one person did.
    • “The Three Numbers” in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (September 1974); reprinted in More Tales of the Black Widowers (1976)
  • We cannot afford enemies any more … Within a generation or two human society will be in total destructive disarray. Heaven knows how bad it will be. The most optimistic view I can take is this: Things will get so bad within a dozen years that it will become obvious … that we must, whether were like each other or not, work together. We have no choice in the matter. … Technologically, we can stop overpopulation, but we have to persuade people to accept the technology. … Babies are the enemies of the human race … Let’s consider it this way: by the time the world doubles its population, the amount of energy we will be using will be increased sevenfold which means probably the amount of pollution that we are producing will also be increased sevenfold. If we are now threatened by pollution at the present rate, how will we be threatened with sevenfold pollution by, say, 2010 A.D., distributed among twice the population? We’ll be having to grow twice the food out of soil that is being poisoned at seven times the rate.
    • As quoted in Isaac Asimov (1977) by Joseph D. Olander and Martin Harry Greenberg, p. 165
  • I believe that only scientists can understand the universe. It is not so much that I have confidence in scientists being right, but that I have so much in nonscientists being wrong.
    • Quasar, Quasar, Burning Bright (1978), p. 235
  • Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today — but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept around which it revolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.
    • “My Own View” in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1978) edited by Robert Holdstock; later published in Asimov on Science Fiction (1981)
  • It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be … This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.
    • “My Own View” in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1978) edited by Robert Holdstock; later published in Asimov on Science Fiction (1981)
  • Science Digest asked me to see the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind and write an article for them on the science it contained. I saw the picture and was appalled. I remained appalled even after a doctor’s examination had assured me that no internal organs had been shaken loose by its ridiculous soundwaves. (If you can’t be good, be loud, some say, and Close Encounters was very loud.) … Hollywood must deal with large audiences, most of whom are utterly unfamiliar with good science fiction. It has to bend to them, meet them at least half-way. Fully appreciating that, I could enjoy Planet of the Apes and Star Wars. Star Wars was entertainment for the masses and did not try to be anything more. Leave your sophistication at the door, get into the spirit, and you can have a fun ride. … Seeing a rotten picture for the special effects is like eating a tough steak for the smothered onions, or reading a bad book for the dirty parts. Optical wizardry is something a movie can do that a book can’t but it is no substitute for a story, for logic, for meaning. It is ornamentation, not substance. In fact, whenever a science fiction picture is praised overeffusively for its special effects, I know it’s a bad picture. Is that all they can find to talk about?
    • “Editorial: The Reluctant Critic”, in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Vol. 2, Issue 6, (12 November 1978)
  • Where any answer is possible, all answers are meaningless.
    • The Road to Infinity (1979), p. 170
  • I wouldn’t give an astrologer the time of day.
    • In Memory Yet Green (Avon Books, 1979), p. 18
  • It is surely better to be wronged than to do wrong.
    • In Memory Yet Green (1979), p. 175
  • The purpose of aphorisms is to keep fools who have memorised them from having nothing to say.
    • In Memory Yet Green (1979), p. 188
  • There is less trouble and trauma involved in writing a new piece than in trying to salvage an unsatisfactory old one.
    • In Memory Yet Green (1979), p. 200
  • The undramatic fact is that I just think and think and think until I have something [for a story], and there is nothing marvelous or artistic about the phenomenon.
    • In Memory Yet Green (1979), pp. 301–302
  • Certain success evicts one from the paradise of winning against the odds.
    • In Memory Yet Green (1979), p. 420
  • The military mind remains unparalleled as a vehicle of creative stupidity.
    • In Memory Yet Green (1979), p. 461
  • It is very likely that there are many, many planets carrying life, even intelligent life, throughout the universe, because there are so many stars. By sheer chance, even if those chances are small, a great many life forms and a great many intelligences may exist.
    • Interview in Southwest Airlines Magazine 1979)
  • There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
    • “A Cult of Ignorance”, Newsweek (21 January 1980)
  • I believe that every human being with a physically normal brain can learn a great deal and can be surprisingly intellectual. I believe that what we badly need is social approval of learning and social rewards for learning.
    We can all be members of the intellectual elite and then, and only then, will a phrase like “America’s right to know” and, indeed, any true concept of democracy, have any meaning.

    • “A Cult of Ignorance”, Newsweek (21 January 1980)
  • [Creationists] make it sound as though a “theory” is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
    • Often attributed as remarks to the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) (1980)
  • It is my own experience … that commentators are far more ingenious at finding meaning than authors are at inserting it.
    • The Annotated Gulliver’s Travels (1980), p. 16
  • Weisinger, a couple of years ago, made up the following story: “Isaac Asimov was asked how Superman could fly faster than the speed of light, which was supposed to be an absolute limit. To this Asimov replied, ‘That the speed of light is a limit is a theory; that Superman can travel faster than light is a fact.'”
I assure you it never happened and I never said it, but it will be repeated, I am quite certain, indefinitely, and it will probably be found in Bartlett’s quotations a century from now, attributed to me, after all my writings have been forgotten.

  • “Science Fiction, 1938” Nebula Winners 14 (1980) edited by Frederick J. Pohl, p. 97
  • When you write a short story … you had better know the ending first. The end of a story is only the end to the reader. To the writer, it’s the beginning. If you don’t know exactly where you’re going every minute you’re writing, you’ll never get there — or anywhere.
    • The Casebook of the Black Widowers (1980), p. 177
  • Necessity makes a joke of civilization.
    • In Joy Still Felt (1980), p. 124
  • I make no secret about being Jewish … I just think it’s more important to be human and to have a human heritage; and I think it is wrong for anyone to feel that there is anything special about any one heritage of whatever kind. It is delightful to have the human heritage exist in a thousand varieties, for it makes for greater interest, but as soon as one variety is thought to be more important than another, the groundwork is laid for destroying them all.
    • In Joy Still Felt (1980), p. 147
  • I am not a visual person. I have spent so many bounded years in my childhood that I have grown used to having books as my window on reality.
    • In Joy Still Felt (1980), p. 217
  • Writing is hard work. The fact that I love doing it doesn’t make it less hard work. People who love tennis will sweat themselves to exhaustion playing it, and the love of the game doesn’t stop the sweating. The casual assumption that writers are unemployed bums because they don’t go to the office and don’t have a boss is something every writer has to live with. I have never known a writer who hasn’t suffered as a result of this, hasn’t resented it, and hasn’t dreamed of murdering the next person who says “Boy, you’ve sure got it made. You just sit there and toss off a story or something whenever you feel like it.”
    • In Joy Still Felt (1980), pp. 229-230
  • The fact is that I’ve never called myself a genius, and I think the term has been cheapened by overuse into meaninglessness. If other people want to call me that, that’s their problem.
    • In Joy Still Felt (1980), p. 255
  • I joke sometimes to the effect that when I approach a part of a book where I must explain something I don’t understand, I just type faster and faster and faster. Then, when I get to the part I don’t understand, sheer inertia pushes me through. That’s not literally true, of course, but there’s something to it psychologically.
    • In Joy Still Felt (1980), p. 281
  • No matter how various the subject matter I write on, I was a science-fiction writer first and it is as a science-fiction writer that I want to be identified.
    • In Joy Still Felt (1980), pp. 286-287
  • Of all the books I have ever worked on, I think Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare gave me the most pleasure, day in, day out. For months and months I lived and thought Shakespeare, and I don’t see how there can be any greater pleasure in the world—any pleasure, that is, that one can indulge in for as much as ten hours without pause, day after day indefinitely.
    • In Joy Still Felt (1980), pp. 464–465
  • The best way to describe anyone is to give an example of the kind of thing he would do.
    • In Joy Still Felt (1980), p. 499
  • There are many aspects of the universe that still cannot be explained satisfactorily by science; but ignorance only implies ignorance that may someday be conquered. To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
    • “The “Threat” of Creationism” in New York Times Magazine (14 June 1981)
  • But suppose we were to teach creationism. What would be the content of the teaching? Merely that a creator formed the universe and all species of life ready-made? Nothing more? No details?
    • “The Dangerous Myth of Creationism” in Penthouse (January 1982); reprinted as Ch. 2 : “Creationism and the Schools” in The Roving Mind (1983), p. 16
  • I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.
    • Free Inquiry (Spring 1982)
  • Consider the most famous pure dystopian tale of modern times, 1984, by George Orwell (1903-1950), published in 1948 (the same year in which Walden Two was published). I consider it an abominably poor book. It made a big hit (in my opinion) only because it rode the tidal wave of cold war sentiment in the United States.
    • “Nowhere!” Asimov’s Science Fiction (September 1983)
  • Miniaturization doesn’t actually make sense unless you miniaturize the very atoms of which matter is composed. Otherwise a tiny brain in a man the size of an insect, composed of normal atoms, is composed of too few atoms for the miniaturized man to be any more intelligent than the ant. Also, miniaturizing atoms is impossible according to the rules of quantum mechanics.
    • As quoted in Omni’s Screen Flights/Screen Fantasies (1984) edited by Danny Peary, p. 5
  • Titles are an important part of a story and I take considerable care in choosing one. In fact, I cannot start a story until I have chosen a title.
    • Banquets of the Black Widowers (1984), p. 27
  • Once you’ve dissected a joke, you’re about where you are when you’ve dissected a frog. It’s dead.
    • Banquets of the Black Widowers (1984), p. 49; comparable to “Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.” — E. B. White, in “Some Remarks on Humor,” preface to A Subtreasury of American Humor (1941)
  • In my fiction I am careful to make everything probable and to tie up all loose ends. Real life is not hampered by such considerations.
    • Puzzles of the Black Widowers (1984), p. 132
  • Science fiction offers its writers chances of embarrassment that no other form of fiction does.
    • Robot Dreams (1986), introduction
  • There is more to a science fiction story than the science it contains. There is also the story.
    • Robot Dreams (1986), introduction
  • There are limits beyond which your folly will not carry you. I am glad of that. In fact, I am relieved.
    • Doctor Susan Calvin in “Robot Dreams” in Robot Dreams (1986)
  • The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’, but ‘That’s funny …’
  • Attributed in the “quote of the day” source code of the “Fortune” computer program (June 1987); more at “The Most Exciting Phrase in Science Is Not ‘Eureka!’ But ‘That’s funny …’” at Quote Investigator
  • All life is nucleic acid; the rest is commentary
    • “The Relativity of Wrong” (1988) – “Beginning with Bone” (May 1987)
  • I suppose he’s entitled to his opinion, but I don’t suppose it very hard.
    • “Seven Steps to Grand Master” in Nebula Awards 22 (1988), edited by George Zebrowski
  • [In response to this question by Bill Moyers: What do you see happening to the idea of dignity to human species if this population growth continues at its present rate?] “It’s going to destroy it all. I use what I call my bathroom metaphor. If two people live in an apartment, and there are two bathrooms, then both have what I call freedom of the bathroom, go to the bathroom any time you want, and stay as long as you want to for whatever you need. And this to my way is ideal. And everyone believes in the freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the Constitution. But if you have 20 people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up, you have to set up times for each person, you have to bang at the door, aren’t you through yet, and so on. And in the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, but it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies.
    • Interview by Bill Moyers on Bill Moyers’ World Of Ideas (17 October 1988); transcript (page 6) – audio (20:12)
  • Science doesn’t purvey absolute truth. Science is a mechanism. It’s a way of trying to improve your knowledge of nature. It’s a system for testing your thoughts against the universe and seeing whether they match. And this works, not just for the ordinary aspects of science, but for all of life. I should think people would want to know that what they know is truly what the universe is like, or at least as close as they can get to it.
    • Interview by Bill Moyers on Bill Moyers’ World Of Ideas (21 October 1988); transcript (pages 5-6)
  • The Law of conservation of energy tells us we can’t get something for nothing, but we refuse to believe it.
    • Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988)
  • The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
    • Isaac Asimov’s Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988), edited with Jason A. Shulman, p. 281
  • All mankind, right down to those you most despise, are your neighbors.
    • “Lost in Non-Translation” (1989), in Magic (Voyager, 1997) p. 270
  • We are meant to know, or we are amoebae.
    Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know — and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves?
    Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know — even if the knowledge endured only for the moment that comes before destruction — than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.

    • The New Hugo Winners: Award-winning Science Fiction Stories Vol. 1 (1989), p. 215
  • I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing — to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics — Well, they can do whatever they wish.
    • Introduction to Nemesis (1989)
  • [Writing] is an addiction more powerful than alcohol, than nicotine, than crack. I could not conceive of not writing.
    • Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1990, p.6
  • Radiation, unlike smoking, drinking, and overeating, gives no pleasure, so the possible victims object.
    • As quoted in The Journal of NIH Research (1990), 2, 30
  • Books … hold within them the gathered wisdom of humanity, the collected knowledge of the world’s thinkers, the amusement and excitement built up by the imaginations of brilliant people. Books contain humor, beauty, wit, emotion, thought, and, indeed, all of life. Life without books is empty.
    • Puzzles of the Black Widowers (1990), pp. 74-75
  • The foundation of all technology is fire.
    • Asimov’s Chronology of the World (1991), p. 11
  • If anyone can be considered the greatest writer who ever lived, it is Shakespeare.
    • Asimov’s Chronology of the World (1991), p. 226
  • Scientific theories can always be improved and are improved. That is one of the glories of science. It is the authoritarian view of the Universe that is frozen in stone and cannot be changed, so that once it is wrong, it is wrong forever.
    • “The Nearest Star” (1989) (reprinted in The Secret of the Universe (1992), p. 82)
  • It’s my belief that the Universe possesses, in its essence, fractal properties of a very complex sort and that the pursuit of science shares those properties. It follows that any part of the Universe that remains un-understood, and any part of scientific investigation that remains unresolved, however small that might be in comparison to what is understood and resolved, contains within it all the complexity of the original. Therefore, we’ll never finish. No matter how far we go, the road ahead will be as long as it was at the start, and that’s the secret of the Universe.
    • “The Secrets of the Universe” (1989) (essay reprinted in The Secret of the Universe (1992), p. 167)
  • The job of science will never be done, it will just sink deeper and deeper into never-ending complexity.
    • “The Secrets of the Universe” (1989) (essay reprinted in The Secret of the Universe (1992), p. 168)
  • Ideas are cheap. It’s only what you do with them that counts.
    • “The Secrets of the Universe” (1989) (essay reprinted in The Secret of the Universe (1992), p. 167)
  • Someone once asked me, “If you had your choice, Dr. Asimov, would it be women or writing?” My answer was, “Well, I can write for twelve hours at a time without getting tired.”
    • “Just Say ‘No!'” (1989) (reprinted in The Secret of the Universe (1992), p. 235)
  • I was once being interviewed by Barbara Walters…In between two of the segments she asked me…”But what would you do if the doctor gave you only six months to live?” I said, “Type faster.” This was widely quoted, but the “six months” was changed to “six minutes,” which bothered me. It’s “six months.”
    • Asimov Laughs Again (1992)
  • To be sure, the Bible contains the direct words of God. How do we know? The Moral Majority says so. How do they know? They say they know and to doubt it makes you an agent of the Devil or, worse, a Lbr-l Dm-cr-t. And what does the Bible textbook say? Well, among other things it says the earth was created in 4004 BC (Not actually, but a Moral Majority type figured that out three and a half centuries ago, and his word is also accepted as inspired.) The sun was created three days later. The first male was molded out of dirt, and the first female was molded, some time later, out of his rib. As far as the end of the universe is concerned, the Book of Revelation (6:13-14) says: “And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” … Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.
    • “The Blind Who Would Lead”, essay in The Roving Mind (1983); as quoted in Canadian Atheists Newsletter (1994)
  • Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
    • As quoted in The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners (2004) edited by Geoff Tibballs, p. 299
  • If you suspect that my interest in the Bible is going to inspire me with sudden enthusiasm for Judaism and make me a convert of mountain‐moving fervor and that I shall suddenly grow long earlocks and learn Hebrew and go about denouncing the heathen — you little know the effect of the Bible on me. Properly read, it is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
    • As quoted in Notes for a Memoir : On Isaac Asimov, Life, and Writing (2006) by Janet Jeppson Asimov, p. 58
  • I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.
    • As quoted in Philosophy on the Go (2007) by Joey Green, p. 222

The Three Laws of Robotics (1942)

The First Law of Robotics
  • A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    • “Runaround” in Astounding Science Fiction (March 1942); later published in I, Robot (1950)
The Second Law of Robotics
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    • “Runaround” in Astounding Science Fiction (March 1942); later published in I, Robot (1950)
The Third Law of Robotics
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
    • “Runaround” in Astounding Science Fiction (March 1942); later published in I, Robot (1950)
The Zeroth Law of Robotics
Later included among these laws as a more fundamental directive
  • A robot may not injure humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
    • Robots and Empire (1985); a variant of this first occurred in The Evitable Conflict (1950) as: No robot may harm humanity, or through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

I, Robot (1950)

  • “Fifty years,” I hackneyed, “is a long time.”
    “Not when you’re looking back at them,” she said. “You wonder how they vanished so quickly.”

    • “Introduction”, p. 8
  • “Nonsense,” Weston denied, with an involuntary nervous shiver. “That’s completely ridiculous. We had a long discussion at the time we bought Robbie about the First Law of Robotics. You know that it is impossible for a robot to harm a human being; that long before enough can go wrong to alter that First Law, a robot would be completely inoperable. It’s a mathematical impossibility. Besides I have an engineer from U.S. Robots here twice a year to give the poor gadget a complete overhaul. Why, there’s no more chance of anything at all going wrong with Robbie than there is of you or I suddenly going looney—considerably less, in fact. Besides, how are you going to take him away from Gloria?”
    • “Robbie”, p. 17
  • There’s nothing like deduction. We’ve determined everything about our problem but the solution.
    • “Runaround”, p. 41; see above for the Three Laws of Robotics, also drawn from this story
  • I accept nothing on authority. A hypothesis must be backed by reason, or else it is worthless.
    • “Reason”, p. 52
  • “You can prove anything you want by coldly logical reason—if you pick the proper postulates. We have ours and Cutie has his.”
    “Then let’s get at those postulates in a hurry. The storm’s due tomorrow.”
    Powell sighed wearily. “That’s where everything falls down. Postulates are based on assumptions and adhered to by faith. Nothing in the Universe can shake them. I’m going to bed.”

    • “Reason”, p. 63
  • The unwritten motto of United States Robot and Mechanical Men Corp. was well-known: “No employee makes the same mistake twice. He is fired the first time.”
    • “Catch That Rabbit”, p. 65
  • Just you think first, and don’t bother to speak afterward, either.
    • “Catch That Rabbit”, p. 71
  • Milton Ashe is not the type to marry a head of hair and a pair of eyes.
    • “Liar!”, p. 89
  • “You’re the U. S. Robot’s psychologist, aren’t you?”
    “Robopsychologist, please.”
    “Oh, are robots so different from men, mentally?”
    “Worlds different.” She allowed herself a frosty smile, “Robots are essentially decent.”

    • “Evidence”, p. 151
  • The machine is only a tool after all, which can help humanity progress faster by taking some of the burdens of calculations and interpretations off its back. The task of the human brain remains what it has always been; that of discovering new data to be analyzed, and of devising new concepts to be tested.
    • “The Evitable Conflict”, p. 187
  • There is nothing so eternally adhesive as the memory of power.
    • “The Evitable Conflict”, p. 189
  • “Why, Stephen, if I am right, it means that the Machine is conducting our future for us not only simply in direct answer to our direct questions, but in general answer to the world situation and to human psychology as a whole. And to know that may make us unhappy and may hurt our pride. The Machine cannot, must not, make us unhappy.
    “Stephen, how do we know what the ultimate good of Humanity will entail? We haven’t at our disposal the infinite factors that the Machine has at its! Perhaps, to give you a not unfamiliar example, our entire technical civilization has created more unhappiness and misery than it has removed. Perhaps an agrarian or pastoral civilization, with less culture and less people would be better. If so, the Machines must move in that direction, preferably without telling us, since in our ignorant prejudices we only know that what we are used to, is good—and we would then fight change. Or perhaps a complete urbanization, or a completely caste-ridden society, or complete anarchy, is the answer. We don’t know. Only the Machines know, and they are going there and taking us with them.”
    “But you are telling me, Susan, that the ‘Society for Humanity’ is right; and that Mankind has lost its own say in its future.”
    “It never had any, really. It was always at the mercy of economic and sociological forces it did not understand—at the whims of climate, and the fortunes of war. Now the Machines understand them; and no one can stop them, since the Machines will deal with them as they are dealing with the Society,—having, as they do, the greatest of weapons at their disposal, the absolute control of our economy.”
    “How horrible!”
    “Perhaps how wonderful! Think, that for all time, all conflicts are finally evitable. Only the Machines, from now on, are inevitable!”

    • “The Evitable Conflict”, p. 192

Empire novels (1950–1952)

  • To the rest of the Galaxy, if they are aware of us at all, Earth is but a pebble in the sky. To us it is home, and all the home we know.
    • Pebble in the Sky (1950), chapter 4 “The Royal Road”, p. 33
All page numbers from the 1964 Bantam Pathfinder mass market paperback edition, 6th printing
  • It is because you yourself fear the propaganda created, after all, only by the stupidity of your own bigots.
    • Pebble in the Sky, chapter 4 “The Royal Road”, p. 33
  • There was no denying that he would always be conscious of the fact that an Earthman was an Earthman. He couldn’t help that. That was the result of a childhood immersed in an atmosphere of bigotry so complete that it was almost invisible, so entire that you accepted its axioms as second nature. Then you left it and saw it for what it was when you looked back.
    • Pebble in the Sky, chapter 7 “Conversation with Madmen?”, p. 58
  • That is the most stupid thing yet. I tell you that I could despair of human intelligence when I see what can exist in men’s minds.
    • Pebble in the Sky, chapter 15 “The Odds That Vanished”, p. 136
  • A planet full of people meant nothing against the dictates of economic necessity!
    • The Currents of Space (1952)
  • Economics is on the side of humanity now.
    • The Currents of Space (1952)

The Foundation series (1951–1993)

The earliest eight Foundation short stories were published between May 1942 and January 1950, but these began to be reworked into the novels of the overall series in 1951.

Foundation (1951)

  • Q. You do not consider your statement a disloyal one?
    A. No, sir. Scientific truth is beyond loyalty and disloyalty.
    Q. You are sure that your statement represents scientific truth?
    A. I am.

    • Part I, The Psychohistorians, section 6
  • The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity — a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop.
    • Part I, The Psychohistorians, section 6
  • “That insufferable, dull-witted donkey! That—”
    Hardin broke in: “Not at all. He’s merely the product of his environment. He doesn’t understand much except that ‘I got a gun and you ain’t.’ 

    • Part II, The Encyclopedists, section 2 (originally published as “Foundation” in Astounding (May 1942)
  • “It seems an uncommonly woundabout and hopelessly wigmawolish method of getting anywheahs.”
    • Part II, The Encyclopedists, section 4
  • “Such unsubtle escapism! Really, Dr. Fara, such folly smacks of genius. A lesser mind would be incapable of it.”
    • Part II, The Encyclopedists, section 5
  • “Violence,” came the retort, “is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
    • Part II, The Encyclopedists, section 5; This also appears three times in “Bridle and Saddle” which is titled “The Mayors” within Foundation. It is derived from the famous phrase by Samuel Johnson: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” and from the words of Lady Anne Bellamy in H. Rider Haggard’s Dawn, “I do not believe in violence; it is the last resource of fools.” Asimov is usually quoted simply with “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
  • “First, you refused to admit that there was a menace at all! Then you reposed an absolutely blind faith in the Emperor! Now you’ve shifted it to Hari Seldon. Throughout you have invariably relied on authority or on the past – never on yourselves. It amounts to a diseased attitude – a conditioned reflex that shunts aside the independence of your minds whenever it is a question of opposing authority. There seems no doubt ever in your minds that the Emperor is more powerful than you are, or Hari Seldon wiser. And that’s wrong, don’t you see? It isn’t just you. It’s the whole Galaxy. Pirenne heard Lord Dorwin’s idea of scientific research. Lord Dorwin thought the way to be a good archaeologist was to read all the books on the subject – written by men who were dead for centuries. He thought that the way to solve archaeological puzzles was to weigh the opposing authorities. And Pirenne listened and made no objections. Don’t you see that there’s something wrong with that? And you men and half of Terminus as well are just as bad. We sit here,considering the Encyclopedia the all-in-all. We consider the greatest end of science is the classification of past data. It is important, but is there no further work to be done? We’re receding and forgetting, don’t you see? Here in the Periphery they’ve lost nuclear power. In Gamma Andromeda, a power plant has undergone meltdown because of poor repairs, and the Chancellor of the Empire complains that nuclear technicians are scarce. And the solution? To train new ones? Never! Instead they’re to restrict nuclear power. Don’t you see? It’s Galaxy wide. It’s a worship of the past. It’s a deterioration – a stagnation!”
    • Part II, The Encyclopedists, section 5
  • Well, then, arrest him. You can accuse him of something or other afterward.
    • Part III, The Mayors, section 1; originally published as “Bridle and Saddle” in Astounding (June 1942)
  • “That was the time to begin all-out preparations for war.”
    “On the contrary. That was the time to begin all-out prevention of war.”

    • Part III, The Mayors, section 1
  • It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.
    • Part III, The Mayors, section 2
  • Courtiers don’t take wagers against the king’s skill. There is the deadly danger of winning.
    • Part III, The Mayors, section 3
  • He believes in that mummery a good deal less than I do, and I don’t believe in it at all.
    • Part III, The Mayors, section 3
  • For it is the chief characteristic of the religion of science, that it works, and that such curses as that of Aporat’s are really deadly.
    • Part III, The Mayors, section 7
  • A fire eater must eat fire even if he has to kindle it himself.
    • Part III, The Mayors, section 9
  • Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.
    • Part IV, The Traders, section 1; originally published as “The Wedge” in Astounding (October 1944)
  • “Ponyets! They sent you?”
    “Pure chance,” said Ponyets, bitterly, “or the work of my own personal malevolent demon.”

    • Part IV, The Traders, section 3
  • There’s something about a pious man such as he. He will cheerfully cut your throat if it suits him, but he will hesitate to endanger the welfare of your immaterial and problematical soul.
    • Part IV, The Traders, section 3
  • The whole business is the crudest sort of stratagem, since we have no way of foreseeing it to the end. It is a mere paying out of rope on the chance that somewhere along the length of it will be a noose.
    • Part V, The Merchant Princes, section 2; originally published as “The Big and the Little” in Astounding (August 1944)
  • He is energetic only in evading responsibility.
    • Part V, The Merchant Princes, section 2
  • To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.
    • Part V, The Merchant Princes, section 3
  • Korell is that frequent phenomenon in history: the republic whose ruler has every attribute of the absolute monarch but the name. It therefore enjoyed the usual despotism unrestrained even by those two moderating influences in the legitimate monarchies: regal “honor” and court etiquette.
    • Part V, The Merchant Princes, section 4
  • Now any dogma, based primarily on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.
    • Part V, The Merchant Princes, section 13
  • An atom blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways.
    • Part V, The Merchant Princes, section 13
  • It’s a poor atom blaster that won’t point both ways.
    • Part V, The Merchant Princes, section 18

Foundation and Empire (1952)

  • He is a dreamer of ancient times, or rather, of the myths of what ancient times used to be. Such men are harmless in themselves, but their queer lack of realism makes them fools for others.
    • Chapter 4 “The Emperor; in part I, “The General” originally published as “Dead Hand” in Astounding (April 1945)
  • You are a valuable subject, Brodrig. You always suspect far more than is necessary, and I have but to take half your suggested precautions to be utterly safe.
    • Chapter 4 “The Emperor”
  • Inertia! Our ruling class knows one law; no change. Despotism! They know one rule; force. Maldistribution! They know one desire; to hold what is theirs.
    • Chapter 11 “Bride and Groom”; in part II, “The Mule” originally published under the same title in Astounding (November-December 1945)
  • To him, a stilted geometric love of arrangement was “system,” an indefatigable and feverish interest in the pettiest facets of day-to-day bureaucracy was “industry,” indecision when right was “caution,” and blind stubbornness when wrong, “determination.”
    • Chapter 12 “Captain and Mayor”
  • It is the invariable lesson to humanity that distance in time, and in space as well, lends focus. It is not recorded, incidentally, that the lesson has ever been permanently learned.
    • Chapter 13 “Lieutenant and Clown”
  • “Were I to use the wits the good Spirits gave me,” he said, “then I would say this lady can not exist — for what sane man would hold a dream to be reality. Yet rather would I not be sane and lend belief to charmed, enchanted eyes.”
    • Chapter 13 “Lieutenant and Clown”
  • When the twenty-seven independent Trading Worlds, united only by their distrust of mother planet of the Foundation, concert an assembly among themselves, and each is big with a pride grown of its smallness, hardened by its own insularity and embittered by eternal danger — there are preliminary negotiations to be overcome of a pettiness sufficiently staggering to heart-sicken the most persevering.”
    • Chapter 16 “Conference”
  • It is well-known that the friend of a conqueror is but the last victim.
    • Chapter 22 “Death on Neotrantor”

Second Foundation (1953)

  • Secrecy as deep as this is past possibility without nonexistence as well.
    • Chapter 1 “Two Men and the Mule”; in part I, “Search by the Mule” originally published as “Now You See It—” in Astounding (January 1948)
  • Every human being lived behind an impenetrable wall of choking mist within which no other but he existed. Occasionally there were the dim signals from deep within the cavern in which another man was located — so that each might grope toward the other. Yet because they did not know one another, and could not understand one another, and dared not trust one another, and felt from infancy the terrors and insecurity of that ultimate isolation — there was the hunted fear of man for man, the savage rapacity of man toward man.
    • Chapter 8 “Seldon’s Plan”; in part II, “Search by the Foundation” originally published as “—And Now You Don’t” in Astounding (November and December 1949 and January 1950)
  • The most hopelessly stupid man is he who is not aware that he is wise.
    • Chapter 8 “Seldon’s Plan”
  • The house was somehow very lonely at night and Dr. Darell found that the fate of the Galaxy made remarkably little difference while his daughter’s mad little life was in danger.
    • Chapter 11 “Stowaway”
  • Remarkable what a fragile flower romance is. A gun with a nervous operator behind it can spoil the whole thing.
    • Chapter 11 “Stowaway”
  • The spell of power never quite releases its hold.
    • Chapter 12 “Lord”

Foundation’s Edge (1982)

All page numbers from the mass market edition published by Del Rey (17th printing, March 1989)
  • At odd and unpredictable times, we cling in fright to the past.
    • Chapter 1 “Councilman” section 1, p. 4
  • It seems to me, Golan, that the advance of civilization is nothing but an exercise in the limiting of privacy.
    • Chapter 6 “Earth” section 1, p. 100
  • If there is a misuse of power, it is on her part. My crime is that I have never labored to make myself popular — I admit that much — and I have paid too little attention to fools who are old enough to be senile but young enough to have power.
    • Chapter 8 “Farmwoman” section 5, p. 154
  • Pelorat sighed. “I will never understand people.”
    “There’s nothing to it. All you have to do is take a close look at yourself and you will understand everyone else. We’re in no way different ourselves… You show me someone who can’t understand people and I’ll show you someone who has built up a false image of himself.

    • Chapter 11 “Sayshell” section 3, p. 205
  • Once you get it into your head that somebody is controlling events, you can interpret everything in that light and find no reasonable certainty anywhere.
    • Chapter 12 “Agent” section 4, p. 226
  • “Is not all this an extraordinary concatenation of coincidence?”
    Pelorat said, “If you list it like that—”
    “List it any way you please,” said Trevize. “I don’t believe in extraordinary concatenations of coincidence.”

    • Chapter 14 “Forward!” section 1, p. 281
  • It’s one thing to have guts; it’s another to be crazy.
    • Chapter 15 “Gaia-S” section 2, p. 302
  • Stories grow by accretion. Tales accumulate — like dust. The longer the time lapse, the dustier the history — until it degenerates into fables.”
    Pelorat said, “We historians are familiar with the process, Dom. There is a certain preference for the fable. The falsely dramatic drives out the truly dull.”

    • Chapter 17 “Gaia” section 5, p. 361
  • Societies create their own history and tend to wipe out lowly beginnings, either by forgetting them or inventing totally fictitious heroic rescues.
    • Chapter 17 “Gaia” section 5, p. 363
  • It was easy to cover up ignorance by the mystical word “intuition.”
    • Chapter 18 “Collision” section 4, p. 377
  • It is better to go to defeat with free will than to live in a meaningless security as a cog in a machine.
    • Chapter 19 “Decision” section 7, p. 404
  • We abandoned the appearance of power to preserve the essence of it.
    • Chapter 20 “Conclusion” section 1, p. 408
  • If you were to insist I was a robot, you might not consider me capable of love in some mystic human sense, but you would not be able to distinguish my reactions from that which you would call love — so what difference would it make?
    • Chapter 20 “Conclusion” section 4, p. 420

Prelude to Foundation (1988)

  • I have always dealt with economic forces, rather than philosophic forces, but you can’t split history into neat little non-overlapping divisions. For instance, religions tend to accumulate wealth when successful and that eventually tends to distort the economic development of a society.
    • Chapter 40, Dors Venabili to Hari Seldon

The Last Question (1956)

“The Last Question”, first published in Science Fiction Quarterly (November 1956) · Full text online at the Internet Archive
  • How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?
  • “The Last Question” is my personal favorite, the one story I made sure would not be omitted from this collection. Why is it my favorite? For one thing I got the idea all at once and didn’t have to fiddle with it; and I wrote it in white-heat and scarcely had to change a word. This sort of thing endears any story to any writer.
    Then, too, it has had the strangest effect on my readers. Frequently someone writes to ask me if I can give them the name of a story, which they think I may have written, and tell them where to find it. They don’t remember the title but when they describe the story it is invariably “The Last Question”. This has reached the point where I recently received a long-distance phone call from a desperate man who began, “Dr. Asimov, there’s a story I think you wrote, whose title I can’t remember—” at which point I interrupted to tell him it was “The Last Question” and when I described the plot it proved to be indeed the story he was after. I left him convinced I could read minds at a distance of a thousand miles.
    No other story I have written has anything like this effect on my readers — producing at once an unshakeable memory of the plot and an unshakeable forgettery of the title and even author. I think it may be that the story fills them so frighteningly full, that they can retain none of the side-issues.

    • “Introduction” to The Best of Isaac Asimov (1973)

The Dead Past (1956)

  • “You can’t lick the Uncertainty Principle, man, any more than you can live on the sun. There are physical limits to what can be done.”
  • “… what do you suppose would happen if we let news of a home chronoscope get out? People might start out by watching their youth, their parents and so on, but it wouldn’t be long before they’d catch on to the possibilities. The housewife will forget her poor, dead mother and take to watching her neighbor at home and her husband at the office. The businessman will watch his competitor; the employer his employee. There will be no such thing as privacy. The party line, the prying eye behind the curtain will be nothing compared to it. The video stars will be closely watched at all times by everyone. Every man his own peeping Tom and there’ll be no getting away from the watcher. Even darkness will be no escape because chronoscopy can be adjusted to the infrared and human figures can be seen by their own body heat. … You have created a new world among the three of you. I congratulate you. Happy goldfish bowl to you, to me, to everyone, and may each of you fry in hell forever.”

The Gods Themselves (1972)

  • To Mankind
    And the hope that the war against folly may someday be won, after all.

    • Dedication, p. 5; this refers to the quotation of Friedrich Schiller from which Asimov derived the title of this novel: “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.
  • “Don’t finish, Pete. I’ve heard it all before. All I have to do is decipher the thinking of a non-human intelligence.”
    “A better-than-human intelligence. Those creatures from the para-Universe are trying to make themselves understood.
    “That may be,” sighed Bronowski, “but they’re trying to do it through my intelligence, which is better than human I sometimes think, but not much. Sometimes, in the dark of the night, I lie awake and wonder if different intelligences can communicate at all; or, if I’ve had a particularly bad day, whether the phrase ‘different intelligences’ has meaning at all.”
    “It does,” said Lamont savagely, his hands clearly bailing into fists within his lab coat pockets. “It means Hallam and me. It means that fool-hero, Dr. Frederick Hallam and me. We’re different intelligences because when I talk to him he doesn’t understand. His idiot face gets redder and his eyes bulge and his ears block. I’d say his mind stops functioning, but lack the proof of any other state from which it might stop.”

    • Section 1 “Against stupidity…”, Chapter 6, p. 12
  • “It is a mistake,” he said, “to suppose that the public wants the environment protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort. We know that well enough from our experience in the environmental crisis of the twentieth century.”
    • Section 1, Chapter 7, p. 56; the book is set in the year 2100.
  • He sat in his chair, fingers aimlessly drumming, drumming. Somewhere in the Sun, protons were clinging together with just a trifling additional avidity and with each moment that avidity grew and at some moment the delicate balance would break down . . . “And no one on Earth will live to know I was right,” cried out Lamont, and blinked and blinked to keep back the tears.
    • Section 1 “Against stupidity…”, Chapter 10 (final line of Section 1)
  • Tritt listened placidly, clearly understanding nothing, but content to be listening; while Odeen, transmitting nothing, was as clearly content to be lecturing.
    • Section 2 “…the gods themselves…”, Chapter 1b, p. 82
  • I don’t like anything that’s got to be. I want to know why.
    • Section 2, Chapter 2a, p. 93
  • I know nothing of that directly; I only know what I have been told by other young ones who couldn’t have known directly either. I want to find out the truth about them and the wanting has grown until there is more of curiosity in me than fear.
    • Section 2, Chapter 2b, p. 104
  • I fear my ignorance.
    • Section 3 “…contend in vain?”, Chapter 3 (p. 187)
  • The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.
    • Section 3, Chapter 10, p. 236
  • You know that prudery is only the other side of prurience. The words are even on the same page in the dictionary.
    • Section 3, Chapter 12, p. 244
  • I’ve lived most of my life already and I suppose I can argue myself into believing that I have no great cause to love humanity. However, only a few people have hurt me, and if I hurt everyone in return that is unconscionable usury.
    • Section 3, Chapter 12, p. 250
  • If an interaction is too weak to be detectable or to exert influence in any way, then by any operational definition, it doesn’t exist.
    • Section 3, Chapter 12, p. 257
  • There are no happy endings in history, only crisis points that pass.
    • Section 3, Chapter 19, p. 287

An Interview with Isaac Asimov (1979)

“An Interview with Isaac Asimov” by Phil Konstantin, Southwest Airlines Magazine, (1979)
  • Asimov: Well, I liked Star Wars. I thought Battlestar Galactica was such a close imitation of Star Wars, emphasizing the less attractive portions, that I was a little impatient with it.
  • Asimov: Battlestar Galactica for instance, started off with twenty to thirty minutes of space battles which looked exactly like air battles in World War I. You could swear that the space ships were surrounded by air the way the maneuvered. One felt it was unworthy.
SWA Magazine: The Vipers in Battlestar Galactica look like jets. Is this a realistic design for the future?
Asimov: It is as if people in the 1880s were writing fantasy stories about airplanes of the future and they had the pilots lean back at the wheel and yell “whoa” and the airplane came to a halt in mid-air.
  • SWA Magazine: Talking about spacecraft, what do you think about the shuttle program?
Asimov: Well, I hope it does get off the ground. And I hope they expand it, because the shuttle program is the gateway to everything else. By means of the shuttle, we will be able to build space stations and power stations, laboratory facilities and habitations, and everything else in space.
SWA Magazine: How about orbital space colonies? Do you see these facilities being built or is the government going to cut back on projects like this?
Asimov: Well, now you’ve put your finger right on it. In order to have all of these wonderful things in space, we don’t have to wait for technology – we’ve got the technology, and we don’t have to wait for the know-how – we’ve got that too. All we need is the political go-ahead and the economic willingness to spend the money that is necessary. It is a little frustrating to think that if people concentrate on how much it is going to cost they will realize the great amount of profit they will get for their investment. Although they are reluctant to spend a few billions of dollars to get back an infinite quantity of money, the world doesn’t mind spending $400 billion every years on arms and armaments, never getting anything back from it except a chance to commit suicide.

Mother Earth News interview (1980)

“Science, Technology and Space: The Isaac Asimov Interview” Pat Stone, Mother Earth News (October 1980)
  • Asimov: I don’t know of any science fiction writer who really attempts to be a prophet. Such authors accomplish their tasks not by being correct in their predictions, necessarily, but merely by hammering home—in story after story—the notion that life is going to be different.
  • Asimov: Science fiction always bases its future visions on changes in the levels of science and technology. And the reason for that consistency is simply that—in reality—all other changes throughout history have been irrelevant and trivial. For example, what difference did it make to the people of the ancient world that Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire? Obviously, that event made some difference to a lot of individuals. But if you look at humanity in general, you’ll see that life went on pretty much as it had before the conquest.
    On the other hand, consider the changes that were made in people’s daily lives by the development of agriculture or the mariner’s compass … and by the invention of gunpowder or printing. Better yet, look at recent history and ask yourself, “What difference would it have made if Hitler had won World War II?” Of course, such a victory would have made a great difference to many people. It would have resulted in much horror, anguish, and pain. I myself would probably not have survived.
    But Hitler would have died eventually, and the effects of his victory would gradually have washed out and become insignificant—in terms of real change—when compared to such advances as the actual working out of nuclear power, the advent of television, or the invention of the jet plane.
  • Plowboy: You truly feel that all the major changes in history have been caused by science and technology?
Asimov: Those that have proved permanent—the ones that affected every facet of life and made certain that mankind could never go back again—were always brought about by science and technology. In fact, the same twin “movers” were even behind the other “solely” historical changes. Why, for instance, did Martin Luther succeed, whereas other important rebels against the medieval church—like John Huss—fail? Well, Luther was successful because printing had been developed by the time he advanced his cause. So his good earthy writings were put into pamphlets and spread so far and wide that the church officials couldn’t have stopped the Protestant Reformation even if they had burned Luther at the stake.
Plowboy: Today the world is changing faster than it has at any other time in history. Do you then feel that science—and scientists—are especially important now?
Asimov: I do think so, and as a result it’s my opinion that anyone who can possibly introduce science to the nonscientist should do so. After all, we don’t want scientists to become a priesthood. We don’t want society’s technological thinkers to know something that nobody else knows—to “bring down the law from Mt. Sinai”—because such a situation would lead to public fear of science and scientists. And fear, as you know, can be dangerous.
Plowboy: But scientific knowledge is becoming so incredibly vast and specialized these days that it’s difficult for any individual to keep up with it all.
Asimov: Well, I don’t expect everybody to be a scientist or to understand every new development. After all, there are very few Americans who know enough about football to be a referee or to call the plays … but many, many people understand the sport well enough to follow the game. It’s not important that the average citizen understand science so completely that he or she could actually become involved in research, but it is very important that people be able to “follow the game” well enough to have some intelligent opinions on policy.
Every subject of worldwide importance—each question upon which the life and death of humanity depends—involves science, and people are not going to be able to exercise their democratic right to direct government policy in such areas if they don’t understand what the decisions are all about.
  • Plowboy: In your opinion, what are mankind’s prospects for the near future?
Asimov: To tell the truth, I don’t think the odds are very good that we can solve our immediate problems. I think the chances that civilization will survive more than another 30 years—that it will still be flourishing in 2010—are less than 50 percent.
Plowboy: What sort of disaster do you foresee?
Asimov: I imagine that as population continues to increase—and as the available resources decrease—there will be less energy and food, so we’ll all enter a stage of scrounging. The average person’s only concerns will be where he or she can get the next meal, the next cigarette, the next means of transportation. In such a universal scramble, the Earth will be just plain desolated, because everyone will be striving merely to survive regardless of the cost to the environment. Put it this way: If I have to choose between saving myself and saving a tree, I’m going to choose me.
Terrorism will also become a way of life in a world marked by severe shortages. Finally, some government will be bound to decide that the only way to get what its people need is to destroy another nation and take its goods … by pushing the nuclear button.
And this absolute chaos is going to develop—even if nobody wants nuclear war and even if everybody sincerely wants peace and social justice—if the number of mouths to feed continues to grow. Nothing will be able to stand up against the pressure of the whole of humankind simply trying to stay alive!

The Roving Mind (1983)

  • Don’t you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don’t you believe in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle? — in life after death?
    No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no.
    One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of unrelieved negation, burst out “Don’t you believe in anything?”
    “Yes”, I said. “I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.

    • p. 43
  • Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise — even in their own field.
    • Ch. 25
  • How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason. A scientist is cold, they think, and uses only his reason; he argues carefully step by step, and needs no imagination. That is all wrong. The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers.
    • Ch. 25

I. Asimov: A Memoir (1994)

  • I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.
    Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.

    • Ch. 8, Library
  • If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.
    I would also want a God who would not allow a Hell. Infinite torture can only be a punishment for infinite evil, and I don’t believe that infinite evil can be said to exist even in the case of Hitler. Besides, if most human governments are civilized enough to try to eliminate torture and outlaw cruel and unusual punishments, can we expect anything less of an all-merciful God?
    I feel that if there were an afterlife, punishment for evil would be reasonable and of a fixed term. And I feel that the longest and worst punishment should be reserved for those who slandered God by inventing Hell.
  • He always pictured himself a libertarian, which to my way of thinking means “I want the liberty to grow rich and you can have the liberty to starve”. It’s easy to believe that no one should depend on society for help when you yourself happen not to need such help.
    • p. 308
  • Happiness is doing it rotten your own way.
  • When an old person dies who has been a part of your life, it is part of your youth that dies.
    • p. 538

Quotes about Asimov

  • A national wonder and a natural resource.
    • George Gaylord Simpson, in Science, April 23, 1961 (as quoted by Asimov in In Joy Still Felt (1980), p. 232)
  • When I first met Asimov, I asked him if he was a professor at Boston University. He said no and … asked me where I got my Ph.D. I said I didn’t have one and he looked startled. “You mean you’re in the same racket I am,” he said, “you just read books by the professors and rewrite them?” That’s really what I do.
    • Martin Gardner, as quoted in “Every Day” by Sally Helgeson, in Bookletter, Vol. 3, No. 8 (6 December 1976), p. 8
  • The great explainer of our [technological] age.
    • Carl Sagan as quoted in “Science, Technology and Space: The Isaac Asimov Interview” Pat Stone, Mother Earth News (October 1980)
  • Although he spends many pages writing about his friends in the science-fiction community, the true value of Asimov’s insight is his reflections on his life — and, in his mind, Asimov was first a genius, second a prolific writer, and only thirdly a sci-fi writer.
    Asimov tells the reader repeatedly that his life would have been easier if he had learned to submerge his ego and get along with others. “It really puzzles me as I look back on it that I didn’t make a greater effort to placate the powers that be,” he writes. Indeed, it was this inability to get along with others that forced Asimov out of academia and into the solitary life of a freelance writer.

    • Simson Garfinkel, in Asimov the Explainer Explains Himself” in The Christian Science Monitor (9 August 1994)
  • I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great, spectacularly prolific writer and scientist, Dr. Isaac Asimov in that essentially functionless capacity. At an A.H.A. memorial service for my predecessor I said, “Isaac is up in Heaven now.” That was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. It rolled them in the aisles. Mirth! Several minutes had to pass before something resembling solemnity could be restored.
    • Kurt Vonnegut, in God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian (1999)
  • I met Asimov once, when he visited my undergraduate university. They thought it would be fun to show him around the astronomy department, much to his bemusement (he was trained as a chemist). He used his advanced age as an excuse for shamelessly flirting with every attractive woman within leering distance. I wonder what he was like before his age was so advanced?
    • Sean M. Carroll, in (20 July 2004)”Asimov’s First Law”. The Preposterous Universe blog.
  • He had writer’s block once. It was the worst ten minutes of his life.
    • Attributed to Harlan Ellison, quoted in Page Fright : Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers (2009) by Harry Bruce
    • Variant: Most writers hate to write, and will grasp any excuse to do something else … There are exceptions. Isaac Asimov actually was never happier than sitting at a keyboard — first, his old typewriter; then, the TRS-80; and later, a more conventional PC. But then, Isaac was unusual, and his experience with writer’s block was the worst 10 minutes of his life.
      • Jerry Pournelle, in “Chaos Manor: Is there an Upgrade in your future?” in Dr. Dobb’s Journal : Software Tools For The Professional Programmer (2005), Vol. 30, Issues 374-379, p. 9
  • Asimov was the sort of urbanophile who, if you dragged him out of New York to some backwater like Greensboro, NC, would probably crumble to dust to reform somewhere near Times Square.
    • James Nicoll, in The Child is Father to the Man, at JamesDavisNicoll.com (14 June 2015)

Isaac Asimov was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards.

Isaac Asimov is best known as the most successful writer of science fiction and popular science books. Asimov opened the doors for the new age of science fiction writing which the world had never tasted before him. Asimov is credited with having edited over 500 books. Asimov’s most successful work was on hard science fiction and his most notable book is the ‘Foundation Series’. Asimov is also widely popular for his easy Physics, astronomy and mathematics books alongside his works on the Bible, William Shakespeare and chemistry. Asimov was a brilliant professor of biochemistry at Boston University. Besides being a prolific writer, Asimov was also an integral part of (President) the American Humanist Association. Asimov is also known for his work as a civilian at the Philadelphia Navy Yard’s Naval Air Experimental Station during the World War II. “Robotics” was a term coined by Asimov which went on to become a branch of technology.

Leave a Reply

Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: