…because according to this quote cited by Gregory Benford in his happy-birthday letter in Locus Magazine (January 2008), he claims that “there are some general laws governing scientific extrapolation, as there are not (pace Marx) in the case of politics and economics.” Well, far be it from me to disagree that Marx was wrong about a lot of things, but Clarke is wrong here. Sir Clarke, you may be 90 years old now, and happy birthday by the way, but it’s never too late to acquire a firm grasp of sound economic theory.
Benford does report some remarks by Clarke I do agree with, however. For example: “for the one fact about the Future of which we can be certain is that it will be utterly fantastic.” Sounds more American than British to me.
And here’s another: “exact knowledge is the friend, not the enemy, of imagination and fantasy.”
Finally, here’s one that evokes, for me at least, the evils and waste of statism: “All this effort, all this death, when we could be building the staging area for a seaborne space elevator.”
Update: In his May 2008 memorial letter for Clarke, Benford adds two more quotes that I like:
“There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum.”
“New ideas pass through three periods: It can’t be done; it probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing; I knew it was a good ideal all along!”