Larry Niven Quotes

Who is Larry Niven?

Laurence van Cott Niven is an American science fiction writer.

Born April 30, 1938
Age 84 years old

Books by Larry Niven

Larry Niven Sources


Best 58 Quotes by Larry Niven – Page 1 of 2

“A civilization has the ethics it can afford.”

“Anything beats an expensive stack of paper.”

“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

“As for AIDS, it's a plague. We are human, we get plagues. They come along every so often, kill off two thirds of the population; in the next generation it's a quarter; after that it's a childhood disease.”

“Boredom is my worst enemy. It's killed a lot of my friends, but it won't get me. When I get bored, I go risk my life somewhere.”

“Hopeless causes are the only ones worth fighting for. The fight for the taxpayer is the most hopeless of them all.”

“If one must explain a magic trick, one should do so after the show is over.”

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“In a collaboration, each author will do 75% of the work.”

“In general, I don't know when inspiration will pop up.”

“Intelligence is just a tool to be used toward a goal, and goals are not always chosen intelligently.”

“It is a cardinal sin to bore the reader.”

“It's very difficult for a black man to get out of South-Central Los Angeles, and get out civilized. The only men I know who have escaped, all began reading Robert Heinlein at age ten.”

“Love was a delicious blend of warm and cold. There was comfort in making love. It solved no problems: but one could run away from problems.”

“My problem with new writers is that it takes me five or six years to memorise the right names.”

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“Never tell a computer to forget it.”

“Once every hundred years, the Los Angeles smog rolls away for a single night, leaving the air as clean as interstellar space. That way the gods can see if Los Angeles is still there. If it is, they roll the smog back so they won't have to look at it.”

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“If civilization has an opposite, it is war.”

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“SF isn't a genre; SF is the matrix in which genres are embedded, and because the SF field is never going in any one direction at any one time, there is hardly a way to cut it off.”

“That's the thing about people who think they hate computers. What they really hate is lousy programmers.”

“The best advice I was ever given was on my twenty-first birthday when my father said: Son, here's a million dollars. Don't lose it.”

“The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space program. And if we become extinct because we don’t have a space program, it’ll serve us right!”

“The reader has certain rights. He bought your story. Think of this as an implicit contract. He's entitled to be entertained, instructed, amused; maybe all three. If he quits in the middle, or puts the book down feeling his time has been wasted, you're in violation.”

“The value of a thing is what that thing will bring.”

“There is a technical, literary term for those who mistake the opinions and beliefs of characters in a novel for those of the author. The term is 'idiot'.”

“There is no cause so good or noble that it will not attract fuggheads; and the fuggheads will get all the press.”

“We're looking as far ahead as we can, and we don't get penalized for mistakes.”

“You learn by writing short stories. Keep writing short stories. The money's in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.”

Fallen Angels Quotes

“Everything starts as somebody's daydream.”

Fallen Angels

“In the world of words the imagination is one of the forces of nature.”

Fallen Angels

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“There had been a popular joke on Freedom, started by a man named Calder. Looking down from space, he had said, the dominant life forms on Earth were obviously the cereals and other grasses. They occupied all the most desirable and fertile land; and they had tamed insects and animals to care for them.

In particular, they had domesticated the bipeds to nurture and cultivate them and to save and plant their seed. Now, watching the farmers, Alex could easily imagine that they were worshiping and genuflecting before their masters.”

Fallen Angels

Flatlander Quotes

“Anything you don't understand is dangerous until you do understand it.”


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

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Larry Niven Sources