favorite quotes

David Brin is best-known for shining light — plausibly and entertainingly — on technology, society, and countless challenges confronting our rambunctious civilization. His best-selling novels include The Postman (filmed in 1997) plus explorations of our near-future in Earth and Existence. Other novels are translated into 25+ languages. His short stories explore vividly speculative ideas.

Brin's nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the American Library Association's Freedom of Speech Award for exploring 21st Century concerns about security, secrecy, accountability and privacy.

As a scientist, tech-consultant and world-known author, he speaks, advises, and writes widely on topics from national defense and homeland security to astronomy and space exploration, SETI and nanotechnology, future/prediction, creativity, and philanthropy. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was cited as one of the top 10 writers the AI elite follow.


Some of these quotes, gathered from Brin's novels, books, articles and interviews, have gained a fair amount of use over the years. Feel free to share with your circle.

Contrary Brin blog

We're starting to get accustomed enough to this new century to want it to be different from the last, which is why Brin expanded his "laboratory" to the real world, blogging ideas and topics that pique, fascinate, and infuriate.
Contrary Brin

where else to find Brin quotes

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  • quotes on fiction & writing

    DAVID BRIN quote
    DAVID BRIN quote

    "For every good idea, ten thousand idiotic ones must first be posed, sifted, sniffed, tried, and discarded. A mind that's afraid to toy with the ridiculous will never come up with the brilliantly original."
    — David Brin

    "Our species' greatest harvest — words."
    — from Earth

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "Many post-holocaust novels are little-boy wish fantasies about running amok in a world without rules. In fact, such lonely 'heroes' would vanish like soot after a real apocalypse."
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "We all create monsters in our minds. The only important difference may be which of us let our monsters become real."
    — from Earth

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "If you believe you can make a living as a writer, you already have enough ego. Don't let too much of it prevent you from seeking the feedback you need in order to keep honing your craft."
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "Creative people see Prometheus in a mirror, never Pandora."
    — from Brightness Reef

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "I would normally never set out to write a trilogy."
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote

    quotes about life and other creative acts

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "A hallmark of sanity is the courage to face even unpleasant points of view."
    — from Earth

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "Life is not fair.... Anyone who says it is, or even that it ought to be, is a fool or worse."
    — from Startide Rising

    DAVID BRIN quote
    DAVID BRIN quote

    "Self-awareness is probably over-rated. A complex, self-regulating system doesn't need it in order to be successful, or even smart."
    — from Earth

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "Only a knowledgeable, empowered and vocal citizenry can perform well in a democracy."
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "Each of us is many. Within every human, a cacophony of voices rages."
    — from Earth


    quotes for science and the scientific-minded

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "To meddle in the makeup of other species, in an attempt to 'uplift' their intelligence, might be the most ethically fraught and worrisome decision humanity could make. But to refuse the chance might be the most damnably selfish one. It would say: 'we stumbled into this gift and now we refuse to share.'"
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "But there is another reason to protect other species, seldom mentioned. Perhaps we are the first to talk and think and build and aspire, but we won't be the last. Others will follow us in this adventure. Some day we may be judged by how well we served, when we alone were Earth's caretakers."
    — from The Uplift War

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "There has never lived a profession more inherently competitive. Every participant dreams of being the next one to upset the apple cart. Freshly-tenured junior professors are the Young Guns, swaggering down Main Street looking to build a reputation by overturning some Nobelist's accepted model."
    David Brin

    "All of the great enlightenment arenas — markets, science and democracy — flourish in direct proportion to how much their players (consumers, scientists and voters) know, in order to make good decisions. To whatever extent these arenas get clogged by secrecy, they fail."
    — from The Transparent Society

    DAVID BRIN quote
    DAVID BRIN quote
    DAVID BRIN quote

    "One of the worst calumnies has been to portray scientists as timid herd creatures, chasing teensy grants and chanting the consensus paradigm."
    David Brin


    quotes that contend with progress & change

    "Change is the very fabric of our time."
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "It is simplistic to claim that secrecy is the root of all evil. But there is no evil that is not worsened by secrecy."
    — from The Transparent Society

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "The village is coming back, like it or not."
    David Brin

    "Self-righteous people can talk themselves into forgetting they are a part of a civilization. Instead of negotiating, they despise the neighbors who nurture them, feeding on that culture while disdaining it."
    David Brin

    "Change can't be prevented, only guided."
    — from Earth

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "What if this was all a fight between two factions of the government or aristocracy? Such things happened all the time, and when dragons battle each other, peasants are better off ducking out of the way."
    — from Existence

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "For we already live in the openness experiment, and have for two hundred years. It is called the Enlightenment — with 'light' both a core word and a key concept in our turn away from 4,000 years of feudalism."
    — from The Transparent Society

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "If facts are inconvenient, well then, why not damn those who live and work with facts? How's that working out?"
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "The worst mistake of first contact, made throughout history by individuals on both sides of every encounter, has been the unfortunate habit of making assumptions. It often proved fatal."
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "Reciprocal accountability, or criticism, is the only known antidote to error."
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "Light is the scourge of evil."
    Earth

    DAVID BRIN quote
    DAVID BRIN quote

    tongue-in-cheek quotes

    "Prison for the crime of puberty — that was how secondary school seemed."
    — from Earth

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "We must go forth and crush every world view that doesn't believe in free speech and tolerance!"
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "Where subtlety fails us, we simply make do with cream pies."
    The Uplift War


    a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

    To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.

    DAVID BRIN author

    novels

    David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More


    shorter fiction

    Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More


    Contrary Brin blog

    Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More


    social media influencer

    Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More

    DAVID BRIN scientist

    scientist

    David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More


    transparency expert

    Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More


    speaker & consultant

    Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 200 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings.Learn More


    future/tech advisor

    Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was cited as one of the top 10 writers the AI elite follow. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More


    other points of departure

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    pages about DAVID BRIN

  • latest news and activities
  • information about DAVID BRIN
  • public speaking and consulting & popular topics
  • speaking/consulting references and testimonials & a list of past appearances
  • lists of interviews and podcasts
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  • Brin's presskit and complete biography
  • traditional media and social media
  • Brin quotes
  • pages about science fiction

  • Brin's novels and books
  • Brin's short stories and novellas
  • all about Brin's uplift universe
  • a selection of book reviews
  • Brin's advice for new writers
  • Brin reviews sci fi films — including The Postman
  • a compilation of great sf books to read
  • recommended sf films
  • science fiction that teaches
  • nonfiction explorations

  • The Transparent Society
  • privacy, security, accountability and transparency
  • designing and crafting our amazing 21st Century
  • predicting and projecting our near and far future
  • leading and following our politics and economy
  • keeping track of changes in science and technology
  • scanning our sky for habitable (inhabited?) worlds
  • an ornery, contrary blog, and other insightful rants!

    Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's community pokes at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate and infuriate.

    wormholes

    A few spacetime anomalies and side-trips, for your entertainment.

    Questions? Concerns? Email Me

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    testimonials

    endorsements and recommendations

    George B. Dyson, author of Darwin Among the Machines

    "As David Brin details the inevitability of ubiquitous surveillance, your instinct, as an individual facing this one-way mirror, is to hope that he is wrong about the facts. As you follow his argument for two-way social transparency, you realize your only hope is that he is right."

    io9

    David Brin has created some of the greatest classics of recent science fiction, including Startide Rising, plus the short stories "The Crystal Spheres" and "Thor Meets Captain America."

    praise for Brin's science fiction

    As a bestselling science-fiction writer himself (Earth, Startide Rising, The Postman), Brin gets paid handsomely to look into the future and report back on what he's seen.
    — Metroactive Books

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

    "David Brin is notable for unquenchable optimism, focusing on the ability of humanity to overcome adversity."

    final thoughts ...

    ... for this page, at least ...

    In every one of my past lives, I had this same personality — ornery, contrarian, outspoken and willing to be wrong, just to shock stodgy consensus. In none of those other lives did I make it past age sixteen! Garroted, hung, eviscerated, burned at the stake... I recall them all. This is the very first society that not only let me live past 60, but with honor and kids and respect, paying me well for all of those disruptive traits that other cultures punished!

    Whether you know I am kidding about reincarnation, or imagine that I meant it, one thing is clear. I'm loyal to this enlightenment civilization. I have no reason to be anything else. I'll serve it till death, offering up the one thing I can provide that it needs most: criticism. I hope you'll do that, too. It is the truest patriotism.

    — David Brin