Quote Origin: This Is Only a Work of Fiction. The Truth, As Always, Will Be Far Stranger

Arthur C. Clarke? Stanley Kubrick? Mark Twain? J. B. S. Haldane?

Question for Quote Investigator: Rapid computer hardware and software developments combined with extreme speculations about a technological singularity have led some science fiction writers to complain that envisioning the future has become too difficult. I am reminded of the following disclaimer for a novel:

This is only a work of fiction. The truth, as always, will be far stranger.

Do you know which science fiction author made this remark?

Reply from Quote Investigator: In 1968 science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke published “2001: A Space Odyssey” which depicted humanity’s first encounter with extraterrestrials. The work was written in conjunction with the movie of the same name directed by Stanley Kubrick. In the foreword to the novel, Clark suggested that humanity would meet “our equals, or our masters, among the stars”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[ref] 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, (A novel by Arthur C. Clarke based on the screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke), Section: Foreword, Quote Page 7 and 8, Arrow Books: An Imprint of the Hutchinson Group, London. (Verified with scans) [/ref]

Men have been slow to face this prospect: some still hope that it may never become reality. Increasing numbers, however, are asking: ‘Why have such meetings not occurred already, since we ourselves are about to venture into space?’

Why not, indeed? Here is one possible answer to that very reasonable question. But please remember: this is only a work of fiction. The truth, as always, will be far stranger.

The foreword ended with the initials A.C.C. and S.K. for Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick, but QI thinks that Clarke was the primary author of the foreword.

Additional details and citations are available in the article on the Medium platform which is located here.

Image Notes: Glass sphere from Drew Beamer at Unsplash. The image has been cropped.

Acknowledgement: Great thanks to AcademiaDreams and Jane Bella whose tweets led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.

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