Quotes from The Dark Forest

Liu Cixin ·  512 pages

Rating: (24.3K votes)


“The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound. Even breathing is done with care. The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds other life—another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod—there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them. In this forest, hell is other people. An eternal threat that any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out. This is the picture of cosmic civilization. It’s the explanation for the Fermi Paradox.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“If I destroy you, what business is it of yours?”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“For the majority of people, what they love exists only in the imagination. The object of their love is not the man or woman of reality, but what he or she is like in their imagination. The person in reality is just a template used for the creation of this dream lover. Eventually, they find out the differences between their dream lover and the template. If they can get used to those differences, then they can be together. If not, they split up. It’s as simple as that. You differ from the majority in one respect: You didn’t need a template.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Make time for civilization, for civilization won't make time.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Staying alive is not enough to guarantee survival. Development is the best way to ensure survival.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest



“It’s a wonder to be alive. If you don’t understand that, how can you search for anything deeper?”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Fate lies within the light cone.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Time is the one thing that can’t be stopped. Like a sharp blade, it silently cuts through hard and soft, constantly advancing. Nothing is capable of jolting it even the slightest bit, but it changes everything.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“My dad said that people who are sensitive to beauty are good by nature, and if they’re not good, then they can’t appreciate beauty.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Life needed smoothness, but it also needed direction. One could not always be returning to the point of origin.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest



“do you know what the greatest expression of regard for a race or civilization is?” “No, what?” “Annihilation. That’s the highest respect a civilization can receive. They would only feel threatened by a civilization they truly respect.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Without the fear of heights, there can be no appreciation for the beauty of high places.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Ten thousand times the web could be destroyed, and ten thousand times the spider would rebuild it. There was neither annoyance nor despair, nor any delight, just as it had been for a billion years.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Perhaps the outside world really was something akin to a quantum state, and did not exist unless he observed it.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“No,no.Don't say where we are!Once we know where we are,then the world becomes as narrow as a map.When we don't know,the world feels unlimited.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest



“The past was like a handful of sand you thought you were squeezing tightly, but which had already run out through the cracks between your fingers. Memory was a river that had run dry long ago, leaving only scattered gravel in a lifeless riverbed.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Earth’s suitability for human life was no coincidence, much less an effect of the anthropic principle, but rather was an outcome of the long-term interaction between the biosphere and the natural environment,”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Those two axioms are solid enough from a sociological perspective … but you rattled them off so quickly, like you’d already worked them out,” Luo Ji said, a little surprised. “I’ve been thinking about this for most of my life, but I’ve never spoken about it with anyone before. I don’t know why, really.… One more thing: To derive a basic picture of cosmic sociology from these two axioms, you need two other important concepts: chains of suspicion, and the technological explosion.” “Interesting terms. Can you explain them?” Ye Wenjie glanced at her watch. “There’s no time. But you’re clever enough to figure them out. Use those two axioms as a starting point for your discipline, and you might end up becoming the Euclid of cosmic sociology.” “I’m no Euclid. But I’ll remember what you said and give it a whirl. I might come to you for guidance, though.” “I’m afraid there won’t be that opportunity.… In that case, you might as well just forget I said anything. Either way, I’ve fulfilled my duty. Well, Xiao Luo, I’ve got to go.” “Take care, Professor.” Ye Wenjie went off through the twilight to her final meet-up. The”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“qualitative change is only produced by long-term quantitative accumulation.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“In this forest, hell is other people. An eternal threat that any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out. This is the picture of cosmic civilization. It’s the explanation for the Fermi Paradox.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest



“You know how the joke goes: On the way to the execution ground, a condemned criminal complained that it was going to rain, and the executioner said, ‘What have you got to worry about? We’re the ones who’ve got to go back through it!”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“When twilight fades, you can see the stars. When dawn fades, all that’s left is…” “All that’s left is the harsh light of reality.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“The past was like a handful of sand you thought you were squeezing tightly, but which had already run out through the cracks between your fingers. Memory was a river that had run dry long ago, leaving only scattered gravel in a lifeless riverbed. He had lived life always looking out for the next thing, and whenever he had gained, he had also lost, leaving him with little in the end.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“The past was like a handful of sand you thought you were squeezing tightly, but which had already run out through the cracks between your fingers.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“English, formerly the most widely used language, and Chinese, spoken by the largest population, had blended with each other without distinction to become the world’s most powerful language. Luo Ji learned later that the other languages of the world were undergoing the same fusion.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest



“Are you under the impression that the object of everyone else’s love actually exists?” “Is that even a question?” “Sure. For the majority of people, what they love exists only in the imagination. The object of their love is not the man or woman of reality, but what he or she is like in their imagination. The person in reality is just a template used for the creation of this dream lover. Eventually, they find out the differences between their dream lover and the template. If they can get used to those differences, then they can be together. If not, they split up. It’s as simple as that. You differ from the majority in one respect: You didn’t need a template.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“The stern of the ship faced the Solar System, where the sun was by now no more than a yellow star just a bit brighter than the rest. The peripheral spiral arm of the Milky Way lay in this direction, its stars sparse. The depth and expanse of deep space exhibited an arrogance that left no support for the mind or the eyes. “Dark. It’s so fucking dark,” the captain murmured, and then shot himself.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“The nurse picked up one of the umbrellas, which must have been fairly heavy, because she had to carry it over her shoulder. “Is it raining out?” She shook her head. “You think I’m carrying an … umbrella?” she said, unfamiliar with the last word. “If it’s not an umbrella, then what is it?” Luo Ji pointed to the device on her shoulder, imagining that she would say some peculiar name for it. But she didn’t. “It’s my bicycle,” she said.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Once we know where we are, then the world becomes as narrow as a map. When we don’t know, the world feels unlimited.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest


“Growing up, his father had used silence rather than speech to educate him, and words were merely the punctuation between the silences.”
― Liu Cixin, quote from The Dark Forest



About the author

Liu Cixin
Born place: Beijing, China
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