Winner of theHugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M Miller, Jr s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of twentieth century literature a chilling and still provocative look at a post apocalyptic futureIn a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes Seriously funny, stunning, and tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze It is now, as it always has been, a masterpiece Have we no choice but to play the Phoenix in an unending sequence of rise and fall Are we doomed to it, Lord, chained to the pendulum of our own mad clockwork, helpless to halt its swing Looks like we are, at least according to Walter M Miller Jr A Canticle for Leibowitz is a bona fide sci fi classic, you d be hard pressed to find a list of all time great sci fi novels without it I remember being given a copy of this book in my teens when I was starting to become a serious sci fi fan I waHave we no choice but to play the Phoenix in an unending sequence of rise and fall Are we doomed to it, Lord, chained to the pendulum of our own mad clockwork, helpless to halt its swing Looks like we are, at least according to Walter M Miller Jr A Canticle for Leibowitz is a bona fide sci fi classic, you d be hard pressed to find a list of all time great sci fi novels without it I remember being given a copy of this book in my teens when I was starting to become a serious sci fi fan I was quite intrigued by the first few pages but soon found myself unable to maintain my interest in the narrative, due to the complex prose and my inability at the time to appreciate the nuances The likes of Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein were muchaccessible for me at the time I gave Canticle up around page 50 and today I spotted some grey hairs on my head just a few you know and thought Aha Perhaps I m ready for Leibowitz now It is not hard to see why A Canticle for Leibowitz is generally regarded as a sci fi classic, it is so rich with themes and nuances and leaves you with much to ponder after finishing it Whether it is fun to read is another matter Does fiction even need to be fun That would be up to the reader I guess Certainly in the subgenre of post apocalypse fiction it is one of the greats, but if you are looking for something like The Hunger Games you d be barking up the wrong tree This book is as non YA as you can get.The novel is made up of three interconnected novellas, each one set 600 years apart.1 Fiat Homo Let There Be Man This first part of A Canticle for Leibowitz is set in America 600 years after a global nuclear apocalypse The world is in a primitive state and technology is the stuff of legend A hapless young monk Brother Francis meets a mysterious pilgrim with girded loins who leads him to discovery of an underground fallout shelter container documents and memos from the 20th century, some of these were ostensibly written by Isaac Edward Leibowitz, the founder of the monastic Albertian Order of Leibowitz to which Brother Francis belongs This caused a sensation and eventually leads to the Church s canonization of Saint Leibowitz.2 Fiat Lux Let There Be Light Set 600 years after the events of Fiat Homo Scientific re discoveries are just beginning, much of it is based on the notes by Isaac Leibowitz Various tribes are also beginning to make war3 Fiat Voluntas Tua Let Thy Will Be Done Again 600 years since the previous story Now civilization is back in full swing, the level of tech is actuallyadvanced than the previous pre apocalypse one humanity has achieved interstellar travel by this time Unfortunately, thethings change thethey stay the same, so the cyclical nature of human history means that we are once again about to blow each other up Charmingly on the nose book cover.All three parts feature a different protagonist as they are 600 years apart All three are members of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz Of the three Brother Francis is the most memorable due to his fecklessness and wide eyed innocence The other two protagonists are abbots and quite formidable A pilgrim with girded loins appears in all three parts There are hints that he may be the immortal, mythical Wandering Jew However, there is nothing overtly supernatural in the novel so the three pilgrims can also be considered different characters I do love the mystical aspect of the book, several events in it can be interpreted as supernatural, but hey can also be rationalized away Walter M Miller was a catholic and he portrays the Catholic Church as a sort of last bastion of human civilization Certainly the Albertian Order of Leibowitz is the single monastery that ensures the survival of human knowledge, and even humanity itself.There is plenty of food for thought in A Canticle for Leibowitz, while the book is written from a Catholic viewpoint the book is not about Catholicism and Miller leaves many issues for the readers to decide for themselves I believe the central theme of the book is Man s tendency for self destruction Miller offers organized religion as a beacon of hope in dark times but he does not seem to demand that the readers accept this Certain religious viewpoints are also called into questions and some strong secular arguments are put forward by some of the characters who are non believers I have no real criticism of the book, it is well paced and it never really becomes dull, but there are some passages that seem quite convoluted and a chore to get through Personally, I don t think it is a fun read as such though there are the occasional funny moments and ironic humour scattered around I think it is sufficiently rewarding to be worth the effort, and on that basis, I can recommend it Say What Ineffable QuotesIf the creature is the name, then the name is the creature Equals may be substituted for equals, or The order of an equality is reversible, but may we proceed to the next axiom If Quantities equal to the same quantity may substitute for each other is true, then is there not some same quantity which both name and diagram represent Or is it a closed system There was objective meaning in the world, to be sure the nonmoral logos or design of the Creator but such meanings were God s and not Man s, until they found an imperfect incarnation, a dark reflection, within the mind and speech and culture of a given human society, which might ascribe values to the meanings so that they became valid in a human sense within the culture For Man was a culture bearer as well as a soul bearer, but his cultures were not immortal and they could die with a race or an age, and then human reflections of meaning and human portrayals of truth receded, and truth and meaning resided, unseen, only in the objective logos of Nature and the ineffable Logos of God Truth could be crucified but soon, perhaps, a resurrection NoteThere are quite a few Latin passages in this book These are your options Use an online or offline translation app Use a dictionary of some kind Use your Latin fu, if any Look up Wikipedia s page for this book, or other online guides Ignore the damn things and hope for the best.I picked the last option though you will undoubtedly have a richer understanding of the novel if you understand all the Latin shenanigans I m not a Christian, but I live in a Christian society, and it s all around me Reviewing on Goodreads brings home how many authors can be classified as some kind of Christian apologist I have very different reactions to them At one end, I can t stand most of C.S Lewis I feel he s there with his foot in the door trying to sell me something, and I m just hoping that I can get him to take his foot away without being openly rude At the opposite end, I think Dante is a genius, and that The Div I m not a Christian, but I live in a Christian society, and it s all around me Reviewing on Goodreads brings home how many authors can be classified as some kind of Christian apologist I have very different reactions to them At one end, I can t stand most of C.S Lewis I feel he s there with his foot in the door trying to sell me something, and I m just hoping that I can get him to take his foot away without being openly rude At the opposite end, I think Dante is a genius, and that The Divine Comedy is one of the greatest books ever written A Canticle for Leibowitz is towards the positive end of this spectrum It s a post World War III novel, where most of the US is a radioactive wasteland, and civilization hasor less collapsed The only people who still keep any of the lost heritage of the past are a few scattered monasteries The book tracks the history of one of these monasteries over the course of several hundred years It s low key, moving, and often surprisingly funny Everything is informed by the simple, unquestioning faith shown by the monks They don t know why they re doing what they are doing, other than that it must be God s will The author shows you the ridiculous aspects of the story I particularly liked the illuminated parchments of circuit diagrams decorated with vines and cherubim And yet he is totally on the monks side, and after a while the reader is as well They re doing something important, even though they don t know what it is, and it makes their lives deep and meaningful Even when they die horrible deaths several of them do , they do it with dignity, knowing that it s the price that needs to be paid If Christianity were always like this, I guess I d be a Christian too It s a lovely book, that will leave you feeling better about people Odd as it sounds, this is hot toddy, warm blanket comfort food for me Admittedly, that s not the typical description of this cynical, bleak themed, post apocalyptic SF classic However, the easy, breezy style with which Miller explores his melancholy material manages to pluck smiles from me whenever I pick it up This go around, I listened to the audio version which was recently released it was as mood brightening an experience as my previous read through.Despite dealing with dark, somber subje Odd as it sounds, this is hot toddy, warm blanket comfort food for me Admittedly, that s not the typical description of this cynical, bleak themed, post apocalyptic SF classic However, the easy, breezy style with which Miller explores his melancholy material manages to pluck smiles from me whenever I pick it up This go around, I listened to the audio version which was recently released it was as mood brightening an experience as my previous read through.Despite dealing with dark, somber subject matter and ultimately ending on a tragic crescendo of humanity is stupid, savage and screwed, the journey of the novel is so filled with engaging characters and genuine humor that the surrounding depression and moroseness of the narrative theme just can t seem to grab hold of you At least, it never laid an accusing finger on me Canticle is broken up into 3 Sections, each taking place approximately 6 centuries apart Beginning in the 26th century, 600 years after the Flame Deluge when nuclear buffoonery laid waste to civilization, the central focus of the story is a Roman Catholic monastery founded by a Jewish weapons engineer for the purpose of safeguarding and preserving human knowledge Shortly after the geniuses of the 20th Century decided to light up the globe like Hell s own 4th of July, the surviving residents of Planet radiation burn decided that brains and books were overrated and followed up the Flame Deluge with the Simplification, whereby they roasted all of the books along with any person smart enough to read or write one Isaac Leibowitz, after being part of the military machinery that microwaved the planet, made it his mission in life to try and preserve knowledge for the future Thus the Albertian Order of Leibowitz was founded The first third of the book introduces us to the post apocalyptic world and gives a back story on the Flame Deluge and the mission of the Order of Leibowitz Located in what was the Southwestern United States, the Order tracks down and smuggles 20th century memorabilia into the abbey a process known as booklegging while trying to avoid being killed and possibly eaten by the self described Simpletons roaming the wastelands The next section of the book takes place in the 32nd Century and shows humanity finally emerging out of the dark ages of the Simplification and beginning to once again embrace the knowledge This section focuses primarily on the growing feud between the resurgent secular scientists and the Church over the control and distribution of technology Similar to our own renaissance period, the story describes science and natural law going toe to toe with the info hoarding monks as powerful city states run by warlords play both sides for advantage Finally, in the 38th Century, the last section of the book shows humanity once again in the full flower of its technological brilliance and historical stupidity ready to give the Earth another nuclear facialNote I was going to use atomic facial, but the Urban Dictionary makes that term very inappropriate hereWar is coming and the forces of history are once again driving humanity like cattle towards the abattoir Thus we see the overarching theme of Miller s masterpiece the cyclical nature of history Miller s moral as a species we are too stupid not to truly learn from our past blunders and are doomed to continue to screw the pooch and the planet with our giant, atomic phalluses I know, not exactly a cheery, pump it up pep talk However, the tone and the narrative style are anything but dreary Miller does a wonderful job creating a world that is large and mysterious and yet instantly recognizable and relatable His characters are flawed, genuine and mostly decent and live through their times with a sense of purpose and optimism that belies the smothering embrace of history as it squeezes events into an all too familiar pattern Miller s ability to write brightly of such bleakness is truly extraordinary The story is dark, fatalistic and filled with pessimism yet the prose is light, hopeful and filled with optimism The word bitter never comes to mind In addition to the overriding theme of history s wheel like pattern, Miller touches on other serious issues such as euthanasia and the right to life, the place of art in society and the nature of war itself This is a towering science fiction work, but Miller s messages are deftly delivered behind a humorous, engaging future history In sum, this book is a light touch of morale outrage It s a cozy warning of man s stupidity It s a warm, comforting blankie for our inner cynic to snuggle with while we wait for the shoe anvil to drop Enjoy 5.0 stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION Winner Hugo Award Best Science Fiction Novel 1961 Brilliant A centuries old story following the evolving world after an apocalypse and centered on the monks of St Leibowitz, somewhere in the American southwest The monks keep ancient artifacts of science and technology Funny, sad, brutal, irreverent at times, but doggedly hopeful in its underlying themes, this is a science fiction gem but really transcends the genre to make a greater statement Scholars and critics have explored the many themes encompassed in the novel, frequently focusing o Brilliant A centuries old story following the evolving world after an apocalypse and centered on the monks of St Leibowitz, somewhere in the American southwest The monks keep ancient artifacts of science and technology Funny, sad, brutal, irreverent at times, but doggedly hopeful in its underlying themes, this is a science fiction gem but really transcends the genre to make a greater statement Scholars and critics have explored the many themes encompassed in the novel, frequently focusing on its motifs of religion, recurrence, and church versus state Miller also uses some recurring elements to help bind the stories together, demonstrating exceptional imagination and virtuosity.Miller has crafted a very good book, enjoyable for any science fiction fan and a well written work of fiction besides