What to write about this one? A Canticle for Leibowitz is one of science fiction’s most classic texts, and as a result it’s on the 4th place of the cumulative Classics of Science Fiction list, right behind The Left Hand of Darkness, Dune & The Dispossessed.
It is also widely read outside the science fiction community, and that gets you long articles in The New Yorker over 50 years after it was first published. This isn’t just sci fi, dear readers, but serious Literature too!
I’ve reviewed two other post-apocalyptic books the last few months – The Wild Shore & The Day of The Triffids. A Canticle has a wider scope in time than those novels, chronicling events after a 20th century nuclear holocaust in the 26th century, in 3174 and in 3781. At the same time, it feels just as provincial – even in the third part, when humanity is trying to colonize space. This is because Miller focuses on one community, in an American abbey founded to preserve the few scraps of knowledge that survived the Simplification – a purging revenge against science, scientists & literacy.
For those of you not familiar with the book, I’ll first write up a few basic facts and zoom in a bit on Walter Miller Jr.’s tragic life story. Continue reading