6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucifer is Fallen
This novel from the 1950's is a deserved classic among the sci-fi intelligentsia. Maybe its laborious title has kept it from being noticed by the popular masses, but this book is a hidden gem for those looking to broaden their horizons. This is probably one of the earliest stories to speculate on a post-nuclear apocalypse, and here Walter Miller created one of the most...
Published on May 3 2004 by doomsdayer520
3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, though disappointing overall
I really liked the idea of this book--of an inescapable destiny for mankind. However, I found the development of theme and plot too drawn out. The entire story should have ended with the launch of the starship. The entire point of euthanasia the monk picket line was unnecessary and had nothing to do with the overall plot.
I was incredibly disappointed with the lack...
Published on Nov 21 2001
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucifer is Fallen,
This review is from: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Paperback)This novel from the 1950's is a deserved classic among the sci-fi intelligentsia. Maybe its laborious title has kept it from being noticed by the popular masses, but this book is a hidden gem for those looking to broaden their horizons. This is probably one of the earliest stories to speculate on a post-nuclear apocalypse, and here Walter Miller created one of the most imaginative and far-reaching examples of that motif. Later nuclear winter stories would get predictable and formulaic, but not this originator. In this masterpiece of storytelling, three ages of human development pass by over the course of 1800 years, but in the end we see that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. While it's a bit dated in places, this brilliant and disturbing novel will keep you thinking for a long time after you're done reading it.
In addition to its unique take on historical processes, this book is essentially about the pros and cons of organized religion. In Part 1, humanity is stuck in the middle of several centuries of dark ages after a nuclear war, and once again the Catholic Church (or what's left of it) holds sway over a fearful and unenlightened society. Among the few records of the pre-war world that have survived are some inconsequential notes and blueprints by a minor scientist called Leibowitz. The church has made Leibowitz a saint, and here Miller appears to be commenting on the reverence of organized religion toward matters of doubtful authenticity and importance. Is religious belief built upon weak foundations? In Part 2 humanity is entering a new renaissance of knowledge, with religion being unable to adjust to the new enlightenment. In Part 3, humanity has reached a new technical age, but society is again oppressed by nuclear paranoia and mutually assured destruction. Humanity is about to destroy itself once again in this 1800-year cycle. Miller then takes us on an examination of the strength and relevance of faith in the face of such suffering and destruction. However, for the entire 1800 years and more, the disciples of Leibowitz have kept faith and hope alive. So is organized religion the curse or savior of humanity? Walter Miller contemplates these issues with great lucidity in this lost classic. [~doomsdayer520~]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars While society dissolves, the Church merely genuflects....,
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This review is from: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Mass Market Paperback)This novel is timeless! Whether we are examining the supposed eras of recovery from nuclear holocaust, the reformation of oppressive armed combatants, the redeployment of nuclear destruction or our present lives in modern society, the author has a single clear message; The Church hierarchy continues to play its fiddles while Rome is in flames around them. Novella #1 shows the monks saving totally useless 'holy writings' and spending centuries recopying documents that they are totally ignorant of. Novella #2 shows the Church, at all costs, aligning itself with the most powerful political and warring tribe that they can link themselves with. This is in spite of the lack of a common morality. And Novella #3 shows the naivety of them rocketing these 'holy writings' into outer space in order to 'save' the structure and basis for the Church proper for future other-worldly populations.
The author cleverly took three different future eras of mankind and examined them through the eyes of Church and its administration. He showed the useless continuation of church rituals that were based of Liebowitz mythology, displayed that the prayers of even the highest church official went unanswered, showed the utter fear that engrossed church officials had when their imminent death was faced and revealed the fractured church hierarchy that was built fully on power and control and lacked any public significance. The most telling actions of the Church, however, were revealed in not what they did, but in what they didn't do! All around them during these three eras was a society that seemed to be moving in a direction that would lead to the eventual re-destruction of the world. And what did the Church do in the interim? Did they make any attempt to educate or warn the public of where their actions may lead? Did they lead protests or sit-ins against the errant political systems? No! All they did was to constantly repeat their useless and mundane religious rituals and concern themselves with only their own organization and continued pious identity. They had little or no concern for the lay public with whom they were 'led' to serve. While some readers will complain of the mundaneness of the religious activities that appear throughout this novel, it is done in a purposeful manner. Boring, inane, and repetitive activity IS the function of the Church as they define themselves to be. The author clearly needs to show this.
This novel clearly shows the universality of these dynamics in today's conservative and fundamentalistic driven world. While society is making vain attempts to evolve from where we are, immovable mythological anchors are holding us back. Religious exclusivity, homophobia, the undermining of women's rights and the ignoration of the most helpless among us are the banners under which present religions (both East and West) are walking under.
I clearly advise any one who is interested in reading an author who created a universal dystopic novel many decades ago that remains fresh and appropriate to read this excellent presentation.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing,
This review is from: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Paperback)I read this one for the first time a few years ago. I've read it a couple times since. It's thought provoking and original. The book really stuck in my mind and manages to absorb my attention, even though I have read it before. I don't usually like collections of stories, even longer ones, like those in this book, but this is definitely an exception.
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Work,
This review is from: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Paperback)A Canticle for Leibowitz is not a novel. Rather, it is 3 linked novellas concerning the Order of Saint Leibowitz. Each of these novellas have different focuses and at first glance, would seem to have little to do with the other novellas. However, when you get down to thinking about it, they are actually pieces of a united work.
The first novella, Fiat Homo, is squarely about the Abbey of Saint Leibowitz and begins with the discovery of the Sacred Shopping List. It is the story of how the brothers seek to have Leibowitz officially recognized as a saint.
The second novella, Fiat Lux, is an espionage thriller dealing with the diabolical plans of the Emperor of Texarkana for continental domination. The third novella, Fiat Voluntas Tua, deals with the Second Nuclear Age as the nations that arose from the ashes of the First Nuclear Age and the nuclear war that ended that age, grapple with both nuclear weapons and the knowledge that a previous civilization died from those weapons.
As you can see, the 3 novellas deal with diverse subjects, but it is the way that Miller weaves his stories that the 3 become one.
A Canticle For Leibowitz is a most intriguing and well executed book and should be required reading in classrooms today.
4.0 out of 5 stars unique and wonderful,
This review is from: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Paperback)Well, amazing. So many novels in this general genre completely discount the power, much less the existence, of faith and ritual in human culture, or else they deride it. This novel shows the monastic community at its core as a genuine and human place, most of its inhabitants at least trying to achieve meaning and goodness in a world suffering the aftermath of disaster. There are shadows here of the Christian monks protecting European culture in the early Middle Ages ... the struggle with the meaning of suffering, the skepticism of easy "miracles," and the odd play of faith and distrust in technology in the context of a tenacious Judeo-Christian culture, are examples of some of the issues that enrich this story. Enjoy!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars After the Fall,
This review is from: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Paperback)Imagine a Benedictine monastary, monks going through their daily rituals, preserving and reproducing holy documents without understanding them or why they're holy for hundreds of years through the dark ages. Now imagine that same monastary in some future time, some future dark age after the fall of all those things we believe make us a civilization. That's the basic theme of Canticle for Liebowitz.
As the churches of past times strove to have their Saints and holy artifacts recognized by the Church, so they do in Canticle. It's a good yarn, an intertaining one, an absorbing one. I'm not certain why this book isn't among those listed as 'classics', reviewed by hundreds of reader-fans. I do know I loved it when I first read it several decades ago and I've loved it every time I've read it since.
I see in the editorial review that the book had a sequel I'd never heard of. I'm going to try to chase it down. Meanwhile, I recommend you get yourself a copy of this one and begin the sustained process of enjoying it occasionally for as long as you have eyesight and enough light to read by.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great example of 'Future History',
This review is from: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Paperback)Canticle for Lebowitz is a story that will appeal to all types of readers: science fiction readerers because of its speculative aspects as well as fantasy readers due to its projection of people into a strange (but all too possible) world.
This novel does a great job of describing how certain human organizations (religion, in particular) could survive apocalypse and become the vessel of knowledge into a future age--not unlike the function of the Middle Age monasteries preserved Classical knowledge. It also provides a very believable account of how people might perceive technologies that have become incomprehensible. For example, one of the characters marvels over why ancient people put metal bars into stone (it is rebar reinforced concrete). It shows us how even things that we perceive as mundane in the modern world could take on a mystical nature to those who lack understanding.
For me, the best of this book was the first two thirds. These are the parts where the writing really shines and the you get a sense of how humanity could endure and rediscover science through a neo-dark age. The last part is very good as well, but I think the authors voice begins to creep into the story and the characters, and events unfold more for the benefit of the point he's trying to make more than any other factor.
5.0 out of 5 stars I cuncur fully. . .,
This review is from: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Paperback). . .with those who consider "A Canticle for Leibowitz" as the single greatest Science Fiction novel ever written.
Imagine a world, devastated by nuclear holocaust. Imagine such a world further devastated by a "Simplification" in which all traces of learning are eradicated. The only vestige of civilization to survive is the Church. In the desert, a group of monks spend their entire lives trying to save, reconstruct, and restore knowledge to the world -- but to what end?
Filled with humor, pathos, faith, and hope, this book transcends a categorical description.
Take and read. You will not regret it.
Very Highly Recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Order it right now!,
This review is from: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Paperback)Stop wasting your time reading reviews - read the book instead!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragic and Hopeful,
This review is from: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Paperback)The horrific Flame Deluge has come and gone, and in the broken world that remains, a small order of monks collect and protect what remains of worldly knowledge at a remote abbey in the Utah desert. Spanning three millennium, the magnitude of this tale is nothing short of stunning. The story and the writing are both very well done, and all of the characters were vibrant. In many ways, the book reminded me of Catch-22; it is spiced with the same humor and wrenchingly tragic moments. The message I gleaned was that ultimately, Man is incapable (or unwilling) to learn from his mistakes. Though labeled science-fiction, there were several strong fantasy elements strewn throughout, which I enjoyed wholeheartedly. In my book, A Canticle for Leibowitz fully deserves its classic status.
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A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller (Paperback - Sep 2 1997)
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