A Canticle for Leibowitz By: Walter M. Miller Jr.
Fiction: Sci-fi, religion, NYR, 338 pages
Physical Book Count: 6
Book Count: 14
I picked up this book because after working a convention, at the after party over some Scotch old enough to drink Scotch, a not religious friend( I think he is agnostic but I'm not sure what label he would use for sure,) of my husband and me, who knew we were Catholic and that we were looking for some good sci-fi to read, suggested this book. (as well as a couple others.) After I finished this book, one of the religious websites that I follow, listed this as one of the 10 books Catholics should read in their life. (Besides the Bible and other religious non-fiction books, as it was a list of fiction books only.) So as you might have guessed this book is both a good sci-fi epic and a book that deals with the deeper issues of faith, belief and religion.
As this book is an epic, there isn't just one or two main characters that the book follows. The story is broke into 3 parts and takes place over generations of humanity. The common thread is that it is the story of the monks of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz. An order founded by Leibowitz, who at the start of the book isn't even officially a saint, a man who lived threw the fire deluge (nuclear war) and who's order was dedicated to saving the writings and intellectualism of the past during a time of a violent reaction against the knowledge that caused the cataclysmic events that set the world back a millennium plus. The story starts when the world is still at a time of war against intellect, even though the time from the fire deluge is enough that people only know of it from stories and legends, and a number of things that they "know" about it is not based on facts. It then jumps to a time when people are rediscovering science and technology. And it ends at the time when humanity has advanced to the level like that of the time of the fire deluge and the question of will humanity destroy itself is once again an issue.
Although the story is set well into the future, a basic knowledge of Ecclesiastical Lain will be helpful in reading this book, as they are monks. At the start of the book they do translate important phrases, and it is not necessary to translate all of the Latin to understand the story line. A basic knowledge of monastic life would be helpful and as always the parts of the Mass that are still in Greek are still in Greek. Also, interesting right before reading this book I had a conversation during Taco Tuesday (the smallest, most unofficial small group in our parish) about why there wasn't a completely missing the point legend about a certain Biblical figure like there was of the wandering Jew from Matt 24:34/Mk 13:30/Lk 21:34 and they were in there in the legendary storyline that I was thinking of. Also in the future Litanies sound much more hardcore, while still keeping with the traditional format.