Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of 20th-century literature - a chilling and still-provocative look at a postapocalyptic future.
In a nightmarish, ruined world, slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infantile 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 there, 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, 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.
©1959 Walter M. Miller, Jr. (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Chillingly effective.” (Time)
I don't mind that this story -- written in 1959 -- gets the whole "end of the world" thing wrong. We now know that the world won't end in an atomic war, but with climate change and zombies, of course.
What I do mind, however, is that the whole story kind of sucks. There's a group of selfless, dedicated, intelligent monks who do everything in their power to safeguard some undisclosed "memorabilia" through centuries of ignorance and unrest. And what is this precious "memorabilia," you ask? No one ever says, but it sounds like just a bunch of worthless engineering diagrams or circuit drawings. Big deal--and certainly not enough to restart civilization after it was ruined in a nuclear apocalypse. That's really not much of a story either, unless you think that a propaganda piece about the Catholic Church makes for a great sci-fi story. For me, I need a bit more, thanks.
And what in the heck is up with the narration? One character in the book--supposedly a brilliant scientist and scholar of the future--is given the accent of Foghorn Leghorn! And the other characters are not treated much better. The narration was very distracting in my view.
Anyway, I did finish the book just to see if it gets better at the end (spoiler alert--it doesn't). I say, don't waste your time and get a better book to listen to. Life is short, and zombies will be here soon!!
The narrator was good with the different character voices, but the overall tone was too dry and succinct - as if the narrator was reading the evening radio news instead of a story.
Between the overly verbose conversations and droll tedium there were parts where the story progressed. The continuity between the ages and church vs. state dilemmas are interesting, but you really have to dig through the fluff for it.
I purchased this book on the many five star recommendations that I read, only to be disappointed.
Unlike some of the other 1950-60's books I have read that stood up (i.e. Heinlein's and Aasimov's books), this one did not stand up to the ages well - and I'm not just talking about the use of Latin.
This story could be half as long and accomplish just as much, but it was written in a time when literature was ornately over-worded (i.e. Lord of the Rings, Atlas Shrugged, etc.) so I feel this story fit the generation from whence it came. By today's standards though, it's a bit of a tired slog :(
I thought I knew it, in the 70s, as merely dark, ironical, and shallow. But it's a remarkable book of ideas, a great tale, compelling characters, and good writing. And ultimately a very hopeful book.
The story must have a purpose but I couldt waste 10 hours of listening while it got to it.
Not really science fiction more like a fairy tale
I remember this book being on the bestseller list when I was in school. So when it was available on an Audible two-for-one offer I got it. Boy was I disappointed! It was difficult to follow, lacked interesting characters and just is not a good book, IMHO. I would not recommend this book and am surprised to continue to see it on various lists of best sci-fi compilations. I listened to the novel several times because it was so hard to follow but in the end found it a waste of my time. The authors I really like include Octavia Butler, Stephen King, Walter Mosley and Dean Koontz. I like real page turners (metaphorically) and am glad I didn't buy this book in hardcover or paperback form. The only redeeming quality was the reader and that's only because I'm trying to find something good to say about A Canticle for Leibowitz. Not sure why this is considered such a good book. Definitely not my cup of tea!
I've never read another story quite like this one before. That truly earns it five stars.
Because it's a post-apocalyptic story, though, I imagined it might involve more adventure and drama than it did. The fact it did not disappointed me somewhat, but the unique nature of the story helped me finish it and still be satisfied.
The story would have been easier to follow if more background had been given.
I felt as if I was jumping around from one strange situation to another without enough explanation of how each situation related to the others and what had led to each.
No, I did not enjoy his narration. I thought his voice too rough and "ugly" but maybe fitting for a story I did not enjoy anyway.
Typically, I do enjoy this genre. I was disappointed because I expected to like this book based on the reviews from Audible.
I may give the story another try in a year or two but I will be reading it myself instead of listening to an audiobook.
While the perils of technology and humankind's struggle to use it wisely are timeless themes... this book is not. It is tiresome, horribly preachy, and extremely dated. I'm sorry I wasted the time to finish it.
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
This is an important novel. This is a fun novel. This is a serious novel. This is a scholarly novel. This is everybody's novel. Pity that A Canticle for Leibowitz has somehow become stuck in a SciFi category as opposed to a Great Fiction category. Written in the 1950s, Miller's tale of the future is as gripping today and ripens wonderfully with age. Tom Weiner's the perfect performing artist to tell us "A Canticle For Leibowitz". A GREAT STORY!
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