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)
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
A little shaky in places and I got lost a couple of times, but for an end-of-the-world story this was well crafted. I especially liked the characters and dialogue. Still thinking about the ending.
I hadn't read this book for over 20 years and ordered it, expecting to be disappointed. Often the "classics" of yesteryear fail to impress on later readings. This is an exception. It sets the standard for all works featuring the cyclical way that civilizations rise fall and rise again scenarios (see Toynbee). Some humour (not easy in SciFi), some pathos but basically a great story (novel at the time, not so now), good characterisations and a large dollop of cynicism. The narrator does a great job of making the characters come alive and is not afraid to "ham it up" a bit in order to help us get an insight into the character. Thank you for doing a wonderful version of this book.
I am not sure who would enjoy this book.
The narrator did a good job with the various characters and the numerous Latin phrases. If I had been reading I probably would not have even finished it.
Total disappointment.The book tells three separate stories that are only remotely related. The entire point of the book comes in the last 30 min. Could have skipped the previous 8-9 hours and reached the same conclusion.
I guess I will steer clear of 'critically acclaimed' works in the future. That seems to be another way to say boring and un-entertaining.
Given the high praise for the novel I was surprised how oriented the book was towards a Catholic vision of the world. While it provides valid insights, the different periods of the story do not allow the listener to have a coherent experience. It is mildly entertaining, and has its moments of intrigue. Overall it is nothing special and certainly not a classical listen or read unless you are one that can really get caught up in the undertones of darkness that could only be saved through redemption by God.
As I continue to read through the classics of Science Fiction, this book easily makes the Top 50 list of most of the people who know. Billed as one of the finest examples of a post-apocalyptic world I was looking forward to seeing what that world would look like from the eyes of a writer from the 1960's. Miller's most important assumption is one I agree with completely: if the world blows itself up, the Church and it's teachings (including a full Latin vocabulary) will survive. Miller was specific about the members of the Church he uses as his characters in each section, focusing less on the world after the burn and more on how the Order deals with the events of the world in each time and how it impacts their overall mission. On the whole, it's a good read and definitely worthwhile for any lover of SF. As a book on its own it's horribly dry. Whatever sense of conflict you may feel is so drawn and thinned out over the course of the chapters by the time the resolution comes you simply shrug your shoulders and move on. The lack of intensity in the prose is worsened by Weiner's monotone and bland recording. He uses the exact same inflection for the most impactful of sentences as he does the most mundane. I had to pause the recording several times and ask, "Whoa, what just happened?" because the sentence had been passed so quickly by the narrator. Weiner's Latin pronunciation is excellent, and as a former Latin student it was fun to flex my Latin muscles and see how much I remembered. For anyone but the hardcore SF fan, I doubt I'd recommend this book, and I'd certainly recommend any other recording of it. But Miller's lessons of a nuclear world shine through clearly, as are how the Church will thrive and ensure mankind's legacy is preserved in spite of our collective propensity to destroy ourselves.
I am a 67 yo disabled Vet who lives in N. Texas. I was a medic in the Army during the Viet Nam war, got an MS in ecology and just retired.
This book is a fresh and pertinant now as it was when it was written during the height of the cold war. If you're not my age you probably don't remember having nuclear attack drills and having to hide under your desk at school, holding your head under your hands and with your head down between your knees. (And as I learned as I got older, "kissiing your a** goodbye".)
No, seriously, we had them every month or two in the late 50s when I was in the third and 4th and 5th grade. Then I guess the government decided not to make us do it anymore. But there were a few good post-apocalyptic books writtien during that time. "On the Beach" was one. And "A Canticle for Leibowitiz" was another, though I don't think it was actually discovered until after it had been out a while.
The book is a lot post apocalyptic (twice); a bit fantasy; a whole bunch philosophical, AND highly entertaining. It's about why human beings do the things we do, and how we manage to screw things up so royally, and the nature of evil in this world as well as the nature of good and the ever present coflict between the two. AND it's a fun read. Wait until the Abbot loses his temper and hits a doctor in the nose because he's doing euthansia of radiation victims. He has to confess his sin. His confessor, the assistant abbot, is relentless. It's hilarious.
However, beyond the funny scene of a priest who lost his temper are serious questions. And the arguement is as pertinant today as it was then, with all the focus on abortion and our "culture of death". Who is right? Is it the doctor, who is only trying to provide a compasionate and painless death to people who are dying already from radiation poisoning? After all, they are facing a painful and slow death and are going to die no matter what. Or is it the abbot who's right; who says to put your faith in God, and give your suffering to Him? The abbot maintains a person can use that pain and suffering to get closer to God. Who is on the right? Is the doctor really perpetuating evil, as the priest seems to think? Is it that "euthanize them" mind set that lead to the nuclear exchange in the first place?
Get it. You'll enjoy it. And the performance by Tom Weiner is just excellent. This is one of my favorite SF books of all time, read very well by a veteran reader. Enjoy!!!
The first half of the book spends way to much time introducing you to all the characters, instead of introducing them as the story goes. Oh, and instead of telling you what part of the story is s different language, it actually reads in a different language, and never tells you what it said.The last third of the book was the only good part. I heard the second book is the same way:(
Voice does not change enough to separate characters, which might have helped with first half of the book. And a third of the voices he just gave a speech impediment to.
frustration that i had not downloaded an additional book so i would not have to listen to this one.
I would consider them the same since it the same story I think the reader did a better job than I would have done since I seem to skip words.
He brings a depth to the story that I might not have depending on the day and page I might be reading.
It describes the arc of a civilization in three wonderfully written sections.
Brother Francis Gerard is a character that by dint of his humility and neurosis drew me into an epic story.
He seemingly gives a unique voice to the myriad of characters, which I think is remarkable.
It, was too long to listen to in one sitting. Moreover, this is a book I enjoyed thinking about while I wasn't listening to it.
Great book. I'm glad the editor put this in the $4.95 bin. Thank You.
Far in the future, most humans continue to shun rationality and science and devote themselves to dogmatic religion. However, there is always hope. Science gets rediscovered no matter how hard the zealots try to stamp it out. Well written, brilliantly insightful, and funny at times.
John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
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