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A Canticle for Leibowitz Audiobook

A Canticle for Leibowitz

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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“Chillingly effective.” (Time)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (2881 )
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  •  
    Xenocidal Romance 01-03-17 Member Since 2013

    K

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    "Stay with it, it starts slowly but blossoms!"
    Would you listen to A Canticle for Leibowitz again? Why?

    Yes, I plan to start listening to it all over again right away.


    Any additional comments?

    It takes some time to get going. Be patient, and don't expect a plot driven story. This book is about ideas, while also funny and poignant.<br/><br/>This book has some wonderful concepts, and the writing is stunning. The author's command of English is masterful. He can make profound insights then a wry comment in dellightful juxtaposition, so the book doesn't get preachy even when a character is ranting about man's inability to avoid making the same mistakes over and over. <br/><br/>I am not religious, but I found the strong presence of the Catholic church fascinating, not offputting. The historical position of the church can't be denied, and its role in maintiaining humankind's knowledge in this book makes perfect sense. It was interesting to me to hear the viewpoint of the believer in some of these debates, but the author shows all sides of human weakness, including that of believers, so it really does not end up with a moral in one way or another.<br/><br/>There are some long segments in Latin, which is hard to look up when you are listening, so I just enjoyed the reader's pronunciation and picked out what words I could. It didn't impede my understanding of the story. <br/><br/>

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Todd (Toad) Vogel 12-29-16 Member Since 2016

    I love almost anything post-apocalyptic, zombie, scifi, ect. Always looking for some new earhole entertainment!

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    "Great classic!"

    I listened to this over a year ago and loved it! I thought it was well worth listening to again! This is a great classic post-apocalyptic book! One of my favorites. I would love to see his other book, St Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman on Audible as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TAH 10-13-16
    TAH 10-13-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Amazing"

    I had read this book 20 years ago. I loved it the , but may have missed some of its special nuance. This audiobook performance brought all the stories wonder to life. I would highly recommend

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tannerkinks 10-13-16
    Tannerkinks 10-13-16 Member Since 2017
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    "a unique distopian"

    This book is very different and I appreciate that. It is one of my favorites. I feel i should listen to it many times to somewhat grasp what the artist is trying to say. I think it is a masterpiece.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barrelman 09-25-16
    Barrelman 09-25-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Rediscover this book."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NeilW 08-05-16
    NeilW 08-05-16 Member Since 2014

    love grabbing a book that has me racing to the last page

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    "maybe it just wasn't for me"

    the structure of the story, the dialogue, the purpose of the book... I didn't really much enjoy any of it and found myself not following along because of lack of Interest , only finishing it to finish. after reading the synopsis and seeing that it won the Hugo award I was excited about this book; however, I do not believe I would recommend it to anyone

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 07-03-16
    Michael 07-03-16
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    "What Happened?"

    I really enjoyed the first third of the book. But then the auther decided to shake things up and completely restart the story midstream. I never could keep up after that. Maybe you can.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ramon B. Cano Orem, Ut 06-29-16
    Ramon B. Cano Orem, Ut 06-29-16 Member Since 2015

    tvaelm

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    "A classic that was just OK."
    Any additional comments?

    Read many good things about this book over the years. Decided to give it a try. It was long, plodding, boring during whole parts. In the end the story got a little better - but really it was nothing to rave about. Interesting premise, but should have merited a short story at most. In fact I kept thinking it felt like a short story that just would not end.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JP OR 05-27-16
    JP OR 05-27-16
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    "Unbearable droning yawnfest"

    Tom Weiner does an excellent reading. I'll look for other books narrated by him.

    Everything else is horrible. I wanted to like this. I understand what the author was trying to do, but the story was so boring. I couldn't tell the characters apart after the opening section was over, which ended in the random killing of the only character who stood out and I could identify with. After that they were all the same to me and forgettable. 90 percent of this book is dry, never ending historical exposition. How did this win the Hugo? How do so many people like this?

    I tried to force myself to finish it, but decided I didn't deserve this kind of pain. The only book I've stopped listening to.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson 05-24-16
    Jefferson 05-24-16 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

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    "Lyrical, Satirical, Ironic, Sympathetic Holocausts"

    Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959) is a classic post-apocalypse science fiction novel. Like Edgar Pangborn's Davy (1964), it depicts human life long after nuclear war has destroyed civilization, decimated humanity, and ravaged the earth. Unlike the other two books, which are first-person narratives depicting the maturing of their narrators, Miller's is comprised of three parts occurring 600 years apart and featuring different protagonists belonging to the Catholic Abbey of the Order of Leibowitz, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Memorabilia, the remnants of scientific knowledge in the few books and documents surviving from the advanced civilization of the ancients (us).

    The first part, Fiat Homo (let there be man), takes place in a dark ages North America six centuries after the fall of civilization in "the Flame Deluge," a nuclear war of Biblical proportions, and concerns the difficulties of the young novice Brother Francis to become a fully-fledged member of his Order, a process complicated by his accidental (?) discovery on a Lenten desert fast of relics belonging to the Beatus Leibowitz, the founder of the Order.

    In the second part, Fiat Lux (let there be light), 600 years later on the cusp of a renaissance old Abbot Dom Paulo must deal with the incursion into the Abbey's traditions and Memorabilia of the Poet-sirrah, an irreverent gadfly with a removable conscience, and Thon Taddeo, a brilliant and irresponsible secular scholar, and the inevitable entanglement between scientific knowledge and political power.

    In the last part, Fiat Voluntas Tua (thy will be done), set yet another six hundred years later as an international nuclear conflict escalates and another holocaust approaches, Abbot Zerchi must deal with an influx of irradiated refugees while deciding whether to order the departure of a spaceship full of Order members and children carrying the Memorabilia bound for Centaurus Colony.

    The three parts--really novellas--make a composite novel tied together by the Abbey, a Wandering Jew, the Memorabilia, themes on knowledge, science, art, religion, responsibility, conscience, Caesar and Church, and the cyclic nature of human history (caused by our ever unsuccessful drive to recreate Paradise on earth). Miller's book casts most of the action and ideas through a Catholic lens, but it is no dogmatic screed. Each of the three protagonists, Brother Francis, Abbot Dom Paulo, and Abbot Zerchi, embodies Miller's ideal religion, which combines learning, questioning, pacifism, compassion, forgiveness, conscience, responsibility, courage, faith, and humor.

    The novel possesses an appealing humor, a sympathetic irony that may be making fun of the characters or us, just like the smile on the face of a wooden statue of Leibowitz depicting the saint about to be burned after being hanged, a work of religious art whose truth informs all three parts of the novel. "It was such a small grin--sad, understanding, and, something else. Laughing at the hangman? No, laughing for the hangman. . . . In the last chalice, there could be a chuckle of triumph." Made of "a faintly dubious frown" and "laugh-wrinkles at the corners of the eyes," that Leibowitzian smile belongs as well to the Wandering Jew and to Miller himself.

    Miller writes many remarkable scenes: Brother Francis dealing with bandits from the Valley of the Misborn, Abbot Dom Paulo visiting millennia-old Benjamin, Thon Taddeo being surprised by light, the Poet-sirrah learning the consequences of getting involved, Abbot Zerchi having to practice what he preaches, and Rachel giving Abbot Zerchi communion. There are also many intense dialogues, like one between Abbot Dom Paulo and the secular scholar Thon Taddeo about the need (or lack thereof) for responsibility for scientific discoveries, one between Abbot Zerchi and the Doctor Cors about the need (or lack thereof) for euthanasia, and one between a Lady Reporter and the Defense Minister about the cause and nature of some recent suspicious radiation-spiking events in the world (Miller perfectly captures the use of language by governmental spokespersons to patriotically deflect, deny, fabricate, and accuse). And the buzzards and shark aptly close the three parts.

    There MAY be a few flaws in the book: a little matter is repeated from one part to the next (three novellas being assembled into a "fix-up" novel); the ironic and sympathetic humor of the first part decreases somewhat in the second and third parts (the two Abbots being wiser than naive Brother Francis); sometimes things get a little talky (this being a novel of ideas); and there is much untranslated Latin. And although American English in the future has changed into things like Alleghenian and Southwest, the narrator uses modern English, unlike, say, Russell Hoban's richly transformed future English dialect in Riddley Walker (1980).

    But Miller is an outstanding writer of rich and witty prose, as in this early scene between desert-fasting Brother Francis and his confessor:

    "The thought made him unhappy enough to permit him to be overcome by temptation, so that, on Palm Sunday, with only six days of starvation remaining until the end of Lent, Prior Cheroki heard from Francis (or from the shriveled and sun-scorched residuum of Francis, wherein the soul remained somehow encysted) a few brief croaks which constituted what was probably the most succinct confession that Francis ever made or Cheroki ever heard:
    'Bless me, Father; I ate a lizard.'

    Apart from his Thon Taddeo being off, Tom Weiner reads the audiobook fine. He does excellent voices for youthful and earnest Brother Francis, old and stressed out Abbot Dom Paulo, the cynical but hopeful Wandering Jew, bandits and barbarians, and the warmly sardonic base narrator.

    Readers who like the post-apocalypse genre, classic 20th-century sf, and well-written, lyrical and satirical work about human nature and civilization, should like this novel.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • TREVOR
    6/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very Badly Read"
    What would have made A Canticle for Leibowitz better?

    A good reader was needed. Mr Weiner read it with as much feeling as reading as if it was a Seed Catalogue.


    What didn’t you like about Tom Weiner’s performance?

    Almost everything was wrong. He had no expression in his voice nor was he able to differentiate between characters in the book for the listener. He spoilt a very good novel.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    This is a book I enjoyed immensely some years ago. I was looking forward to hearing it as an audio cd. It is a great Sci Fi Novel.


    Any additional comments?

    I am so disappointed that a very good novel, one I had enjoyed reading in the past, was spoilt by very bad reading. Lesson to be learnt - always hear a sample before you buy.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Jamie Goode
    4/26/17
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    "really enjoyed this."

    really enjoyed this. ment to be the inspiration for the fallout franchise and you can really see it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Annie Smith
    10/1/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dear oh dear."
    What would have made A Canticle for Leibowitz better?

    If it had never been written


    Has A Canticle for Leibowitz put you off other books in this genre?

    Yep, dreadful book.


    What didn’t you like about Tom Weiner’s performance?

    Unconvincing.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Canticle for Leibowitz?

    The lot!


    Any additional comments?

    I'm probably far to unkind about this book, but honestly I was expecting something to happen and I don't think it ever did.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • decco999
    2/21/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Writing and Perfect Narration"

    This is the story of Earth, North America specifically, after a future war and how civilisation might shape and rebuild itself in its aftermath. It is told from the perspective of the occupants of a religious monastery over incremental periods of time, stretching many hundreds of years, starting in a pre-technological age and progressing to a highly industrial society. Sure, there is a close enough similarity between this fictional advancement as recounted by the author and what really occurred in our own history, with Mr Miller providing some rationalisation in respect of the good and the bad that befall the main characters.

    I didn’t know what to expect when I purchased this book, other than it came highly recommended, and noting that it was published in 1959. What the reader gets is a witty, gripping, fast paced novel; a real page-turner that is perfectly narrated. Certainly, the author’s own religious beliefs and political opinions leak through at certain points, but not in a heavy-handed way. Although the sequel to this book, written 36-years later mind you, has not been received as warmly, I thoroughly recommend A Canticle for Leibowitz to anyone seeking light, enjoyable entertainment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roderic
    Victoria Park, Australia
    7/11/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing and dated"

    This book is three loosely related short stories jammed together fairly roughly (which is historical fact, not my opinion). The tone of the stories is rather ponderous, which does not make for interesting or lively listening.

    It IS an interesting artefact of Sci Fi history... as a post nuclear apocalypse tale from the late 1950s. My Latin is actually quite good, but not adequate to understand much of the Latin statements in the book when spoken (as opposed to seen).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. S. Mould
    Sheffield, England
    6/9/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loved it"
    Where does A Canticle for Leibowitz rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It was the first one I downloaded with my initial free credit and it is still the best I've listened to.


    What other book might you compare A Canticle for Leibowitz to, and why?

    Any of those genre of sci-fi books that I call post-apocalytica. So Earth Abides by George R. Stweart or I Am Legend by Richard Matheson but also future history novels like H.G. Wells the time machine or Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon.


    Have you listened to any of Tom Weiner’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I haven't heard anything else he's done but I would certainly like to.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The end of brother Francis' story made me gasp.


    Any additional comments?

    I love this book. Despite spanning many centuries and dealing with big issues, it manages to be about individual characters wants and needs. One of those rare Sci-Fi pieces that combines the cerebral with the personal successfully.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Keith Mason
    London
    5/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Those who don't learn from histories mistakes"
    If you could sum up A Canticle for Leibowitz in three words, what would they be?

    Original, cautionary and brave


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the unusual fact that this story doesn't take place during one setting but over a period of time thats set in the future but features settings that can be considered ancient, medieval and futuristic. In some ways its tragic but talks about human nature in a way that often makes people uncomfortable.


    Any additional comments?

    I think its refreshing to find a book in a sci-fi setting that incorporates sincere religious belief not just as a feature but as a central tenant to the novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tamra
    Leeds, United Kingdom
    6/29/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Best Author Ever."
    Would you listen to A Canticle for Leibowitz again? Why?

    I've listened to it several times and have even about a copy of the book. This book is a poem to the circular nature of humanity. A prophetic testament to our desire to control the cataclysmic power of physics and its inevitable triumph over us.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Newbury, United Kingdom
    4/8/13
    Overall
    "A true sci-fi great"

    Walter Miller's Canticle for Leibowitz stands as tall as anything produced by Arthur C. Clarke or Azimov. The post description of post-deluge America and the reconstruction of education draws on obvious historical parallels. It also points out the church's manipulative and controlling attitude by seeking to rule through fear; much as it did in the middle ages. A great novel, full of allegory and meaning (and some humour!)

    Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    United Kingdom
    6/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Over hyped"

    I went into this Audiobook thinking I was in for a real treat. In reality I found it incredibly slow and difficult going. It is a very interesting concept and I can understand why so many people rate it highly. However, I would suggest that you don't raise your expectations too high, as you may then get more out of it than I did.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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