Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A Canticle For Leibowitz Is A Good Book

Or why you should you should read A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M Miller Jr.

There is a wonderfully cliched saying that those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it. Inherent to this idea is the hope that people can learn from the mistakes of the past and progress past them. That things can get better. The trouble is, human history, depending on how you look at it, is filled with cycles of destructive stupidity. Which begs the question: is there something inherent to humanity and its societies that leads to these cycles of progress and destruction? Is it even possible to escape the roundabout nature of our history?

A Canticle For Leibowitz explores these ideas through the institution of the Catholic Church, possibly the most enduring institution in human history. The novel takes place in a post-nuclear war apocalypse and centres on the Abbey of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz, a monastery in the desert wilds of what was once the American Southwest. The Order of Leibowitz is an order of monks founded to preserve pre-apocalypse knowledge and to protect relics of the past. A Canticle For Leibowitz has three discrete phases which map the shape of human history. Fiat Homo, part I, takes place firmly in the dust of the lawless dark ages and tracks the story of the beautification of Leibowtiz in a rudimentary time of poverty. Fiat Luxe, the second part, is set hundreds of years in the future and is set in a time of burgeoning empires and the first signs of intellectual enlightenment and tells a story of scholastic exchange. Fiat Voluntas Tua, the final act, is set yet another few hundred years later in an advanced future of continental superpowers locked in a cold war with the weapons of Armageddon and focuses on the church's plan to escape the cycle of history.

A Canticle For Leibowitz is another great thought experiment Science Fiction novel that makes masterful study of its themes of the cycle of history and the tensions between the secular and religious world. It is absolutely a classic work of Sci-fi. As such, I would recommend this book to any fan of the genre. I'd also suggest that it is another essential read for anyone who considers themselves serious Science Fiction readers. It's a great, timeless book, that you should read.

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