Science Fiction

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

By Walter M. Miller Jr.

Walter M. Miller's acclaimed SF vintage A Canticle for Leibowitz opens with the unintended excavation of a holy artifact: a creased, brittle memo scrawled through the hand of the blessed Saint Leibowitz, that reads: "Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring domestic for Emma." To the Brothers of Saint Leibowitz, this sacred procuring record penned through an imprecise, 20th-century engineer is a logo of desire from the far-off earlier, from earlier than the Simplification, the fiery atomic holocaust that plunged the earth into darkness and lack of information. As 1984 advised opposed to Stalinism, so 1959's A Canticle for Leibowitz warns of the danger and implications of nuclear annihilation. Following a cloister of priests of their Utah abbey over a few six or 700 years, the humorous yet bleak Canticle tackles the sociological and spiritual implications of the cyclical upward thrust and fall of civilization, wondering no matter if humanity can wish for greater than repeating its personal historical past. Divided into 3 sections--Fiat Homo (Let There Be Man), Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light), and Fiat Voluntas Tua (Thy might be Done)--Canticle is steeped in Catholicism and Latin, exploring the attention-grabbing, doubtless capricious means of how and why anyone is canonized. --Paul Hughes

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He stepped up to her, lowering the bindle from his shoulder and setting it on the floor. ” “A few,” she answered. She wore a plastic nametag: NORENE. She looked pointedly at the box beneath his arm. “Do you keep records? Or—” “Not for public scrutiny, no,” she said curtly. ” “Maybe. ” “Used to. ” She frowned. ” “I found this,” he said, sliding the box onto the counter. “There was an address, but…” He let the sentence fade and waited for her to pick it up. 50 HOUR OF THE WOLF He made a show of looking around and spotted a calendar on the wall to the left.

Norene’s face showed disbelief and then joy. ” “Great. Let’s see about getting this taken care of first. ” After his daily cleaning, cooking, and front counter duties, he worked late into the night, every evening, for four days. He went through all the files, sorted out dead jackets from active, cleared space for new ones, then purged dated or useless material from everything. As he did, he read their contents. After Norene showed him the basics, he learned rapidly, and by the second night he knew the system.

He watched the string grow thicker, become the overwhelming fact of his perception, expanding to absorb his four dimensions into a point just inside the infinitely thin body of the string. A singularity within a singularity. Was that allowed? Could two singularities exist at the same point? Two particles could not occupy the same space at the same time, but a particle was not a singularity—nor was it separate from a frame. He saw…one vast color, a variation of sameness…All frame of reference was gone.

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