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A Canticle for Leibowitz (St. Leibowitz, #1)
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Here we talk about read books. > A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

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Jordan | 240 comments Mod
The discussion begins tomorrow. Just throwing this out there so its ready for you eager readers at the stroke of midnight.

Garret (garretldavis) | 93 comments Only two hours and five minutes left!

Jordan | 240 comments Mod
I have completed this book and I will now speak about it!

Of the three 'stories' within this tale I enjoyed "Fiat Homo," the first one, the most. I found the characters to be the most developed and while not directly relatable, I understood them. Not only that, but the setting and general vibe of this part was the most in-line with my delicate sensibilities.

'Fiat Homo' felt like the phoenix rising from the ashes. It was two things at once; the bleak aftermath of a nuclear war that wiped out the world as we know it, and the birth of a new society that was innocent and able to simply exist as whatever it was. In this part of the book the technological prowess of mankind has been sent back to the levels of the middle ages. Brother Francis was comically simple and his concerns in this wasteland consisted of fending off the wolves, meeting a hobo, and trying not to sin. It was not a world I long to live in, but I can definitely appreciate the simplicity of it. Even as the story grew more complex, it stayed simple and almost pure.

'Fiat Lux' took us further into the future and brought with it a much more complex society. We saw the first steps of a society rejoining the world of technology and the early stages of the political cancer that had once and would again devastate the planet.

'Fiat Voluntas Tua' paints a picture that I imagine was eerily similar to the unwritten prequel to 'Fiat Homo,' or the origin story for this tale. Politics have grown beyond the control of man and earthly society is perched in the edge of the abyss.

I enjoyed each of these tales less than the previous one. I couldn't wait for the last one to end. It made me anxious and worried and I think that's the point. The book began with a society that had already ended, or rather, a society emerging from the rubble of its fallen predecessor. It ended with that same society meeting the same fate as the predecessor.

Garret (garretldavis) | 93 comments Jordan, I couldn't agree more with your review. As you seem to have touched on every point for each section that I agree with, I will offer up a few of my own favorite and least favorite parts of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed the atmosphere of the novel, as far as it being mostly a story about failed redemption concerning the flaws (apparently) inherent in mankind. Even those characters that I found myself enjoying ended in grisly deaths with no hope for completing their own personal missions. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the "hobo" throughout each tale as he lended a hand in adding a bit of the supposed supernatural that I personally enjoy so much. The author never once tells us that his story is true, and if it is, he never found the messiah he was looking for.

The novel had a message that is shown as being bleak and dismal, showing humanity as never having a chance at anything other than its own destruction. While I agree with this point of view, this is where my review shows how I felt overall. I was not a fan of this story at all. Though parts of it I enjoyed, and again, agreed with heartily, I felt its execution was muddled and slapped together with more care on the religious aspects of the characters than making a flowing story that makes the reader want to continue. I, too, could not wait for the novel to end, which made me sad knowing it had won an award during its debut. The author wrote another novel within this universe (though it had to be finished by another author after his death before it could be finished), and I will say with certainty that I find another trip down this road so unappealing that I know I'll never pick it up. The novel had its moments of brightness, but the story overall was stuck to close together to its own development for me to give a high review.

message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy Wong (amywong_marsu) | 47 comments I had a hard time finishing this book too lol! I didn't dislike it but I was happy when I finished it. The second story was my favorite because it was the least sci-fi and could have been set 300 years ago. The last story was my least favorite too lol

I liked the character of the wanderer, or hobo as Jordan called him, but I didn't catch the part of him in the last story. Was he supposed to be the two headed lady? What was she anyhow? Jesus?

Jordan | 240 comments Mod
Garret: As you know, post-apocalyptic fiction is probably my favorite genre and I have read volumes. I feel like that has made it a little harder for me to enjoy this book in the same way that you had a hard time trying to play Fallout 1 after being used to much newer games with better graphics, smoother gameplay, etc. With that in mind I can definitely see why this won awards and is so well respected. I doubt I will read the next book either, but I didn't feel like this was a negative experience. Then again, I rarely do.

Amy: Not a fan of sci-fi, huh? As for the hobo, he was in the last part. He introduced himself as Lazarus, but didn't have much else to say. The two-headed lady, Mrs. Grales, and Rachel (Head #2) felt to me like some reference to innocence and exemption from the complex structure of sin, but I was driving the tractor during this part of the story and may have missed some details. Mike, our resident Catholic, might be able to shed more light on this.

I will say, I laughed more than I expected to in the first part. It was a funny story at times and had the rest of the book been set in that quaint wasteland I (and been shortened by 40%) I would have rated it higher.

message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy Wong (amywong_marsu) | 47 comments Jordan I don't like sci-fi! I just never got into it! Mike never posted and it was his book! LOL!! Wasn't Jesus kinda innocent? I thought that was the whole idea that he wasn't bad but had to die anyhow because

I laughed too but not much. I think I have a hard time with old books maybe because English is my second language.

Michael Ferry | 22 comments I'm sorry everybody!
June has been an insanely busy month for me.

I actually finished reading this book just as it came to be my turn to recommend one, so my choice was a bit self-serving.

I enjoyed this book. This was my second time through it, the first time it was assigned reading back in the carefree days of college, and what struck me most was the different effect the book had on me now vs. 10 years ago.

A few points in this books defense:
It was published in 1961, so the prose sounds dated and the topic is well worn, the subjects are nearly cliched, and the heavy use of Latin feels anachronistic. I had the same issues reading Issac Asimov's early works this past winter, and it was a struggle to look past some of the things that seem silly or worn out to us, 50 years later.

When this book was published, nuclear war was in the forefront of the mind, the Catholic Church was still using Latin during church,. the cold war was rather hot, the Cuban missile crisis was about to happen, humanity had not yet reached the moon. It was a really dark time. This is the period that the whole theme of the Fallout series is based on.

What I liked is that this nearly reads as a historical novel.
It is a retelling of the European dark ages after the fall of the Roman empire in Fiat Homo, then the aged church bumping into the renaissance in Fiat Lux, and finally what the future could be in Fiat Voluntas Tua, with the wide spread secular atheism of a global society.

I read (Let There Be Man) and saw Brother Francis as the larger story writ small. He tries and tries and tries, to do what he thinks he should in his simple way. The prideful step on him, and in the end the barbaric end him.

'Let There Be Light' is a story of pride.
From the struggles between the monks in the generator lab, to the struggle of the Thons against the what they perceive as an out-dated institution, their injured pride when some monks show off, and the hubris of politicians, and the deals they make to grow their power. The theme of pride grows from the internal struggle of Br. Francis, to the external struggle of man over his fellows.

Then in 'Thy will be done' we see man has over extended his dominion as his pride has grown. He lays claim to the power of life and death, over the moon, and even tries to say he owns the stars, and in the end "Lucifer is Fallen", the brightest star fades into darkness.
This part hit me the hardest. I felt a very uncomfortable sense of urgency, suspense, horror, and empathy during the whole thing. I think that was intentional, and I wonder if it doesn't portray some of what it must have felt like to be alive in the 50's and 60's. The part with the mother and her child cut me deep this time around, compared to before I was a father. Oooof.

So, after I read the first few reviews, and got unreasonably upset, I re-evaluated my opinion of the book. (Unreasonable in that I had no reason to be upset, and that I was just bent from people having different tastes in books. It was a good call to self-reflect. And to reevaluate the book from a more objective view.)

I'm Catholic, and so I enjoyed seeing the Church represented mostly positively, instead of being aped as it so often is in more mainstream literature, like the Maesters in Game of Thrones, or vilified like the Church of the Seven and their Septons in the same series.

I also enjoy history, so that sorta scratched that itch. I've only read a few, but historical novels are pleasant to me.

And I like SciFi, and this hit that point as well, hitting some of the same post-apocalypse themes as the Fallout video games series and Asimov's Foundation books.

I'm sorry if you didn't like it, and I hope you enjoyed some parts of it.

Danielle | 69 comments I neither loved nor hated this book. The first part was my favorite part of the story as well. The characters were interesting as well as entertaining. You made a good point about it almost reading as a historical novel, Mike. I, too, enjoyed the historical aspect of it. Historical novels, whether fiction or non, are on the top of my favorite genre list. Although sci-fi is not my first choice, I do enjoy a good sci-fi story. Agreeing with Garrett, I also enjoyed the hobo character. He kept resurfacing and added a touch of mystery while connecting the different eras (?) of the book with a familiar 'face'. Jordan, your review hit the nail on the head. You painted a great picture of each phase of the book. I think felt the same, or similar, anxiousness as the story came to an end. It felt like an endless cyclical path of the buildup, development and ultimate destruction of societies. All in all, the book was not bad and was a new experience for me in many ways. For that I'm glad to have read it.

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