11 May 2009

A Canticle for Liebowitz

I spent the weekend reading and didn't turn on my computer once (I did check email/Twitter via Blackberry). It felt kind of odd - I feel sort of behindhand now since I have BNBC posts and blogs to catch up on and there are a lot of both.

One of the things I finished this weekend was A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. I still can't believe I never read this book until now given that I have an affinity for dystopic/post-apocalyptic science fiction. Even though the book's events are inspired by the nuclear arms race of the 1950s I think it is quite applicable to the 21st century as well. The idea that the world will succumb to nuclear annihilation, entering a dark age, only to have knowledge resurrected by the Church is an interesting one and still an idea that may or may not come to fruition in the real world. The characters of A Canticle for Liebowitz are an intersting collection of the secular, the sacred, and the divine, right down to the omnipresent buzzards, so there are moments of humor and levity in Miller's dark world, too. I was also pleased by the construction of the storyline; I have a continual complaint regarding books that over-forshadow their own plotlines and I loved how Canticle didn't reveal the book's trajectory until the latter half of the third section. I only wish I could read Hebrew characters left by the wanderer/hermit character - I could type the Latin into a translator to figure out the monks' messages, etc., but I wasn't able to do so with the Hebrew. Miller also sets up an interesting dialogue about suicide and euthanasia near the end of the book; this dialogue is never really finished, particularly given that the section is narrated from the perspective of the Church, but it seems to side with the position of the Church (I think, unless the position is meant to be ironic and Miller is siding with those who believe in suicide/euthanasia). We'll never get a good answer because Miller committed suicide in the 1990s.

I bought more books this weekend and am now undecided as to what I should plow through next.

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