A Canticle for Leibowitz

March 5, 2013

A Canticle for LeibowitzIt is not common for a novel to make me feel emotional. This novel is one of them. It makes me sad, as well as optimistic, pondering upon the fate of our human species. So special, yet so stubborn.

The story spans for millennia. It is divided into three parts, each forward the timeline about 600 years. It begins from the aftermath of a global nuclear war (a.k.a. the Flame Deluge) that destroyed all technological advance, leaving humankind to survive with medieval technology and scraps of advance knowledge, waiting to be awaken.

Spanning for such a long period, there are no characters for you to follow from the beginning to the end, except for one mysterious character that seems to be always there. But he is acting as a watcher, instead of the main character. There is only one thing that is common in the story line: the Order of Saint Leibowitz, an order of secluded monks vowed to keep the record of “ancient technology”, hence the title.

The tension in this book is heavy. You can see the tension between the progressive vs conservative, religious vs secular, peace maker vs military, militant vs opportunist. It is this kind of tension that makes this novel very interesting. And also seeing that our human nature does not really change, no matter what technological level we are currently in.

This novel also carries the same tone as The Foundation Trilogy: a small group of humankind, dedicated to preserve human civilization at all cost. I love the trilogy, of course. It feels like we are actually reading a real history. It makes you really respects the Arabs who translated the ancient Greek, the Renaissance movement who brought the Greek and Romans text back to Europe, the monks who kept the records and diligently copying them without understanding them. They are the true hero or our human civilization. Salute!

Finally, I will put this novel in the throne of the best post-apocalyptic science-fiction, side-by-side with World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. A 5 star!

Note: The heavy doses of Latin might hinder some readers to enjoy this novel. There are also a lot of references to the Catholic faith. Uncle google is always helpful of course.


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