A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
A Canticle for LeibowitzEarth was destroyed by a nuclear war. It is now the thirty-second century. The planet is a wasteland, covered in desert, genetic mutations in all aspects of flora and fauna, no machinery, what learned knowledge is left is memorized or hand written in scrolls.
Brother Francis of Utah is a novice at Leibowitz Abbey. This order of the Catholic church is devoted to preserving the ancient knowledge and books. He is approached by a hermit who leads him to a sacred place. The hermit disappears. Brother Francis discovers some of Leibowitz’s old papers. Another piece of history is salvaged to help some day restore the past.
A few centuries later Dom Paulo is the Abbott over the Brothers of St. Leibowitz at Leibowitz Abbey. The Earth is recovering from being wasted. Leibowitz Abbey is still the storage place for knowledge and memorabilia. A war is brewing. A secular scholar wants to visit the Abbey to look through the sacred papers and books. Dom Paulo sees the world changing.
A few centuries later Earth has regained and surpassed where they were they were desiccated by nuclear war. They have star drive. They have nuclear power. They have an Earth-wide treaty to refrain from making nuclear weapons. Yet most people are certain those weapons exist. Will the people on this planet repeat past mistakes or will they have learned from the signs of the previous war?
This is an fascinating novel. Does mankind repeat its mistakes over and over? It was written and published in the early 1960’s when nuclear war was a major factor of the cold war fears. Fallout shelters were common in America. Miller started with the premise that mankind could not avoid the nuclear war. From there he shows how people built up themselves from devastation to their former glory over hundreds of years. Yet do people really change? People still love, hate, are greedy, vain, spiteful, peaceful and gentle. The same emotions that drove mankind 4000 years ago, 2000 years ago, or 200 years ago still exist. The technology may be different but are our feelings or lusts?