A Canticle for Leibowitz

Sep. 21st, 2017 01:08 am
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[personal profile] queenlua
I don't often read 50's era scifi nowadays—not because I hate it or anything. But, it tends toward hard science where I prefer softy goopy anthropological scifi, and it tends toward pulp and space opera when I'm more into artsy and earthy things. Moreover, its themes tend toward things that can feel strikingly archaic nowadays. Endless Cold War-era brooding of superpower stand-offs feel faintly quaint in a post-Soviet world where nuclear concerns are more diffuse, and tangled, and unpredictable and tenuous.

A Canticle for Leibowitz is absolutely 50's-era scifi, but very much unlike the rest. It's only called scifi because there's not another classification that really fits—"alternate history" maybe? There's no space opera here, just monks hanging out in abbeys, and even though it is basically the Cold War scenario—"what if nuclear holocaust"—its take is surprisingly fresh, even a half-century after its publication.

The book's divided into three sections, each six hundred years apart, starting six hundred years after The Big Nuclear Apocalypse. Christianity survives, but just barely, and a tiny order of monks out in the Utah desert have been busily preserving what few scraps of writing and civilization remain.

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