By Walter M. Miller Jr.
Walter M. Miller's acclaimed SF vintage A Canticle for Leibowitz opens with the unintentional excavation of a holy artifact: a creased, brittle memo scrawled via the hand of the blessed Saint Leibowitz, that reads: "Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring domestic for Emma." To the Brothers of Saint Leibowitz, this sacred procuring record penned via an imprecise, 20th-century engineer is an emblem of desire from the far-off prior, from sooner than the Simplification, the fiery atomic holocaust that plunged the earth into darkness and lack of expertise. As 1984 recommended opposed to Stalinism, so 1959's A Canticle for Leibowitz warns of the risk and implications of nuclear annihilation. Following a cloister of clergymen of their Utah abbey over a few six or 700 years, the humorous yet bleak Canticle tackles the sociological and non secular implications of the cyclical upward push and fall of civilization, wondering even if humanity can desire for greater than repeating its personal historical past. Divided into 3 sections--Fiat Homo (Let There Be Man), Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light), and Fiat Voluntas Tua (Thy might be Done)--Canticle is steeped in Catholicism and Latin, exploring the interesting, likely capricious means of how and why an individual is canonized. --Paul Hughes
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Zannez has unlimbered all his gear. Cory goes over to the inspection group, her eyes carefully averted from Hanno and Snake. "I must say you four are terrific good sports," she says. "You've no idea how much this means. Kip and I were going to have to nerve ourselves ... " Her voice trails off embarrassedly. "Absolutely," Kip agrees. " "I guess this is the only worthwhile stripping I've ever done," says Stareem. " One of the new elders is twittering incomprehensible Galactic and gesturing to her.
And my mother and every one of her family were dark, too. And all but one were type A-plus. " She runs her hand roughly through the glorious hair that has ruined her life, and tears well again in the blazing blue eyes. "And I'm B—B-neg ... "And I wasn't multitalented—they test you practically from birth—in fact I wasn't talented at all, except at ... uh ... " "But ... " Baramji gropes wildly. "I don't want to hurt your feelings, but even mothers have been known to have affairs—" "No way. And especially after spending all those credits—it was her money.
But someone must have been up to something, because that's a strange thing to find out. "Later it was discovered—gods know how—that if you fermented and distilled the stuff, you got a liqueur that wasn't just a nice drink; it was superlative, literally out of the worlds. It had psychoactive properties, you see, it produced a real happiness—with no side effects or hangovers. It's been described as being better than heaven because you didn't have to die. Heaven for a shilling, as some old writer said—call it our quarter credit.