Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Sunday Book Review, June 26, 2011: A Canticle for Leibowitz

What will the future of humanity be? Madame L asks only because she hopes it will be a lot brighter and happier, a lot more humane, than our past has been.

Will we be saved  by science, technology, and medicine? Will we look like some futuristic Disney (or Warner Brothers) cartoon, zipping about Earth's surface in self-driving vehicles, with robots doing all our work for us better than we could ourselves? Will we use all our knowledge to help each other, to wipe out hunger and disease? Will our cities be marvels of construction and our farms be productive without damaging the environment?

Will we be saved by our religious and moral values? Will we enforce superior behaviors on all the peoples of Earth so that criminal behavior will be eliminated, kindness and altruism rewarded, and poverty eliminated?

Or what about this: What if we destroy ourselves with our technology, and then when we build ourselves back up through centuries of barbarism and lawlessness, regain our scientific and technological prowess, go about destroying ourselves again?

And what if the return of religion involves bringing back the worst of it, the worship of relics and the imposition of useless rituals that degrade believers without saving anyone? What if we go back to the same old, same old pattern of right by might, ruthless political scheming, and the destruction of the best of the human spirit?

And if you wrote a book about that, would anyone read it? 

Or what if it's not quite THAT bad, but bad enough to encourage you to think seriously about our future as a race?

Madame L has read this, or something like it, a few times, and she thinks you should, too, Dear Reader. The book is "A Canticle for Leibowitz," by Walter M. Miller, Jr. The paperback edition is available at for $10.17

Yes. It's so well written, it's such a brilliant concept, it's such a good book....And it does set you to thinking about what YOUR vision of our future is.

Also, Madame L would like to hear from anyone who has read "A Canticle for Leibowitz." What do you think of it? What do you like, and not like, about it? Is it uplifting or depressing or somewhere between? And how does it match, or not match, your vision of humanity's future?


Madame L

1 comment:

AskTheGeologist said...

I started it once, but two things were massively off-putting:
- It reminded me too much of the Catholic church I was raised in, rebelled against, and was an atheist for ten years because of...
- The premise that people would put so much significance into something as tedious as a grocery list.
I'm sure it IS well-written, and that I might feel better at the end than I did after the first few pages... However, when you're a slow reader like me, those two elements both translate to wasted time, at least for me. For this reason I mostly I read is non-fiction.