A Canticle for Leibowitz Author:Walter M. Miller Jr. A Canticle for Leibowitz is divided into three sections, each of which takes us further into the future. The first section, Fiat Homo, is set several hundred years in the future -- several hundred years from the devastation of a nuclear holocaust, which is given by Mr. Miller as having occurred in the early 1960's. — Civilization is gone, and the... more » survivors have systematically purged themselves of all doctors, scientists, and men of learning. Anyone with knowledge of the old ways is seen as a reminder of the people who brought the devastation in the first place. The church has become, once again, the storehouse of ancient knowledge, with its monks memorizing books and transcribing the pitiful remains of book print into illuminated manuscripts. Leibowitz is a figure from the early days following the holocaust. He is a booklegger -- a man who moves books from place to place at great peril to his personal safety. At some point he is caught and executed slowly. The church has made him a martyr, and the Albertian Order of Leibowitz is in the process of trying to make him a saint.
As A Canticle for Leibowitz begins, one of the newest members of the Order of Leibowitz, Brother Francis Gerard of Utah, is out in the Great Salt Lake fasting. He is bemoaning the fact that he cannot find a rock in the shape of an hourglass that will fit a space in the roof of his shelter. An old man wanders down the road toward him, and after a bit of sparring, the old man decides that he will find a right-fitting rock for Francis, in gratitude for some information that Francis has supplied. Francis eventually stumbles across the rock that the old man has left his mark on, and upon removing it, discovers he has stumbled upon an old bomb shelter. Briefly, certain artifacts are uncovered outside the shelter that may well have belonged to Leibowitz. There is even talk among the lesser members of the order that Francis may have encountered Leibowitz himself -- talk which infuriates the monastery's abbot, who sees the possible negative implications of an order of monks happening upon a cache of saintly artifacts at the exact moment it is bidding for its founder's Canonization.
In Fiat Voluntas Tua, the third and final section of A Canticle for Leibowitz, men have reached the stars and are colonizing the planets that circle them. But men have also come full circle in that the planet Earth is once again threatened with nuclear holocaust.« less