Reviews: A Canticle For Leibowitz/Death Of A Starship

I am behind on my blogging, so apologies to anyone who actually follows this. I just finished two great science fiction books and thought I’d review them here back to back.

The first is the all-time classic “A Canticle For Leibowitz” by Walter M. Miller. I’ve heard about this book for years but never read it. The other day I found a copy in the used book store and decided it was time. What a delightful read.

A post-apocalyptic novel written in 1959, “Canticle” is the story of monks who are trying to preserve relics of the past in a rebuilding culture set back to the Dark Ages after a nuclear holocaust. They live in a time where things like “electricity” and “machines that fly” amaze them to think about. A time when such ideas seem like distant fantasy.

But as their culture evolves and we experience it through different generations of monks at the monastery, a number of old forgotten inventions begin to reoccur and bring new challenges and havoc to their lives.

A great examination of faith and belief mixed with interpersonal interactions and history, I found this a compelling read full of rich characters and settings and a fascinating plot.

I can see why it’s so revered and plan to read it again in a few years so I can enjoy it all over again.

The second book I’ll review is Jay Lake’s “Death of A Starship.” It’s a book Jay and I have discussed when talking about faith in fiction and Christian characters appearing in scifi, and I finally managed to bump it up the queue and read it. I’m so glad I did.

I loved this book. A fast read, it’s filled with action and focuses on three well drawn lead characters. Jay Lake went to considerable effort to make them realistic, even consulting priests to make sure his portrayal of Father Menard was as accurate as he could make it.

The story of an investigation into the disappearance of a major battleship, the last of a type decommissioned years before in a quest for peace, a ship so powerful it could blow away half the current fleet by itself, Menard, a ship’s mechanic, and Navy assassins find themselves on colliding trajectories which take them not only toward each other, but the ship and the long suspected aliens who caused it to crash. Menard’s Xenic Bureau of the church has long been seeking proof of their existence, and Menard finds their infiltration is far deeper than he’d ever suspected.

Fast-paced, tightly written, a page turner. I almost couldn’t put it down. I read 92 pages the first day and split the other pages only due to busyness in my schedule.

Highly recommended to anyone who likes scifi and especially solid space opera.

Both highly recommended and enjoyable. For what it’s worth…