This is somehow a near perfect science fiction novel from 1960 that won a ton of awards, and then essentially the author never published much else again. The time is about 1000 years in the future and we’re in some of kind of wasteland that we will come to understand in the American Southwest as a Catholic (maybe?) monk novitiate finds a blueprint associated with one Leibowitz, the head of a monastic sect within Catholicism ala Domincans or Jesuits. This sect is tasked with holding on to and copying and preserving the technological documents of the lifetime of Leibowitz, whom we come to understand is some kind of mechanical or electrical engineer. At first I was thinking this would be a kind of spoof on religion, and there’s plenty of commentary, but Leibowitz was a person worthy of at least respect as he was martyred while attempting to save written books from being burnt by savage mobs in a post-apocalyptic/mid-fall America.
As the scope widens considerably we understand more and more about the world as it stands in 1000 years, and it’s so well and perfectly rendered it’s quite stunning.
This book reads like a treatise on religious thought and more specifically religious thinking, it uses the future to allow us to better understand our present (well, OUR past) and it contains more than irony to be thoughtful and funny. One big reveal that made me drop my mouth open wide was when it becomes apparent that the monks had been making illuminated copies of the blueprints, but not knowing that they’re photostats, would print careful white lettering while filling in the leftover spaces with blue ink and single pages were taking years at a time.
The book is like a mix of I am Legend, The Road, and most importantly The Name of the Rose.