Canticle for Leibowitz (Miller)

Author Bio
Birth—January 23, 1923
Where—Smyma Beach, Florida, USA
Death—January, 1996
Education—University of Tennessee; University of Texas
Awards—Hugo Award, 1959 (short story) and 1961 (for 
  Canticle)


Walter M. Miller, Jr. grew up in the American South and enlisted in the Army Air Corps a month after Pearl Harbor. He spent most of World War II as a radio operator and tail gunner, participating in more than fifty-five combat sorties, among them the controversial destruction of the Benedictine abbey at Monte Cassino, the oldest monastery in the Western world. Fifteen years later he wrote A Canticle for Leibowitz. The sequel, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, followed after nearly forty years. (From the publisher.)

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Walter Michael Miller, Jr. was an American science fiction author. Today he is primarily known for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Prior to its publication he was a prolific writer of short stories.

Miller was born in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Educated at the University of Tennessee and the University of Texas, he worked as an engineer. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps as a radioman and tail gunner, flying 53 bombing missions over Italy. He took part in the bombing of the Benedictine Abbey at Monte Cassino, which proved a traumatic experience for him.

After the war, Miller converted to Catholicism, but did not practice the religion consistently. Miller married Anna Louise Becker in 1945, and they had four children. He lived with science-fiction writer Judith Merril in 1953, and her Jewish cultural heritage informed A Canticle for Leibowitz.

Between 1951 and 1957, Miller published over three dozen science fiction short stories, winning a Hugo Award in 1955 for the story "The Darfsteller." Late in the 1950s, Miller assembled a novel from three closely related novellas he had published in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1955, 1956 and 1957. His novel, entitled A Canticle for Leibowitz, was published in 1959.

A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic (post-holocaust) novel revolving around the canonisation of Saint Leibowitz and is considered a masterpiece of the genre. It won the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel. The novel is also a powerful meditation on the cycles of world history and Roman Catholicism as a force of stability during history's dark times.

After the success of A Canticle For Leibowitz, Miller never published another new novel or story in his lifetime, although several compilations of Miller's earlier stories were issued in the 1960s and 70s. As well, a radio adaptation of A Canticle for Leibowitz was produced by WHA Radio and NPR in 1981 and is available on CD.

In Miller's later years, he became a recluse, avoiding contact with nearly everyone, including family members. According to science fiction writer Terry Bisson, Miller struggled with depression during his later years, but had managed to write a 600-page manuscript for the sequel to Canticle before taking his own life with a gun in January 1996.[1] The sequel, titled Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, was completed by Bisson and published in 1997. (From Wikipedia.)

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