Thursday, September 03, 2015

A Radio for Leibowitz

"The similar tidbits in the museum were connected together too—not in the form of a necklace, but as a complex and rather disorderly maze in the bottom of a small metal box, exhibited as: "Radio Chassis: Application Uncertain."
 Science and Science Fiction have a long history together. Science fiction inspires science, and vice versa. My radio-geek readers are most-often radio engineers, hams, and DJs; the target audience of sci-fi. But on the off chance you have not read this book I'll recommend it. Before A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller had published only short stories, and it was the only novel he published in his own lifetime.

A Canticle for Liebowitz was first published in 1959 a three part book that was first written as three novelettes. The book remains in those three parts but heavily re-written to preserve continuity to integrate the three parts into a single novel. But it keeps that short-form momentum built into the often dense language loaded with Gothic religious metaphors and Latinate phrases... adding a certain gravitas often missing in hack sci-fi books or even full-bore post-apocalyptic science fiction novels.
"In the lower right hand corner was a printed rectangle containing, in simple block letters, various dates, "patent numbers," reference numbers, and names. His eye traveled down the list until it encountered: "CIRCUIT DESIGN BY: Leibowitz, I.E." 
Without giving away too much of the plot I'll first explain that Isaac Edward Leibowitz was an electrical engineer who existed in the 20th century in the time of a nuclear apocalypse. Half a millennia later, he is beatified and eventually declared a Saint. His Monks many hundreds of years later eventually devise an arc light based on his memorabilia. Many editions cover art fixate on the religious side of the story, some also depict the numerous parts that revolve around electrical drawings, and apparatus. This private edition [LINK] was hand-bound with a circuit-inspired design. More here.