Written by: Walter M. Miller, Jr., 1960
Instrument of the Apocalypse: Global nuclear war. Twice.
Summary: This thought-provoking genre classic is — among many other things — a lengthy meditation on the cyclic nature of history. After humanity blows itself up the first time, the culture of knowledge and learning that led to the development of the bomb is repudiated by the few who are left, and it becomes dangerous even to know how to read. Monks in the high desert take it upon themselves to preserve evidence of an educated society. Eventually, civilization reasserts itself, technological capabilities are restored… and then, since the whole “atomic warfare” thing worked so well the first time, humanity does it all over again.
On Screen: No, although several audio versions and an adaptation for the stage have been produced.
When the world was in darkness and wretchedness, it could believe in perfection and yearn for it. But when the world became bright with reason and riches, it began to sense the narrowness of the needle’s eye, and that rankled for a world no longer willing to believe or yearn.