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  #1  
Old 07-07-2009, 08:41 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Does anyone recognize this science fiction/fantasy novel?

Someone has asked elsewhere what the following novel is: This person (who's 73 years old) has just reread A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller for the first time in a long time, perhaps since reading it shortly after it was published, since he's old enough to have read it then. He says that he confused it in his mind with something else that he read around the same time. The novel that he's confused it with is "set in a post-nuclear holocaust world, in which some of the main characters appear to do miracles or magic, but it turns out they're actually using technology - either rediscovered or reinvented. So we have 'spears' that emit killing beams - actually lasers - etc."

Can anyone help him? Do you know of an old novel that fits this description?
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  #2  
Old 07-07-2009, 08:49 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light? It's the closest I can think of.
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  #3  
Old 07-07-2009, 10:34 AM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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One of the Foundation series is sort of along those lines. I forget which one. It was probably only a part of it, come to think.
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  #4  
Old 07-07-2009, 10:42 AM
Andy L Andy L is online now
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"Gather, Darkness" by Fritz Leiber sounds possible - the rulers of this society pretend to have holy powers, which are actually technology, so their opponents pretend to be satanists/magicians. This site http://www.moongadget.com/origins/lightsabers.html says this: "this story concerns two warring groups of priests, who wear hooded brown and black robes. Each carry "Rods of Wrath," short metal hilts from which spring a blade-like terminated beam of violet light, which can cut through just about anything. "
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  #5  
Old 07-07-2009, 10:43 AM
Lightray Lightray is online now
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Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" series is set in a world that might be misremembered as post-apocalyptic, wherein some of the main characters are described as doing magic that is actually technology. IIRC " 'spears' that emit killing beams" describes some of the warfare weapons rather well.
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  #6  
Old 07-07-2009, 11:43 AM
Typo Knig Typo Knig is offline
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Heinlein's Sixth Column?? It was published much earlier than Canticle (1949 vs. 1960), so I'm probably wrong.
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  #7  
Old 07-07-2009, 12:40 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is online now
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Any sufficiently primitive magic is indistinguishable from technology.
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  #8  
Old 07-07-2009, 12:45 PM
Larry Borgia Larry Borgia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lightray View Post
Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" series is set in a world that might be misremembered as post-apocalyptic, wherein some of the main characters are described as doing magic that is actually technology. IIRC " 'spears' that emit killing beams" describes some of the warfare weapons rather well.
I thought of this too, but Severian doesn't believe in magic, and is contemptuous of those who do. He is well aware that the devices people use are remnants of lost technology, and so are most of the other characters in the books.
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  #9  
Old 07-07-2009, 12:46 PM
D. Fenestrator D. Fenestrator is offline
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I came here to mention "Sixth Column".

A person could have read them both at the same time; Sixth Column certainly existed when Leibowitz came out.

Last edited by D. Fenestrator; 07-07-2009 at 12:50 PM.. Reason: Deleted ref to Gene Wolfe - not relevant.
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  #10  
Old 07-07-2009, 12:49 PM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
Any sufficiently primitive magic is indistinguishable from technology.
Got your nose.
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  #11  
Old 07-07-2009, 12:56 PM
muldoonthief muldoonthief is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smeghead View Post
One of the Foundation series is sort of along those lines. I forget which one. It was probably only a part of it, come to think.
Most of the first book is about the religion that the Foundation created (or had thrust upon it) when it reintroduced atomic technology to the provinces which had left the Empire & lost it. But it wasn't rediscovered or reinvented - the Foundation had it all along. And pretty much every character seen in the book (anyone from the Foundation, plus the leaders of the Four Kingdoms & other provinces) knows it isn't magic - it's only the faceless masses that believe in the religion.
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  #12  
Old 07-07-2009, 01:00 PM
Larry Mudd Larry Mudd is offline
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Of course, this is a fairly common theme.

Harry Harrison's Deathworld trilogy is from around that time, and Deathworld 2 fits the description, from what I can recall.

The protagonist ends up on a post-apocalyptic, tribal warlord run planet, and uses his technical knowledge to survive. I remember he reintroduced IC engines, (with "DRM" protection in the form of acid-filled-enclosures and other booby-traps to prevent reverse engineering) and gave the operators some mystical mumbo-jumbo to explain how it worked. All technology was presented as magic.

I could see where this book might confused with Canticle in some respects, for example:
SPOILER:
He builds "prayer wheels" to be operated by devoted monks, which use the supplied kinetic energy to power a "GET ME OFF THIS FREAKING ROCK!" radio signal.
...around the same time, and also had a priesthood toiling over crude machinery.
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  #13  
Old 07-07-2009, 01:12 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mudd View Post
Of course, this is a fairly common theme.

Harry Harrison's Deathworld trilogy is from around that time, and Deathworld 2 fits the description, from what I can recall.

The protagonist ends up on a post-apocalyptic, tribal warlord run planet, and uses his technical knowledge to survive. I remember he reintroduced IC engines, (with "DRM" protection in the form of acid-filled-enclosures and other booby-traps to prevent reverse engineering) and gave the operators some mystical mumbo-jumbo to explain how it worked. All technology was presented as magic.
Not exactly. The engines with booby traps already existed, as did the booby traps, and it was already all explained as magic by the locals. He defused the traps and rebuilt the engines to work better, and explained it as just being technology. The various tribes were the ones that presented their technology as magic; each tribe had a segment of technological knowledge that they knew in a rote sort of way and the others didn't. One knew some chemistry, one engines, another electricity and so on. He did talk about it as being magic occasionally, when dealing with a tribe's own specialty in order to get along with/manipulate them.

Last edited by Der Trihs; 07-07-2009 at 01:13 PM..
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  #14  
Old 07-07-2009, 02:03 PM
Voyager Voyager is online now
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There are a set of novels by Piers Anthony (very early) collected as Battle Circle. They are set in a post nuclear age and have one set of people using science described as magic.
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  #15  
Old 07-07-2009, 05:00 PM
Larry Mudd Larry Mudd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
Not exactly. The engines with booby traps already existed, as did the booby traps, and it was already all explained as magic by the locals...
Ah, thanks. (I haven't picked up those books since ~1986, it's a little fuzzy...)
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  #16  
Old 07-07-2009, 05:49 PM
Andy L Andy L is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D. Fenestrator View Post
I came here to mention "Sixth Column".

A person could have read them both at the same time; Sixth Column certainly existed when Leibowitz came out.
Interestingly, "Sixth Column" and "Gather, Darkness" are related books. John W. Campbell, the editor, wrote a novel called "All", which he persuaded Heinlein to use as a starting point for "Sixth Column" and I've heard that Leiber was given the same request, leading to "Gather, Darkness" (Campbell had no concern about giving two authors the same idea - he knew their treatments of the idea would be different)
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  #17  
Old 07-10-2009, 08:35 PM
tanstaafl tanstaafl is offline
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Hey! This thread just got mentioned over at io9!

So, is Charlie Jade Anders (or someone at io9) one of us?

((And I would suggest Lord of Light myself.))

Last edited by tanstaafl; 07-10-2009 at 08:36 PM..
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  #18  
Old 07-10-2009, 08:41 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is online now
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I've read "All" (It was published after Campbell died). It's awful. The only real resemblance to Heinlein's book is the basic situation and the names of the gods.


How about Keith Roberts' Pavane -- it's not post-holocaust (it's alternate history -- Elizabeth I gets assassinated and the Spanish Armada takes England), but it has monks using technology.It's from the 1960s.
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  #19  
Old 07-10-2009, 10:53 PM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy L View Post
Interestingly, "Sixth Column" and "Gather, Darkness" are related books. John W. Campbell, the editor, wrote a novel called "All", which he persuaded Heinlein to use as a starting point for "Sixth Column" and I've heard that Leiber was given the same request, leading to "Gather, Darkness" (Campbell had no concern about giving two authors the same idea - he knew their treatments of the idea would be different)
I've read both & think either could be the book described in the OP.

Last edited by Bridget Burke; 07-10-2009 at 10:54 PM..
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  #20  
Old 07-11-2009, 08:15 PM
Andy L Andy L is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridget Burke View Post
I've read both & think either could be the book described in the OP.
I hope Wendell is able to confirm the correct answer with the fellow with the original question.
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  #21  
Old 07-12-2009, 12:49 AM
Cranston413 Cranston413 is offline
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"Hiero's Journey" May Fit The Bill

Hiero's Journey may fit the bill. Published in 1973 by Chilton Books, it's the story of a post-apocalyptic North America. 5000 years after a nuclear war called The Death a priest Per Hiero Desteen (a member of trained killer priests sent out across North America to battle mutants) is sent out to discover a secret from the past to help fight the Unclean; something called a 'computer'.

Read a review here:
http://lit.coldfusionvideo.com/hiero...ling-e-lanier/

Trivia: Back in the 70s I read in Variety that a certain movie producer was looking at vehicles to produce in to a science fiction movie. Hiero's Journey was mentioned in the article. This eventually was either dropped in favor of, or was reworked in to the more familiar Star Wars (I don't remember which). That was the gist and it would take a bit of digging to find that article again.
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  #22  
Old 07-12-2009, 01:18 AM
Smapti Smapti is offline
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The first thing that occured to me was The Dying Earth by Jack Vance, for what that's worth.
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