Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Walter Michael Miller, Jr. (January 23, 1923 – January 9, 1996) 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 more than fifty bombing missions over Italy. He took part in the bombing of the Benedictine Abbey at Monte Cassino, which proved a traumatic experience for him. Joe Haldeman reported that Miller "has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for 30 years before it had a name," and that Miller displayed a photograph he had taken of Ron Kovic prominently in his living room.[1]


After the war, Miller converted to Catholicism. He married Anna Louise Becker in 1945, and they had four children. He lived with science-fiction writer Judith Merril in 1953.

Between 1951 and 1957, Miller published over three dozen science fiction short stories, winning a Hugo Award in 1955 for the story "The Darfsteller". He also wrote scripts for the television show Captain Video in 1953.[2] 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. The 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.

Later years

In Miller's later years, he became a recluse, avoiding contact with nearly everyone, including family members; he never allowed his literary agent, Don Congdon, to meet him. According to science fiction writer Terry Bisson, Miller struggled with depression during his later years, but had managed to nearly complete a 600-page manuscript for the sequel to Canticle before taking his own life with a gun in January 1996, shortly after his wife's death.[1][3] The sequel, titled Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, was completed by Bisson and published in 1997.

Writings by Miller


Short stories

  • Anybody Else Like Me? (1952)
  • The Big Hunger (1952)
  • Big Joe and the Nth Generation (1952)
  • Bitter Victory (1952)
  • Blood Bank (1952)
  • Cold Awakening (1952)
  • Command Performance (1952)
  • Conditionally Human
  • Crucifixus Etiam (1953)
  • The Darfsteller (1955)
  • Dark Benediction (1951)
  • Death of a Spaceman (1954)
  • Dumb Waiter (1952)
  • The First Canticle (1955)
  • Gravesong (1952)
  • The Hoofer (1955)
  • I, Dreamer (1953)
  • I Made You (1954)
  • Izzard and the Membrane (1951)
  • Let My People Go (1952)
  • The Lineman (1957)
  • The Little Creeps (1951)
  • Memento Homo (1954)
  • No Moon for Me (1952)
  • The Reluctant Traitor (1952)
  • Secret of the Death Dome (1951)
  • Six and Ten Are Johnny (1952)
  • The Song of Marya (1957)
  • The Song of Vorhu (1951)
  • The Soul-Empty Ones (1951)
  • The Sower Does Not Reap (1953)
  • The Space Witch (1951)
  • The Ties that Bind (1954)
  • The View from the Stars
  • The Will (1954)
  • The Yokel (1953)
  • Vengeance for Nikolai (1957)
  • Way of a Rebel (1954)
  • Wolf Pack (1953)
  • You Triflin' Skunk! (1955)


  • "Beyond Armageddon" (1985)

Writings about Miller

  • Roberson, W. H., 2011. Walter M. Miller, Jr.: A Reference Guide to His Fiction and His Life.
  • Roberson, W. H., and Battenfeld, R. L., 1992. Walter M. Miller, Jr.: A Bio-Bibliography.
  • Secrest, Rose, 2002. Glorificemus: A Study of the Fiction of Walter M. Miller, Jr.


  1. ^ a b "An Appreciation", Locus, February 1996, pp.78-79
  2. ^ "Obituaries: Walter M. Miller, Jr.", Locus, Gebruary 1996, p.78.
  3. ^ "A CANTICLE FOR MILLER; or, How I Met Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman but not Walter M. Miller, Jr.", by Terry Bisson (retrieved February 23, 2009)

External links

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