Walter M. Miller Jr.

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Walter M. Miller Jr.
BornWalter Michael Miller Jr.
(1923-01-23)January 23, 1923
New Smyrna Beach, Florida, US
DiedJanuary 9, 1996(1996-01-09) (aged 72)
Daytona Beach, Florida, US
  • Novelist
  • short story writer
GenreScience fiction
Notable worksA Canticle for Leibowitz (1959)
Notable awardsHugo Award (1955 · 1961)
Anna Louise Becker
(m. 1945; died 1995)
Miller's novella "The Reluctant Traitor" was the cover story for the January 1952 issue of Amazing Stories.
Miller's novella "Please Me Plus Three" was cover-featured on the August 1952 issue of Other Worlds Science Stories.
Miller's novella "Let My People Go" was the cover story in the third issue of If in July 1952.

Walter Michael Miller Jr. (January 23, 1923 – January 9, 1996) was an American science fiction writer. His fix-up novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959), the only novel published in his lifetime, won the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Prior to its publication, he was a writer of short stories.

Early life[edit]

Miller was born on January 23, 1923, 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 Forces 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.[1] Joe Haldeman reported that Miller "had 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.[2]

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.[3]

Late in the 1950s, Miller assembled a novel from three closely related novellas he had published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1955, 1956 and 1957. The novel, entitled A Canticle for Leibowitz, was published in 1959. It is a post-apocalyptic 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.[4]

After the success of A Canticle for Leibowitz, Miller ceased publishing, although several compilations of Miller's earlier stories were issued in the 1960s and 1970s. A radio adaptation of A Canticle for Leibowitz was produced by WHA Radio and NPR in 1981.[5][6] A radio adaptation of the first two parts was broadcast in the UK by the BBC in 1992; further details can be found on the BBC Genome Project.[7]

Later years and death[edit]

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, but had managed to nearly complete a 600-page manuscript for the sequel to Canticle before taking his own life with a firearm on January 9, 1996, shortly after his wife's death.[2][8]

The sequel, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, was completed by Bisson at Miller's request and published in 1997.[9]


Saint Leibowitz series[edit]

The series includes Miller's two novels, published almost 40 years apart.[9]


  • Conditionally Human (1962), 3 stories
  • The View from the Stars (1965), 9 stories
  • The Science Fiction Stories of Walter M. Miller Jr. (1977) – omnibus of Conditionally Human and The View from the Stars
  • The Best of Walter M. Miller Jr. (1980) – omnibus of Conditionally Human and The View from the Stars plus two added stories, The Lineman and Vengeance for Nikolai
  • Conditionally Human and Other Stories (1982) – 6 stories from the 1980 omnibus
  • The Darfstellar and Other Stories (1982) – the remaining 8 stories from the 1980 omnibus

Short stories[edit]

  • "MacDoughal's Wife" (in American Mercury, March 1950; not science fiction)
  • "Month of Mary" (in Extension Magazine, May 1950; not science fiction)
  • "Dark Benediction" (1951)
  • "Izzard and the Membrane" (1951)
  • "The Little Creeps" (1951)
  • "Secret of the Death Dome" (1951)
  • "The Song of Vorhu" (1951)
  • "The Soul-Empty Ones" (1951)
  • "The Space Witch" (1951)
  • "The Big Hunger" (1952)
  • "Big Joe and the Nth Generation" (1952, also known as "It Takes a Thief")
  • "Bitter Victory" (1952)
  • "Blood Bank" (1952)
  • "Cold Awakening" (1952)
  • "Command Performance" (1952, also known as "Anybody Else Like Me?")
  • "Conditionally Human" (1952)
  • "Dumb Waiter" (1952)
  • "Gravesong" (1952)
  • "Let My People Go" (in If, July 1952)
  • "No Moon for Me" (1952)
  • "A Family Matter" (1952)
  • "The Reluctant Traitor" (Amazing Stories, January 1952)[10]
  • "Please Me Plus Three" (in Other Worlds Science Stories, August 1952)
  • "Six and Ten Are Johnny" (1952)
  • "Crucifixus Etiam" (1953, also known as "The Sower Does Not Reap")
  • "I, Dreamer" (1953)
  • "The Yokel" (1953)
  • "Wolf Pack" (1953)
  • "Check and Checkmate" (1953)
  • "Death of a Spaceman" (1954, also known as "Memento Homo")
  • "I Made You" (1954)
  • "The Ties that Bind" (1954)
  • "The Will" (1954)
  • "Way of a Rebel" (1954)
  • "A Canticle for Leibowitz" (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1955; reprinted as "The First Canticle"; revised into A Canticle for Leibowitz[9])
  • "The Darfsteller" (1955)
  • "The Hoofer" (1955)
  • "The Triflin' Man" (1955, also known as "You Triflin' Skunk!")
  • "And the Light is Risen" (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 1956; revised into A Canticle for Leibowitz[9])
  • "The Last Canticle" (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 1957; revised into A Canticle for Leibowitz[9])
  • "The Lineman" (1957)
  • "Vengeance for Nikolai" (1957, also known as "The Song of Marya")


Works about Miller[edit]

  • 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.
  • Musch, Sebastian (2016). "The Atomic Priesthood and Nuclear Waste Management - Religion, Sci-fi Literature and the End of our Civilization" Zygon - Journal of Religion and Science, 51 (3), p. 626-639.


  1. ^ Michaud, Jon (2014-10-22). "A Science-Fiction Classic Still Smolders". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2024-02-23.
  2. ^ a b "An Appreciation", Joe Haldeman, Locus, February 1996, pp. 78-79.
  3. ^ "Obituaries: Walter M. Miller Jr.", Locus, February 1996, p. 78.
  4. ^ "1961 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Award. 2007-07-26. Retrieved 2024-02-23.
  5. ^ NPR (1981-10-11), A Canticle for Leibowitz - A Radio Sci Fi Drama, retrieved 2024-02-23
  6. ^ NPR Presents, A CANTICLE FOR LIEBOWITZ In 15 Parts, retrieved 2024-02-23
  7. ^ "Saturday Playhouse". June 6, 1992. p. 85 – via BBC Genome.
  8. ^ Streitfeld, David (October 9, 1997). "'Canticle' Author Unsung Even In Death". Orlando Sentinel.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Saint Leibowitz series listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  10. ^ "Publication Listing" (Amazing Stories, January 1952). ISFDB. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  11. ^ "Publication Listing" (Beyond Armageddon, first edition). ISFDB. Retrieved 2014-08-01.

External links[edit]