I recently finished reading, for what will become the first time of many I hope, “A Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter M. Miller. I tend to look at anything called “classic” with suspicion, but for once – the critics are right. If you like science fiction, or fantasy, or just love fiction that helps to expose the human condition – this book is for you in a big way.
It consists of three small, separate, but in order, stories that revolve around a monastery in a post-apocalyptic world. The first story takes place relatively near the event. Civilization no longer exists in a recognizable sense. A new dark age. Learned people are hunted down and killed. The second occurs during a time of renaissance and rediscovery (or new discovery as one of the characters thinks it is). The third in a new nuclear age, far more advanced then our own (they have starships and off-world colonies), with laws and organizations designed to prevent a new apocalypse. The story is told thru a set of characters you can’t help but care about.
At Slashdot there is a great book review and discussion thread.