Walter M. Miller, Jr. Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Walter Michael Miller, Jr., a science-fiction writer, attended the University of Tennessee from 1940 to 1942, majoring in engineering. He later returned to college, the University of Texas, attending from 1947 to 1949. In between these two experiences on a college campus, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and was stationed in Europe. For his military service, he earned an Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters. In addition to his flying experience during World War II, he was an engineer.

Miller wrote television scripts for Captain Video in the early 1950’s, an experience that probably led to his inclusion of the Captain Chronos subplot in his short story “The Will,” in which the actor who portrays Captain Chronos attempts to exploit a terminally ill child. Miller has received Hugo Awards (respected prizes for science-fiction writing), one for a 1955 novella, “The Darfsteller,” and one for his most famous work, the novel A Canticle for Leibowitz (awarded the Hugo in 1961). Miller’s fiction often contains allusions and plots that deal with the Judeo-Christian heritage and its customs. Almost all of his protagonists are male. His writings usually deal with the theme of technology, modern and futuristic science that is sometimes helpful, sometimes detrimental, to society.

Miller’s short story “The Will” concerns a terminally ill boy, Kenny, who is determined not to die. Kenny hopes that he can somehow stay alive by virtue of a time machine until a cure is found for his illness. “Anyone Else Like Me?” is about a happily married woman with three children who finds, to her dismay, that a man shares telepathic powers with her. Unfortunately, he can cause her to do whatever he pleases. While the woman’s husband and children are away, he attempts to employ...

(The entire section is 748 words.)