C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy



I recently finished C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. The works are (in order): Out of the Silent PlanetPerelandra, and That Hideous Strength–originally published in the 1930s-40s. The three books share some key plot threads and characters, most notably Ransom who is a wise, do-good professor. However, they can also easily be read on their own. Generally speaking, the novels get worse as one goes along in the series. I would recommend the first book, feel lukewarm about the second, and I would warn against the final book.

The first two novels display considerable creativity, particularly in depicting the landscapes and lifeforms of other planets. Out of the Silent Planet is the best book in this regard, set on Mars and featuring some highly imaginary creatures. The description of the space flight from Earth is also interesting and well-done, as is his discussion of language and the nature of communication. Perelandra, which unfolds on Venus, offers compelling descriptions of radically foreign vegetation and even the nature of land itself. However, even in Perelandra, Lewis’s heavy-handed theological vision begins to be oppressive.

In many of Lewis’s works, his Christian messages enhance and guide the story. But in Perelandra and even more so in That Hideous Strength, Lewis pushes theology at the expense of plot. The result is an uninteresting and occasionally totally unclear and unexplained set of events–you get the Christian metaphors, but you don’t really understand what the novel part is all about.


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