Top positive review
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The best of C S Lewis and unique in the field of Christisn speculative fiction
on 13 December 2013
I read the last book 'That Hideous Strength' first, in an expurgated version that as I later realised had removed some of the more obviously Christian bits, as a schoolboy over 40 years ago. Don't really understand it but couldn't stop reading. Since them my wife and I have literally worn out 2 sets of the trilogy and are on our third, re-reading again and again over decades.
The middle book of the trilogy 'Perelandra' has a special place for me as I was going through some very bad stuff in my head once and this book came into my hands and really helped.
Each book can be read on its own but they are much better as a trilogy and read in order. They become less like ordinary sci fi and more theological as they move on. The first book 'Out of the Silent Planet' would probably appeal most to the 'regular' science fiction writer. Without giving too much away, the books are set on Mars, Venus and Earth and portray Mars and Venus as habitable. OK, we now know that isn't so, but they didn't then and given that we willingly suspend disbelief in any story of this kind, that's OK.
I freely admit that I write as a convinced Christian, as was C S Lewis, and yes the trilogy carries a Christian message. But it is definitely NOT propaganda or 'written to make you believe in Jesus' and many issues about the human condition are thoughtfully explored. C S Lewis wrote several essays about fantasy/fairy tales and clearly put his heart and thought into this trilogy. There are many layers of meaning which one keeps coming back to, definitely far more that a 'cowboys and Indians in space' space opera story.
Some critics have described these books as 'Narnia for adults'. I wouldn't put it like that, especially as I think the Narnia tales are great for adults too! But there is some truth in that.
Finally, feminists, liberals and other critics have attacked these tales for being sexist (especially 'That Hideous Strength'), for suggesting that some problems should be solved with violence, and for being anti-science. I don't think any of these criticisms hold water, besides which-if you can't float controversial or unfashionable ideas in a fairy tale (Lewis' own preferred term for this work) then where can you float them?
These are literally my favourite books in the whole world, and having just re-read the first 2 for the nth time am savouring the thought of re-reading That Hideous Strength, which Peter Hitchens agrees with me is Lewis' most important work. And that is saying something.
I could say more in praise of this trilogy but it would get boring unless I said enough to spoil the plot and that I won't do.