My favorite of the Space Trilogy,
[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon. These writings comprise two types of reviews: unfinished reviews, abandoned during various stages of composition, and completed reviews that for life reasons were never posted. Of the later type, back in September 2001 I wrote a cache of work, a full sixteen reviews of several different C. S. Lewis books which have never been released. I am publishing these reviews now for the first time, over a decade after they were initially written. Mike London 10-3-2012]
"That Hideous Strength", the third volume in Lewis's "Space Trilogy", stands as central novel of his that gives me the most pleasure in reading it. While "Till We Have Faces" is certainly his best work, "That Hideous Strength" is the central novel in my own imagination that I most sympathize with in terms of where I want to go with my own fiction.
There is so much in "That Hideous Strength" that absolutely fascinates me, and much of the themes I also want to deal with in my own fiction. The abuse of language stands as one of the most terrifying elements in the novel. Wither stands as one of my personal favorites on the side of the N. I. C. E, as does Fairy Hardcastle. Wither is very developed and incredibly diabolical, and Fairy is a very masculine woman involved in sadistic police torture. The Nazis have a very strong place in this work. Much of the more hideous and hellish scenes in this book comes from the inclusion of the N. I. C. E as the dominant villainy that works evil throughout the text. Much of what they want to do tie into the Nazi movements, and each are equally terrible.
The inclusion of Merlin makes it a much more interesting text, for there is the key theme of Nature against Anti-Nature, and Merlin very much is in harmony with Nature. What makes this such a strong work is that each group parallels the other, and wherever there is a vision of total evil there also stands an equally dramatic picture of that which is good.
One thing that the critics seem to really harp on is the fact that this text has such a complex structure, but for myself that is one of the most exciting things about it. It is the fact that Lewis manages such a huge cast of characters, and does so rather well, that makes this one of my favorite of his novels, and certainly my pick for the Space Trilogy.
While I respect "Perelandra" and find it a very fine artistic effort, it is this book that I keep picking up to reread when I make my jaunts through Lewis's imaginative gauntlets. This is truly the most fascinating of the "Space Trilogy".
(These reviews covered all seven books of "The Chronciles of Narnia", the three novels of "The Space Trilogy", "The Abolition of Man", "The Four Loves", "A Preface to Paradise Lost", a revised version of my 2000 review of "Till We Have Faces", "Surprised By Joy", and "The Screwtape Letters". I have published newly written reviews of "The Space Trilogy" composed long after I wrote the three original reviews of Lewis's science fiction.)
[In Late 1999 or early 2000 I also wrote this abandoned, unfinished review to "That Hideous Strength"]
The first time I've heard of the trilogy, it was from a pastor's wife. I was only then reading THE LORD OF THE RINGS (this was back in 1994), and I decided I would try it. Being a fan of Narnia (although I do not like Lion nearly as much as the others), I figured this would be good also.
THAT HIDEOUS STRENGHT, which is longer than the other two books combined, is a book like no other I've read. Its main weakness is it jumps from modern to mythical too soon. It is a novel of ideas, and then at the climax the story becomes mythical, with a violent ending. Also, Lewis assumes to much of the readers on the matter of Merlin. Merlin was an incubus, and had no father.