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The Dark Tower Paperback – 5 May 1998
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‘The Dark Tower, I believe, is as good as anything he wrote…’
Church of England Newspaper
‘For all lovers of the writings of the late C. S. Lewis… this volume of writings will be as welcome as were his previous books…’
From the Back Cover
A haunting, memorable extension of C.S. Lewis’s fantasies, these six stories, not all complete, reveal once more the power and vision of one of the greatest of storytellers.
'The Dark Tower' itself is a draft of a possible fourth volume to follow Lewis’s acclaimed adult science fiction trilogy. Two characters – Ransom and MacPhee – appear again, and the story contains sequences of brilliant debate about matter in time and space.
“'The Dark Tower', I believe, is as good as anything he wrote…”
Church of England Newspaper
Top customer reviews
What I will comment on is the quality. To be honest, I thought the story was cool. But the most infuriating thing about it was it was unfinished. Also, although there were Christian symbols in it, there was not a corresponding image of goodness and wholsemness. In That Hideous Strenght there was. Indeed, the entire of the trilogy is balanced in this respect: depicting horror, and counteracting that image with goodness] The N. I. C. E., evil upon evil, had its counterpart, the house on St. Anne's, etc. The staleness and artificialness of the N. I. C. E. was sharply contrasted by the natural beauty and life flowing from St. Anne's. [6-9-2000 In PERELANDRA we have a vision of the satanic Un-Man, along with that supreme vision of beauty The Green Lady. The Stingingman is the most dominant image here. There is nothing to balance it out here.
The concept of this story was probably already embedded in Lewis's mind, because the ending of OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET hints at it. "If there is to be any more space-traveling, it will have to be time traveling as well ...!" The opening scene is dons, along with Ransom, discussing time, the only Christian being Ransom (though Lewis is there, I do not remember if he is representative of Christianity. Must likely he is). Most notable MacPhee is there, unchanged skeptic later to appear in THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH. The story is that these dons have a chronoscope that can see into an "Othertime", a concept used in Lewis' completed Narnia series. During their chronoscope experiments, they see an idol, one head and many bodies, along with a horned man. This horn man stings these people that come to pray to the idol in this room. The people stung become automatons and some grow horns. Soon they realize one of these automatons (which later turns into a Stingingman) looks remarkable like one of their own dons' assistant Scudamour. Scudamoure is not only in there, but also a double of his fiancee Camilla. Scudamour destroys the chronoscope, and is transported into the Othertime, where he has to convince Camilla he will not sting her. The Dark Tower and its city is besieged by White Riders, who desire to destroy the stinging man and his damned* city of evil (when Scudamour was there, he could not say God, because it was not in their vocabulary) One thinks of Gandalf the White Rider - had he completed it, perhaps they would have been good. We will never perceive it though.
When read to the Inklings, some thought of the main antagonist, the Stingingmen, had unpleasant sexual connotations. But there is some good stuff, such as Camilla. "She was so free to talk about things her grandmother could not mention that ransom once said he wondered if she were free to talk about anything else." To bad that didn't make it in the real trilogy. A vastly interesting fragment, although it is so disappointing it is only that - a fragment.
The rest are interesting. In THE MAN BORN BLIND, the story is told of in TOLKIEN AND THE SILMARILLION, and out-of-print dated book about Tolkien. To quote my own review of that book, I do so now:
"A very notable feature is it also talked about the then unpublished C. S. Lewis short story about a man born blind and then getting his eyesight back by surgery, he doesn't understand the concept of light, thinking it a solid substance. It sounds something of a tribute to MacDonald's musing on lights as emphasized in his faerie tales. Or perhaps it was insipiered by that . . . . It is different than the story in some respects, and Hooper felt that Tolkien probably was told a version and had not read the story. "
THE SHODDY LANDS is about a man getting an inside view into a vain person's mind (a woman's). A stream of consciousness piece, which Lewis liked to call "Steam of Consciousness" is rather charming. This, and MINISTERING ANGELS, a story about a bunch of whores going to relieve "sexual tension" of males upon Mars, which has rather comic events (the story was suggested by a serious suggestion by Dr. Robert S. Richardson in his article 'The Day After We Land on Mars." were published in periodicals SF magazines.
FORMS OF THINGS UNKNOWN is a piece about mythology on the moon, and very entertaing. AFTER TEN YEARS would have been another TILL WE HAVE FACES had Lewis lived to complete it. Alas, he did not though. It would have been wonderful to see another work like TILL WE HAVE FACES. The story is tantalizingly brief, but, like THE DARK TOWER, was meant to be a complete novel. I'm getting the out-of-print collection of his juvenilia (BOXEN: THE IMAGINARY WORLD OF THE YOUNG C. S. LEWIS), and I'll write a review of it to tell you if it is any good. Something like Narnia in the sense of anthropomorphic animals, but there the similarity ends. Should be rather interesting, to say the least.
This review used Hooper's preface and David C. Downing's PLANETS IN PERIL (an excellent critical analysis of the trilogy -- buy it now!) as resources. THE GREAT DIVORCE review written used George Sayers' JACK and Hooper and Green's biography. Meant to include that in that review, but forgot. Anyway, some good stuff, some bad stuff, but it is Lewis, after all. 3 stars. 3 stars because of the fragmentation, one extra because it is, after all, C. S. Lewis.
*Not in the swearing sense, but in the sense of damnation.
Buy this if youv'e read all the other works and the Lord of the Rings trilogy and your'e determined not to read any other authors.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
So Hooper saved this collection and some of the other writings that were published posthumously by the late great C. S. Lewis. These six stories are of a science fiction or fantasy nature. The first story The Dark Tower is of particular interest because it is a partial fourth story in Lewis's Science Fiction Trilogy Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. This one being set between the first and second book. This story makes up more than half of this collection. Yet one could ask what is a partial story with middle sections and the end missing be worth? Or be worth reading? And to be honest it would be a very good question.
I would have to state an emphatic yes it would! I would declare so for many different reasons. The first is that this is the only time we see Ransom in his office's hanging out with a group of professors discussing life the universe and everything. Does that not indeed sound like Lewis, and Tolkien and the rest of the Inklings who did just that. There has been much debate by many scholars as to the questions of if Lewis inserted himself into his fiction, as `the professor' in the Narnia books, and many believe as Professor Ransom in this series. This gathering of friends is almost a scene out of Lewis's own weekly routine. The second reason is that we meet MacPhee here in this story, which chronologically takes place between book's 1 and 2 in the series. MacPhee does not show up in the trilogy till the 3rd book. This book gives us a tantalizing taste of a story that would give the published trilogy a fuller more rounded flavor and be amusing to read and debate the end of the story and the progression of Lewis's Thought.
Even if you only pick up this book for the first story it will be worth it. But the other 5 short pieces are worth a perusal as well.
The dead giveaway is that 20% of the novel contains detailed descriptions of apparatus and their use. Lewis hated with a purple peeve such items in literature.
Hooper has also rewritten much of the poetry of Lewis to exclude the allusions to classical Greek and Roman literature.
For more information read "Light in the Shadowlands" and "The C. S. Lewis Hoax". Both books are written by a friend of Lewis.
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