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on 6 November 1998
The reviews below are fascinating, recalling Jesus' stark question of the Baptist's hearers: 'What did you go out into the desert to see?'
If it's entertainment and exotic creativity, why not look elsewhere? You will find these of course, but only at the cost of having missed much.
If, to some Purpose, you are compelled to explore the agonizing wastelands of moral chaos, be well-advised to take the adventure Aslan sends.
With Ransom, you may just sense the terrifying reaches of moral ambiguity, casual indifference, and spiritual weakness, the deep mysteries of human decision-making and Inhuman Courage, the simple earmarks of innocence and guilt. You may just glimpse a tiny, invaluable essence of the struggle with principalities and powers at extreme elevations.
...because Perelandra isn't really a novel, and most especially not science fiction. It's a manual, a guidebook, a map. It's a War Prayer, batteries included. If you want less, happily, you will be disappointed.
'From Strength to Strength go on.'
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on 9 October 2012
Though not as well known as Lewis's Narnia novels, he also wrote a series of three novels, featuring Elwin Ransom as the main protagonist, in the late 1930s and early to mid 1940s. Lewis wrote the novels due to his famous conversation with his close friend J. R. R. Tolkien, who both said there wasn't enough of their type of fiction in the world, so they would have to write their own. Lewis wrote the Space Trilogy, and Tolkien wrote part of an abandoned, unfinished novel called THE LOST ROAD. Ransom, a philologist, is actually modeled after Tolkien.

There's a story in one of Tolkien's letters (published in LETTERS OF J.R.R. TOLKIEN) where his daughter, Priscilla, was reading the trilogy during one of the holidays in the 1940s, and, according to Tolkien, quite sensibly came to the conclusion that PERELANDRA was the best of the trilogy.

The second book in the trilogy is PERELANDRA. In many ways, it is the richest of the trilogy in terms of spiritual depth. While OSP is more straight science fiction, and THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH social commentary, PERELANDRA is closely modeled on the Adam & Eve story in Genesis. This novel is something of a homage to one of Lewis's favorite, John Milton. It's a beautiful book, and raises the question of what exactly would happen if Adam and Eve had not fallen. And this time, instead of being kidnapped Maleldil sends Ransom there.

Perelandra, the second novel in the, if you believe the blurbs, celebrated Space Trilogy, stands as Lewis's on contribution to the form of the modern epic and also his tribute to John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost. There are a plethora of epic references, and I agree that science fiction is the inheritor of the epic tradition. Much of what Lewis accomplishes through Perelandra is from the epic tradition. There are several elements in Perelandra that not only salutes Paradise Lost but also throws the whole epic tradition in a favourable light. Here are some of the numerous ways in which Perelandra harkens back to the epic tradition.

Like most epics, the story begins in a crucial point in the story, with Lewis himself attempting to make it to Ransom's house under severe attack. There are generally catalogs in epics, and this is played as dark humour in Perelandra, as Ransom accounts what each individual has to fight with (essentially two middle aged bodies). There are then descriptions of what these are. Then, to rally himself up, Ransom makes a speech to himself for encouragement. Weston becomes the Unman, a very common tradition of giving a name to a character based on the description of that character. One of the best developed portion of Perelandra's similarities with the epic is the very vivid description of the Underworld which is given in the last section of Perelandra. In it, we get the quite hellish descriptions of the subterranean world of Perelandra, which we had no idea existed. Lewis also gives us his reoccurring theme of privacy and the fact that we do not know everything, with the two thrones and the sea people who appear and then disappear very mysteriously.

The main plot of the novel has Ransom, who was kidnapped last novel, actually being sent to Venus. Lewis does away with the problem of spaceships this time around, having angels just take his protagonist there. He finds himself in a world of vast oceans, with floating islands that are actually behave like film or foam on the ocean, undulating and taking the shape of each wave. He soon meets the Green Lady, who is unfallen. Her husband is on another of the floating islands (they had become separated when they were on different islands which drifted away from one another).

Eventually, Weston arrives, the villain from the previous novel, and we find that Ransom must prevent him from corrupting the Green Lady, to prevent another Fall into Sin. Weston is an agent of Satan, and so wants to bring sin into Venus as well.

The majority of the novel focuses on Ransom and his efforts to protect the Green Lady from the Un-man, which Weston actually becomes after shortly arriving on Venus. Weston actually becomes demonically possessed, and ultimately must be stopped at all cost. Ransom is stripped, both physically and symbolically, having to rely on Maleldil (Jesus) to help him.

SPOILER:

Eventually, Ransom and the Un-man swim to an underground chamber, with the Un-Man biting Ransom's heel. This wound that will never fully heal, an allusion to Arthur and the Grail myth as well as the scripture in Genesis saying man will crush the serpent's head, and the serpent will bruise mankind's heel. In the end, Ransom puts the Un-Man to death, and so prevents Venus from having a second fall. The Green Lady and her husband are united.

END SPOILER

The descriptions of the floating islands and Ransom's experience on Perelandra in the first section of the book before he meets The Green Lady, along with the ending section of THE LAST BATTLE from Narnia where they are in heaven, to me is the most beautiful passages that ever came from Lewis's pen.

One fault that this novel does have it the ending seems to be rather preachy, but otherwise this is a first class novel, and for many readers this will be one of Lewis's most spiritually rewarding novels. Only in THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS does he deal so accurately and directly and with such psychologically insight on the problems of temptation and accountability.

While this novel is technically termed "science fiction", this is much more a spiritual track of our times than straight science fiction. The book is closely modeled upon Milton's PARADISE LOST.

For myself, the best way to read this book is reading it in conjunction with two other books, an unofficial trilogy, if you will. Because PERELANDRA is so closely related to PARADISE LOST, you should read that as well. Also read Lewis's literary criticism A PREFACE TO PARADISE LOST, in which he expertly discusses Milton's work. Lewis is a brilliant literary critic, and PREFACE is one of the best critical works on the PARADISE LOST ever produced.

My own unofficial trilogy:
1. Paradise Lost. (John Miltion)
2. A Preface to Paradise Lost (C. S. Lewis)
3. Perelandra

Overall, many readers will find PERELANDRA Lewis's most spiritually satisfying of the three novels. The characterization is strongest in this novel, as Lewis is only dealing primarily with three characters, and we really get to know all of them quite intimately. The novel is also focused mainly on evil in an unfallen world and what one must do to save that world. Until Lewis wrote TILL WE HAVE FACES in the late 1950s, the novel which he felt was his true masterpiece, he long felt this book was his best, and placed it second best after FACES. This was Lewis's favorite in the Space Trilogy and for good reason. It's probably the best (though my personal favorite is THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH).
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[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 have issued these reviews in October 2012 on Amazon.com, over a decade after they were initially written. However, these reviews were heavily edited and in several instances radically and drastically revised. I am publishing these reviews now for the first time in their original, unrevised format as written in 2001, with bracketed additions added for occasionally necessary clarification. Mike London 10-23-2012]

Perelandra, the second novel in the, if you believe the blurbs, celebrated Space Trilogy, stands as Lewis's on contribution to the form of the modern epic and also his tribute to John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost. There are a plethora of epic references, and I agree that science fiction is the inheritor of the epic tradition. Much of what Lewis accomplishes through Perelandra is from the epic tradition. There are several elements in Perelandra that not only salutes Paradise Lost but also throws the whole epic tradition in a favourable light. Here are some of the numerous ways in which Perelandra harkens back to the epic tradition.

Like most epics, the story begins in a crucial point in the story, with Lewis himself attempting to make it to Ransom's house under severe attack. There are generally catalogs in epics, and this is played as dark humour in Perelandra, as Ransom accounts what each individual has to fight with (essentially two middle aged bodies). There are then descriptions of what these are. Then, to rally himself up, Ransom makes a speech to himself for encouragement. Weston becomes the Unman, a very common tradition of giving a name to a character based on the description of that character. One of the best developed portion of Perelandra's similarities with the epic is the very vivid description of the Underworld which is given in the last section of Perelandra. In it, we get the quite hellish descriptions of the subterranean world of Perelandra, which we had no idea existed. Lewis also gives us his reoccurring theme of privacy and the fact that we do not know everything, with the two thrones and the sea people who appear and then disappear very mysteriously.

*(These reviews covered all seven books of "The Chronicles 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".) [unpublished review incoroprated into main text of 2007 review 12-1-2012
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on 7 January 1999
I love this book! Perelandra is a book about a man named Dr. Ransom who was kidnapped by two humans to take to sacrifice to the planet Malacandra. Now he is called to the planet of Perelandra to protect it from a man named Weston who is possesed by the devil. Weston is trying to get the first women on the planet to disobey god and sleep on the fixed land. Just like when the serpent told Eve to eat the fruit in the garden of eden.
If the women goes on the fixed land Perelandra falls into corruption just as earth.
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This is a really wonderful book, in which Ransom flies to Venus to intervene on behalf of a multi-colored Adam and Eve. It is very fun the way that Lewis uncovers details in the story, as Ransom proceeds with astonishment is his strangely deliberate and chaste way. An odd and very English character.

But the writing is absolutely wonderful, and some of the scenes quite unforgettable - there is one where he barely escapes a battle for his life, but winds up unknowingly in a pitch-black cave, waiting in frustration for the sun to rise. He then has to feel his way out, encountering a large insect-like creature he observes by the light of a lava flow. I simply loved that image, which makes this a genuine masterpiece of scifi in my opinion. As ever, it is full of surprizes.

Warmly recommended for true scifi fans.
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on 14 October 2009
C S Lewis had a great grasp of theology and mythology and here his science fiction writing employs his knowledge to the full. This is a fascinating story and bridges the gap between Out of the Silent Planet and That Hideous Strength to a make a complete account of how this world was held on the grip of evil but a way out had been made and goes on to describe the effect of this on the universe. The Cosmic Trilogy: "Out of the Silent Planet", "Perelandra" and "That Hideous Strength" Of course it is not as straight forward as that and leaves one wishing that C S Lewis was still here to discuss it further with him. I would recommend all three books to anyone intersted in science fiction or interested in the problem of good and evil.
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on 20 July 1999
This work is extrodinary and astounding. It takes you places that are beautiful, strange, and exotic. Not only does it do this it also stimulates your imagination and allows you to open up your mind. These storys also carry a deep meaning. The are amazingly intertwined and completely agree with Christian ideas.
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on 28 December 2009
This book is the sequel to 'Out of the Silent Planet', one of the best unacclaimed Sci Fi books of the 20th Century, and I was eager to read the sequel. Whilst Lewis retains his amazing ability to construct strangle new worlds, I was let down by the fact that he seemed to have run out of steam when constructing aliens. This time round, they're like us, just green. The main flaw of the book however, is that it is far too 'God-y'. CS Lewis seems to use whole swathesof text, nay chapters, to go on and on and on and on about God, his grand design, his benign goodness etc etc. Rings a little false to modern secular society. Hoping the third instalment will be better.
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on 20 January 2015
Brilliant, thank you
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on 3 September 1999
Not nearly as readable as Out of the Silent Planet. The ending is a little heavy handed and chiched for Lewis. It's still a great book and worth reading for people who enjoyed the first book. I don't know if I'd reccommend it on its own.
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on 19 June 2016
Arrived quickly and my husband can't wait to read it. C.S.Lewis can always be dependent for great spiritual and biblical reference in every book. C.S.Lewis. You can't go wrong if you want biblical food.
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