CS Lewis’ writings have been enjoyed by countless readers for over 75 years. A writer of both fiction and non-fiction, he stretched the bounds of everything he touched. His writings touched education, religion, science… but to many of his readers, it is the fiction that draws us back again and again.
Most famous are his Chronicles of Narnia, in which he created a world rich in thought and experience, emotion and intellect, conviction and cowardice. “For Narnia and for Aslan!” his merry men (and women) shout as they charge into battle. The Chronicles are a series that scarcely needs further commendation than the word-of-mouth encouragements to read made by readers of all ages, but has been given even more attention by recent full length big budget films. Truly great are the Chronicles of Narnia.
But dig a little deeper into the trove of Lewis’ body of work and you will find three precious gems which together complete the Space Trilogy. They are Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.
Out of the Silent Planet is the first and shortest of these novels. It introduces the reader to the hero of the series, Elwin Ransom. Ransom is a well-studied philologist (much like Lewis’ long-time friend JRR Tolkien), who, by no deliberate means, ends up on the planet Mars. Here we learn of the reality below or within our reality and discover the “spiritual” beings that inhabit our planets.
In Perelandra, Ransom travels to Venus and victoriously battles his old nemesis (from Silent Planet) for the soul of a new and innocent world. He comes home a victor, but not unscathed.
Finally, the trilogy culminates in That Hideous Strength, in which Ransom – due to his previous injury – seems to take a lesser role as a number of new characters are front-and-center in an all out struggle against more power than any of them – or us – could have imagined.
The content of That Hideous Strength is more relevant today than ever before – so pertinent for our ever changing world, our “swiftly tilting planet” to borrow a phrase.
As I chose to re-read this trilogy I thought, why not open it up to others, for comments, insights and encouragements to dig a little deeper. So join me in reading, and discussing the Space Trilogy.
And no, I’m not really Mr. Bultitude. And I’m sure my musings can’t compare to those of a bear of Logres. But I’m sure he has better things to do, being a bear and all…