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That Hideous Strength (Space Trilogy, Book 3) Paperback – May 13, 2003 by C.S. Lewis (Author)

This is the third and best book of C.S. Lewis’ trilogy about Dr. Ransom. Though aspects of the other two stories are mentioned, it isn’t necessary to have read them to enjoy this book, which holds its own. In this one Dr. Ransom has returned from his space travels, but he is a minor character this time, though his character does influence key events. The main characters are Mark and Jane Studdock, a young married couple with typical modern ideas. Mark craves to be part of the "inner circle" at his university, and Jane is already tired of her marriage, especially since it’s clear Mark’s professional goals have top priority by a long margin. The story startled me with its very clear portrayal of how an evil organization manipulates its members and, through them, public support of its goals. This part of the story in particular is extremely relevant today. In one chapter, Mark is persuaded to submit several articles to different newspapers that intentionally mislead, manipulate and divide the local population. Several chapters later, Mark is astonished at the results — as larger and larger numbers of people are forced out of their homes or summarily imprisoned, either for not supporting the organization’s increasingly militaristic strategies for control or just because they are in the way, their former friends and neighbors are apathetic, saying they "obviously deserved it" because they were "in the way of progress". This alone makes the book well worth reading. I believe similar strategies are being used in the media today. C.S. Lewis was a prolific Christian writer. This and the two other books of the trilogy have a strong Christian theme underlying the science fiction stories. For readers looking for books similar to the Chronicles of Narnia, this may be a little too different and adult-themed to satisfy (as one who has re-read the Narnia books until they fell apart, I could never really love this trilogy). Also, the science fiction is interesting, but I’m not really a science fiction fan and the whole interplanetary backstory for Elwin Ransom as well as the bizarre interpretation of the character of Merlin from Arthurian Legend didn’t grab me. However, the examination of how intelligent propaganda deliberately turns neighbors against each other and clears the way for an evil group of people to replace government was fascinating and very well done. C.S. Lewis was certainly paying attention to propaganda strategies during WWII. I think that’s how this part of the story so clearly emerged. Check it out!

Review The New Yorker In his usual polished prose, the author creates an elaborate satiric picture of a war between morality and devilry.The New Yorker If wit and wisdom, style and scholarship are requisites to passage through the pearly gates, Mr. Lewis will be among the angels.Los Angeles Times Lewis, perhaps more than any other twentieth-century writer, forced those who listened to him and read his works to come to terms with their own philosophical presuppositions.


That Hideous Strength (Space Trilogy, Book 3) Paperback – May 13, 2003 by C.S. Lewis (Author) Review

CS Lewis, so well know for his Christian apologetics, his Narnia fantasy novels, and his literary criticism, also wrote fantastic science fiction novels. Borrowing strongly from early SciFi greats such as HG Wells and Jules Verne, Lewis combines his vast knowledge of classical mythology and very direct Christian polemic into an unheralded masterpiece. The first two novels in Lewis’ Space Trilogy deal with space travel and alien paradises, but the third novel That Hideous Strength takes place entirely on Earth. The story centers on a conflict between extraterrestrial forces seeking either to enslave or liberate Earth. While I wont spoil the story for readers, there’s an aspect to Lewis’ vision that makes this novel even more relevant today and that’s Lewis’ warning on the evils of what some call "Scientism" or the making of science into a sort of post-modern religion. Lewis uses the ironically-named NICE as a vehicle for Scientism, but at the same time showing quite dramatically that instead of a Godless machine of logic something much more evil is at work through the NICE, something that humans even at their best cannot prevail over without help from above. Lewis’ important points about the dangers of Scientism were based directly on his own observations of the academic set at Oxford and the efforts of many to replace Christianity in England with something they ultimately thought better. But Best Intentions and all that, the results of this in the real world we all know by now and while not yet at the level of the NICE, they are plenty bad enough. Lewis was, perhaps unwittingly, a prophet warning us of the dangers to humanity that were to come and that makes this third book of the Space Trilogy all the more important to us today. -Read Reviews-

I recently picked up and re-read C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. Perelanda, the second book in the series, is one of my favorite Lewis works – and so I picked up Out of the Silent Planet (the first book in the series) and That Hideous Strength to refresh my experience of the whole story. That Hideous Strength is the longest of the three and is, I think, the most difficult to connect with on a personal level. It doesn’t have the simplicity and wonder that Perelandra has – nor does it have the wonder of the fantastic that carries Out of the Silent Planet. The story is darker, the imagery harder to engage, and the plot a bit less adventuresome. The field of characters is much broader as the plot is more complex. It feels a little more like a psychological drama than a fantasy. Now, having said that, I still enjoy it. It is a powerful conclusion to the themes introduced in the first two novels and brings the character of Ransom full circle. The mystical creatures of the first two books are still present, but they are invisible influencers – much more like what we would call demonic forces (which is the point). The novel is very much an exploration of the clash of humanistic materialism with a Christian philosophy or moral absolutes. In fact, Lewis compares the novel to his non-fiction work, The Abolition of Man – and will reward the non-casual reader who will do some critical reading along with the source material. The series is excellent and should be read by any fan of Lewis – if for no other reason, than it will put Perelandra in its proper focus. .. and it is a true gem of what makes Lewis so loved – complex emotional and spiritual tensions explored in wonderfully enticing fantasy worlds.

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