Tag Archives: That Hideous Strength

Mythology In Space: Part 8

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The final book of the space trilogy by C. S. was for me the most absorbing. I found That Hideous Strength to be a true page turner. It describes a cosmic battle between diabolical sterility (symbolized by the moon and championed by a secretive organization) and the blessed messiness of life (championed by a group of inspired refugees in an old English house with a resident bear named Mr. Bultitude).

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The conflict is waged in an English university town which serves as a microscosm for the world. The characters and the plot take the reader through feelings of apprehension, fear, introspection, relief, and elation.

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Some masterfully timed humor precedes a satisfyingly climactic resolution. As any good fantasy should be, this is a very human story, and its impact is enhanced by supernatural elements. Featuring sinister entities known to certain characters only as Macrobes, the Oyeresu from multiple worlds, a resurrected Merlin, and a nearly perfected Elwin Ransom, this is a story unlike any I have ever read. So slow down, dig in, and enjoy the ride.

Mythology In Space: Part 5

This week, I turn to what I consider a more complete synthesis of mythology and science fiction: the space trilogy by C. S. Lewis. I believe that some of the modern day criticisms of this series (which are relatively few and minor) have arisen from unfamiliarity with the literary works which Lewis apparently used as sources for some of his ideas. ¬†Familiarity with Platonic and medieval concepts of the universe goes a long way in helping with the understanding and appreciation of the three books in question. The author also works in some influences from Arthurian legend. Then, of course, there is the author’s Christian perspective, so at least a nodding acquaintance with theology is helpful.

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Stylistically, the series is a good example of science fiction from the first half of the twentieth century. As such, it is outdated and inaccurate in light of the extensive data produced by various NASA missions, but this is alright. I mean, it’s science fiction, right? More accurately, these are fantasies disguised as science fiction. They were written at a time when historical limitations in knowledge and technology left more room in the solar system for the exercise of the imagination.

From the September 8, 1947 cover of TIME magazine.
From the September 8, 1947 cover of TIME magazine.

And the author’s imagination was prolific as well as being informed by his scholarship and understanding of classical works of literature. He was the product of a school of thought so aptly described by Dorothy Sayers in her essay entitled The Lost Tools of Learning. This shows in the quality of his thoughts and the effectiveness of his written expression. Overall, I found this trilogy a refreshing and unique blend of Greek philosophy, Christian theology, Arthurian legend, and science fiction.

The three books of the trilogy are (in order) Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. In the next few weeks, I will briefly examine each of these stories.