Friday, March 30, 2001

That Hideous Strength

by C. S. Lewis

This one surprised me. That Hideous Strength is part of a science fiction trilogy with a Christian worldview, the third volume after Out of the Silent Planet and  Perelandra. I thought it would be like the other two: part planetary travelogue, part philosophical adventure. (A philosophical adventure is one where the plot of the story is a backdrop for the characters to spout a bit of philosophy. It sells better than just having the characters sit in a bar, coffee shop, college dorm, or what have you and engage in the same discussion.) Instead, the story takes place on Earth. The science fiction aspects are relatively minor for most of the book, and instead we're treated to diabolical intrigue and low level suspense. I was also slightly surprised at how the story unwound. The first two novels hinted that they were headed toward the ultimate conflict between good and evil on Earth. If anyone has read the book of Revelation in the Bible, you know that that will involve a great deal of conflict and destruction. Ultimately, That Hideous Strength is simply another battle in the war and the planet is left pretty much untouched, save for the characters in the book. But even if my assumed expectations weren't met, the book is extremely satisfying. Lewis is a great writer and can bring a much needed touch of the divine to those of us raised in materialistic 20th Century Western culture. (Our culture has moved away from that, so in that respect, the book is starting to show it's age.) I especially loved how he illustrates God's power made perfect in weakness. Despite the Arthurian overtones, our heroes are not strong, valiant warriors. They win the day by the grace of God. Isn't that true for any of us? Anyway, this one's on my shelf.

LibraryThing link

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