io9 asks why C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy isn’t held up as one of the great works of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. The article is worth a read.
C.S. Lewis is best known for his Narnia books, and also as one of the most powerful writers of Christian commentary of the 20th century. But he also wrote a beloved space-opera trilogy, beginning with Out of the Silent Planet. And one author argues that this book deserves to be mentioned among the great SF novels.
Over at the Inebriate Me blog at Patheos, Catholic blogger Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has a reexmination of Lewis’ space trilogy, in which he heaps praise on the first book. “Out of the Silent Planet: this is clearly a masterpiece, and in my view it can only be as a result of prejudice that it’s not mentioned in the same breath as other towering SF classics as Foundation and Dune,” he argues.
In case you think Gobry is just being a raving Lewis fan, he doesn’t much like the Narnia books. And he is pretty scathing about the second book in Lewis’ Space Trilogy, Perelandra. He calls that book “a letdown” and adds, “If I hadn’t read the first book this one would have confirmed my prejudice of Lewis as a middlebrow auteur of thinly-disguised propaganda.”
I actually love the Space Trilogy, I think all three of the books Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength are some of the best books I have ever read. I have read a lot of C.S. Lewis’ writings, although I have never really been inspired to read The Chronicles of Narnia although I have seen a number of the TV and movie versions of them.
I think one of the reasons the Space Trilogy might not get more love is that it is truly a work deeply Christian Science Fiction and this would likely put a lot of people off. The first of the books Out of the Silent Planet tells the story of a trip to Mars but the locals on Mars call it Malacandra and it is a wonderfully told tale. If you have never read it stop what you are doing! The Audible version is fantastic. The second book, Perelandra is often criticized but I found it fascinating. It tells the story of an unfallen eden, on Venus/Perelandra that is at the crucial choice, to follow the king or fall as Earth/Thulcandra did. The final book That Hideous Strength tells of things coming to head on Earth and the Orwellian named N.I.C.E seeking control. That Hideous Strength contained one of the creepiest scenes I think I have ever read in a book. I’d recommend you read them!