Home / Archive / Book Reviews - March 2008
CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy
Review by Shane S. Schulthies
C.S. Lewis is known for many things, but few recognize him as an accomplished science fiction author. Yes, you heard me right. C.S. Lewis has a fantasy/science fiction series for adults; and if you like Lewis’ other works, I think that you’re going to love this. The series begins with Out of the Silent Planet, continues with Perelandra, and concludes with That Hideous Strength.
Out of the Silent Planet begins as the eminent physicist Dr. Weston and his self-serving associate, Dr. Devine, kidnap the peace-loving professor of philology, Dr. Ransom. They take him on a spaceship to the planet Malacandra (Mars), where he is to be given to the sorns as a human sacrifice. The sorns are supposed to be a semi-intelligent bloodthirsty species; but the real ignorance and violence is found in human nature, not sorn. In addition to the insights into human nature, the story describes a vast network of physical and spiritual beings who work together to promote the plan of Maleldil, the ruler of the Universe. They are opposed by the “Bent One” and his beings. The book shares insights on how The Fall may have occurred, with themes of obedience verse rebellion, science versus belief, selfishness versus submission, as well as Biblical Christianity versus Secular Humanism—a major theme in all three books.
Perelandra continues the battle between Maleldil and the “Bent One” on the planet Venus. Dr. Weston now plays the role of the serpent, as the Bent One attempts to make the queen of this new planet “fall”. The story of Adam and Eve is replayed in vivid detail with new twists based on Lewis’ perspective. Our human susceptibly to temptation is portrayed in sometimes-painful clarity. One of my favorite scenes is when Dr. Weston convinces the innocent, and quite naked, queen that she needs to wear clothes as a preliminary step to bring first shame and then sin into her life. He plays powerfully on her vanity, convincing her of the necessity of wearing clothes - not as a symbol of virtue, but of status. This is by far the most poetic, philosophic and symbolic of the three books, and it challenged many of my basic assumptions. Read this with a friend. You may need the discussion to help understand the symbolism and sort out your own beliefs.
Finally, the battle comes to a climax on earth in That Hideous Strength. Mark Studdock, a young and promising university professor, is led into an “inner ring” by his own ambition to be accepted into the elite circles of academia and government. Behind the scenes is a cabal of power hungry men seeking to gain control of the world through an institution called the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments (NICE). The battle between Good and Evil is coupled with the battle between freedom and slavery. The novel is not only full of principles, but is enjoyable to read as the ultimate defeat of Humanism is accomplished with the help of divine intervention.
The Space Trilogy is excellent reading for anyone seeking application of many of Lewis’ teachings. Though it was written over fifty years ago, Lewis’ insights make it an up-to-date discussion of three of the four major world-views competing for acceptance today. I highly recommend this series.
Shane S. Schulthies received his PhD in Exercise Science from Brigham Young University where he subsequently taught for 13 years. He also has degrees in Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine. He is widely published and has lectured extensively in the United States, Europe and Asia. He has a broad background in academics, consulting, business, and government. Dr. Schulthies is a mentor at George Wythe College. He is married to the former Kimberly Hanson. They have 9 children.