It is an undisputed fact that C.S. Lewis is a brilliant author. He is well-known for The Chronicles of Narnia (which I mentioned in my post on backstories), as well as several Christian novels and more. His space trilogy – consisting of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength – merely serve as further proof of his literary genius.
The space trilogy follows the adventures of Dr. Ransom as he fights evil across three different worlds: first Mars (Malacandra), then Venus (Perelandra), and finally Earth itself (also referred to as Thulcandra or Tellus). The first two novels are very much like sci-fi adventures. In Out of the Silent Planet, Dr. Ransom discovers the existence of other beings on Mars as well as the truth about good and evil in the universe. In Perelandra, the story of the Garden of Eden is reenacted on the planet Venus, and Dr. Ransom is the one who must prevent Earth’s tragedy from reoccurring. Finally, the battle hits home in That Hideous Strength when Dr. Ransom and his followers face off against evil brewing in their own neighborhood of Edgestow, England.
I thoroughly enjoyed the series, though I preferred the first two books to the last one. That Hideous Strength is rather lengthy and tends to wax philosophically at times. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the conclusion to that last book. True, everyone “got what they deserved:” the villains are made to pay for the errors of their ways, and the heroes receive their due rewards. Even the animals all find happiness (thanks to the lingering presence of Venus)! But it’s a very quick ending compared to how long it took to reach it. Any of you who have read my previous blog posts know how I feel about quick endings (see my post on Jane Austen, for starters), and while Mark and Jane are clearly reunited in the last chapter, you aren’t given any details on how that reunion unfolds.
But instead of being disappointed, I’m starting to wonder if there is a lesson that can be gleaned from fast conclusions. I prefer the drawn-out variation that really allows you to see how the rest of the characters’ lives are going to go; I want to know that from this point forward, things are going to be better than they were earlier in the story. But perhaps that’s not the point. Perhaps sometimes the point of an ending isn’t to show that the characters will now and forever henceforth live happily ever after. There may be times where an ending is written to show that despite whatever troubles the future may hold, the current crisis has been resolved. In these cases the ending is more of a “pause point” than a true conclusion; even if no more books are written, it’s understood that the major battle was won, but the fight for life still remains. The characters may have more work to do – we just aren’t joining them for the grueling task of day-by-day living.
Now, I still like longer endings that really allow the story to wind down! I want all the loose ends to be tied up and I want to know that the characters are better off now than they were at the beginning. (Otherwise, what was the point of bothering to tell the story?) So as far as my own books are concerned, there will still be epilogues and possibly several chapters of resolution. But – as extensive reading tends to do – I find that my world is broadening and my acceptance of what is “different” from my personal preferences is indeed growing ;-).
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Until the next time, keep reading!
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I have two passions: reading and writing. You can't write good stories without first reading good stories - that's my theory, anyway. So this is where I'll share with you the depth of those passions: background on what and why I write, as well as talking about the books that I read and how they impact my writing.