I started a post last time on the C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy, and as often happens, I discovered I had more to say than room to say it in! So I’m back once again to hash out the merits of this particular series.
All three books (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength) have the flair of sci-fi/ fantasy tales, but with a strong undercurrent of Christianity underneath. They both fuel the imagination and guide the moral compass. However, I think my favorite book of the trilogy is the middle novel, Perelandra. I loved watching the story of Genesis unfold in a new and different world. The concept alone intrigued me: what if the Garden of Eden occurred over again? Could it be possible to avoid the tragic falling of mankind?! It was both exciting to see a firsthand account (written as a story instead of as Scripture) and refreshing to have an alternate ending from the one we are so painfully familiar with.
I particularly enjoyed meeting and observing the Green Lady – her faith in Maleldil could put some of the most pious Christians to shame :-P. One of my favorite scenes is where Dr. Ransom asks her, “‘And have you no fear […] that it will ever be hard to turn your heart from the thing you wanted to the thing Maleldil sends?’” To which she replies (continuing with the swimming metaphor established earlier), “The wave you plunge into is maybe very swift and great. You may need all your force to swim into it. You mean, He might send me a good like that?’” I loved the fact that when Dr. Ransom considered the unknown and unexpected as something to be fearful of, she thinks of such a challenge to be "a good." We are so conditioned to be afraid of what we don't know or weren't anticipating. Yet here is someone who immediately accepts that whatever is sent her way, especially if it is difficult to overcome, is something good. It warmed my heart and made me smile to see such faith in action!
The only tricky part of reading C.S. Lewis is that unless you are familiar with his style and are actively looking for religious references, his use of them in his stories may surprise you. He weaves his fantasies so well that the Christian elements tend to sneak up on you until they are suddenly made clear. For example, it’s never clearly defined that “Maleldil” is Christ, though that’s the only explanation that makes sense once you sit back and think about it. But the references in this series are all made in the Old Solar language and have just enough sci-fi to them that they could be dismissed by the nonbeliever, should they choose to ignore them.
I suppose that’s why I prefer to make the faith connections in my books a little more direct – I don’t want readers to mistake what I write for anything other than what I intended it to be. Of course, the advantage of vague religious references is that they appeal to a wider audience. You can potentially reach more readers if your book doesn’t have the “Christian” label screaming at them from the front cover. Perhaps someday I’ll try being a little more subtle and see how that goes ;-P. But for now, I think I’m content for my writing to be exactly as advertised.
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.