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Just as readers have been transfixed by the stories, characters, and deeper meanings of Lewis's timeless tales in The Chronicles of Narnia, most find this same allure in his classic Space Trilogy. In these fantasy stories for adults, we encounter, once again, magical creatures, a world of wonders, epic battles, and revelations of transcendent truths.

That Hideous Strength is the third novel in Lewis's science fiction trilogy. Set on Earth, it tells of a terrifying conspiracy against humanity. The story surrounds Mark and Jane Studdock, a newly married couple. Mark is a sociologist who is enticed to join an organization called N.I.C.E., which aims to control all human life. Jane, meanwhile, has bizarre prophetic dreams about a decapitated scientist, Alcasan. As Mark is drawn inextricably into the sinister organization, he discovers the truth of his wife's dreams when he meets the literal head of Alcasan, which is being kept alive by infusions of blood. Jane seeks help concerning her dreams at a community called St. Anne's, where she meets their leader—Dr. Ransom. The story ends in a final spectacular scene at the N.I.C.E. headquarters where Merlin appears to confront the powers of Hell.

Topics: Dark and Angels

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062196941
List price: $7.99
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This is the final book in Lewis’ Space Trilogy; it follows Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, but deviates from the first two because it is set on Earth. A young married couple, Jane and Mark are at the heart of the novel. Mark is offered a job at a strange organization called N.I.C.E. (National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments), whose goals are vague and never quite explained to him. At the same time Jane begins to have troubling dreams. Without intending to, the pair ends up on opposite sides in a battle for power in England and eventually the entire world. Jane decides to see a counselor, Miss Ironwood, about her nightmares and finds out they aren’t dreams, but premonitions. Meanwhile Mark is being asked to do small things that challenge his belief system and each tiny step in the wrong direction takes him farther from his wife. In a strange way it reminded me (a tiny bit) of The Dark is Rising series. Both use aspects of the Arthurian legend and set their stories in the 20th century. Both have forces of good and evil fighting against each other in a vague but continuous battle. But where The Dark is Rising pulls you in with great characters, Hideous Strength holds you at arms length with ideas and a cast of dislikeable individuals. BOTTOM LINE: I wanted to finish Lewis’ space trilogy, so I’m glad I read this one, but I don’t think that it’s up to the same standard of the previous books. The pacing is off, the characters fall flat and the final showdown was weak.  more
I read this book for the C. S. Lewis survey class I'm enrolled in at Missouri State University. I had no prior clue that he had written a science-fiction trilogy. I don't "do" sci-fi... or maybe I do now -- at least the Lewis "light" version which is a conglomeration of fantasy, theology, thriller, and science fiction. This is the fictionalized restatement of the more dogmatic Abolition of Man which is on my TBR list. I suspect that the latter book will not be considered a page-turner.Truthfully, That Hideous Strength was a bit over the top, but I'll admit that I'm blinded by my admiration for Lewis as both a man and a writer, so I regard a book that resurrects Merlin to aid in the fight for humanity as a page-turner rather than a farce. I won't even try to relay the complex plot here. It's enough to say that it's a rollicking read that, in true Lewis fashion, pits good against evil. There's a bit of a love story and more than a bit about genetic reengineering. There are some creepy elements such as a talking head and a grisly animal uprising that had me both inwardly cheering and outwardly grimacing. Recommended for those who want to see a different side of C. S. Lewis.more
I have a love/hate relationship with C.S. Lewis. There's a lot I admire in his writing but enough I deplore in his worldview that even though I keep being drawn to his works, I can't call him a favorite. I mostly loved The Screwtape Letters and Narnia, which I read as an adult, adored Till We Have Faces (my favorite Lewis work), was moved by his book A Grief Observed and found Mere Christianity and the first two books in the Space Trilogy interesting. There was only one book by him until this one that I had dropped mid-read because I found it just too exasperating--and that was The Abolition of Man. Significantly, he cites that book in the Preface saying he delineated in that essay the point he was making through fiction in this book. I noted in the first two books of the Space Trilogy that for all they might seem to fall into the science fiction genre, both books are actually anti-science fiction. In the first book Out of the Silent Planet, the hero, Ransom spoke of the purpose of the book as "a change-over from the conception of Space to the conception of Heaven." (And I prefer Space--greatly.) The thrust of the first two books is against the humanistic message of science fiction itself and the books decry the very idea of space exploration and colonization. That's very much a line that is continued in That Hideous Strength, but that isn't what caused me to put the book down deciding not to torture myself further. Yes, the anti-science, anti-technology line irked me. As did the evident contempt for all those who aren't believers in Christian orthodoxy--let alone atheists. And as an American and (small "r" and "d") republican and democrat I bristle at Lewis' evident fondness for the whole class system from how you address servants to the belief in the curtsy as an essential social skill to the love of monarchy--and what may seem quaint in that respect in Narnia just seemed at its most noisome here. But no, what really got to me was the attitude towards women. I've defended Lewis in reviews against those who have called him sexist based on Narnia. Truly, Narnia has wonderful heroines. Even compared in terms of current science fiction and fantasy what struck me was how important and strong were his female characters and how gender balanced were his cast of characters in a very testosterone-laden genre. But it really was just really too much in The Hideous Strength. The contempt heaped on "emancipated women," characters like Hardcastle that seem to signal that just being in an nontraditional profession for a woman means you're perverted and a fascist. And Jane. Oh, Jane. You know where I couldn't take it anymore? It was the "Pendragon" chapter. Here's two quotes: She said at last, "I suppose our marriage was just a mistake."The Director said nothing."What would you - what would the people you are talking of - say about a case like that?""I will tell you if you really want to know," said the Director."Please," said Jane reluctantly."They would say," he answered, "that you do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love because you never attempted obedience."And...Jane said, "I always thought it was in their souls that people were equal.""You were mistaken," he said gravely. "That is the last place where they are equal. Equality before the law, equality of incomes - that is very well. Equality guards life; it doesn't make it. It is medicine, not food. You might as well try warming yourself with a blue-book.""But surely in marriage . . . ?""Worse and worse," said the Director. "Courtship knows nothing of it; nor does fruition. What has free companionship to do with that? Those who are enjoying something, or suffering something together, are companions. Those who enjoy or suffer one another, are not. Do you not know how bashful friendship is? Friends - comrades - do not look at each other. Friendship would be ashamed . . .""I thought," said Jane and stopped."I see," said the Director. "It is not your fault. They never warned you. No one has ever told you that obedience - humility - is an erotic necessity. You are putting equality just where it ought not to be.No, just no. And yes, there were things I liked that make me wish I could tolerate this novel better. There's a reason after all I keep coming back to Lewis. He's a great writer with truly striking, shapely prose and at his best has a prodigious imagination and a winning sense of humor and a great way of infusing fiction with ideas--sometimes all too blatantly--but often brilliantly. Even here there were things I relished. His depiction of the process for instance by which Mark Studdock was corrupted was terrifically done. And I had to smile at the way he named his characters--very Dickensian. Some of those on the villain's roll included Lord Feverstone, Miss Hardcastle, Mr Frost, Withers, Steele, Curry. And you can't get better than the acronym for the sinister organization of baddies--N.I.C.E. And it's not as if I disagree with all of Lewis' message--the whole scenario of controlling humanity in the name of "Order" and scientific principle was chilling and resonated with me. I loved how Lewis was working in the Arthurian theme into a story set in mid-twentieth century England. And as I love the Arthurian genre, that was very much a highlight and it took a lot to finally break me away from that. But after that encounter between Jane and Fisher-King I thought it was time to part company before the urge to tear my book in half and start shredding the pages took hold of me--especially since this was about twice the length of the two earlier books. I couldn't imagine being able to get through the rest with my sanity intact.more
Fantastic close to a brilliant sci-fi series. Lewis managed to write a rather compelling story while incorporating his very strong beliefs on humanity in the "Christian Light". I read this book for a class that focuses on human nature. Lewis addresses several problems and aspects of human nature in this book without the plot suffering.more
Hmmm, starting out with Out of the Silent Planet, I was relatively drawn in and interested in the premise...with Perelandra, things got a little more exciting...now with That Hideous Strength, I have to say I'm pretty weirded out. This last installment of Lewis' Space Trilogy was, as usual, heavily allegorical, but the actual "story" just didn't do it for me. I really liked the concept of N.I.C.E and The Head was pretty cool/weird, but everything else just didn't work. I think it may have to do with the fact that this book switches directions pretty sharply from the other two (Ransom is in this book, but he's certainly not the main character). The climax of the book was just bizarre and something I'd never expect to read from C.S. Lewis. Don't get me wrong, I like Mr. Bultitude, but I'm a little scared of him, too (and if you've read this book, you'll likely know why). Fairy Hardcastle was pretty interesting--she reminds me of Dolores Umbridge for some reason...but I just couldn't help but miss Weston! It doesnt seem like the Space Trilogy without him... Anyway, we got through half of this book in class, so the good news is that it really didn't take me very long to finish this...but unless you just really, REALLY like C.S. Lewis (which I do, by the way), I would consider skipping this series. It's okay, but certainly not NARNIA. Oh, and if you really want a good C.S. Lewis stand-alone book, check out The Screwtape Letters!more
This is BY FAR my favorite book in the Space Trilogy and my favorite Lewis fiction from my "Summer of Lewis."The tone and presentation reminded me of Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca" (but even better!)."That Hideous Strength" begins with new characters in the setting of academic circles. Readers might be a little disappointed in the length of time before encountering Dr. Ransom--but he's there and wonderful!In Lewis' book, evil begins subtly. Something as small as laughing at someone else's expense or ignoring your conscience just once. Something so insignificant can help numb us to further wrong and has the potential to spiral out of control.The best part for me was the interweaving of Arthurian legends. SWEET!Random thought: Could King Arthur been a King David type?You won't get this until you read the book, but here's my favorite line:"Those who have forgotten Logres sink into Britain."I speed through the book because I couldn't stand waiting to see what happened next, but was really upset to see it end. I told my husband I was very disappointed because I didn't readily have any Lewis fiction to read--but it would have been hard to pick anything up after this book. I needed to let it all soak in, you know?more
That Hideous Strength takes place back on Earth. This the story of the final battle between good and evil happening under everyone's noses in the guise of the new research institute N.I.C.E. (National Institute for Coordinated Experiments). Ransom and Devine do eventually appear with new names later in the book. The former is easy to figure out, the latter must be explained to us. The protagonists are a young, newly married couple: Jane and Mark Studdock. She is a housewife who thinks she's going to finish her dissertation; he's a young faculty member at a small college. The description of politics in academia is great, and doubtless quite true to life minus the sinister activities of the evil organization masquerading as progress. Actually, this could make a good movie, because the people and conversations and activities at N.I.C.E. are a cross between Jacob's Ladder and The Firm (by John Grisham), or perhaps The Devil's Advocate (the one with Al Pacino). Lewis ties this into the Arthurian legends with the resurrection of Merlin, whom both sides are seeking. I think this story is generally well done and is a fairly convincing presentation of two people who can't accept what's happening to them as part of a rational world, but who also aren't honest with themselves or each other about their motivations and fears. The descriptions of evil intentions masquerading as social progress (or social engineering) in this novel are chilling reminders of the rhetoric of infamous regimes in real life. And the subtle, apparently harmless mechanisms designed to corrupt Mark Studdock are also interesting. So in general, I liked this story. The one point that really annoyed me was Merlin condemning Jane Studdock for failing to conceive the savior, because that really was her purpose in the final battle, after all, to get pregnant at the appointed time. Really. But still an interesting story.more
That Hideous Strength is very different from the two earlier books in Lewis's "Space Trilogy," but for the most part I found it enjoyable in a different way. As always Lewis has a spot-on grasp of character and I found it almost painfully easy to empathize with Mark's slow, unintentional slide into terrible company at the beginning of the novel. By choosing flawed, human protagonists, Lewis gets away from some of the problems of Perelandra. The morals are more subtly presented, and there is less pervasive hero-worship of Ransom since he has become a secondary character in this book. I continue to admire the sincere empathy with which Lewis exhibits towards the sinners in his novels; it is a far cry from the holier-than-thou tone taken by many religious authors, and the difference is a welcome one.more
I once heard of this book being nicknamed 'That Hideous Novel.' I don't have very much trouble understanding why. Lewis, who was primarily an author of theology and apologetics, never really developed a personal style or voice in writing fiction. All his novels are written in someone else's style, but his favorite touchstones are H.G. Wells (_Out of the Silent Planet_, _Perelandra_) and J.R.R. Tolkien (_The Chronicles of Narnia_), so when he switches over to Charles Williams mode for this book, it's a rather rude surprise. He does it well, of course, but I would almost say that that only makes it stranger.By the way, if you've never heard of Williams, he was the third of the major Inklings after Tolkien and Lewis. You've probably never read anything he wrote, and you probably don't consider him very influential, but if you read this book, you'll realize that he probably had the largest influence of the major Inklings -- you can tell when someone's pastiching Tolkien, but Williams, or at least the style of _That Hideous Strength_, is _everywhere_.more
This was a very strange end to the Space Trilogy; there are hardly any sci-fi elements at all compared to the other two books, and the theology is very comparatively nuanced and subtle. CS Lewis seems to have more fun with mythology than religion here - much of the book focuses on the unlikely hero of Merlin, and the "final battle" is a rather unfocused concept. The book still has a well-drawn cast of characters to recommend it, and some very thrilling and scary parts, but there is also a lot of politics and chatter that I didn't feel were necessary. Still trying to figure out why Lewis ended the trilogy in such an irrelevant waymore
wisewoman gave a wonderful description of the book in her review. I would only add two things: (1) I think the characters she refers to as "superfluous)" help us to see how Lewis viewed people of different--even sometimes "'quirky"--personalities--as part of the richness of humanity. (2) This story has some horrifying elements in it. Although it is fantasy (which takes place entirely on earth) some of the ideas of evil seem frighteningly like some of the things we see in our society today—only we may be more subtle.more
The book is the third in a science fiction trilogy by Lewis. The evil is trying to take over the world and a small group of people resist. A modern fairy tale.more
One of the best books Lewis ever wrote, this showed much of Charles William's influence, which married to Lewis's superior style and storytelling skills makes for a remarkable and incredibly good book. A kind of metaphysical thriller, with an unusual view of the cosmos and some good political commentary, the book is quite an experience.more
This is my favorite of all of Lewis's works. I read it at an important time in my life, and this brought all of Lewis's other works into a sharper focus for me. Too many times I have Withers-types, and now recognize their vagueness as a type of evil.more
Definitely not my favorite Lewis. Aptly described by as critic as a Charles Williamsnovel by Lewis.more
What a hodge-podge! Lewis here makes a foray into the Kitchen Sink Method of science fiction writing, where everything is thrown in INCLUDING the kitchen sink! We have here a novel of ideas, an Arthurian Romance, a tale of Creeping Horror, a mad scientist novel, a work of eschatological Christian fiction. I must've missed a half dozen other aspects, too. Though this may be, literarily, the least successful of the three books in his Space Trilogy, it is fascinating. Or so I found it when I read it in my teens and then again in my twenties.more
The good: a dark, non-children's book, quite down-to-Tellus (if you'll forgive the pun), the philosophical/theological point was intellectually stimulating, and there were a few descriptions of ethereal experience and being that might not hold a candle flame to the light in Dante's Paradiso, but which was still beautiful (see “Descent of the Gods”). The bad and the ugly: Lewis' writing style is haphazard at best—names changed sporadically without reason, numerous misspellings, random pieces of linguistic bravado which would be quite unintelligible to most readers, there was even a chapter, told in the first person, which so lost me that I still have no clue of the speaker's identity. There is nothing likable or interesting about most characters. Following the plot for the first half of the book is like slamming your head into a wall over and over and over and over... Instead of characters or a compelling storyline driving the narrative, this contains lengthy chapters of bone-numbing dialog, hopeless exposition, deus ex machina, and spontaneous, overly-complex descriptions. The conclusion was drawn out, confused, and hardly satisfying except for the fact that the good guys won (which we knew would happen anyway). The worst part is that one could catch glimpses of so many fabulous and compelling stories and characters just under the surface that would have made this an incredible novel had they been told and focused on instead. It was sheer force of will alone that I finished this book. The worst of C.S. Lewis.more
This is a bit of a love it or hate book for Lewis fans. Of the three in the space trilogy, this is the one I reread the most. I enjoy the Arthur stuff and don't mind that it seems a bit out of place after Perelandra. Perelandra may be more elegant, but this one's more visceral and gripping. The power and danger of evil hits closer to home when it's in the guise of a university or a scientific establishment than when set on another planet.more
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.--J.more
Too heavyhanded after the perfection of Perelandra - Lewis is very dark here, and while the message is available, the story is not as enjoyable. The characters are less llikeable, which I found distanced me from the tale.more
The best book of the trilogymore
I read this book for the first time 27 years ago and it still sticks with me. A great story that is meaningful on many levels and fun to read as well.more
The third volume of the "space" or "cosmic" trilogy comes down to earth with a bump into the very mundane world of academic ambition, which Lewis knew well. It is a horror story, but the real horror is the way in which academic ambition can blind one to creeping totalitarianism. Unlike the others in the series, the planetary rulers make only cameo appearances, in one of the few scenes of comic relief in a rather dark and sombre book.more
Both as Christian allegory and political reflection of the early cold war this work stands up well a half century after its initial publication. Lewis always writes well and his pleasant, knowledgable style never fails to charm.more
Read all 32 reviews

Reviews

This is the final book in Lewis’ Space Trilogy; it follows Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, but deviates from the first two because it is set on Earth. A young married couple, Jane and Mark are at the heart of the novel. Mark is offered a job at a strange organization called N.I.C.E. (National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments), whose goals are vague and never quite explained to him. At the same time Jane begins to have troubling dreams. Without intending to, the pair ends up on opposite sides in a battle for power in England and eventually the entire world. Jane decides to see a counselor, Miss Ironwood, about her nightmares and finds out they aren’t dreams, but premonitions. Meanwhile Mark is being asked to do small things that challenge his belief system and each tiny step in the wrong direction takes him farther from his wife. In a strange way it reminded me (a tiny bit) of The Dark is Rising series. Both use aspects of the Arthurian legend and set their stories in the 20th century. Both have forces of good and evil fighting against each other in a vague but continuous battle. But where The Dark is Rising pulls you in with great characters, Hideous Strength holds you at arms length with ideas and a cast of dislikeable individuals. BOTTOM LINE: I wanted to finish Lewis’ space trilogy, so I’m glad I read this one, but I don’t think that it’s up to the same standard of the previous books. The pacing is off, the characters fall flat and the final showdown was weak.  more
I read this book for the C. S. Lewis survey class I'm enrolled in at Missouri State University. I had no prior clue that he had written a science-fiction trilogy. I don't "do" sci-fi... or maybe I do now -- at least the Lewis "light" version which is a conglomeration of fantasy, theology, thriller, and science fiction. This is the fictionalized restatement of the more dogmatic Abolition of Man which is on my TBR list. I suspect that the latter book will not be considered a page-turner.Truthfully, That Hideous Strength was a bit over the top, but I'll admit that I'm blinded by my admiration for Lewis as both a man and a writer, so I regard a book that resurrects Merlin to aid in the fight for humanity as a page-turner rather than a farce. I won't even try to relay the complex plot here. It's enough to say that it's a rollicking read that, in true Lewis fashion, pits good against evil. There's a bit of a love story and more than a bit about genetic reengineering. There are some creepy elements such as a talking head and a grisly animal uprising that had me both inwardly cheering and outwardly grimacing. Recommended for those who want to see a different side of C. S. Lewis.more
I have a love/hate relationship with C.S. Lewis. There's a lot I admire in his writing but enough I deplore in his worldview that even though I keep being drawn to his works, I can't call him a favorite. I mostly loved The Screwtape Letters and Narnia, which I read as an adult, adored Till We Have Faces (my favorite Lewis work), was moved by his book A Grief Observed and found Mere Christianity and the first two books in the Space Trilogy interesting. There was only one book by him until this one that I had dropped mid-read because I found it just too exasperating--and that was The Abolition of Man. Significantly, he cites that book in the Preface saying he delineated in that essay the point he was making through fiction in this book. I noted in the first two books of the Space Trilogy that for all they might seem to fall into the science fiction genre, both books are actually anti-science fiction. In the first book Out of the Silent Planet, the hero, Ransom spoke of the purpose of the book as "a change-over from the conception of Space to the conception of Heaven." (And I prefer Space--greatly.) The thrust of the first two books is against the humanistic message of science fiction itself and the books decry the very idea of space exploration and colonization. That's very much a line that is continued in That Hideous Strength, but that isn't what caused me to put the book down deciding not to torture myself further. Yes, the anti-science, anti-technology line irked me. As did the evident contempt for all those who aren't believers in Christian orthodoxy--let alone atheists. And as an American and (small "r" and "d") republican and democrat I bristle at Lewis' evident fondness for the whole class system from how you address servants to the belief in the curtsy as an essential social skill to the love of monarchy--and what may seem quaint in that respect in Narnia just seemed at its most noisome here. But no, what really got to me was the attitude towards women. I've defended Lewis in reviews against those who have called him sexist based on Narnia. Truly, Narnia has wonderful heroines. Even compared in terms of current science fiction and fantasy what struck me was how important and strong were his female characters and how gender balanced were his cast of characters in a very testosterone-laden genre. But it really was just really too much in The Hideous Strength. The contempt heaped on "emancipated women," characters like Hardcastle that seem to signal that just being in an nontraditional profession for a woman means you're perverted and a fascist. And Jane. Oh, Jane. You know where I couldn't take it anymore? It was the "Pendragon" chapter. Here's two quotes: She said at last, "I suppose our marriage was just a mistake."The Director said nothing."What would you - what would the people you are talking of - say about a case like that?""I will tell you if you really want to know," said the Director."Please," said Jane reluctantly."They would say," he answered, "that you do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love because you never attempted obedience."And...Jane said, "I always thought it was in their souls that people were equal.""You were mistaken," he said gravely. "That is the last place where they are equal. Equality before the law, equality of incomes - that is very well. Equality guards life; it doesn't make it. It is medicine, not food. You might as well try warming yourself with a blue-book.""But surely in marriage . . . ?""Worse and worse," said the Director. "Courtship knows nothing of it; nor does fruition. What has free companionship to do with that? Those who are enjoying something, or suffering something together, are companions. Those who enjoy or suffer one another, are not. Do you not know how bashful friendship is? Friends - comrades - do not look at each other. Friendship would be ashamed . . .""I thought," said Jane and stopped."I see," said the Director. "It is not your fault. They never warned you. No one has ever told you that obedience - humility - is an erotic necessity. You are putting equality just where it ought not to be.No, just no. And yes, there were things I liked that make me wish I could tolerate this novel better. There's a reason after all I keep coming back to Lewis. He's a great writer with truly striking, shapely prose and at his best has a prodigious imagination and a winning sense of humor and a great way of infusing fiction with ideas--sometimes all too blatantly--but often brilliantly. Even here there were things I relished. His depiction of the process for instance by which Mark Studdock was corrupted was terrifically done. And I had to smile at the way he named his characters--very Dickensian. Some of those on the villain's roll included Lord Feverstone, Miss Hardcastle, Mr Frost, Withers, Steele, Curry. And you can't get better than the acronym for the sinister organization of baddies--N.I.C.E. And it's not as if I disagree with all of Lewis' message--the whole scenario of controlling humanity in the name of "Order" and scientific principle was chilling and resonated with me. I loved how Lewis was working in the Arthurian theme into a story set in mid-twentieth century England. And as I love the Arthurian genre, that was very much a highlight and it took a lot to finally break me away from that. But after that encounter between Jane and Fisher-King I thought it was time to part company before the urge to tear my book in half and start shredding the pages took hold of me--especially since this was about twice the length of the two earlier books. I couldn't imagine being able to get through the rest with my sanity intact.more
Fantastic close to a brilliant sci-fi series. Lewis managed to write a rather compelling story while incorporating his very strong beliefs on humanity in the "Christian Light". I read this book for a class that focuses on human nature. Lewis addresses several problems and aspects of human nature in this book without the plot suffering.more
Hmmm, starting out with Out of the Silent Planet, I was relatively drawn in and interested in the premise...with Perelandra, things got a little more exciting...now with That Hideous Strength, I have to say I'm pretty weirded out. This last installment of Lewis' Space Trilogy was, as usual, heavily allegorical, but the actual "story" just didn't do it for me. I really liked the concept of N.I.C.E and The Head was pretty cool/weird, but everything else just didn't work. I think it may have to do with the fact that this book switches directions pretty sharply from the other two (Ransom is in this book, but he's certainly not the main character). The climax of the book was just bizarre and something I'd never expect to read from C.S. Lewis. Don't get me wrong, I like Mr. Bultitude, but I'm a little scared of him, too (and if you've read this book, you'll likely know why). Fairy Hardcastle was pretty interesting--she reminds me of Dolores Umbridge for some reason...but I just couldn't help but miss Weston! It doesnt seem like the Space Trilogy without him... Anyway, we got through half of this book in class, so the good news is that it really didn't take me very long to finish this...but unless you just really, REALLY like C.S. Lewis (which I do, by the way), I would consider skipping this series. It's okay, but certainly not NARNIA. Oh, and if you really want a good C.S. Lewis stand-alone book, check out The Screwtape Letters!more
This is BY FAR my favorite book in the Space Trilogy and my favorite Lewis fiction from my "Summer of Lewis."The tone and presentation reminded me of Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca" (but even better!)."That Hideous Strength" begins with new characters in the setting of academic circles. Readers might be a little disappointed in the length of time before encountering Dr. Ransom--but he's there and wonderful!In Lewis' book, evil begins subtly. Something as small as laughing at someone else's expense or ignoring your conscience just once. Something so insignificant can help numb us to further wrong and has the potential to spiral out of control.The best part for me was the interweaving of Arthurian legends. SWEET!Random thought: Could King Arthur been a King David type?You won't get this until you read the book, but here's my favorite line:"Those who have forgotten Logres sink into Britain."I speed through the book because I couldn't stand waiting to see what happened next, but was really upset to see it end. I told my husband I was very disappointed because I didn't readily have any Lewis fiction to read--but it would have been hard to pick anything up after this book. I needed to let it all soak in, you know?more
That Hideous Strength takes place back on Earth. This the story of the final battle between good and evil happening under everyone's noses in the guise of the new research institute N.I.C.E. (National Institute for Coordinated Experiments). Ransom and Devine do eventually appear with new names later in the book. The former is easy to figure out, the latter must be explained to us. The protagonists are a young, newly married couple: Jane and Mark Studdock. She is a housewife who thinks she's going to finish her dissertation; he's a young faculty member at a small college. The description of politics in academia is great, and doubtless quite true to life minus the sinister activities of the evil organization masquerading as progress. Actually, this could make a good movie, because the people and conversations and activities at N.I.C.E. are a cross between Jacob's Ladder and The Firm (by John Grisham), or perhaps The Devil's Advocate (the one with Al Pacino). Lewis ties this into the Arthurian legends with the resurrection of Merlin, whom both sides are seeking. I think this story is generally well done and is a fairly convincing presentation of two people who can't accept what's happening to them as part of a rational world, but who also aren't honest with themselves or each other about their motivations and fears. The descriptions of evil intentions masquerading as social progress (or social engineering) in this novel are chilling reminders of the rhetoric of infamous regimes in real life. And the subtle, apparently harmless mechanisms designed to corrupt Mark Studdock are also interesting. So in general, I liked this story. The one point that really annoyed me was Merlin condemning Jane Studdock for failing to conceive the savior, because that really was her purpose in the final battle, after all, to get pregnant at the appointed time. Really. But still an interesting story.more
That Hideous Strength is very different from the two earlier books in Lewis's "Space Trilogy," but for the most part I found it enjoyable in a different way. As always Lewis has a spot-on grasp of character and I found it almost painfully easy to empathize with Mark's slow, unintentional slide into terrible company at the beginning of the novel. By choosing flawed, human protagonists, Lewis gets away from some of the problems of Perelandra. The morals are more subtly presented, and there is less pervasive hero-worship of Ransom since he has become a secondary character in this book. I continue to admire the sincere empathy with which Lewis exhibits towards the sinners in his novels; it is a far cry from the holier-than-thou tone taken by many religious authors, and the difference is a welcome one.more
I once heard of this book being nicknamed 'That Hideous Novel.' I don't have very much trouble understanding why. Lewis, who was primarily an author of theology and apologetics, never really developed a personal style or voice in writing fiction. All his novels are written in someone else's style, but his favorite touchstones are H.G. Wells (_Out of the Silent Planet_, _Perelandra_) and J.R.R. Tolkien (_The Chronicles of Narnia_), so when he switches over to Charles Williams mode for this book, it's a rather rude surprise. He does it well, of course, but I would almost say that that only makes it stranger.By the way, if you've never heard of Williams, he was the third of the major Inklings after Tolkien and Lewis. You've probably never read anything he wrote, and you probably don't consider him very influential, but if you read this book, you'll realize that he probably had the largest influence of the major Inklings -- you can tell when someone's pastiching Tolkien, but Williams, or at least the style of _That Hideous Strength_, is _everywhere_.more
This was a very strange end to the Space Trilogy; there are hardly any sci-fi elements at all compared to the other two books, and the theology is very comparatively nuanced and subtle. CS Lewis seems to have more fun with mythology than religion here - much of the book focuses on the unlikely hero of Merlin, and the "final battle" is a rather unfocused concept. The book still has a well-drawn cast of characters to recommend it, and some very thrilling and scary parts, but there is also a lot of politics and chatter that I didn't feel were necessary. Still trying to figure out why Lewis ended the trilogy in such an irrelevant waymore
wisewoman gave a wonderful description of the book in her review. I would only add two things: (1) I think the characters she refers to as "superfluous)" help us to see how Lewis viewed people of different--even sometimes "'quirky"--personalities--as part of the richness of humanity. (2) This story has some horrifying elements in it. Although it is fantasy (which takes place entirely on earth) some of the ideas of evil seem frighteningly like some of the things we see in our society today—only we may be more subtle.more
The book is the third in a science fiction trilogy by Lewis. The evil is trying to take over the world and a small group of people resist. A modern fairy tale.more
One of the best books Lewis ever wrote, this showed much of Charles William's influence, which married to Lewis's superior style and storytelling skills makes for a remarkable and incredibly good book. A kind of metaphysical thriller, with an unusual view of the cosmos and some good political commentary, the book is quite an experience.more
This is my favorite of all of Lewis's works. I read it at an important time in my life, and this brought all of Lewis's other works into a sharper focus for me. Too many times I have Withers-types, and now recognize their vagueness as a type of evil.more
Definitely not my favorite Lewis. Aptly described by as critic as a Charles Williamsnovel by Lewis.more
What a hodge-podge! Lewis here makes a foray into the Kitchen Sink Method of science fiction writing, where everything is thrown in INCLUDING the kitchen sink! We have here a novel of ideas, an Arthurian Romance, a tale of Creeping Horror, a mad scientist novel, a work of eschatological Christian fiction. I must've missed a half dozen other aspects, too. Though this may be, literarily, the least successful of the three books in his Space Trilogy, it is fascinating. Or so I found it when I read it in my teens and then again in my twenties.more
The good: a dark, non-children's book, quite down-to-Tellus (if you'll forgive the pun), the philosophical/theological point was intellectually stimulating, and there were a few descriptions of ethereal experience and being that might not hold a candle flame to the light in Dante's Paradiso, but which was still beautiful (see “Descent of the Gods”). The bad and the ugly: Lewis' writing style is haphazard at best—names changed sporadically without reason, numerous misspellings, random pieces of linguistic bravado which would be quite unintelligible to most readers, there was even a chapter, told in the first person, which so lost me that I still have no clue of the speaker's identity. There is nothing likable or interesting about most characters. Following the plot for the first half of the book is like slamming your head into a wall over and over and over and over... Instead of characters or a compelling storyline driving the narrative, this contains lengthy chapters of bone-numbing dialog, hopeless exposition, deus ex machina, and spontaneous, overly-complex descriptions. The conclusion was drawn out, confused, and hardly satisfying except for the fact that the good guys won (which we knew would happen anyway). The worst part is that one could catch glimpses of so many fabulous and compelling stories and characters just under the surface that would have made this an incredible novel had they been told and focused on instead. It was sheer force of will alone that I finished this book. The worst of C.S. Lewis.more
This is a bit of a love it or hate book for Lewis fans. Of the three in the space trilogy, this is the one I reread the most. I enjoy the Arthur stuff and don't mind that it seems a bit out of place after Perelandra. Perelandra may be more elegant, but this one's more visceral and gripping. The power and danger of evil hits closer to home when it's in the guise of a university or a scientific establishment than when set on another planet.more
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.--J.more
Too heavyhanded after the perfection of Perelandra - Lewis is very dark here, and while the message is available, the story is not as enjoyable. The characters are less llikeable, which I found distanced me from the tale.more
The best book of the trilogymore
I read this book for the first time 27 years ago and it still sticks with me. A great story that is meaningful on many levels and fun to read as well.more
The third volume of the "space" or "cosmic" trilogy comes down to earth with a bump into the very mundane world of academic ambition, which Lewis knew well. It is a horror story, but the real horror is the way in which academic ambition can blind one to creeping totalitarianism. Unlike the others in the series, the planetary rulers make only cameo appearances, in one of the few scenes of comic relief in a rather dark and sombre book.more
Both as Christian allegory and political reflection of the early cold war this work stands up well a half century after its initial publication. Lewis always writes well and his pleasant, knowledgable style never fails to charm.more
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