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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 Apr 3, 2012
ISBN: 9780062196941
List price: $7.99
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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?read more
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Why is this book so much more convoluted, dense, and difficult than Lewis's first two Space books? Because Lewis was under the influence of Tolkien when he wrote the first two, but under the influence of Charles Williams when he wrote this one. Just saying.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
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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?
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Why is this book so much more convoluted, dense, and difficult than Lewis's first two Space books? Because Lewis was under the influence of Tolkien when he wrote the first two, but under the influence of Charles Williams when he wrote this one. Just saying.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
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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 way
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Definitely not my favorite Lewis. Aptly described by as critic as a Charles Williamsnovel by Lewis.
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