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Home arrow Books arrow That Hideous Strength -- C. S. Lewis

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That Hideous Strength -- C. S. Lewis Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 09 June 2008

That Hideous Strength

 That Hideous Strength is the final book in Lewis's science fiction trilogy.  The first book, Out Of the Silent Planet the main character, Ransom, visits the planet Malacandra (Mars) and discovers an extensive and vibrant life outside of Earth which is referred to as the Silent Planet.  In the second book, Perelandra, Ransom travels to Perelandra (Venus) to stop another evil plot by Doctor Weston.  In contrast, the third book remains entirely on Earth.  In the third book Ransom is again called to thwart evil.  This time he is stopping an invasion of earth by the alien forces that exist outside Earth's protective shell.


That Hideous Strength is quite a bit different than the other two books. It is much more serious and subtle.  While in the first to books the evil and source of conflict was external, in this book the evil is focused inward and the conflict is generated by the internal struggles of pride, ambition, and fear from the major characters.  

The swiftness of the end is surprising.  In the end there is no big battle between good and evil.  There is no major climax where the forces of good finally charge in and destroy all the evil.  Instead, once the time is ripe, the good forces simply resist the evil and then the evil turns in on itself and destroys itself. I'm sure that this ending was informed by Lewis's own theological understanding of the nature of good and evil in the universe.

It is also interesting to see some early notions of post-modern thought in this book.  The NICE coporporation, the bad guys, was trying to take over society and much of the way they were doing this was by trying to spread propaganda that blurred the distinction between absolute right and wrong.  Instead, things were presented as right and wrong only from a particular perspective and if that perspective changed then right and wrong could similarly swap places.  Interesting also was that this took place in a academic setting just as that line of thinking originated in the university in the real world decades after this story took place.

A good read. Interesting and thought provoking. 

Last Updated ( Friday, 13 June 2008 )

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