- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (May 13, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743234928
- ISBN-13: 978-0743234924
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 374 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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That Hideous Strength (Space Trilogy, Book 3) Paperback – May 13, 2003
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The New Yorker In his usual polished prose, the author creates an elaborate satiric picture of a war between morality and devilry.
The New Yorker If wit and wisdom, style and scholarship are requisites to passage through the pearly gates, Mr. Lewis will be among the angels.
Los Angeles Times Lewis, perhaps more than any other twentieth-century writer, forced those who listened to him and read his works to come to terms with their own philosophical presuppositions.
About the Author
C.S. Lewis was a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities who wrote more than thirty books in his lifetime, including The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Mere Christianity. He died in 1963.
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The story startled me with its very clear portrayal of how an evil organization manipulates its members and, through them, public support of its goals. This part of the story in particular is extremely relevant today. In one chapter, Mark is persuaded to submit several articles to different newspapers that intentionally mislead, manipulate and divide the local population. Several chapters later, Mark is astonished at the results --- as larger and larger numbers of people are forced out of their homes or summarily imprisoned, either for not supporting the organization's increasingly militaristic strategies for control or just because they are in the way, their former friends and neighbors are apathetic, saying they "obviously deserved it" because they were "in the way of progress".
This alone makes the book well worth reading. I believe similar strategies are being used in the media today.
C.S. Lewis was a prolific Christian writer. This and the two other books of the trilogy have a strong Christian theme underlying the science fiction stories. For readers looking for books similar to the Chronicles of Narnia, this may be a little too different and adult-themed to satisfy (as one who has re-read the Narnia books until they fell apart, I could never really love this trilogy). Also, the science fiction is interesting, but I'm not really a science fiction fan and the whole interplanetary backstory for Elwin Ransom as well as the bizarre interpretation of the character of Merlin from Arthurian Legend didn't grab me.
However, the examination of how intelligent propaganda deliberately turns neighbors against each other and clears the way for an evil group of people to replace government was fascinating and very well done. C.S. Lewis was certainly paying attention to propaganda strategies during WWII. I think that's how this part of the story so clearly emerged.
That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis concludes the Space Trilogy and is a clear departure from the first two books. This is written more like a classical novel, and it has elements of both allegory and satire, in which science is pitted against ethics. In fact, the first half of the book is quite Orwellian in its portrayal of the socio-political aims of the villains.
The novel introduces two new characters: Mark, an up-and-coming sociology professor, and Jane, his stay-at-home wife who begins having clairvoyant dreams of dastardly deeds. Mark is seduced by a villain from the first book to join the National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments. NICE wants to make the world a better place, even it it has to destroy it, which it begins doing to buying up property across town, remaking it, and causing general chaos and disorder. Meanwhile, a secret opposition group needs Jane's help to stop NICE.
The first half of the novel is strong and a delight to read. The second half is not so good, especially when Merlin suddenly becomes a character and several elements of English and Greek mythology are woven into the Christian story, which smacks of syncretism and is surprising. But Lewis plainly says he's writing a fantasy story "for adults" so perhaps he can receive some benefit of doubt. Nonetheless, the ending is too deus ex machina for my taste and was unsatisfying. If one had to only read one book of the series, it would be the first: Out of the Silent Planet.