#5. C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy

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He was thinking, and thinking hard because he knew, that if he stopped even for a moment, mere terror of death would take the decision out of his hands. Christianity was a fable. It would be ridiculous to die for a religion one did not believe. This Man himself, on that very cross, had discovered it to be a fable, and had died complaining that the God in whom he trusted had forsaken him--had, in fact, found the universe a cheat. But this raised a question that Mark had never thought of before. Was that the moment at which to turn against the Man? If the universe was a cheat, was that a good reason for joining its side? Supposing the Straight was utterly powerless, always and everywhere certain to be mocked, tortured, and finally killed by the Crooked, what then? Why not go down with the ship? He began to be frightened by the very fact that his fears seemed to have momentarily vanished.

Author: C.S. Lewis

Synopsis: Two scheming scientists kidnap Dr. Ransom and take him as a gift to the inhabitants of the planet Malacandra (otherwise known as Mars). Ransom manages to escape Weston and Devine, meets sentient creatures of several species, and after learning their language is taken to meet the Oyarsa, guardian spirit of the planet. From there, Ransom must protect Malacandra and later Perelandra (Venus) especially from Weston, who becomes possessed by an evil power and attempts to destroy the innocence of the newly-created first couple of Perelandra (Venus). After returning from Perelandra, Ransom has become Pendragon (a succession from King Arthur), and leads a little band of people and animals in the hunt for the still-alive wizard Merlin, working against a great evil on Earth.

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Lewis's interplanetary fantasy takes a ripping good tale and supports it with theology, morality, history and imagination and alchemical structuring. Over the last couple of years I've started learning about what really makes layered literature, and if there's anything out there more richly mine-able than this series, I don't know about it. But hey--it's Lewis. What else would anyone expect?

I have read Out of the Silent Planet once, Perelandra twice, and That Hideous Strength over and over. All of the books are fascinating, but I particularly identify with the characters, the ideas and struggles, of that final book.

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