The Cosmic Trilogy relates the interplanetary travels of Ransom, CS Lewis's illinformed and terrified victim who leaves Earth much against his will and who, in the first book of the trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, published by the Bodley Head in , encounters the imaginary and delightful world of Macalandra In the second book, Perelandra , Ransom is transported to a world of sweet smells and delicious tastes, a new Garden of Eden in which is enacted, with a difference, the story of Temptation That Hideous Strengthcompletes the trilogy and finds Dr Ransom returned from his travels in space and living in an English university townwhere the Senior Common Room is given a mysterious depth, a than earthly dimension which such things, in the author's view, always have in lifeCS Lewis believed that popular science was the new mythology of his age, and in The Cosmic Trilogy he ransacks the uncharted territory of space and makes that mythology the medium of his spiritual imagination

10 thoughts on “Space Trilogy

  1. Bethany Bethany says:

    This space trilogy should not be confused as a normal sci fi. C.S. Lewis writes all his fiction with a purpose of philosophizing and helping the read see parallels to Christianity and really, just real life.

    I value this trilogy as one of my favorite reads of all time. If you decide to read it, you can't approach it like a normal fiction read. You have to really pay attention to C.S. Lewis's characters' thought processes because therein lies the secrets to the books.

    I would dare say that even the most avid fiction readers will find this trilogy either 1: hard to read and hard to get into OR 2: slow to start but impossibly wonderful and fabulous in its artistic and philosophical creating. This trilogy will make you think. A LOT.

    Also, not a good set of books to read when you are tired. Best to read when you are very alert and can take note of the little hints and connections and piece them together as you go.

    LOVE THIS can be life-changing for some.

  2. James James says:

    I would rank this with Tolkien's Middle Earth work for skill in creating imaginary realities (Lewis and Tolkien were close friends and often gave each other feedback on drafts of their work) and with Stephen King's The Stand for its power as a story of good and evil. Also like those other two stories, I would caution that some of this might be - no, is - too dark for children or young teens.

    I especially like the portrayal of evil as stupid, blind, and shallow rather than being intriguing, romantic, or alluring. I actually liked this trilogy better than Lewis' other and better known Narnia series.

  3. Michael Perkins Michael Perkins says:

    Given what Lewis is trying to do with this trilogy, it's important to know that Lewis knew absolutely nothing about science. And he was quite hostile to scientists, as comes out loud and clear in his Space Trilogy.

    One of the evil scientists in the Trilogy is based on a distinguished British scientist, J. B. S. Haldane, who defeated Lewis in an Oxford Union debate. Lewis was quite the bully and didn't like losing. It seemed as if Lewis was out for petty revenge by portraying Haldane, and other scientists, as evil in his fiction. Below is a link to what Haldane wrote in response to the Trilogy. It's on a site that is pro-Lewis. After a tendentious introduction, the writing is all Haldane.

    In the trilogy, Ransom is a professor of philology (an obvious nod to Tolkien). Whereas all, but one, of the scientists are possessed of the Devil. (Evil bastards!)

    Mr. Lewis’s idea is clear enough. The application of science to human affairs can only lead to hell. This world is largely run by the Devil.

    Mr Lewis is often incorrect, as in his account of the gravitational field in the spaceship, of the atmosphere on Mars, the appearance of other planets from it, and so on. His accounts of supernatural intervention would have been more impressive had he known more of nature as it actually exists.

  4. Bart Breen Bart Breen says:

    Classic Science Fiction! Must read for many!

    CS Lewis is best known for his Narnia Series for children and then as a Christian Apologist. An agnostic for many years, this English Don and Professor of Literature came to develop a friendship with JRR Tolkien (yes, THE JRR Tolkien)and over the course of that friendship, converted to Christianity and the Church of England, (despite the protestation of Tolkien to a small degree who was himself Roman Catholic.)

    Lewis grew in fame throughout England in part due to his writing and in part due to his radio broadcasts known as Fireside Chats which became the basis of one of his more influential works, Mere Christianity.

    Why raise this in the context of a review on this Space Trilogy? Because it helps to explain the broad appeal of it to many different audiences.

    Did you enjoy the Narnia Chronicles as a child (or an adult reading it to a child?) Here then is a new vista written more to an adult level with many of the same elements of genius in writing and allegory that you came to love. Dive in. Reorient yourself to the slightly different genre and prepare to be entertained.

    Are you attracted to the Christian apologetics of Lewis and less inclined to read for entertainment? Well then, how about a rollicking good tale that weaves throughout the telling, major tenets and demonstrations of the heart of Christianity that will feed your mind even as you catch yourself enjoying the story.

    Are you a Science Fiction fan? Does science fiction as it was written before the boom in the 1950's from authors such as Jules Verne and George Orwell appeal to you? Here is some writing in that vein and style that will entertain you. Yes there are decided Christian overtones in the work that will challenge you, but the story itself is so well written and the theological underpinning woven into the warp and woof of the tapestry that you will not feel preached at. You will enjoy the tale on it's own merits.

    As to the components of the trilogy you will find that Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra are similar in character. Ransom (think there may be an allegorical message there?) is interesting in his role as a Philologist. This was probably a tribute to Tolkien the philologist who remained Lewis' friend, colleague and a member of the literary circle, The Inkling's who read and critiqued each other's work.

    That Hideous Strength switches gears a little bit which probably reflects Lewis' growing relationship with George MacDonald, also of the Inklings. The final book is a little darker and more Orwellian but still a very good and thought provoking read.

    In short there is something for most people here. You do not have to be a Christian or even sympathetic to Christianity to read and appreciate these books. They stand on their own as classic, strong literature written by a master craftsman. If you are attracted to Lewis for his past works and want your literature to have redemptive value to it, then you are in the right neighborhood for that as well.

    Of all of Lewis' works these are probably the least known. They are worth the read!

  5. Dean Dean says:

    What a festival of shapes, colors, alien and strange beings doing awesome deeds in odd and remote worlds….

    The Space Trilogy is at the same time and adventure novel, plus a thriller saturated with fantasy and even horror elements!!

    Only the legend called C. S. Lewis could be able to birth such a tale, and deliver it to the reader in this unique and magnificent literary way full of magic.

    Reminiscences of The Lord of The Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia will be purposefully aroused..

    And if you are fond of J. R. R. Tolkiens writings, then you will indeed enjoy this epic adventure tale by Lewis!!!

    *** Out Of The Silent Planet***
    Dr. Ransom a philologist is kidnapped to Mars, there he shall be sacrificed to an alien and strange deity!!!
    So that the kidnappers can exploit the planet and take with them so much gold as they wish….
    needless to say that the story turn quite different...

    This sequel takes place in Venus.....
    A strange world awaits Dr. Ransom, populated with colorful and strange beings!!!
    One of the most dramatic battles recorded in the literary history awaits Dr. Ransom against the incarnated terror..

    The destiny of Perelandra is at stakes!!!!

    ***That Hideous Strength***
    My favorite one....
    Let me put it this way, the Loosers club against ( Nope, no Pennywise the Clown this time) unspeakable powers of evil!!!!

    Character development and the craft of story telling excel each other in Brillanz, skill and wit!!!!
    Five stars --not enough in my view--

    Happy reading to all of you....


  6. Chad Johnston Chad Johnston says:

    While Dad is my family's resident sci-fi connoisseur, this year Dad and I trekked into interstellar space together, reading C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy and Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. I had reservations about reading sci-fi novels, as I thought I might end up becoming fluent in Klingon as a result. Surprisingly, the genre ended up teaching me a thing or two about theology, and even more about the mechanics of the writing craft.

    Written in the 40s, Lewis' Space Trilogy has little to do with the physical world of outer space as we presently know it. His writing is clearly informed by the scientific knowledge of his day, but for the most part, the physical world(s) he writes about serve his stories, which are obviously allegorical. Suspend your disbelief, Dear Readers. Suspend it in zero gravity.

    Out of the Silent Planet (***1/2), the first book in the trilogy, features Lewis finding his voice in the genre, and while his first steps are elementary enough, they are also thought-provoking and worthwhile. While the first two-thirds of the book are standard sci-fi fare, sometime during the last third, Lewis' universe assumes a theological bent that casts life on planet Earth in an entirely different light. At the time of this reading, I also listened to N.T. Wright's lectures on the Veritas Forum. Lewis and Wright pushed outward in my skull, and my inner world expanded as a result. My perception of creativity was permanently altered. People talk about the narrow-mindedness of Christians, which saddens me. The imagination of God is clearly broad enough to include, as film director Kevin Smith put it in the disclaimer at the beginning of the movie Dogma, the platypus, among other things. If Christ is truly the Son of God, Christians should be the most imaginative lot on the planet.

    Lewis certainly affirms this in the 2nd book in the series, Perelandra (*****). People most often associate Lewis with the Chronicles of Narnia, or with his more overt theologically-minded works like Mere Christianity or The Screwtape Letters. Little did I know, upon embarking into the world of Perelandra, that I was about to read my new favorite C.S. Lewis book, a work so colorful and imaginative and theologically charged that it would win me over completely. Lewis dramatizes theology in such a beautiful way in this book, making the abstract concrete, providing us with a new perspective on the human condition through comparison with the inhabitants of another world. Among other things, he aims to imagine what it would be like if man had never fallen from grace. Lewis works out this theological puzzle with panache in this book, and with remarkably powerful results.

    The third and final installment in the trilogy, That Hideous Strength (****1/2), was a more than worthy conclusion to the series. It seamlessly integrates Lewis' love of myth with his experiences in the academy, resulting in a work that is highly cerebral, complex, and surreal. Structurally, it features Lewis at his most ambitious. He adeptly juggles parallel narratives, populates his world with a whole world of memorable characters, and finally interweaves elements of the first two books even as this book feels distinctly unlike them. Honestly, it is difficult for me to decide whether I like this or Perelandra better, but I think I like Perelandra better from a conceptual standpoint. They both stand tall in Lewis' oeuvre.

    After reading these three books from January to March, I found myself appreciating sci-fi as a genre in a way I never had before. I cut my teeth on the Star Wars trilogy and grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with my Dad, but I only saw them as stories set in space rather than intergalactic parables that had the ability to speak about life here on Earth. Not all works of science-fiction function this way, but Lewis' Space Trilogy certain does. Lewis travels into the black abyss of outer space only to turn his telescope back on us so we can see ourselves from a God's-eye view.

  7. Erin Foster Erin Foster says:

    I had extremely high hopes for this trilogy, especially after finishing the first book Out of the Silent Planet, an exceptional work of old-fashioned science fiction. The first half of Perelandra proved equally gripping, but took a turn for the unreadable once Lewis' Christian beliefs seeped too far (in my opinion) into the fabric of the plot. Without spoiling any details, I will say that the entire basis of the narrative came to rely on the acceptance from the reader that The Fall of Man occurred in actuality. As someone who does not subscribe to that particular belief, I found it rather off-putting for the author to assume that the reader would deem this point as fact, and thus be on board with what the protagonist was fighting for. On the contrary, I felt more on the side of the villain who was arguing on the grounds of rational and scientific thought. I simply couldn't turn another page without feeling a little disingenuous as a reader. The storyline clearly became a vehicle for Lewis's religious ideals, and after riding along with him for a while, I respectfully had to hop off.

  8. Jeremy Jeremy says:

    Could also be called The Cosmic Trilogy or The Ransom Trilogy.

    See Plodcast, Episode #1. That Hideous Strength is objectively Wilson's favorite book, based on the number of times he's read it (~15); see some comments here about the kind of women that appear in it.

  9. K. K. says:

    Reading with new bookgroup Nov 2015.

    Because of time, skipped #1, went straight to #2. Perelandra. Can be read and enjoyed as sci--fi even though one may get lost at the end. OR can be read seriously as theological discussion of an alternate Adam/Eve story on another world, even though one may get lost at the end nonetheless.

    Really, although I'd like to review this very much, it would take too much time. I should write myself a paper on it, just for fun. Ha! Not sure where time for that would come from. But it's really that there's just too much to think about or write about.

    Some thoughts:

    1. I just don't know how people imagine such things (like Lewis imagines the environs and populace of Venus), but I'm glad they do.

    2. Theologically, so much to chew on. So much to wonder.

    3. Finding lots of help understanding this series more fully by reading Planets in Peril by David Downing. It's pretty great.

    4. Just love Lewis. His sense of humor, even when his intellect soars acres above me, still tickles me.

    Read with bookgroup Jan 2011.

  10. David Haines David Haines says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the 3 volumes of the Space Trilogy. There is no way I can even begin to describe all that happens in a brief review. Suffice it to say that Lewis makes us dream of and desire to be in the very world that that he describes, in which men go to the planets (and meet extraterrestrial life such as we cannot imagine), and in which the planets also come to men; and yet, one gets the eery feeling that, somehow, we are already living in such a world.