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  1. Alexander, Lloyd — The Black Cauldron
  2. Anthony, Piers — Letters to Jenny
  3. Cooper, Susan — Over Sea, Under Stone
  4. Proulx, Annie — Close Range: Wyoming Stories
  5. Kincaid, Jamaica — Lucy
  6. Christie, Agatha — The Unexpected Guest
  7. Dick, Philip K. — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  8. Cooper, Susan — The Dark Is Rising
  9. Cooper, Susan — Greenwitch
  10. Shaffer, Peter — Amadeus
  11. Anonymous — Go Ask Alice
  12. Cooper, Susan — The Grey King
  13. Martin, Steve — Shopgirl
  14. Cooper, Susan — Silver on the Tree
  15. Gaiman, Neil — Stardust
  16. Gaiman, Neil — Coraline
  17. Le Guin, Ursula — A Wizard of Earthsea
  18. Le Guin, Ursula — The Tombs of Atuan
  19. Le Guin, Ursula — The Farthest Shore
  20. Le Guin, Ursula — Tehanu
  21. Merton, Thomas — The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith
  22. Alexander, Lloyd — The Castle of Llyr
  23. Zelazny, Roger — Lord of Light
  24. Card, Orson Scott — Ender's Game
  25. Clarke, Arthur C. — Childhood's End
  26. Grahame, Kenneth — The Wind in the Willows
  27. Dahl, Roald — James and the Giant Peach
  28. Lewis, C.S. — Out of the Silent Planet
  29. Lewis, C.S. — Perelandra

I take back my criticisms of those who criticized Lewis' Cosmic Trilogy for being too overtly Christian. Out of the Silent Planet wasn't, but Perelandra…Oh My God!

It seems Lewis' intent was different. In the first book, it seems he set out to tell an interesting tale, speculating about the nature of other worlds and painting an anti-Wells-ian picture while employing a narrative style very similar to that of Wells. However, in this installment, it seems his intent was to sucker us by using his created world as a thin veil for another apologia. No wonder people are so disgusted by this series! I happen to like Lewis' apologetics just fine and have, as most of you know, read a good many of them. But let the reader choose what he wants to read! If one wants to read science fiction, one shouldn't be subjected to apologetics, and vice versa.

Perelandra could be described as a cross between The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, the former for the vivid and imaginative descriptions of the world and its many creatures, the latter for its engrossing dialogue illustrating the fine line between salvation and damnation. There was also a good measure of "what the fuck was he thinking" thrown in to mix things up, especially in the practically-unreadable final ten pages. If you understand Christianity, enjoy reading about Christianity, or are a Christian seeking to further your understanding of the faith, I daresay you might enjoy Perelandra, all but the aforementioned final ten pages. But if you're not, if you're just looking for a good science fiction story, don't bother. If you're looking for plot—plot?—then what the hell are you doing picking up a Lewis novel to begin with?! It's well known that Lewis did not invest a lot of energy in his plots.

The beauty in Lewis' writing is his use of lucid and brilliant language to create worlds and characters and ideas bursting with life, and for the most part he succeeds in that in Perelendra as well; but not to a degree that makes the intrusion of his apologetics acceptable or that is markedly different from what he has written before. I was also bothered by inconsistencies, both between Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra and within Perelandra itself. Lewis must have been aware of some of the inconsistencies, for they were often accompanied by a feeble attempt to explain them away. Sometimes, though, the oversight was mindboggling. Really, I felt that Lewis was so singleminded in purpose that he became careless where he so seldom is.

I still plan to read That Hideous Strength at some point. After all, I did buy the book, and I do tend to like Lewis. He's not always great, but he's better more often than not. But it's over 500 pages in length. I'm not ready to attempt that just yet, especially if, as I've heard, that book is more unapologetically apologia than this one. Time to shift gears for a bit.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 3rd, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC)
Well, I did warn you, didn't I?
Jul. 3rd, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
Heh. You weren't the only one. But I guess I'm stubborn and have to find these things out for myself. :-/
Jul. 4th, 2006 04:03 am (UTC)
Interestingly, Lewis is practically the only Christian theologian I can bear to read -- can, in fact, read and respect and come away feeling like I share some fundamental religious understanding with. (Note that -- not coincidentally! -- he also gets in trouble with the Christian right wing, who accuse him of being pagan and Satanist and all sorts of other nonsense.)

Granted, it's a long time since I read this trilogy. But I'm a little surprised that you're SO taken aback by the Christian apologetics. I don't think I agree with your assertion that it is wrong or unfair of him to cross genre lines to Impose His Thematic Agenda. SF has *always* been just as much about metaphor, and philosophical exploration, as it is about exotic plots and settings.

Methinks I will pick up this trilogy again.... just as soon as I finish rereading all 6 Harry Potters. :-D
Jul. 4th, 2006 09:20 am (UTC)
It's not so much that he crossed genre lines—yes, what literature doesn't employ metaphor, allegory, or exploration of ideas not strictly within the genre—as that there is really no sci-fi here and very little story. It really feels like it belongs with The Great Divorce (which I loved) than with any serious sci-fi novel.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading this, for the most part. Except for the last ten pages, I found his exploration of Christian themes quite attractive. True, he doesn't say anything he hasn't already said in various other books, but it's interesting hearing these arguments and counterarguments from a human, the devil, and Eve's counterpart on Venus.

Would you like my copies of the trilogy? I will be back in Boston within a month, so I could save them for you.
Jul. 4th, 2006 12:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks, but no need -- I own them! :-) Also Screwtape and The Great Divorce, which I loved too. And, of course, all of Narnia.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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