That Hideous Strength - C. S. Lewis

This is the last book in Lewis' Space Trilogy, and I feel it's the best. It also happens to be the longest. This one takes its time getting to the science-fiction portion of the story. At the beginning, it's mostly about Mark Studdock, a Fellow of Bracton College, and his wife Jane, who feels that she's given up a lot of her own career and opportunities to be married. The story is split between the two; the part about Mark is largely college politics, and Lewis' description of the sneaky way business is conducted at the College is probably based on experience. It's not at all what you would expect from something called the Space Trilogy, particularly in light of the first two books.

Eventually, however, you do end up meeting Ransom (from the first two books) again, and you find that the two Studdocks have managed to make their way to opposite camps. Jane ends up with Ransom, the Director of a hodgepodge bunch of characters, charged with stopping the National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments. The N.I.C.E. (where Mark winds up) is a maddeningly confusing place which has tremendous influence, but Mark can never figure out where exactly he stands there. Their true purpose is hidden from him until much later, and there are layers upon layers of bureaucracy which keep most people from finding out the real truth about the Institute.

At the N.I.C.E. we also meet one of the most delightfully creepy villains: Withers, the Deputy Director. He never seems to be quite all there, with eyes wandering around vaguely. He always speaks with utmost politeness and remains totally ambiguous about what exactly he's saying. In one instance, he "reassures" a junior staff that there are only two fatal errors: a lack of initiative, and "the slightest approach to unauthorised action... But as long as you keep quite clear of these two extremes, there is no reason (speaking unofficially) why you should not be perfectly safe."

It's a great way to end the series, and I was thoroughly engrossed in the book.

Fed to jonathan's brain | October 06, 2006 | Comments (2)


Hey Jonathan,

I was looking at your family blogs and noticed your book reviews. Good stuff. :)

Anyway, have you read Lewis' "The Abolition of Man"? If not, you should read it while "That Hideous Strength" is fresh in your mind. The two go very well together.


Posted by: Nate at October 16, 2006 12:50 PM

You know, I think I have read that, but it's been a really long time if I have. I'll have to go back and read it again.

Posted by: jonathan [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 18, 2006 10:08 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?