C.S. Lewis is best known for The Chronicles of Narnia and his works of Christian non-fiction. Slightly less famous is his trilogy of science fiction novels, collectively referred to as the Space Trilogy or Cosmic Trilogy. In this trilogy, Doctor Ransom is kidnapped into a world of peaceful Malacandrans with an hierarchy that includes beings from the spiritual realm, is transported to a world populated by an alien “Adam” and “Eve” to save it from falling to temptation, and battles an evil scholarly organization here on Earth.
Out of the Silent Planet: The Movie That Hasn’t Happened Yet
Doctor Ransom is out on a walk when he finds himself kidnapped by an old classmate and his co-conspirator, who plan to ship him to Mars as a sacrifice to the mysterious Oyarsa of Mars so that they can plunder the world’s riches. Once on Mars, Ransom manages to give his captors the slip and discovers an unfallen civilization who call their world “Malacandra.” He learns that the outside universe has cut off contact with Earth, called “Thulcandra” or the Silent Planet, and must make his way to the mysterious planetary ruler Oyarsa if he has any hope of returning to Earth without falling back into the hands of his former captors or allowing them to taint Malacandra. Along the way, he learns that the principals of Christianity that are often dismissed as a myth by Thulcandrans are a real fact of life on Malacandra.
Today, we know that Venus is too blazingly hot and acidic on its surface to support life and will even “digest” our probes, but in C.S. Lewis’ time, Venus could become the unfallen world known as Perelandra, where fantastical creatures such as dragons exist. It’s a watery world inhabited by an alien “Adam” and “Eve” (though we mostly see “Eve” in this story) and the creatures they care for and train. Ransom must face off against an ancient, evil force to save Perelandra from falling to temptation. Vivid and colorful descriptions along with real tension during the climax is only marred by tedious sequences at some points. If one learns to flip through the tedious parts, though, it’s a brilliantly descriptive example of the idea that many vices ranging from vanity to animal cruelty are a consequence of Earth’s fallen state and the rebellion of its spiritual rulers.
That Hideous Strength has a Doctor Ransom who has been weakened by his experiences on Perelandra in the role of a leader of a small resistance group battling evil forces right here on Earth. A husband and wife pair are pulled in two separate directions by Ransom’s group and their antagonists, a group of scholars who have found a grotesque way to communicate directly with the rebellious spiritual forces of Thulcandra. An ancient figure for Arthurian legend enters the picture with an apparent ability to communicate with animals. This is C.S. Lewis’s slightly thin and occasionally baffling attempt at writing a horror novel and he borrows a few bits from J.R.R. Tolkien that people who have read “The Silmarillion” might recognize.