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Perelandra

(Book #2 in the The Space Trilogy Series)

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The intrepid professor Dr. Ransom must take on an evil force to save a utopian planet in Perelandra, the second book in C.S. Lewis's classic science fiction Space Trilogy, which also includes Out of... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

It stands alone marvelously. But what an enticer for the whole trilogy.

CS LEWIS is a culture and future saver with seemingly inexhaustible depth of heart, soul and scholarship.

Floating on an ocean of bliss

Lewis' Ransom trilogy (OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET, PERELANDRA and THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH) ought to be read with his THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, if only to get the "inside track" of how the possessed (or rather, dispossessed) Dr. Weston plans to handle the coming human population on the watery planet of love.And a literal planet of love it is. Since love has its own innocence (which includes ignorance, unfortunately) it is a ripe target for the "Bent Eldil" (i.e., Satan) who has already corrupted Thulcandra (as Earth was named before the Fall). Lewis brilliantly reinterprets traditional Christian mythology in his system of planetary trials. Malacandra (Mars) was never tempted and never fell; Earth was tempted and fell (but never had an advocate), and now Venus is being tempted --- but the Devil doesn't have a free field this time. The innocent Queen of Perelandra at least gets to listen to Ransom's arguments against the nature of evil.Another of Lewis' strengths is that he "de-romanticizes" evil, making it an unpleasant, unintelligent malignance bloating itself on sheer nastiness (Ransom following the trail of flayed-but-living Venusian frogs to the possessed shell of Weston is quite chilling). It is an unforgettably repellant portrait of the Devil and his kin.All of Lewis' re-imaginings of medieval superstition are equally brilliant and coherent, and they almost distract the reader from the sheer loveliness of the new world and its inventive life-forms. Think of the charm of VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER translated into adult terms, and you'll get the idea.It seems to me that Lewis might have based the central idea of this book on "The Tale of the Indian" in Maturin's MELMOTH THE WANDERER. If he did, he took the idea to a new level and embedded it in a story where it achieves much better expression.Some critics have complained about Lewis' "proseletyzing", but really it is a minor picky point. As an unbeliever myself, I don't find it offensive, nor is it excessively apparent. Lewis puts it as a matter of common sense ("avoid nastiness") and mostly lets it go at that.Lewis does have his weaknesses as a writer (who doesn't?) but they are mostly invisible in this novel. The only (minor) flaw is the "Carnival of the Animals" finale, which admittedly is a bit much. But after all the great stuff that came before it, who cares about such a minor quibble?

Fun AND allergorical

That wacky C.S. Lewis, thinking he can stick Christian ideals andbeliefs into a science-fictional setting. What gall. You know whatthe funny part is? It actually works, which is something of anaccomplishment in itself. Y'see, this story continues from the lastbook (Out of the Silent Planet) where Dr Ransom is sent to"Perelandra" (Venus) where he finds a fantastic unspoiledparadise populated by strange and quite friendly animals . . . and asingle green woman who seems rather innocent of the world (psst. . . think "Eve"). No sooner do they get to chatting thensomeone shows up who might just be the agent of the Devil, trying totempt "Eve" into disobeying "God" (not called Godbut you get the idea) and Ransom has to figure out how to put a stopto someone who is not only smarter, older and has lots more experienceat this, but managed to do it right once before. Arguments ensue.People who have read Lewis have complained to me that he tends to"preach" a bit too much, and I can see from this novel wherepeople get that idea from. But really it isn't that much of aproblem, for every couple pages of theological argument (cloaked in SFterms, really) he slathers the page full of absolutely beautifuldescriptions of the planet, you can get lost sorting through all ofthem. He really thought this place out and while it's nowhere nearthe "real" Venus, my first rule of writing is chuck scienceif it gets in the way of a good story. And in the end you have a goodstory, it's good versus evil in the classic sense, yes, it's from a"Christian" perspective but it mostly boils down to"Devil=bad". There's plenty of other stuff to recommend aswell, the fight between Ransom and the Devil's advocate (couldn'tresist . . . sorry) is one of the most brutal fights I've ever seen ina old style SF novel and Lewis manages to contrast the sheer brutalityof the fight with the beauty and splendor of the planet around them.By the end it gets a bit on the metaphysical end of things, but all inall an entertaining romp. Be prepared if you read the first book andwere expecting more of the same, this is a different tone entirely,more philosophical and searching and definitely more than just ascience fictional retelling of the Garden of Eden story.

A great place for a vacation.

Shall we call Perelandra an ecological fantasy? A psycho-drama? A novelized philosophical symposium? An illustrated Bible story? Whatever it is, the undoubted "star" of the novel is the planet Perelandra. There, Lewis creates not one world, but several distinct ecosystems: his unforgetable floating islands, (in Surprised by Joy and his autobiographical allegory Pilgrim's Regress Lewis describes how islands have been his symbol for paradise since childhood), the Fixed Lands, an undersea world of mermaids, an environment of caves, and finally the wonderfully complex world of the hero's shifting consciousness. The inner dialogue before and during the climactic scenes falls nothing short of genius. I agree with the reviewer below that the beauty Lewis imagines brings it out and makes us notice the beauty around us. As one of Lewis' favorite writers, G. K. Chesterton, put it, "Nursery tales only echo an almost pre-natal leap of interest and amazement. These tales make the rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water." As I walk through the bamboo groves of Japan, or remember skin-diving in Hawaii or camping in the Cascades, the effect that the bubble trees and night smells of Perelandra have on me similarly brings out the wonder of the earthly creation. As in all of Lewis' works, scene and plot are also the vehicle for the expression of philosophical ideas. Lewis plays with speculation about the nature of primitive man, ideas about gender like the Chinese Yin Yang theory, and a scathing critique of monism. (If, like Jim Jones or the Bagwan Rajneesh, his villain were a real person -- if that is the right term for them -- I suspect he too might be quite popular.) I note with amusement the complaint below that Perelandra is overtly Christian. Imagine that. The famous Christian apologist allowing metaphysics to muddy up his sci-fi novel. I wonder if people make the same complaints about Milton or Camus? Not that I am comparing Lewis to them -- "the same wave never comes twice" and Lewis can stand on his own in any crowd. Lewis may get a bit carried away at the end with his "cosmic dance" stuff; one of the book's few faults. But if you are not interested in ultimate issues of right and wrong, God and human choice, why pick up a novel by C. S. Lewis? author, Jesus and the Religions of Man d.marshall@sun.ac.jp

Eden as it should have been: Lewis' descriptive mastery

Perelandra is quite the most hauntingly beautiful book this reviewer has ever read. From the moment Ransom, the principal character, enters Venus, we are treated to descriptive passages that have the ability to place in your mind an unforgettably beautiful world. Lewis' sweeping prose creates a remarkable vision of an Eden that knows no pain, and the book as a whole leaves the reader with a deep sense of joy and an appreciation of the loveliness of human life. Lewis is quite deliberately retelling the Christian story of temptation, and the theology espoused in the arguments between Ransom and the devil's advocate, Weston, watched with some confusion by Venus' "Eve", show a deep and profound grasp of the methods of evil, and the twisting, roundabout attempts to persuade her to disobey God. Within this story, Lewis disputes and gives an answer to the still prevalent assumptions of much of science fiction - that man must survive at all costs and extend his seed to the ends of the universe. The physical fight with Weston, told around more stunning descriptions of the natural beauty of Venus, suggest that evil is not all-powerful, and Ransom himself recognises the smallness of his actions against the great dance of life, which is the theme of the fast, moving conclusion to the work. Of the three novels that make up this sequence, Perelandra is by far the most thought-provoking, lucid, beautiful and complete. Lewis himself felt that this stand-alone novel was one of his best, and this reviewer encourages anyone who wishes to sample his adult fiction to get this book.
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