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Comparing The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy  

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Justin of Archenland
(@justin-of-archenland)
NarniaWeb Regular

The first book in particular ends up feeling much more fantastical than the average sci-fi novel, and there are actually some interesting parallels to Narnia

Hmmm, that doesn't sound too bad. I guess, considering I have a lot of extra time for now, I'll perhaps try them out after all.

Thanks! :)

“Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

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Posted : April 15, 2020 2:59 am
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

It's interesting to read other people's various responses to the Space Trilogy and how it compares to Narnia. I have to admit I've only read Out of the Silent Planet, just a few years ago, but I'm sorry to say I honestly didn't like it.

I'm not a huge fan of science fiction as such, so I wasn't too upset by the fact that, unsurprisingly, Lewis's 1930s descriptions of space travel and the other planets in our solar system are a LONG way from what we now know through modern science. What he's doing is fantasy more than sci-fi, really, and that's fine. I was also looking forward to seeing how he wove Christian ideas into the story, as he does with Narnia. But I ended up deeply disappointed by it. The story really did have its moments — especially Ransom living with the hrossa and gradually learning their culture and language (though he seemed strangely quick in picking up enough of the latter to discuss deep philosophical concepts without much hesitation!) — but overall, I just found it far too overdone somehow.

It's a little hard to explain, but it felt to me like Lewis was letting his imagination run beyond wild in dreaming up all kinds of bizarre and lurid landscapes and creatures — to the point where my mind was boggling just trying to picture them while scrambling to follow the story at the same time — and then, simultaneously, he loads all this even further with heavy theological and philosophical themes that I felt were neither very well disguised nor very well carried out. And the ending, in which Lewis claims to be writing this on behalf of the "real" Ransom as a veiled warning of impending danger on a cosmic scale that few will understand, came across as far more pretentious than portentous. Eyeroll  Again, I realise this book was written over 80 years ago and maybe it seemed more original and daring and exciting in those days, but I somehow get the feeling it would have been more than a little overwrought even by the standards of its time.

Of course I was naturally comparing it to the Chronicles of Narnia all the way along, but honestly, if it wasn't for the name on the cover and my having read biographies of Lewis, I'd find it hard to believe they were written by the same author! Lewis also based the Narnia stories on Christian themes, but he does it there with so much more simplicity and clarity and lightness of touch than I found in Silent Planet, and in a way that makes those themes appealing rather than off-putting, at least to me.

I suppose Lewis's style and skill as a writer must have developed and matured a lot over the years, especially as he did a lot more writing and speaking on topics of faith for laypeople (particularly during WW2). But I had to conclude that the Chronicles of Narnia, even though they're aimed at children, are much more skilfully written and constructed than the first book of the Space Trilogy, at least. And as I was so roundly put off by the first one, I really have no desire to read the other two. But that's just my opinion and I don't begrudge others the right to absolutely love these books, if you do! Wink  

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : April 15, 2020 10:32 am
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

You know, Courtenay, it's kind of funny that you enjoyed the middle part of Out of the Silent Planet but disliked the climax and denouement. I remember it being the other way around for me when I read the book as a teenager. ;))

It's funny to compare my relationship with The Space Trilogy to my relationship with Lewis' Pilgrim's Regress. There isn't anything I remember being outright bad about the latter unlike the former. But the parts of the Trilogy which I did enjoy I've felt like rereading while I've never wanted to pick up The Pilgrim's Regress again. Weird, huh?

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen

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Posted : April 29, 2020 9:55 am
The Scribbler
(@scrib)
NarniaWeb Regular

I really, really, really love the Space Trilogy... I wouldn’t classify it exactly as sci-fi as many of you have also said, I think it’s kind of a metaphysical/sci-fi where the worlds physical & mechanical rules are pretty much suspended reality in order to talk about about metaphysics and spiritual ideas within a physical framework.

In many ways, it reminds me of what George MacDonald did in Phantastes, where he let surroundings become sort of a “dreamscape” in order to talk about what he wanted to talk about without being constrained to a “real  world.” 

Since Lewis was so influenced by mythology, that I thinks plays a huge role in how “strange” they feel. He was also an essayist, and so, Perelandra in particular and large parts of That Hideous Strength, feel more like essays within stories or stories within essays.

I think there are several elements that feel “Narnian” but maybe it would be better to say “Lewisian” because they really are such different worlds, but you get a sense for what Lewis liked.

1) Ransom - I feel like this character in a lot of ways reminds me of Jill. He’s a bit self-serving in the first book, kind of flat in some ways, but in some ways very sweet and simple. He is also refreshingly honest. In the end, he becomes kingly, and I feel that Jill also makes this change in LB.

2) the creatures - especially in That Hideous Strength, Ransoms little “zoo” especially with the bear made me think of the animals in Narnia. The Hrossa feel very different than Narnian creatures, but the way they are so precious makes me think of the sweetness of the Narnian animals.

3) Travel to “Some Other Place” - I feel that the whole idea of belonging to another place is the Thread that runs through all of Lewis’ work. That Hideous Strength reminds me a lot of the Last Battle

 

There is a Universal Thread that ties up all things together in a Strand of Importance that leads us through the Crack in the Wall between this Space and that of Eternity - B.B. Hatt

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Posted : February 2, 2021 11:44 am
Skilletdude
(@skilletdude)
Member Moderator Emeritus

I have mixed feelings on The Space Trilogy. I enjoy it for the most part, but I find it a disjointed series. It's as if Lewis attempts to delve into science fiction but then abandons it for full-fledged fantasy by That Hideous Strength. How else do we explain Merlin's prominent role in that one? So, I suppose that's one comparison to make. Lewis didn't shy away from Father Christmas in LWW, and the wizard also makes a surprising entrance into the story.

I also thought of the Hrossa much like Mr. And Mrs. Beaver, though in a more primitive form. They are resourceful and simple, and very kind, as The Scribbler already pointed out.

One thing I'd like to emphasize for those who haven't read the series. While Narnia is certainly not a bloodless universe, That Hideous Strength in particular has moments of extreme violence, and Lewis isn't shy about describing all the carnage. I was shocked. Those who have read the last book are fully aware of the scene I'm talking about!

Mary Jane: You know, you're taller than you look.
Peter: I hunch.
Mary Jane: Don't.

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Posted : February 3, 2021 1:00 am
The Scribbler
(@scrib)
NarniaWeb Regular

@skilletdude it does feel disjointed sometimes, but I've always liked that Lewis got away with being a little disjointed and verbose in this series because I relate to that in my own writing style (I've curbed it, but still...) It was nice for me to never really know where the stories were going, and each book has its own feel, which can be disconcerting if that is not what you are looking for in a series. Most of the time, I like a series to be cohesive. I liked the defamiliarization of earth as "Thulcundra" in HS since it made me think "wow...I forget all the time that I am in space, on a planet with all kinds of bizarre life forms around me..." It worked on me like a poem I guess. That said, you're right about the violence, and these books are not for everyone. I think they are odd little things, but maybe that's why I like them so much.

I would be interested to know if anyone has read anything similar or other science fiction that they've really enjoyed. I read H.G. Wells the Time Machine recently for school, and I found it very interesting, but not as deep as these. 

There is a Universal Thread that ties up all things together in a Strand of Importance that leads us through the Crack in the Wall between this Space and that of Eternity - B.B. Hatt

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Posted : February 4, 2021 2:44 pm
Skilletdude
(@skilletdude)
Member Moderator Emeritus

@scrib,

Not to steer the discussion too much off topic, but I recommend Dune by Frank Herbert if you want some cerebral science fiction. The story is a wild combination of politics, religion, and ecology, and it has a whole lot of intrigue. Apparently it gets more philosophically kooky as the series goes on. The first three books were enough for me.

This post was modified 3 weeks ago 2 times by Skilletdude

Mary Jane: You know, you're taller than you look.
Peter: I hunch.
Mary Jane: Don't.

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Posted : February 4, 2021 7:49 pm
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