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by C.S. Lewis

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Ideally, students would read C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra after reading the first book in his space trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet. Their curiosity would then inexorably lead them to the final book, That Hideous Strength (the best of the set, in my opinion).

In light of how rarely we achieve the ideal, however, it seems wise to me to ask students to jump right into Perelandra as they consider the beginning of history. Every Christian student will naturally be familiar with the creation account in Genesis—perhaps too familiar. Happily, Lewis forces students to re-examine and better understand the repercussions of the Genesis account by imagining Creation on another planet without a subsequent Fall.

Lewis’s premise is undeniably odd: a human travels to Venus, where he finds that God has just created the first “man” and “woman” on this planet. The earthling, Ransom, is chagrined to find that the devil has also discovered this new couple, and is plotting to serve them in the same way he served Adam and Eve. As the devil seeks to subvert the perfect happiness of the Venutians, Ransom seeks to thwart the devil on a wild adventure often set on islands that drift on the top of the ocean.

Those uninterested in the fantastic might feel apathetic about a book with such a plot; I can sympathize. Most fantasy novels leave me cold—but there is always the exception to the rule. To ignore J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings because it is fantasy is the height of folly—every Christian should delight in that trilogy. Although Lewis’s space trilogy cannot approach Lord of the Rings, Christians will still profit from it, because it ultimately is concerned far more with the significance of the Creator/creature relationship than with floating islands or space travel.

by Jeff Baldwin