That Hideous Strength: (Space Trilogy, Book Three)
Just as readers have been transfixed by the stories, characters, and deeper meanings of Lewis's timeless tales in The Chronicles of Narnia, most find this same allure in his classic Space Trilogy. In these fantasy stories for adults, we encounter, once again, magical creatures, a world of wonders, epic battles, and revelations of transcendent truths.
That Hideous Strength is the third novel in Lewis's science fiction trilogy. Set on Earth, it tells of a terrifying conspiracy against humanity. The story surrounds Mark and Jane Studdock, a newly married couple. Mark is a sociologist who is enticed to join an organization called N.I.C.E., which aims to control all human life. Jane, meanwhile, has bizarre prophetic dreams about a decapitated scientist, Alcasan. As Mark is drawn inextricably into the sinister organization, he discovers the truth of his wife's dreams when he meets the literal head of Alcasan, which is being kept alive by infusions of blood. Jane seeks help concerning her dreams at a community called St. Anne's, where she meets their leader—Dr. Ransom. The story ends in a final spectacular scene at the N.I.C.E. headquarters where Merlin appears to confront the powers of Hell.
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‘That Hideous Strength’ is the conclusion of CS Lewis’s ‘Space Trilogy’. The story takes place on earth, and therefore lacks some of the imaginative sparkle of the first two novels, with their meticulously described worlds - the plot is also rather belabored, with an evil fascist organization (the eerily titled N.I.C.E.) fighting for attention alongside various space-beings, an ancient Arthurian secret society, and even a reawakened Merlin. But, despite its weaknesses, it does deepen the philosophical explorations of the trilogy, with a number of truly memorable passages on the nature of evil in the modern world. Not a stand-alone read, but if you enjoyed Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, I definitely recommend the final installation.
Excellent storyline considering the time in which it was written. It was rather dark, like a nightmare in many ways. Nevertheless Lewis does a marvelous job in embodying forms of evil within memorable characters.