C.S. Lewis, I'm disappointed in you. And that's the first time that has happened. I don't share your religion, but it's never kept me from enjoying one of your books before. I have been in love with the Narnia books since first I read them. I enjoyed the first book in this series. I even enjoyed the start of the theological discussions in these books. And then I hated where they went.
started out so well. It grabbed me from the start, and, in the world he
created on Venus, totally enchanted me. It was so utterly unlike
anything I'd seen in science fiction before, so delightful, so lush, so
evocative. I was utterly in love with this book for about the first
hundred pages. I am amazed that I can find in these decades and decades
old science fiction genuinely new ideas, ideas that haven't been
plundered a thousand times over.
I was even fine with the
modified Snake-in-the-Garden scenario, as the "Unman," dressed in the
body of Ransom's foe from the previous novel tried to tempt the Lady of
Perelandra to disobedience. A good metaphor's a good metaphor. The
theological discussions were fascinating. I don't have to share them to
find them interesting.
But then two things happened. Lewis
started leaning harder and harder on fixed notions of gender that
started to get under my skin.
Annoying as that was, it paled in
comparison to my main problem. When Ransom was having difficulty
persuading the lady to his side by act or deed, Maleldil (God/Jesus)
informed him that what he had to do was remove the temptation entirely,
by killing the Unman. Or at least his human host
Excuse me? Did I
miss something somewhere? I know "Thou shalt not kill" is kind of
contradicted, over and over, by the Old Testament, but you're supposed
to be a New Testament kind of devotee, Lewis. Turning the other cheek,
taking on the sacrifice of yourself in order to save others. Not "this
guy is a pain in the ass, and I can't outargue him, or show the worth of
my side by word or deed" (like, for instance, revealing the Unman's
torturing of small animals to the Lady, which certainly would have put
him out of the running in seconds.) In that case, the answer, divinely
sanctioned, is obviously killing.
Perelandra lost me
right there. I mean, right there. Why not throw out most of the major
tenets of forgiveness, kindness, compassion, and love, when you can take
the easier path of killing?
I don't mind some religion in my science fiction. I do mind this.
I expected better of you, C.S. Lewis. I'm disappointed.