In which I express shocking opinions and defend a C.S Lewis book

SF Signal recently had a Mind Meld on the topic “Which SF/F/H book do you love that everyone else hates? Which SF/F/H book do you hate that everyone else loves?” that was rather interesting and made me think a bit about what mine would be. These are the best conclusions I could come to:

1. It’s certainly not “hate” and I generally wish the man well, but I have so far been completely underwhelmed by the Guy Gavriel Kay books I’ve read. I started with Tigana and expected great things of it since most people I knew loved it, but found myself frequently bored by it. It did eventually hook me towards the end, but not enough to make me wish to read it again. Then a couple of years ago I read the Fionavar Tapestry and felt active dislike. I don’t get it. I’m told The Lions of Al-Rassan might be more to my taste, but I’m wary.
2. I have made it clear in the past that I am not a C.S Lewis fan. Sure, the man may have seduced me a little with the Narnia books when I was eight and uncritical and craving all the fantasy lit I could find. And sure, I think Till We Have Faces is a genuinely fine book (and one which deserves a far better author) – Lewis still manages to rank among the few authors (Orson Scott Card is another) whose obnoxiousness cuts through their work for me. He doesn’t like me; I don’t like him.
However. I’ve never actually met anyone who liked Lewis’ Space Trilogy (give me a shout out in the comments so we know we’re not alone) but it definitely has its moments. The bit with the Sorn in Out of the Silent Planet (I squeed when the Sorn appeared in Alan Moore’s second League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book). The paranoid, underground bits in Perelandra, which I rediscovered recently since a bit was quoted in The Book of Imaginary Beings. But mostly, That Hideous Strength. There is so much wrong with this book – it is probably Lewis’ most disturbing with regard to his opinions on women. But it is so gloriously, ludicruously weird. There is a sinister Orwellian agency (called N.I.C.E). There is the Dark Side of the Moon. There is a giant disembodied head. Merlin comes back from the grave and random Tolkien references are made. There is a giant, amiable bear. With all this going on, Lewis’ terror of women in the university fades into insignificance.

6 Comments to “In which I express shocking opinions and defend a C.S Lewis book”

  1. I liked the Space Trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia.

  2. I've never actually met anyone who liked Lewis' Space Trilogy (give me a shout out in the comments so we know we're not alone)

    Shouting, shouting.

  3. i've only read the horrendous perlandra and never wanted to read one from that series. *shudder*.

  4. Hmm.. One my favourite Book series – Chronicles of Narnia!

  5. I have very strong feelings about Guy Gavriel Kay's books. I started with Lions of Al-Rassan, loved it, loved the Sarantine Mosaic, and loved Last Light of the Sun (I haven't read Tigana or A Song for Arbonne yet).

    Fionavar, on the other hand…I HATED it VIOLENTLY. I couldn't even finish the trilogy, and I'm usually compelled to finish series even if I hate them.

    I didn't even bother reading Ysabel (?), his latest, because it sounded more Fionavar-esque.

    I think he's one of those authors who writes books that are very very different from each other, so it's entirely possible to love some and hate others.

    The book I hate that everyone loves is Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. Sure, it's probably his best-written book, but the politics of it…ugh. (I can't stand OSC's politics in general, though–but most people seem to be able to overlook them in Ender's Game.)

  6. Anonymouse, ??!, shall we form a support group?

    Space Bar – Perelandra is the worst of the three because of the excesses of religiousness (and the very little else). To be fair. ish.

    Obed – I'm glad you enjoyed them.

    Holyschist – I'm clearly going to need to read Lions of Al-Rassan then. It's a bit of a relief to know other people don't like Fionavar-apart from the friend I was staying with when I read it, I've never met anyone else who did.
    I really liked Ender's Game as a teenager. But I reread it last year (it was one of the books I ended up using in my thesis) and it just made me deeply uncomfortable.

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