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That Hideous Strength

(The Space Trilogy #3)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  32,541 ratings  ·  1,973 reviews
The third novel in the science-fiction trilogy by C.S. Lewis. This final story is set on Earth, and 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 organisation called N.I.C.E. which aims to control all human life. His wife, meanwhile, has bizarre prophetic
Paperback, 534 pages
Published December 5th 2005 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published December 1945)
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Lucia I think THS is a different kind of book. Personally, I find it *brilliantly* "cohesive," and, for me at least, more readable by far than Perelandra. S…moreI think THS is a different kind of book. Personally, I find it *brilliantly* "cohesive," and, for me at least, more readable by far than Perelandra. So, I myself have not yet managed to slog through Perelandra, was not very impressed by Out of the Silent Planet, and would rate the third book in the Space Trilogy the highest of all. So yes, I am surprised...if THS does not have the highest ratings...

Note: I read The Abolition of Man first, which is basically That Hideous Strength as discursive philosophical argument, and I think that definitely helped me digest THS. (less)
David Van Acker you can read it independently. That's also explained in the preface. However, it might be interesting to read the first two books on beforehand. Howev…moreyou can read it independently. That's also explained in the preface. However, it might be interesting to read the first two books on beforehand. However, be aware that this third book is vastly different in style and story compared to the first two books.(less)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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Douglas Wilson
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Stupendous. Just great, and also read in January of 1990. Also read in May of 2009. Also read in June of 1985. Also read in July of 1980. Finished it again on an Audible version in August of 2015. And yet again in Audible in September of 2016. And one more time on Audible in July of 2017.
Mandy Stigant
May 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I finished it while 30,000 feet in the air. It was a night-time flight, and after I finished the last page i set it down, turned to look out the window and while my mind wandered and mulled on what i had just experienced with the book, I saw that we were skirting to the side of a storm. The lightning was bouncing from cloud to cloud and it wasn't unlike my thoughts and the way my heart felt; I was elated, and I couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather be when I finished that book -- short of outsid ...more
Jan 27, 2010 rated it liked it
FIRST: A complaint from a member of my reading group who read the book ONLY because of the very cool bear on the cover: Photobucket

In defense of Mr. Angry Bear, I must agree that while the giant, kick-ass bear on the cover may not be exactly false advertising, it is certainly in the category of misleading...similar to beer commercials telling you "drink this beer and hot people will be all over you” when the reality is closer to “drink enough of our beer and you will think the people all over you are r
Lisa (Harmonybites)
I have a love/hate relationship with C.S. Lewis. There's a lot I admire in his writing but enough I deplore in his worldview that even though I keep being drawn to his works, I can't call him a favorite. I mostly loved The Screwtape Letters and Narnia, which I read as an adult, adored Till We Have Faces (my favorite Lewis work), was moved by his book A Grief Observed and found Mere Christianity and the first two books in the Space Trilogy interesting. There was only one book by him until this on ...more
May 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read "That Hideous Strength" several times, and it always has been my favorite of C.S. Lewis' space trilogy. But this time through, it captivated me in a way that it never has before. Only C.S. Lewis, with his combination of brilliance, scholarly knowledge, writing ability, wit and Christian world view, could have written this book.
It is Lewis' most satirical book, even more so than "Screwtape Letters." It is probably his most sophisticated fiction work with the exception of "Till We Have F
Fr.Bill M
This is Lewis' best treatment of sex, and probably the best treatment of sex by anyone, cast in the form of a novel. It is sooooooooo retro on the modern scene that it will either shock or outrage most folks who read it for the first time in the modern context.

It is also some of the funniest stuff i've ever read in my life. Only a few paragraphs into a scene near the end of the book, which draws on the goings on at Babel, when the languages were confused -- well, it set off a laughing fit that l
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books, kindle
I read this on Kindle.

I really enjoyed this book. There was so much that Lewis had to say and show.

The evil was really evil, and the layers were peeled back slowly, slowly to the final climax. The evil is so evil it doesn't seem possible to defeat.

The good was really good. Waiting, abiding, sojourning, trusting God. That's generally a good plan.

I love, love, love that Lewis solves SciFi problems grounded in history. In Out of the Silent Planet he used Classical Astronomy. Here we see historical
Julie Davis
Good Story 206. Julie and Scott are appalled to find that N.I.C.E. bought the lot next door.

As with the other two books in C.S. Lewis's "space trilogy" I found this one difficult to get into and, yet, once I got past the indefinable point where it was no longer a struggle, I couldn't read it fast enough. Consequently this was a 24-hour book for me. It is a testament to Lewis's imagination and writing skill as to how different all three of the books are in this trilogy, while simultane
Mar 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wrote my college essay on this book as it had the most profound influeI wrote my college essay on this book as it had the most profound influence on me in my teenage years. But that's not to say that it's a book aimed at young people. C.S. Lewis is known as a Christian writer and it's true that there are elements of Christianity in this book, as well as some very conservative ideas about women, I might add! But that's not what the book is really about. The hideous strength that Lewis writes ab ...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
When I first read That Hideous Strength, it was my least favorite of Lewis' Science Fiction trilogy. Now I believe it is my favorite.

Evil forces have gathered for a showdown on Earth. We have seen some of this in the first two books but now the "bent" Eldil and their minions are showing their hand in hopes of destroying Earth.

It is insightful to see how much the evil Eldil hate mankind, because, of course, they hate mankind's Maker.

They are a pragmatic sort, however, and tell whatever lies, powe
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a crazy, mind-bending story! I haven't encountered such a complicated account since I saw Christopher Nolan's Inception! I may have to read this one again! ...more
Kat  Hooper
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at FanLit. Come visit us!

"Nature is the ladder we have climbed up by. Now we kick her away."

That Hideous Strength is the final volume of C.S. Lewis’s SPACE TRILOGY. This story, which could be categorized as science fiction, dystopian fiction, Arthurian legend, and Christian allegory, is different enough from the previous books, Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, that you don’t need to have read them, but it may help to vaguely famil
Jacob Aitken
Easily Lewis's best work. This should be on the front shelves at every Christian book store. Lewis frighteningly predicted the rise of the scientific, planning state. For those who laugh at "conspiracies" of the New World Order, read this book and tell me I am wrong. Try it.



(Still here)

But unlike other books on the New World Order, Lewis advocates (or at least Dr Ransom does), fighting back. And not just fighting back with abstract ideas, but also with revolvers.

Lots of memorable moments:
May 1, 2019: Finished this last night. Listened to the first half and read the the second and I really needed to read it too, slowly, very slowly. I went back and reread passages over and over, thinking to myself, I should just quit and go back to Out of the Silent Planet or Perelandra. There is so much of both I do not remember. But then another voice in my head said, just go ahead and finish this and reread the whole trilogy from the beginning which is what I am going to do. Or listen to it, w ...more
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The reader who comes to “That Hideous Strength” for the first time after reading “Out of the Silent Planet” and “Perelandra” could be excused for wondering how it fits in with the rest of the Space Trilogy. It bears little resemblance to its companion volumes. There is no journey through space, no exploration of strange, beautiful worlds, and no alien races. Dr. Ransom, far from being the central character, is absent from the first third of the book, Lewis makes no appearance at all, and nowhere ...more
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you read only one book in the Space Trilogy, make it this one. In this one, the "space" travel involves eldils (angels) descending to earth, rather than men traveling to the heavens. It's a high-suspense story (borderline horror, at times) that slowly reveals the evil behind the sterile world of secular scientists and academics pursuing a "a better human race". It's also Lewis at his best in terms of showcasing his grasp of human nature, uncovering the pettiness and self-deception behind the ...more
Jake McAtee
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Better than I remembered.
"...and great words like castles came out of his mouth."

There were several times i came near deducting marks here. The main characters didn't really do anything in the story. There's a big exposition dump in the epilogue which feels like it should have been in the prologue. Half of it is hilarious and i don't think its meant to be and then there's the female question which we'll get to.

Nevertheless, this is some of the best writing i've seen from Lewis. Filled with memorable characters and gre
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this the way I've read almost all of C.S. Lewis' writing: first, by sheer determination even though it makes only a little sense to me; then re-reading a second time with appreciation. I almost always start his books, admire his ideas but realize I'm pretty puzzled by most of it, and then go back and re-read the book and realize how brilliant it really is.

Even though it is the last book in his trilogy, as a non-fantasy reader I think I should have started here. This is the least fantastic
Jacob Aitken
This is easily human literature's finest hour. CS Lewis, in what is easily his masterpiece, gets in one's face about the reality of the New World Order and of the possibilities of real, effective Christian resistance to it.

But the true evil is not democracy. It is diabolical, to be sure, and monarchy is definitely to be preferred, but the true battle takes place on "the unseen world."

Lewis puts "spiritual warfare" in a rather direct, most uncomfortable light. Christians piously prat about spir
J.Aleksandr Wootton
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of
Easily the best of the Ransom Trilogy; a masterwork. Can also be read as a stand-alone novel. I recommend you preface it with The Abolition of Man.
Brandy Painter
Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! How many times can I use that word or one of its synonyms in describing anything written by C.S. Lewis? Not enough. This book, the third in the Space Trilogy, is the best of the three.

That Hideous Strength deals with a Britain on the verge of dystopia. An organization known as the N.I.C.E. is moving to take over the nation and its strength will usher in the hideousness referred to in the title. Like in most dystopian novels there is a small group of individuals w
Emilia P
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody and their mom
Shelves: real-books, churrrch
That Hideous Strength is the final book in the C.S. Lewis's Ransom trilogy. The first two books find Ransom on Mars and then Venus, exploring their flora and fauna,meeting their inhabitants and speaking with their eldils, which are somewhere between the planets spiritual essence and its guardian angel..while we discover how (the Christian) God works on other planets.

This third book finds Ransom back on earth, preparing for an interplanetary response to the threat of apocalypse, which is about to
May 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Yay! And with that, I've reached my goal for 2020 in regards to number of books read. But I've only just started my actual goal which is to read through all of C.S. Lewis's published works. I think I'm about a quarter of the way through that part of my goal.

Anyways, this book. I can honestly say this is the first C.S. Lewis book after which hitting about 2/3 of the way in, I really wished I didn't have to read.

I greatly appreciate the concepts and sheer brilliance behind his writing here. The
Carol Bakker
You have done what was required of you. You have obeyed and waited. It will often happen like that.

It took me a hundred pages to connect. And I don't love it like my friend who told me today she reads it once a year. I often debate myself (in the midst of reading a book). Is this a 4 star or 5 star book? I was convinced it was a 4 star book ... but after I finished it, I believe it deserves 5 stars.

That Hideous Strength made me think of a plenitude of other works: Jeeves and Wooster; Harry Pott
Mike Fendrich
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is probably my 3rd or 4th time reading this book. If Lewis understood anything, he understood the arid desert of modernity and its absolutely crippling effect on what it means to be human (among many, many, many!! other things). The most fascinating theme of the book is the opening of Mark and Jane Studdock's eyes to a life beyond abstraction and "complete objectivity", (reason alone). Can't recommend it highly enough. ...more
Anne Gazzolo
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it

Newly married Jane Studdock is troubled by nightmares she later learns are actual events and is a gift (or curse) powers around her wish to use for good or ill. Her husband, Mark, is a professor at Bracton, an English college more than 700 hundred years old. He desperately wishes to be considered part of the Progressive Element at the school.

Bragdon Wood on the school’s property is even older than it, with ties to the time of Merlin. N.I.C.E. wishes to buy the Wood for their headquarters. Even t
Megan Baxter
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I started this book with a certain amount of trepidation. I'd liked the first book in this series a lot, but while I had been enchanted with the descriptions of Venus/Perelandra, I was frustrated by the outcome of the second book as a whole. Which way was this going to go? Well, somewhere in the middle. In general, the book was entertaining to read, with occasional passages that made me stop and take a deep breath. It's one of those things where some of the things he says sound fantastic, and th ...more
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hands down my favorite of his space trilogy books. I absolutely love who Ransom has become as a character and I love that it is set on earth. And shows the real struggle that man has.

I think that this is incredibly creative. I think that the effort to connect this with Arthurian Legend was brilliant, a stroke of genius.

There are parts that are downright unnerving and freaky. What a wonderful commentary on what sin is in its most obvious state.

The imagery of Sodom and Gomorrah crashing into No
Matt Pitts
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Even better the second time. A truly brilliant novel.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Clive Staples Lewis was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge

Other books in the series

The Space Trilogy (3 books)
  • Out of the Silent Planet (The Space Trilogy, #1)
  • Perelandra (The Space Trilogy, #2)

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“Don't you like a rather foggy a in a wood in autumn? You'll find we shall be perfectly warm sitting in the car."
Jane said she'd never heard of anyone liking fogs before but she didn't mind trying. All three got in.
"That's why Camilla and I got married, "said Denniston as they drove off. "We both like Weather. Not this or that kind of weather, but just Weather. It's a useful taste if one lives in England."
"How ever did you learn to do that, Mr. Denniston?" said Jane. "I don't think I should ever learn to like rain and snow."
"It's the other way round," said Denniston. "Everyone begins as a child by liking Weather. You learn the art of disliking it as you grow up. Noticed it on a snowy day? The grown-ups are all going about with long faces, but look at the children - and the dogs? They know what snow's made for."
"I'm sure I hated wet days as a child," said Jane.
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