Perelandra, the second book in C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy, is a creation story slightly different than the Genesis creation story. It is a battle between good and evil played out on another planet. Lewis tells the story of Ransom, who in the first book visited Mars (Malacandra), being called once again to visit another planet. This time he is taken to Venus, known as Perelandra where he discovers a planet just starting to come to knowledge of itself. He meets a beautiful woman and introduces her to many earthly concepts such as death and pain.
While much of the novel passed over my head and I often got lost in trying to keep an image of this new place in my head, I did enjoy much of the symbolism and parallels created by Lewis. One of the most telling scenes is when the evil character is trying convince the Lady that she should visit the Fixed Island. Maleldil, which I interpret to be the equivalent of God or Jesus, has commanded the lady to not live on the Fixed Island but has never given her a reason for this command. This brings to mind the command God gave to Adam and Eve to not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil but did not tell them exactly why. This evil character tries to convince the lady by saying “Is not Maleldil showing you as plainly as He can that it was set up as a test–as a great wave you have to go over, that you may become really old, really separate from Him.” She has some doubt, but the evil character persists. Ransom steps in to explain that possibly Maleldil has given this law so that she can experience the joy of obedience. I think that through this scene Lewis is stating that while we may not always understand the laws of God, we should follow them. God wants us to experience the joy that comes from being obedient to him without any other motivation.
This won’t rank on my list of favorite books or even at the top of my favorite books by C.S. Lewis, but I appreciate what Lewis has created here. If someone likes science fiction and particularly space travel, I think he might find it to be a very enjoyable book.