Perelandra, the second book in C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy, is a retelling of the Adam and Eve tale. Think Paradise Lost without the loss. The tale is of another world in which sin has not yet taken hold. Our hero, Dr. Ransom, is sent to Perelandra to meet the inhabitants (the Venus versions of Adam and Eve) and to prevent the Fall, i.e., the coming of sin into that pristine world. It is written in the style of classic science fiction in the vein of Clarke, Heinlein, and others of the golden age of sci-fi. It is rife with theological depth, as one might expect from the writer of the Narnia books.
In his fashion, Lewis takes on a journey in which are protagonist, a man named Ransom, is pitted against moral issues and human weaknesses. In a reimaging of the story of the Fall, one must expect a primary theme to be temptation. Weston, who is at opposition to Ransom in this book and the previous (Out of the Silent Planet), serves as an agent of temptation as he plants doubt and desire into Tinidril’s mind. Tinidril is, naturally, Perelandra’s Eve.
Other themes include life, God’s use of ordinary people, fear, strength of will, innocence, exploration and universal truth. There are probably many more. As with the Narnia stories, what this Space Trilogy seems to boil down to is the battle between good and evil—the battle for souls.
Perelandra (Venus) is depicted with femininity and graceful beauty and represents the Garden of Eden. It is vibrant, verdant and the perfect environment, and is unmarred by sin and perfectly suitable for life, for thriving. Ransom’s mission is, no surprise, to preserve this innocence, life and perfection.
There is so much more that could be said, and it has all been said by others. For my part, I really enjoyed this book and will probably read it again sometime, seeking a deeper understanding of what Lewis was trying to say.
I would recommend this read to anyone. It was interesting, challenging and fun.