11 min read

We’ve been to Mars, now Venus is next
What you find there will leave you mildly perplexed
A new creation, as yet untainted by sin Filled with water and beautiful wonders within
Paradise Lost retold, complete with Satan to tempt
But not the same story, though danger’s not exempt
The twist is that Christ is still the redeemer king
And an earthling he sent, salvation to bring
Some say, “Crush the serpent’s head was what Adam should do!
And we see what could have been had it actually gone through
But it’s not all theology, don’t stress over that
There is a chase, space travel, and mortal combat

This second volume of C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy was altogether a different feel than the first. It’s an imaginative consideration of a new world, with a new Adam and Eve in a Universe where Christ has already become man. These humans face Satan’s temptation in the form of a man, while Ransom is sent to thwart the enemy’s schemes. It’s a curious sort of retelling of Paradise Lost, and had some interesting and dramatic moments to keep my attention, although overall I think it kind of fell flat for me.

That’s not to say it was a complete waste of time however. In particular, Lewis’ imaginative description of Satan’s temptations and the techniques he used to beguile the woman were suggestive, and similar to Screwtape Letters proved particularly insightful. Additionally, it’s still C.S. Lewis, who is a master of words, and there are so many tasty morsels to chew on and think over.


He described us as being in a state of siege, as being, in fact, an enemy-occupied territory, held down by eldila who were at war both with us and with the eldila of “Deep Heaven,” or “space.” Like the bacteria on the microscopic level, so these co-inhabitating pests on the macroscopic permeate our whole life invisibly and are the real explanation of that fatal bent which is the main lesson of history (10)

To think that the specter you see is an illusion does not rob him of his terrors: it simply adds the further terror of madness itself - and then on top of that the horrible surmise that those whom the rest call mad have , all along, been the only people who see the world as it really is. (13)

I felt sure that the creature was what we call “good,” but I wasn’t sure whether I like “goodness” so much as I had supposed. This is a very terrible experience. As long as what your are afraid of is something evil, you may still hope that the good may come to your rescue. But suppose you struggle through to the good and find that is also dreadful? (19)

“Oh they’ll put all sorts of things into your head if you let them,” said Ransom lightly. “The best plan is to take no notice, and keep straight on. Don’t try to answer them. They like drawing you into an interminable argument.” (22)

What emerged was that in Ransom’s opinion the present functions and appetites of the body would disappear, not because they were atrophied but because they were, as he said, “engulfed.” He used the word “transsexual,” I remember, and began to hunt about for some similar words to apply to eating (after rejecting “trans-gastronomic”), and since he was not the only philologist present, that diverted the conversation into different channels. (37)

He had always disliked the people who encored a favorite air in an opera - “That just spoils it” had been his comment. But now this appeared to him as a principle far wider application and deeper moment. This itch to have things over again, as if life were a film that could be unrolled twice or even make to work backward… (57)

Money, in fact, would provide the means of saying encore in a voice that could not be disobeye (59)

It was strange that the utter loneliness through all these hours had not troubled him so much as one night of it on Malacandra. He though the difference lay in this, that the mere chance, or what he took for chance, had turned him adrift in Mars, but here he knew that he was part of a plan. He was no longer unattached, no longer on the outside. (60)

There was in her face an authority, in here caresses a condescension, which by taking seriously the inferiority of her adorers made them somehow less inferior - raised them from the status of pets to that of slaves. (79)

It was suddenly borne in upon him that her purity and peace were not, as they had seemed, things settled and inevitable like the purity and peace of an animal - that they were alive and therefor, breakable, a balance maintained by a mind and therefore, at least in theory, able to be lost. There is no reason why a man on a smooth road should lose his balance on a bicycle, but he could. There was no reason why she should step our of her happiness into the psychology of our own race; but neither was there any wall between to prevent her doing so. (83)

You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other. (84)

Who thought of its being hard? The beasts would not think it hard if I told them to walk on their heads. It would become their delight to walk on their heads. I am His beast, and all His biddings are joys. It is not that which makes me thoughtful. But it was coming to my mind to wonder whether there are two kinds of bidding. (92)

It is the idea that humanity, having now sufficiently corrupted the planet where it arose, must at all costs contrive to seed itself over a larger area: that the vast astronomical distances which are God’s quarantine regulations, must somehow be overcome. This for a start. But beyond this lies the sweet poison of the false infinite - the wild dream that planet after planet, system after system, in the end galaxy after galaxy, can be forced to sustain, everywhere and for ever, the sort of life which is contained in the loins of our own species - a dream begotten by the hatred of death upon the fear of true immortality, fondled in secret by thousands of ignorant men and hundreds who are not ignorant. (100)

“I thought you religious people were all out for spirituality? What is the point of asceticism - fasts and celibacy and all that? Didn’t we agree that God is a spirit? Don’t you worship Him because he is pure spirit?” “Good heavens, no! We worship Him because HE is wise and good. There’s nothing specially fine about simply being a spirit. The Devil is a spirit.” (115)

He remembered his old suspicion that what was myth in one world might always be fact in some other. He wondered also whether the King and Queen of Perelandra, though doubtless the first human pair of this planet, might on the physical side have a marine ancestry. And if so, what then of the manlike things before men in our own world? Must they in truth have been the wistful brutalities whose pictures we see in popular books on evolution? Or were the old myths truer than the modern myths? (125)

“No, but He has never forbidden you to think about it. Might not that be one of the reasons why you are forbidden to do it - so that you may have a Might Be to think about, to make a Story about as we call it?” (128)

“And though there seemed to be, and indeed were, a thousand roads by which a man could walk through the world, there was not a single one which did not lead sooner or later either to the Beatific or the Miserific Vision. He himself had, of course, seen only a mask or faint adumbration of it; even so, he was not quite sure that he would live. (137)

“I think He made one law of that kind in order that there might be obedience. In all these other matters what you call obeying Hum is but doing what seems good in your own eyes also. Is love content with that? You do them, indeed, because they are His will, but not only because they are his will. Where can you taste the joy of obeying unless He bids you do something for which His bidding is the only reason? When we spoke last you said that if you told the beasts to walk on their heads they would delight to do so. So I know that you understand well what I am saying.” (146)

“Of course good came of it. Maleldil a beast that we can stop His path, or a lead that we can twist His shape? Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him. That is lost forever. The first King and first Mother of our world did the forbidden thing, and He brought good of it in the end. But what they did was not good, and what they lost we have not seen. And there were some to whom no good came nor will ever come.” He turned to the body of Weston. “You,” he said, “tell her all. What good came to you? Do you rejoice that Maleldil became a man? Tell her of your joys, and of what profit you had when you made Maleldil and death acquainted.” (151)

If the attack had been of some more violent kind it might have been easier to resist. What chilled and almost cowed him was the union of malice with something nearly childish. For temptation, for blasphemy, for a whole battery of horrors, he was in some sort prepared: but hardly for this petty, indefatigable nagging as of a nasty little boy at a preparatory school. (153)

On the surface, great designs and an antagonism to Heaven which involved the fate of the worlds: but deep within, when every veil had been pierced, was there, after all, nothing but a black puerility, an aimless empty spitefulness content to sate itself with the tiniest cruelties, as love does not disdain the smallest kindness? What kept him steady, long after all possibility of thinking about something else had disappeared, was the decision that if he must hear either the word Ransom or the word Nothing a million times, he would prefer the word Ransom. (154)

The matter was, of course, cruelly complicated. What the Unman said was always very nearly true. (166)

The image of her beautiful body had been offered to her only as a means to awake the far more perilous image of her great soul. The external and, as it were, dramatic conception of the self was the enemy’s true aim. He was making her mind a theater in which that phantom self should hold the stage. He had already written the play. (173)

The fate of the world really depended on how they behaved in the next few hours. The thing was irreducibly, nakedly real. They could, if they chose, decline to save the innocence of this new race, and if they declined its innocence would not be saved. It rested with no other creature in all time or all space. This he saw clearly, though as yet he had no inkling of what he could do. (176)

Almost he felt that the words “would have happened” were meaningless mere invitations to wander in what the Lady would have called an “alongside world” which had no reality. Only the actual was real: and every actual situation was new. (181)

Before his Mother had borne him, before his ancestors had been called Ransoms, before ransom had been the name for a payment that delivers, before the world was made, all these things had so stood together in eternity that the very significance of the pattern at this point lay in their coming together in just this fashion. And he bowed his head and groaned and repined against his fate - to be still a man and yet to be forced up into the metaphysical world, to enact what philosophy only things. (184)

you might say that he had been delivered from the rhetoric of his passions and had emerged unto unassailable freedom. Ransom could not, for the life of him, see any difference between these two statements. Predestination and freedom were apparently identical. He could no longer see any meaning in the many arguments he had heard on this subject. (187)

There was no doubt a confusion of persons in damnation what Pantheists falsely hoped of Heaven bad mean really received in Hell. They were melted down into their Master, as a lead soldier slips down and loses his shape in the ladle held over the gas ring. The question whether Satan, or one whom Satan has digested, is acting on any given occasion, has in the long run no clear significance. (217)

And it appeared to Ransom that there might, if a man could find it, be some way to renew the old Pagan practice of propitiating the local gods of unknown placed in such a fashion that it was no offense to God Himself but only a prudent and courteous apology for trespass. (232)

It was a wound in his heel. (236)

“And then I saw what had happened in your world, and how your Mother fell and how your Father went with her, doing her no good thereby and bringing the darkness upon all their children. And then it was before me like a thing coming towards my hand… what I should do in like case. There I leaned of evil and good, of anguish and joy. (266)

Be comforted, small immortals. You are not the voice that all things utter, nor is there eternal silence in the places where you cannot come. (273)