For this week’s Flashback Friday post, I’m happy to have science-fiction author, Michelle Murrain, here for a guest post on how The Cosmic Trilogy (aka The Space Trilogy) by C. S. Lewis influenced her as a writer.
When I was a teenager, the first science fiction series I read was “The Cosmic Trilogy” (often also called “The Space Trilogy”) by C. S. Lewis.
Interestingly enough, these books supposedly came out of a conversation between Lewis and his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien. It would be a year or two before I tackled Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” and “Lord of the Rings.”
This series, made of the books “Out of the Silent Planet,” “Perelandra,” and “That Hideous Strength,” are a fascinating look at early-ish science fiction (they were published in the 30’s and 40’s.) I haven’t read them again since I first read them when I was 15, but I remember really
enjoying them, and being completely enthralled by the worlds he created.
This series was set on Mars, Venus and Earth respectively. From our perspective now, knowing so much more about Mars and Venus than we did then, it seems kinda silly. But that’s the way science fiction works –
imagining the possible from what’s known – and then, not a whole lot was
known about Mars or Venus. I do remember when reading the book in the
mid-70s, I had to suspend some disbelief, since by then, we knew enough
about Mars and Venus to know that the kind of life he’d described on
those planets was impossible. The books outline interesting societies
both on Mars and Venus, and, like C. S. Lewis‘ later work, “The
Chronicles of Narnia” (which I’d read just before) the books are shot
through with Christian theological concepts and allegories.
It was definitely the world building that inspired me, and
world-building is the part of science fiction writing that I probably
enjoy the most. The combination of imagining new worlds, with new plants
and creatures and different intelligent species, along with weaving in
philosophical and theological concepts, was clearly of deep influence to
me. I don’t share C. S. Lewis‘ Christian theology, but I do tend to
include some theological and philosophical concepts in my writing.
These books, along with “A Wrinkle in Time,” which I’d read a number of
years before, got me set squarely on the path to being an avid science
fiction reader. And, it was in reading these three books in succession,
curled up on a couch, or in a chair in the kitchen, feeling the joy of
discovering something new, that ignited a spark that is now a nice
blazing fire of my own creativity.