Click on the link to listen to the BBC's 'Perelandra' in 18 episodes
"Perelandra" continues the sometimes thrilling, sometimes mystical, but always sublimely evocative adventures of Dr.Ransom first explored in “Out of the Silent Planet”. In this second volume of C.S.Lewis’ acclaimed Cosmic Trilogy, Ransom is called to the beautiful paradise planet of Perelandra, or Venus, which is in grave peril from his old adversary Dr.Weston. Ransom encounters floating islands and bubble trees as well as an all-powerful female ruler, an Eve figure who undergoes temptation at the hands of a Satan figure in the form of Weston. Ransom must engage with Weston in a desperate struggle to save the purity of Perelandra.
“Perelandra” was first published in 1943, and again demonstrates the matchless imagination of the man who was later to create the Narnia books in delivering an exhilarating adventure which also attempts to answer some of life’s great mysteries. Lewis’ evocation of alien landscapes is rich and brilliantly imagined, demonstrating his flair as a craftsman of classic science fiction. The Cosmic Trilogy was inspired by Lewis’, then in his late thirties, involvement with an informal writing group known as the Inklings, which included his lifelong friend and fellow Oxford academic J.R.R.Tolkien. Not only are these books where Lewis first explored many styles to which he would return in his later, better-known fiction – from religious allegory, to the similarities between certain Venutian aliens and Narnian characters – but it is arguable that a cross-pollenation of ideas took place between Lewis and Tolkien: for example, the eldils could be said to be cousins to the elves of “The Lord of the Rings”.
“Out of the Silent Planet” received high praise on its publication in 1938. Hugh Walpole said in his review: "Here is a very good book; it is of thrilling interest as a story, but it is more than that; it is a kind of poem, and it has the great virtue of improving as it goes on. It is a unique thing, full of stars, cold and heat, flowers of the planets and a sharp sardonic humour." Of “Perelandra” Edwin Muir said: “Brilliantly managed … the description of Venus, in its endless age of innocence, is delightful”. With his Cosmic Trilogy, Lewis showed he was a pioneer in science- as well as children's fiction. For example, its influence can be seen on Ray Bradbury's better-known "The Martian Chronicles" and arguably Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy.