Tag Archives: 2015

Book Review – The Cosmic Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

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There are a lot of people who are either on one side of the spectrum or the other when it comes to this book, with not a lot of middle ground to spare. Some people love it because they love both science fiction and C.S. Lewis. Some people despise it because they feel his apologetics in this book are a tad lacking (especially compared to his non-fiction apologetics like Mere Christianity or The Problem of Pain) or that his prose and character development are a bit flat. I actually agree with both sides, and find it very difficult to say I do or do not like this book.
While I am not completely one way or the other when it comes to this book, I have actually read the entire trilogy, and compared to the other two (Perelandra and That Hideous Strength), this one is at the bottom of the list in clarity, elegance, function, and in just plain storytelling.  Lewis’ description is eloquent, and the introduction of other races is mildly interesting, but I felt as if I were reading an essay, or perhaps an article form of a rough draft idea for a sci-fi novel instead of that tying together of story and philosophy and theology that I so enjoy about everything else Lewis has written.

In this first volume of the trilogy, Ransom makes his way from Earth to Mars (or Malacandra) as a sort of crash-test dummy after he is captured on a walk by an old academic rival (Weston). They both end up on Malacandra together and we get to experience the consequences of men who choose to exploit and conquer versus those who choose to learn and love. We learn about Oyarsa (a Christ-like figure who, according to this trilogy, is in all worlds, but in different forms), and we learn that Oyarsa has a plan for Ransom’s future, even after he returns to Earth (or what the Malacandrans call Thulcandra) – enter the second book, Perelandra, which will be discussed in a future post.

The story stands on its own, which is very important in a series or a trilogy, but when all three books are read, the encompassing story arc tells us of our past, our present (or Lewis’ present, anyway – the second World War was on while he wrote most of these) and our future, not only here in the corporeal realm, or even in our own atmosphere, but in the spiritual realms and in all other realms as well. As a book, I give this volume 3 stars out of 5, but I have a much higher opinion of the trilogy as a whole. I would recommend familiarizing oneself with the Bible or some sort of basic level of Christian theology and end-of-days prophecy (especially closer to the end of the trilogy) as you read this, so you can really grasp the full extent of the allegory here, but the books as a set are also worth the read. Perhaps start with borrowing these from the library before you spend money on them, though. They’re not for everyone, though for those who enjoy them, they are certainly worth every penny and more.

Have you read anything by C.S. Lewis? What did you think of it? Happy reading, and be wary of trespassing on mad scientist academic rivals! (The consequences could be out of this world! 😉 )

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My Psych Shelf

So, as many of you know, I deal with some mental health issues, including Bipolar Affective Disorder: Type I and Borderline Personality Disorder. I try not to let them run my life, though I concede that they do greatly affect it. I try to learn as much as I can so I can learn to deal with these things the best I can so I can make the most out of the times I am well and better handle the times I am unwell (that part has more to do with bipolar than with BPD, but I digress). All of this, and my very curious mind has led to what I have come to dub my ‘Psych Shelf’. It’s basically a collection of books, some non-fiction, some fiction, some for necessity, some for pure interest that I have collected, all of which have something to do with the psychology of the human mind (usually abnormal psychology but sometimes social and environmental psychology too). I thought I’d share it with you! Here it is:

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Here they are, from left to right:

– New Hope for People with Bipolar Disorder by Jan Fawcett, M.D., Bernard Golden, Ph.D., and Nancy Rosenfeld

– Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio

– Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-Century Paris by Asti Hustvedt

– Silent to the Bone by e.l. konigsburg

– Dying of Embarrassment: Help for Social Anxiety & Phobia by Barbara G. Markway, Ph.D., Cheryl N. Carmin, Ph.D., C. Alec Pollard, Ph.D., Teresa Flynn, Ph.D.

– Bedlam by Greg Hollingshead

– Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay

– Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace

– Eutopia by David Nickle

– Asserting Yourself: A Practical Guide for Positive Change by Sharon Anthony Bower and Gordon H. Bower

– An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison

– Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison

– Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide by Kay Redfield Jamison

– The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

– The Hypochondriacs: Nine Tormented Lives by Brian Dillon

– Broken Glass by Tabitha Freeman

– The Case of the Constant Suicides by John Dickson Carr

– Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

– Mind Games by William Deverell

– Secret Lives of Great Authors by Robert Schnakenberg

– Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers by Harry Bruce

– The Secret Language of Eating Disorders  by Peggy Claude-Pierre

– The Anorexia Diaries by Linda M. Rio and Tara M. Rio

– History of a Suicide by Jill Bialosky

– Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists by Suzette Boon, Kathy Steele, Onno Van Der Hart

– Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Not pictured on this shelf, but mentally included by me are:

– Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber

Psychology: First Canadian Edition by David G. Myers

– The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker

Have you read any of these? Do you recommend any more? Have you got a specifically themed shelf at home? Let me know in the comments, keep your brains sharp and happy reading!


Husband/Wife Book Reviews – Graham Reviews ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’ by Stephenie Meyer

So as many of you already know, my husband (Graham) and I like to challenge each other to read certain books that we think would be interesting for the other to review.  Graham usually chooses engaging or thought-provoking books for me to read. I respond in kind (as any good wife would) with sparkly vampire romances. Here is his review of New Moon, and I must say, I actually agreed with him when I read this as well. Enjoy!

Well, I’m back to keep you (my enthralled audience) informed on my adventures through The Twilight Saga. This time I’m taking on the second installment: New Moon.

Picking up where Twilight leaves off, New Moon chronicles Bella and Edward’s relationship after they become ‘official’, with problems quickly arising. Edward fears that the nature of his family will ultimately doom Bella to death – or worse, becoming a vampire. He decides to make a clean break, leaving Forks with the Cullens, and our protagonist is left in a state of über hopelessness. The middle part of New Moon explores Bella’s friendship with Jacob Black, and Bella’s slow understanding that he, like Edward, hides a secret. Jacob disappears and returns a different person, and Bella discovers that Jacob, like many in his native tribe, has become a werewolf. With Edward gone, Bella is conflicted and on the verge of falling for Jacob when the Cullens return, needing Bella’s help. The final part of New Moon describes Bella saving Edward from the Volturi, an old, powerful vampire family in Italy. To save Bella from the Volturi, the Cullens promise to turn Bella into a vampire. The book ends with Bella and Edward reunited, a dejected Jacob looking on, and Bella awaiting being turned into a vampire.

Reading New Moon, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away, but I found this work tended to feel like cereal that has sat in milk a little too long. It still has the flavour, and the look of the initial cereal, but the texture and consistency are off. Meyer carries the story on in a satisfying direction, the vampire world is expanded, the world around Forks is dug into more deeply, and we get to know more about Jacob, the fascinating outlier character in Twilight. The writing flows well, there is a good use of humour and like in Twilight, I enjoyed the buildup to the climactic scene with the bizarre and creepy Volturi.

The big problem I have with New Moon (and I think it really is dangerous when writing) is that Meyer has made her main two characters difficult to like. I could not get over the sense at the end of this book that Bella and Edward were just being cruel to Jacob, and acting completely oblivious to those around them just for their love. Edward had just gone on an angst-ridden trip to Italy, and put everyone in grave danger for what? Hearing a rumour that Bella was dead! What about going and checking yourself, Edward?! Edward’s breakup with Bella is terribly childish in how he acts, as well as really cruel. And Bella, her entire ‘relationship’ with Jacob was based on her getting some feeble reminder of Edward! She is totally using him! Jacob has to go through trying to see if Bella likes him, getting suddenly transformed into a werewolf, then seeing Bella ditch him for her jerk ex-boyfriend. I really feel sorry for Jacob.

And inevitably this makes me dislike Meyer’s main characters, and what’s the point of reading a book where I don’t like the main characters?

My wife challenged me, and I have no choice, so stay tuned for my next review, that of Eclipse. I give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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