Daily Archives: June 20, 2011

C. S. Lewis vs. Isaac Asimov

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[Today’s run: Watson Road – 3.5 miles]

I just finished reading C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra, the second book in Lewis’ “space trilogy”. It is a fictional story and revisiting of the Garden of Eden set on the planet Venus. And it has some science fiction qualities. (I’ve read it about three times now.)

When I was growing up I read a bit of science fiction. I particularly liked Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

Asimov wrote a big S.F. trilogy called the Foundation Trilogy. The basic premise is that sometime in the future it is possible for talented scientists to track human development using mathematical statistics and eventually make long term predictions about the course of history. A thinktank type group sets up a long term organization to meet the needs of human society, programming events so that the organization always has the right answers at the right time. Humans spread throughout the galaxy and we all live happily ever after.

Lewis’ trilogy is almost the exact opposite of Asimov’s. Lewis even gives his main character of Perelandra an anti-expansionist speech which directly speaks against the galaxy-conquering dreams of Asimov and other SF writers. Lewis paints Earth as a rogue society because of the fall of Adam and Eve, that the rest of the universe has gone on in an original state, shunning and avoiding the Earth.

I like Lewis. I don’t think his story is completely consistent but it is interesting and fun to read. Lewis, also a university professor like Asimov, makes room for mid-20th century earth evolution constructions that I find unnecessary and boring. Asimov is definitely a technologist, but at least an optimistic one, unlike some other SF writers. Asimov has such complete, innocent faith in science and technology. In his series of books Lewis actually extends the concept of the Fall of Man into scientific endeavor. He is an anti-technologist.

As writers, I enjoy Lewis’ writing style more. Asimov I find kind of simplistic in his writing. But maybe that is because he was writing for pulp SciFi magazines and such.

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Jun 20, 2011
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