Science Fiction -Book Annotation

29 Apr

Title: That Hideous Strength: a modern fairy-tale for grown-ups

Author: C. S. Lewis

Publication Date: 1996 by Scribner Classics

Genre: Science Fiction

Number of Pages: 380

A story about the interior struggle of a married couple where the wife finds that she is more important than she imagined, and the husband is lured into a business hidden behind smokescreen illusions. They both are separated by circumstance, and take separate journeys to understand themselves in relation to the changing world around them. Testing the theory that”science can take over the human race if given a free hand” by attempting to annihilate all humanity, the National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments (N.I.C.E.) uses technical and scientific detail to frame the setting of a new world order. Mark approached the N.I.C.E. organization an honest man, and Jane approached the company at St. Anne’s a troubled woman with simple night terrors. Little did they know, the organizations had a different plans in mind than what either of them could have ever imagined. Both Mark and Jane are forced to choose the organization to which they want to pledge their allegiance. 

Central Character:

  • Mark Studdock
  • Jane Studdock

Other significant Characters (as they appear in the story):

  • Miss Ironwood (Docotor at St. Annes)
  • Fariy Hardcastle (N.I.C.E. police official)

Geographical Setting: in England on Planet Earth. Belbury and Bracton College

Time Period: After the War

Plot Summary:

This story takes place on earth in a post-war, dystopian England. A sense of urgency advances the plot, as each character watches the world around them crumble at their feet. The protagonists’, Mark and Jane Studdock, marriage gets rocky after Jane falls sick and Mark is called away for an extended period at work. Mark sends home letters for a while, but the letters soon taper-off. Eventually, Jane meets a doctor at St. Anne’s that can make use of her alleged sickness, and Mark is allured by the many luxuries that come with being part of the N.I.C.E. organization. The N.I.C.E. represents a group of humans who are looking for something better than human society. The company at St. Anne’s represents a direct opponent of the N.I.C.E., this invokes a battle of loyalty that ignites conflict between the characters. Mark and Jane grow worlds apart as supporting characters help them assimilate into their new social circles. As Jane and Mark spiral deeper into these organizations, they find comfort, support, and the power of purpose. They are intentionally separated for the rest of the story. But will they meet again? If so, how will they interact with each other and their new found values?

Subject Headings:

  • Dystopia
  • Science
  • Supernatural – Spiritual Warfare


  • Character Driven Plot
  • End of the world plot
  • Philosophical Emphasis

Series: Book three of the C. S. Lewis Space Trilogy

Similar Authors and Works:

  • Frank Peretti focuses on the limitations of science, spiritual warfare and playing God, in the novel Illusion.
  • Arthur C. Clarke takes a philosophical focus on a mid twentieth century earth, run by mysterious superiors, as mankind submits to the proposed fate of the earth, in the novel Childhood’s End.
  • H. G. Wells focuses on new world order through global dictatorship, the collapse of government and economic degradation of all fighting countries during a world war, in the novel The Shape of Things to Come.

-A Teaching Librarian


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