This is my copy of That Hideous Strength, the third of the “Space Trilogy” by C.S. Lewis. If for some reason the photo here isn’t showing or you can’t make out the words, here is this edition’s back-cover copy:
The final book in C.S. Lewis’s acclaimed Space Trilogy, which includes Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, That Hideous Strength concludes the adventures of the matchless Dr. Ransom. Finding himself in a world of superior alien beings and scientific experiments run amok, Dr. Ransom struggles with questions of ethics and morality, applying age-old wisdom to a brave new universe dominated by science. His quest for truth is a journey filled with intrigue and suspense.
That’s a brilliant back cover, it is. Simply smashing, and quite accurate, if you don’t count the following parts:
- The world isn’t filled with “superior alien beings.”
- There is science, and an evil National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments, but never “scientific experiments run amok.”
- Dr. Ransom hardly struggles with ethics and morality; he knows them.
- Dr. Ransom isn’t even the main character.
So other than that, the back cover is accurate.
Lest it be said that perhaps someone only read the book once, and based the description on dodgy memory — I’ve also read the book only once (excepting going back to review some parts), and remember better.
By the way, Hideous’s front cover isn’t much better. While the previous installments of this edition have included very “literal” illustrations, I’ve never been able to figure this one out, and conclude it’s somehow metaphorical. (Who are the men in the middle? Ransom? Mark Studdock? The N.I.C.E. villains? Merlin? And what world is this?)
Yet what’s the deal with this strange back-cover description? Have you read other back covers that didn’t quite match the actual novel? What about those covers that either give away too many details, or don’t reveal enough about the story within? Have you, as an attempting or published novelist, found difficulty writing your own novel’s back-cover-style summary, or has someone else written that for you?