Contrasting the Styles of C. S. Lewis and William Gibson

Topics: That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis, Writing Pages: 6 (1942 words) Published: November 11, 2006
Contrasting The Styles of CS Lewis and William Gibson Using Neuromancer and That Hideous Strength

The styles of C.S Lewis and William Gibson occupy opposite poles in the Science fiction realm; chronologically, sub-genre-wise, and most importantly, in terms of style. They differ significantly, in terms of use of language, tone and personal philosophy. Yet both are brilliant examples of great science fiction. Style is one of the most important elements in any written work, perhaps as much so as content. The old saw "It's not what you say, it's how you say it" seems to directly apply. Many novels have told us a story we've heard before- many stories seem universal to human experiences, locked in our collective racial memory. These stories are told over and over, in every age and every language. But that is another paper entirely. What matters is that these stories can be written in ways that make them fascinating and beautiful to read; whereas a story written badly, without style, will not hold a reader's attention even though the story may be new and original. Style is what makes a story readable. Style: Webster's dictionary defines style as "Style (1 syl.) is from the Latin stylus (an iron pencil for writing on waxen tablets, etc.). The characteristic of a person's writing is called his style. Metaphorically it is applied to composition and speech. Good writing is stylish, and, metaphorically, smartness of dress and deportment is so called." Style involves such factors as use of language, cadence, evocation of mood, diction, and even sonic patterns- the way the words on page sound. Lewis, best known for his fantasy opus The Narnia chronicles, wrote THS in 1943, while the Second World War was still going on. This almost certainly influenced his storyline, as we see echoes of the war throughout THS, in the Fairy Hardcastles's interrogation methods, in the ominous, "secret society" feeling that surrounds N.I.C.E. and in the riots and disappearances throughout the countryside, caused by N.I.C.E.'s coup in the University. Lewis's style of writing is very British; not easygoing but stilted and oddly formal for a writer of one the best known children's series of all time. His writing is polished and invokes images of Morality plays: "There is a Faustian element in [THS], but I would be hard put to link it any one century…(Lobdell, 111)" He is the generator of what is called "Arcadian science fiction", what he often referred to as "scientifiction". He mixes the fantastic with the supernatural so well that one doesn't even flinch when one is asked to accept corporations who animate heads and Greek-Godlike, angelic creatures in the same book. Gibson, who created the Cyberpunk genre, wrote Neuromancer in 1984, when computers were not yet as mainstream as they are now. They were considered mysterious and often incomprehensible by most people. I doubt Gibson knew he had fathered a new genre- one that made computer geeks very happy. Computers were both the good and the evil in a sleek new Discordia- redemption and salvation and most of all, cool. Gibson was an American and his writing style shows it- it is concise and not at all formal. He wasn't afraid of sex- in fact this is the only book we have read in class- and I've no doubt one of the first- to make direct reference to sex, without euphemism; indeed include it as part of the storyline. Gibson uses different cultural influences and slang; he invents new slang and writes almost phonetically- it is possible to hear the lazy, nasal Sprawl voice, the cloying, world-weary tones of the agents, and of course the loping, musical sounds of the Rastas Case meets in Zion- the most genuine people in the book. In Lewis's voice all characters, though given distinct personalities and different modes of speaking, have a sameness about them. This may be simply because they are all from the same area, in the same country, and Gibson's novel spans many different areas. However, this variety...
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