When Christianity Today recently encouraged our readers to emulate C.S. Lewis, whose Chronicles of Narnia are a "veritable blueprint for that incarnational aesthetic our age so desperately needs," this wasn't exactly what we meant. As noted earlier in Weblog, HarperCollins is giving a major push to all of Lewis's works, but especially the Chronicles of Narnia. What we didn't know then was the really big story: The Sunday Times of London reports that HarperCollins will also be commissioning new Narnia books. "What we wanted to avoid is what I call the Pooh situation," says Simon Adley, managing director of the C.S. Lewis Company. "In other words, exploitation of the books."
But for many Lewis fans—including most of those at the alt.books.cs-lewis newsgroup and MereLewis e-mail list—such plans are heresy. "Can we expect Return to Perelandra, The Pilgrim's Egress, Screwtape on Holiday?" one poster asks. (Not yet, but you will be able to pick up A Grief Observed and Mere Christianity with new forewords by Madeleine L'Engle and Kathleen Norris, respectively.) Lewis biographer A.N. Wilson is more blunt in his comments to The Sunday Times: "It's ridiculous and I'm sure Lewis would have thought so, too."
The plan, says HarperCollins children's division president Susan Katz, isn't to create sequels, but instead make new Narnia novels and picture books "using the same characters and with story lines which fill in the gaps of existing ones." Adley assures the paper that the new books will be written by "established children's fantasy writers" who will use their own voice rather than try to mimic Lewis's. That could be very interesting—especially if the writer isn't as interested as Lewis ...1