Week 21, Part 2–Out of the Silent Planet

Not many people I’ve spoken with seem to know that C. S. Lewis wrote a science fiction trilogy for adults, of which Out of the Silent Planet is the first.  Having heard about it in my Christian Imagination class several years ago, it’s been on my to-read list for quite a while. I finally snagged myself a copy of the entire trilogy, and took immediate advantage.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=Bibliograph07-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0743234901&fc1=F3EDED&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=040404&f=ifrA philologist named Ransom is taking a walking tour of England, and is kidnapped by a mad scientist (literally, he’s a physicist) and an old school mate for some unknown purpose.  After waking from a drug-induced stupor, he finds himself on a space ship which has already left Earth’s atmosphere for a planet called Malacandra, which both of his kidnappers have visited before.  They were asked to bring another of their species back to the planet with them, presumably for a sacrifice.  Upon arriving on Malacandra, they are greeted by natives of the planet called sorns, which so terrify Ransom that he runs away from them, alone into the wilderness of an unknown planet.  In the wilds, he discovers other, benevolent creatures that take him in, care for him, and teach him their language. When he receives a call from what seems to be the god of this planet, he takes it, and meets a creature full of love and compassion.

The novel is most definitely allegorical, though not nearly as much as The Chronicles of Narnia are.  The planet seems to represent what Earth was supposed to be like before the Fall, when God walked the Earth and his creatures trusted and knew him.  They live in harmony and do not hurt each other (with the exception of hunting for food).  The arrival of imperfect men I interpreted as the arrival of temptation and sin on Earth, which in this story is declined, allowing Malacandra to remain harmonious and peaceful.  What a nice thought 🙂

I really enjoyed the book. I find that C.S. Lewis’s fiction is written in a language much easier to understand than his apologies.  The story is a good one, and it’s interesting to see what the ideas about space flight and life on other planets were to someone writing in the 30s.  With our perspective now, it was fun to notice the things Lewis got relatively right, and the places where he missed the mark.  It portrays space flight as something to be marveled at and curious about, which is a refreshing thing in today’s time of taking it for granted.

It’s a great work, and people who appreciate sci-fi and/or the works of Lewis will enjoy it as well.


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