Written in the 30's and poor science fiction [SF] (some of the science in it is wrong even by the knowledge of Lewis's day), this novel is incredible in imaginative detail and original concepts as well as in conveying real wonder, not just sense of wonder. The characters are fully realized (his hero even has some beliefs and attitudes he disagreed with) although having some cliche aspects, an intentional tool Lewis used in emphasizing the story's theme of GOOD against evil.
Not for anti-Christians although open minded atheists could enjoy it; Lewis fills the story with theology, spirituality, and deep philosophical considerations that point toward a God without being preachy - it's just from a spiritual perspective. Principles of morality, ethics, and honesty are a major componant of the story. Yes it's a simple plot as most good vs evil stories are. But he plays great games with fun aliens (giving each species its own characterization), plausible plantary environments, and weird (sometimes too weird) alien vegetation.
While the author is doing all of this, he finds time to give other SF writers lessons on how to deal with characters encountering alien languages - his protagonist is a philologist, a scientist of language. He makes learning a language seem easy and even fun. As for sociology, he put more detail into the aliens' cultures in this novel in 1937 than was to be found in most of the SF field of the day.
Not perfect in any respect, yet it is more original than the vast majority of SF published before or since. Some SF from recent decades improves on many of the science fictional aspects, but Lewis's spiritual/philosophical approach provides a distinctive point of view that hasn't been seen since his trilogy.
The following books get even better while more cliched in the theological aspects. The third book is a major work of fantasy while couched in SF terms. If Audible ever gets them, they are worth checking out.
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