©1938, 1944, 1945 by C.S. Lewis Pte Ltd.; (P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks
"A delightful fantasy." (New York Herald Tribune)
"C.S. Lewis...is a master of fantasy." (Saturday Review)
If you are considering a good series of books to entertain and to give you some new views on the cosmic battle of the universe, you'll want to purchase the C.S.Lewis Space Trilogy.
Just make sure you have plenty of time to listen because you won't want to stop.
The reader sounds like he is speaking directly to you instead of simply reading out loud.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at FanLit.
You probably know that C.S. Lewis was a Christian apologist who wrote many popular books — both fiction and nonfiction — which explain or defend the Christian faith. His most famous work, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, some of the most-loved stories in all of fantasy fiction and children’s literature, is clearly Christian allegory. Likewise, his science fiction SPACE TRILOGY can be read as allegory, though it’s subtle enough to be enjoyed by those who don’t appreciate allegorical stories and just want to read a thoughtful science fiction adventure with an intelligent hero.
In Out of the Silent Planet, the first book in the trilogy, Dr. Elwin Ransom, a Cambridge philology professor, is kidnapped and taken by spaceship to Mars, which is called Malacandra by the alien species that live there. Suspecting that he’s about to be offered as a sacrifice, Ransom escapes from his captors and must survive by himself on the strange planet. There, he is enchanted by the beautifully foreign scenery, meets aliens who are nothing like humans, learns about the origin of the species on Malacandra and Earth and, finally, morosely reflects on the fallen nature of mankind.
I liked everything about Out of the Silent Planet — the descriptions of the spherical space ship and the planet of Malacandra, the idea that space is full and living instead of empty and dead, the development of Ransom from a conservative college professor to a daring space traveler, the interesting metaphysics and the ideas about the perception of light and movement, the allegorical explanation of humanity’s greed and selfishness which suggests a spiritual origin for social Darwinism. Best of all was Ransom’s translation of one of his captor’s speeches about human destiny for aliens who previously had no concept of human ambition and aggression.
It’s easy to see that C.S. Lewis loved language, mythology and knowledge, and that he was ashamed of much human behavior. The Christian allegory is easy to see, too, if you’re willing, but discussing that here would require spoilers and remove all the mystery, so I will leave that for you to discover.
Out of the Silent Planet was written in 1938, long before we knew enough about Mars to realize that Lewis’s story is impossible. However, Lewis did his best with the knowledge he had, settling his Martians in the trench-like canals and leaving the surface dead. Generally, the story doesn’t feel as old as it is.
I listened to Blackstone Audio’s version, 5½ hours long, which was read by Geoffrey Howard who I liked very much. I look forward to listening to him read the next book in the SPACE TRILOGY, Perelandra.
Give me plausible sci-fi and I will read you forever.
It was a fun, fast story with good character development. I will listen again when I need a light, good story.
Honestly, I tried very, very hard to enjoy this book. I love reading Chronicles of Narnia to my kid so I thought maybe I'd give a stab at this one, but when push came to shove I just hated the way it was written. The language was bulky and hard to follow. The characters were only given to me on the surface and I barely knew what any one of them was thinking.
So, three stars.
I'll just go back to Narnia with my son and enjoy Lewis that way.
I regard CS Lewis with high esteem, but did not care for this book.
Perhaps in 1939 this was cutting-edge sci fi., but for me it came across like "Land of the Lost". It had its moments. All in all, however, I would suggest looking to another of his books for your next listen.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
Since reading Alister McGrath's new Biography of CS Lewis earlier this year I have been trying to read through a number of Lewis books I had not previously read.
I have heard a lot of positive reviews about Lewis’ Space Trilogy (or Ransom Trilogy as it is sometimes called.) But they never really interested me. I am not sure why, maybe because I have such good feelings toward Narnia or because I have such a hard time seeing Lewis as a Science Fiction author.
So I had pretty low expectations coming into the book. The main character, Elwin Ransom, a professor of Philology (I had to look it up, it is basically historical linguistics), is kidnapped by two brothers. These somewhat deranged, but brilliant brothers have built a spaceship and gone to Mars. But for some unknown reason they needed another person and kidnapped Ransom as he was hiking through a rural part of the UK on vacation.
The book was originally published in 1938 and feels like the older style science fiction of HG Wells or Jules Verne. And it is clearly not focused on the science part of science fiction. Lewis is using the book to explore ideas not science.
At first I thought that Lewis was turning Mars into a type of Eden, where sin would be introduced. But I realized that he was not creating Eden, but a world without the fall.
I remember very few things about 1st grade. But one of the few things I remember, is that in the Christian school where I was attending (I started public school the next year), my teacher suggested that possibly the bible passage where Jesus said he would leave the 99 to seek out the one lost sheep was actually talking about the fact that the Earth is the one and there were actually many (99 I am pretty she was using as a literary expression not a literal number) worlds that never fell and never needed Christ to come and die. Having read this book, I wonder if my first grade teacher (an older woman that I remember being in her 50s or 60s) was actually a fan of CS Lewis.
I loved the convenience of the audio book process. Listening via my iphone was a piece of cake. I could listen at home or in the car. I took full advantage of the portability of this medium.
I enjoyed listening to a pro pronounce some of the occasionally bizarre words from the Malacandran language. I love the book so the audio version was refreshing.
His gentle accent gave it just enough Brit to keep the story line and setting in context.
I like breaking it up so I can chew on the greatness of the story.
I enjoy Lewis' writings so I thought I would take a stab at his entry into the realm of Science Fiction. I enjoyed the book and was pleasantly surprised. It took a while to reach 'can't put down status' but it did and before long it was over. Book listens in about 5 and a half hours so there isn't much investment for what turns out to be a pretty well thought and told story.
I was unimpressed with the story, a lot of usual sci-fi fare, but I was really impressed by the descriptions of the aliens. Published in 1938, I can really see the influence on a lot of aliens in other franchises especially Mass Effect. I'll probably get around to the rest of the trilogy some time.
There is always a moral to his stories, but I found this one very interesting and different from his typical fare. I am going to look into more of his lesser known books and hope to be pleasantly surprised by them as well.
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