Out of the Silent Planet is the first novel of the Cosmic Trilogy, considered to be C.S. Lewis' chief contribution to the science fiction genre. The trilogy concerns Dr. Ransom, a linguist, who, like Christ, was offered a ransom for mankind. The first two novels are planetary romances with elements of medieval mythology. Each planet is seen as having a tutelary spirit; those of the other planets are both good and accessible, while that of Earth is fallen, twisted, and not known directly by most humans. The story is powerfully imagined, and the effects of lesser gravity on Martian planet and animal life is vividly rendered.
©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)
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.
I downloaded this for road trips. There are two reasons why this is an excellent purchase.
1) C.S. Lewis is brilliant. His grasp of how space travel would happen and of spirituality is very gripping.
2) The person reading the book did an excellent job.
We listened to it over 4 trips. It made the drive something to look forward too! I am about to download the next two in the series.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
THE LOVE OF KNOWLEDGE IS A KIND OF MADNESS
I loved parts of this very much and was bored by a lot of it very much. Lewis is an intellectual, but makes hard things easy to understand. If only I could have edited out the mindless running around and the creature of the week. This is my second reading of this, not sure if I will read it again. I wonder if we have eldil on our world, but just don't know it. I loved the beginning of the book and want to go on my own walking tour. I liked how he gets to Malacandra (Mars). Once he gets there, he runs into several different beings and we get these long descriptions of them, along with the fauna. He starts running around the planet which leads to more descriptive monsters and fauna. Occasionally he has conversations with some of the beings and those are usually very thought provoking. I think the intellectual conversations make the book worth getting, but the mindless running around, just to be able to describe more creatures, keeps me from giving it a fifth star.
YOU HOLD ALL THE CARDS
I liked it so much, I forced myself to take it slow
What an incredible book. Better than Narnia, Better than Middle Earth. If I could go to any one of them, I'd go to Malacandra and the Handramit.
Lewis' grasp of the best and worst of humanity is clearly portrayed in a fast-moving, thought provoking story, where one can relate great principles and insights to the non-listener. Though some may not be drawn to science-fiction novels, the lack of techno-overkill is refreshing enabling the listener to enjoy the story for itself and the themes embarked upon in part 1 of this trilogy.
The eye-openers Ransom experiences, particularly the appreciation of the traits of each species he encounters that are so contrary to the attitudes formed before meeting them - pre-judging others is such a stupid predisposition...
The use of so many English words long fallen into disuse is very refreshing and stimulates the listener's vocabulary back above the 6th-grade norm of so much of modern "literature". The language Lewis uses paints graphic word pictures that few others approach. This is classic writing!
He brings tangible emotion to the listener that is clearly in keeping with the context and his speaking pace is fast, which keeps one's attention.
The honor and respect given to the three hrossa killed by the "bent men".
Truly a great novel; highly recommended for its language and story, but predominantly for its themes and messages.
C.S.Lewis does it again. I am never disappointed with any of his fiction, and this time is no different. This book can only be fully appreciated when read in the full trilogy. It's just a shame that Audible.com doesn't carry 'Perelandra' (or 'Voyage to Venus', as it is otherwise known), which is the pinnacle of the trilogy.
The style of this book may seem dated, but the themes are so profound and perennial that this book will resonate with the reader for a long long time, if one reads carefully and with an eye to such themes (Lewis never writes superfluously).
For the true Lewis fan, who understands his purpose, you will not be disappointed!
Another wonderful tale by C.S. Lewis. In fact, my ten year old son enjoyed this story as much as I did! Although the deeper points of this enchanting story may be lost on the young, the beauty of this book is that it has a philosophical aspect that draws in the mind while sparking the imagination. We can't wait to read the next book in the series.
I am an athiest and I did not want to be pounded with a religious message and to my delight I was not, C.S of course is going to thread it in at times but its not so much as to annoy the listener. I say for a science fiction book this one is pretty good.
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.
Wonderful book by one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. Lewis blends fiction with Christian principles in a seamless way. Think narnia in space for adults.
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