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.
The book is very well written, the story is creative and thought provoking.
Lewis is fantastic at creating a picture, even another world in his books by details and well crafted characters that pull you into the story.
I am a life long C.S. Lewis fan. I have read everything he has written with a few exceptions. Geoffrey Howard's reading was adequate. Certianly not annoying but a less monotone voice would have been perferable.
There really are no comparisons to this book. An anti thesis to it would be HG Wells' "First Men in the Moon". Most people would say the HG Wells book is the better work, I would not be one of those.
He did not detract but he was a bit monotone. I've had to endure much worse narrators than this one.
It depends on who made it and what actors are in it. There are certain actors I cannot stomach no matter how good I think the movie may be. The last movie that was made from a C.S. Lewis book was the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. They gutted the Lewis story in that movie and it was really quite sad because it is the best of the Narnia stories.
If this were done by a better Narrator, I would purchase it again. The main problem was the the chapter navigation in the book is all messed up and doesn't seem to work on my IPOD at all. You can play it from beginning to end but you cannot jumb from chapter to chapter.
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 think you could only write this book if you had no idea what space was actually like. If you want to consider matters of randomly generated space characteristics and theology you may enjoy this.
What a mind C.S. Lewis had. The books was good and I enjoyed the adventure he took me on. The details are such I felt like I was there experiencing it along side the main character. It is worth listening to the book.
I had read it before but forgotten much. Loved it again. He tells through fiction what either cannot be communicated directly or would be much, much more difficult.
Still likes books
I have always loved this book from the first time I read it many years ago. Was happy to find the audiobook so inexpensive. I only wish that the reader had been better. This wonderful, deep, laugh out loud funny book deserves the best interpreter out there. C.f. The Abolition of Man by Lewis for an excellent companion to this book,if you want a nonfiction look at some of the ideas touched on here.