Out of the Silent Planet is the first book in C.S. Lewis’s Space or Cosmic Trilogy. Lewis is best known for the Narnia series and his work in apologetics. Now, I never got into the Narnia books growing up and have seen the live action movies but even so my first real introduction to Lewis came in college when I read the play Shadowlands, which is about the romance of Joy Gresham and Jack. I’ve read some of his apologetic works but not much else, so when I saw C.S. Lewis on a list of Great Science Fiction book I knew that I should get around to read it. Spoilers to follow, so please read with caution.
According to a biographer the book series came out of a conversation Lewis and his friend J.R.R. Tolkien had about the state of contemporary fantasy. They agreed that Lewis would write a space-travel story, and Tolkien would write a time-travel one. Lewis books came out and a fragment of a fourth eventually followed, while Tolkien’s time-travel story didn’t go far as only a rough draft exist which sort of linked the current world to that of Middle Earth. It sounds interesting and is found in The Lost Road and Other Writings.
Out of the Silent Planet is a book about space travel. We follow a brilliant philogist (linguist), Dr. Elwin Ransom, who get tricked into traveling to the planet Malacandra by Dr. Weston and Devine. Weston and Devine kidnap Ransom and bring him to Malacandra so as to give Ransom to the sorns as a sacrifice. When they land Ransom hearing their plan decides when they land to run off and escape his fate. Ransom runs off and gets lost on this strange world. He eventually befriends another species the hross, who Ransom learns about the planet as well as the language. The inhabitants of Malacandra (sorns, hross, pfifltrigg) also learn from Ransom about Earth or Thulcandra, the silent planet. Ransom is eventually summoned to see Oyarsa the ruler of Malacandra or Mars and his travel companions end up here as well. The book has a wonderful ending, but you are going to have to read to find out what happens.
It is interesting to read about the wonders of the landscape of Mars as thought of in 1938. If you want a lesser know science fiction novel it is a great thing to pick up. There are some religious elements but it is not overly religious like the Narnia books. It is a quick and easy read, sure there are some words in Old Solar Language but there were quickly defined in English.