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Title: Out of the Silent Planet
Series: Space Trilogy #1
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Professor Ransom, taking a long sabbatical from work, is walking about England for the sheer heck of it. He gets involved in a situation with a former classmate and ends up being kidnapped and taken to another planet as a human sacrifice. He escapes and begins to learn a little bit about this new [to him] world, Malacandra and eventually comes before the ruler of the world to face his kidnappers and learn what fate awaits him.
The postscript, or Epilogue, takes a slightly different tone and is from the viewpoint of Lewis, who has been hired by Ransom to tell his story. Lewis learns that Ransom is not a balmy old bat but a man with some seriously influential spiritual friends. Ends with Ransom being prepared for some sort of mission.
This Space Trilogy has a story associated with it for me, so please bear with me as I meanderingly make my way to the actual review. When I was in 3rd grade, our school had a book fair and in one of the “big kids” booths was this paperback trilogy in a nice slipcase:
Not the best picture, but shows the colors and the picture that just drew me in. The books themselves are light blue, orangey’-red and then a darker blue. For whatever reason, when I saw this set, for $8, my 3rd grade self knew that I would DIE if I couldn’t own these. My father lent me the money [where he got it, I have no idea, as we were literally dirt poor] and thus I became the proud owner. I manfully struggled through the first book, understanding it was about a man going to another planet. I simply read, without comprehending a thing, the second book and the size of the 3rd one kept me from even trying it. It wasn’t until years later in highschool that I revisited these and “understood” what I was reading. But I will always associate these books with that feeling of OWNING my first Grown Up books.
I really enjoyed this read. The main reason for it being a 3.5star read has more to do with comparison than a lack in the book itself. I read this primarily as a Science Fiction book and not as a theological one wrapped in an SFF wrapper. In that regards, there are a lot of better written, more enjoyable, more fleshed out books out there.
The other thing that dragged it down a bit for me was the epilogue with Lewis and from Lewis’s point of view. It was supposed to be fearful, unsure and unconvinced, but I didn’t like that change of tone from Ransom’s earlier in the book. Maybe I’m just so mired in the mundane that I have lost any fear, in the right sense of the word, of the spiritual world and Lewis’s account just made me uncomfortable with the reality?
I did find it interesting to see how Lewis dealt with the very idea of “aliens”. I also realized just how deeply formed my views on life and how humans interact with the universe have been shaped by this book. As a Christian I’m not convinced God has created other lifeforms beyond angels and humans but if He has, I can totally buy into Lewis’s idea of a Quarantine around Earth because of the Fall of Man starting with Adam and Eve. I suspect that a lot of the conclusions that I’ve come to on my own about alien life are, in fact, the workings out of my initial reading of this book back in 3rd grade.
The next book, Perelandra, is a very different beast, so we’ll see how my read of that goes. I suspect I’ll be looking at much more from the theological and philosophical than just the SF angle.