In the first novel of C.S. Lewis’s classic science fiction trilogy, Dr Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the ‘silent planet’ – Earth – whose tragic story is known throughout the universe…
Dear Out of the Silent Planet,
Thank you for the opportunity to travel off earth and into the unknown. I was challenged to look at humanity and the ease of misunderstanding. We only briefly met, however our interactions will stick with me for a long while.
One of my favorite authors is C.S. Lewis, which is funny because I did not grow up with the Chronicles of Narnia. He does such an excellent jobs talking through complex subjects and putting language to big ideas. There is a school called Hillsdale College which offers free online classes. I recently took the class on C.S. Lewis, which expanded my admiration of him and his work.
I have read a couple of the Chronicles of Narnia, but I haven’t really explored C.S. Lewis’s fictional writing. I found this book to be slow moving at times, which made it difficult to stay involved. While I enjoy Sci-Fi/Fantasy books, I tend to enjoy books leaning heavier on the Fantasy than Sci-Fi. This book is great for people who enjoy more of the Sci-Fi slant. It goes into great detail about the different species on Malacandra and their rituals and languages and the culture there. I admire Lewis for what he was able to imagine and articulate.
Dr. Ransom is abducted by an old school chum and is shuttled off to Malacandra in order to be a sacrifice to the native people there. Which sounds a little creepy, so when he gets to the planet, he runs away (naturally). Then the adventure begins about learning to discard his first impressions and see the beauty in the creatures. Although, their life and world view is so different than his own. Of all the creatures, I really enjoyed the life perspective of the Hross and the Oyarsa. The Hross seemed so simple to Dr. Ransom at the beginning. Seeing his development was one of my highlights. I appreciated how he took a place of cultural humility, where as the others took more of a colonizing approach. The Oyarsa was a beautiful depiction of the spiritual realm.
There is so much detail and depth to the writing, at times I felt like there was too much detail. The detail was so interesting and added to the immersion of the foreign planet. But, I got bogged down by it and missed the enjoyment of the broader plot. While this book wasn’t my absolute favorite (and I will probably not read it again), I am glad I read it. I’m thankful for the thinking it provoked and some of the analogies I can now use, having read the book. I also feel encouraged to read the next book. I have many friends who say “Perelandra” is their favorite of the trilogy, so I will (eventually) follow Dr. Ransom’s journey to the next planet.
I recommend this book if you enjoy alien/planet life-forms, Sci-Fi, and an interesting philosophical question wrapped inside of an imaginative book. It is a short read if you’re struggling to finish a book, as well. When in a book slump, it can be helpful to feel the accomplishment of finishing a book… at least in my opinion.