Book review: Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis

AbbyMac By AbbyMac, 11th Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Science Fiction & Fantasy

The book "Out of the Silent Planet" by C.S. Lewis, the first volume in a trilogy, gives us a view of the human condition from an outsider's perspective.

Out of the Silent Planet

The Christian concepts of sin, the adversary, the heavenly host and the Creator are all a part of this clever story by Lewis, and are here given a science fiction/fantasy backdrop. We are shown our sinfulness and its concomitant attributes: fear, greed, anger and insanity, from an innocent's perspective. Though we as a culture and a people have a spectrum of good to evil, even the best of us falls short in perfect trust and love, a failing indeed.

Our hero, Ransom, is abducted in a nefarious plot and taken to an alien land on the planet Malacandra. His captors wish to offer him as a sacrifice in exchange for financial benefit to themselves. Ransom escapes once on the planet and runs away in terror from both his malicious kidnappers and the terrifying monstrous locals, the "sorns" who presumably need the sacrifice.

His trek across the countryside gives us a beautiful description of the strange land that is so unlike earth in every way. The Laws of Physics don't seem to apply quite the same way here, the color palette is completely different and the textures that surround him are, well, alien! The beauty of the land is disorienting to Ransom who has no idea where to go, what to eat or what to drink.

He providentially bumps into a new creature that is animal-like in appearance. But Ransom soon realizes this it is a sentient, rational being whom he has judged too quickly. They are able to communicate through body language and Ransom is rescued from his plight. He happily settles down with these beings, the "hrossa" and lives among them learning their language and customs.

As the story progresses we learn that all the "aliens" throughout the universe are in contact with one another with the exception of earth, which had gone silent once the "bent one" (presumably Satan) took control of this world. This is where the Christian philosophies begin to introduce themselves into the story.

We are shown our fallen nature through the eyes of fellow rational beings who have not fallen. Ransom feels guilty before them all, even though he is the "best" of the humans present; he still falls short. He has pre-judged the creatures of Malacandra and done so poorly. Ransom is made to see these things but not condemned for them. There is hope, even for humans, through trusting the Creator.

"Out of the Silent Planet" is a well-written though brief story of Christian allegory. It is similar to Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia with its strange lands and talking creatures, but has somewhat more adult themes and is peopled with more supernatural characters representing our ideas of angels and gods.

The story's biggest failing is the science elements which are hopelessly unbelievable: the space ship that transports them millions of miles away is shaped something like a soccer ball with windows and has an unstated mechanism for propulsion and life support. And we learn that Malacandra is Mars which, in this day and age, doesn't work in the story as an inhabited, tree-filled planet. If you can suspend that disbelief for a moment then an enjoyable adventure and relevant philosophical discussion await you.

Tags

Cs Lewis, Out Of The Silent Planet, Trilogy

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author avatar AbbyMac
I am a mother of two teenage girls, living on a farm where we raise award-winning Corriedale Sheep. I have homeschooled for 11 years and currently own a homeschool curriculum store. I enjoy writing about homeschooling, animals and mysteries of the ...(more)

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