Tag Archives: books

Book Review: Out of the Silent Planet

C. S. Lewis, who is best known for his Chronicles of Narnia series, wrote a trilogy of sci-fi books known simply as “The Space Trilogy.” Science-fiction was what Lewis was famous for before becoming a Christian (and after), and “The Space Trilogy” was his best known work until The Chronicles of Narnia. Published in 1938, more than a decade before Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet was published. I had heard about this book/series many years ago, but I don’t read much fiction and I definitely don’t read science-fiction. However, last year I heard a little more about this first book that raised my curiosity. I do not remember who it was that made the remark, but it was said that Lewis wrote the book, in part, as a push back to the likes of H. G. Wells’ sci-fi. Welles and others like him, would speak of aliens coming to earth from above in order to hurt or enslave the innocent earthlings below. This was a deliberate attempt on Wells and like-writers who were mainly atheists to persuade their readers to start thinking as that which is not earthly/earthy (in other words, that which is heavenly–namely God) is evil, destructive, and to be feared or rejected. To contrast this perception, C. S. Lewis wrote “The Space Trilogy.”

If I were to describe the book in one word, it would be: “Wow!” I absolutely loved the book. It is better than any of the Chronicles of Narnia, by far! If you like Dances with Wolves or The Last Samurai, (or the part in Gulliver’s Travels with the Houyhnhnm/horses), you will enjoy this book. It is similar, but takes place in outer-space. To briefly give a synopsis of the book (spoiler-alert; skip this paragraph if you want to read it yourself), a man by the name of Ransom is kidnapped by two men and put into a space-craft. They plan to sacrifice him to the aliens on whatever planet they are headed to (eventually revealed to be Mars, but has its own actual name: Malacandra). Ransom escapes and befriends different aliens (Hross), learns their language, and becomes part of their tribe. Eventually he is summoned by the higher beings (Sorns) on the planet, but his delay is deadly for his best hross friend (Hyoi) on the planet as his former captors shot him with a rifle from a distance. When he eventually gets to the higher plains where the Sorn live he finds his two captors/murderers captured. Though Oyarsa (the leader) does not believe Ransom to be like those who look like him, they are all sent back (at Ransom’s request) to Thulcandra (earth–the silent planet) with Ransom instructed to make sure the bad guys do not return, if they are able to make it back at all or anyone who would do harm to their way of life. What had been a peaceful planet, in which everything works in harmony, had now experienced murder and disruption. Those who were earthly/earthy had brought evil onto another planet rather than have another planet bring evil upon the earth.

The copy of the book I read, published by Scribner, comes in at 158 pages. This is a copyTrilogy 1 that has tiny print and small margins, so expect your copy to be a bit thicker. Even if you are not a sci-fi guy/gal (like me), I do believe you will enjoy this book. There are definite Christian overtones to this book, but not so easily seen as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with an Aslan figure rising from the dead. The overtones could be missed if read by a non-believer (or believer alike). If you’ve read it, let me know your thoughts. I would love to read your comments.

Top 10: Children’s Books

It’s Thursday’s Top 10 again! This is just a fun article every Thursday to help you, the reader, get to know me, the author, a little bit better.  It’s generally fun, always informative (even if there is no point to the information).  Today’s top 10 deals with my favorite children’s books.  I go back through my childhood and into adulthood where I read to my kids and give you my top 10. I give an Amazon link to each one, in case you want to buy a copy.

10. Pokey Little Puppy

I read this book all the time as a kid.  It’s about puppy-brothers going out exploring and playing.  However one would never stay with the others and always wound up getting home late. No matter what the consequence, the pokey little puppy wouldn’t learn.

9. The Crippled Lamb

A little lamb who has a bum leg is not allowed to go out to pasture with the rest of the sheep.  Instead he must stay in the cave with an old cow (and friend).  While there, he is woken up by the noise of a baby crying.  This is a heartwarming Christmas story that children are bound to love.

8. Corduroy

A bear in corduroy over-alls is for sale but he has lost one of his buttons. He searches the department store throughout the night looking for his button, but to no avail. The next morning a girl  who had seen him the day before, buys him, takes him home, and sews on a new button. Corduroy found the friend he’d always wanted.

7. Sammy and His Shepherd

This is a telling of Psalm 23 for children going through each line and telling a story through each. This is such a sweet story that my daughters loved to hear. For a full review click here.

6. Heckedy Peg

This book reminds me of a cross between Snow White and Hansel and Gretel.  A witch comes upon a house filled with seven children (each named after a day of the week).  She turns them into food, and takes them back to her house for a feast. When the mother returns home from the market she must find her children. A bird takes her to the witch’s house, but upon arrival she has one chance to figure out which food is which child or else the witch will eat them all.  I read this one between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  It has a witch and it has a lot of food.  Perfect for the fall season.

5. Green Eggs & Ham

Classic! Nothing more to say.

4. The Easter Angels

I love this story! The death angel is told to wait at the tomb of Jesus but has no idea why. He talks with another angel about all the things he has seen and done. Meanwhile they are awaiting the signal to read their orders and know why they were ordered to the tomb.  The signal came: women walking down the road. The orders were read.  Get the book and find out the ending; it gives me chills every time. Last I looked, there were only 3 left on Amazon.

3. Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories

Caution! I am not necessarily recommending this book.  It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s also not for the theologically astute.  But it was one of my favorites as a kid.  My mom stopped reading us these bedtime stories because she thought they were too sad and made us cry. But I loved them and would find the book and read the stories.  I found out a few years ago that the one I read as a kid was actually part of a series (I believe it was volume 1).  If your child is sensitive, you may not want to buy this book.  One of the stories was “Jesus Understands”. It’s about a kid who got hit by a car and rushed to the hospital. His roommate told him about Jesus. The next morning, the kid was dead.  Another was about a fire getting closer and closer to some type of explosive agent that would have destroyed the whole farm.  Little kids had to run to the stream so far away multiple times with their buckets to put the fire out. But they grew so tired and were tempted to give up.  Great stories!

2. Tikki Tikki Tembo

This is a “Chinese legend.” Though that’s not really true from what I can find; it’s just a fun children’s story. It is about how the Chinese give such short names to their children. It used to be the first born got really long names like Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo, but because of tragedy in a well, they stopped that tradition.  It is such a fun read; children crack up all through the book as I read it to them.

1. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf

This is the book that made me a lover of books. For my full “story” of this children’s book you can click here. While I don’t agree with it theologically, I do see that this book can be a great help to explain death to children.

Some runners up: Stone Soup, The Velveteen Rabbit, and Miss Nelson is Missing. So what children’s books are your favorite ones? What did I get wrong? Which one surprised you most? Let me know. Leave a comment below.