Tag Archives: C. S. Lewis

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.

A Biography Kind of Year: 2017

This past summer I was able to pick up several second-hand biographies from my local library thanks to the St. Charles Library Foundation.  I have already started one of those:  The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.  I must say that while this is a very thick book (741 pages w/out acknowledgments, notes, etc.), it is actually a page-turner.  My hope is to finish this book by year’s end, and begin its sequel (Theodore Rex) in the new year.  Perhaps finish up the third part of the trilogy (Colonel Roosevelt) by Christmas, 2017.

Image result for john wayne the man behind the mythThere are others however that I picked up that I am hoping to get through.  The fear that I have in reading these bios is simply that my perception of the person will change for the worse.  Most of these people I know in name only or by characters they played on television and movies.  I have preconceived ideas of who they were and what they were about, but those notions are baseless.  So as I pick up John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth by Michael Munn or Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald
Spoto I wonder if I will end up no longer admiring them.  What if they turn out not to beImage result for Enchanted: Audrey Hepburn
the people I have so-long believed them to be?  Obviously no one is exactly what one would picture them to be, but what if they are not even close?  Will I lose all respect for them and not be able to speak of them without a bitter taste in my mouth?  Will I even be able to watch their movies anymore?  I suppose in the end, my desire to know the truth about these celebrities is more important to me.

Image result for tecumseh sherman biographyOf course, there is the opposite idea as well. Growing up in Georgia, I never heard any good word mentioned of William Tecumseh Shermon.  My plan is to read one (if not two) biographies on this hero of the North and devil to the South.  All I know about this man is his fiery March to the Sea.  Surely there was more to his life than that!  I look forward to seeing if he is the scoundrel that I have always heard he was.

Of course there are more books: one on C. S. Lewis, one on John Knox (the great Scottish Reformer), and one on John Adams (you may have heard of it; it’s by McCullough).  But theGod's War.jpgbook I am most excited about and most hesitant on is not a biography, but a history.  God’s War: A New History of the Crusades by Christopher Tyreman is intimidating both for its size (900+ pages) and because I know so little and probably so much misinformation about the Crusades.  This one will have to be read throughout the entire year, chunk by chunk.

This past year I have read 31 books so far and hoping to finish out with 33.  That’s quite a feat for me.  I probably will not even come close to that in 2017 since many of the books I will be reading are taking me to depths unknown.  How about you?  Any books sitting on the shelf begging for some attention?