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 copy 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.