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Just as readers have been transfixed by the stories, characters, and deeper meanings of Lewis's timeless tales in The Chronicles of Narnia, most find this same allure in his classic Space Trilogy. In these fantasy stories for adults, we encounter, once again, magical creatures, a world of wonders, epic battles, and revelations of transcendent truths.

Out of the Silent Planet is the first novel in C. S. Lewis's classic science fiction trilogy. It tells the adventure of Dr. Ransom, a Cambridge academic, who 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!

Topics: Mars, Angels, Trilogy, First in a Series, England, Speculative Fiction, Space Travel, Space, Aliens, Allegory, Adventurous, Suspenseful, Philosophical, Inklings, and First Person Narration

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062197030
List price: $7.99
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Probably not fair to review it several decades after reading it, but I recall wanting to read it very much after discovering the Narnia books as a child, and being rather disappointed as I didn't find it anywhere near as engaging as I'd hoped.more
C S Lewis is well known as the author of the magnificent Narnia Chronicles. He deserves equal recognition, however, for his Space Trilogy and his Screwtape Letters.

Out of the Silent Planet is the first in the Space Trilogy. It is a wonderful piece of science fiction, with the description of Mars being outstanding, even if modern discoveries about our neighbour have changed our views. At the time it was written, Lewis could have been as accurate as any other in his view of the red planet.

The central character, Ransom, is entirely believable in his reactions and limitations. He represents "everyman", with his limited views and desires, essentially good - but only because of his normality. The two villains, Weston and Devine represent the two aspects of Humanity that most of us either despise or are at least suspicious of. Weston is the intellectual, the "brains" who will stop at nothing to see his ambitions satisfied, driven by scientific knowledge that has no emotional element whatsoever. Devine is the "exploiter", driven purely by greed - for money and power, wanting only to enjoy all that he desires - no matter the cost to others.

The denizens of Mars are also believable. The three intelligent species may be seen as representative of human "races", but here showing how their differences are accepted, even admired, and that harmony can, and should, exist between them. Then there are the "higher beings", the eldila, who might appear to inhabit Mars, but whose existence is far vaster than that, allowing them to inhabit the cosmos, wherein the planets are but specks. These eldila are entirely different to all other species, except in one important aspect - they are creations of Maleldil, the supreme being.

Out of the Silent Planet can be read as a simple science fiction novel. However, it takes little effort to identify the true nature of the tale. Earth, the "silent planet", is isolated - a world under siege, a trap for rebel eldila. We can easily identify the eldila with angels, and Earth's are the fallen ones, led by the governing eldil (Oyarsa) of Earth, who is clearly Satan. While this might sound unappetising to some readers, I believe that the book, and its sequels, are well worth reading. The allegorical nature of the trilogy is no more burdensome than it is in the Narnia Chronicles.more
I remember reading this, but it didn't make much impression on me.more
Like many older works of science fiction we now know that the planetary descriptions are definitely not correct. But, like many of those works, the story stands on its own merits outside of the science. Out of the Silent Planet is the first book in a trilogy which explores a great number of religious and philosophical questions by taking the protagonist to Mars (in this book) and Venus (in the next). The story is still fun to read, even on the sixth or seventh go-around. The plot is very well constructed. The villains are chosen to represent certain philosophical viewpoints and thus are a little latter than the protagonist and several of the Martian characters.Although I think anyone could enjoy the story, to fully enjoy it you will need to be at least in sympathy with Lewis' Christian viewpoint, as it flavors the entire work, and crucial plot elements (such as the entire organizational structure of the planets) are based on Lewis' Christian speculations and readings.more
Professor Elwin Ransome, a philologist from Oxford University, is on a solitary walking tour in the English Midlands, when he encounters an old school acquaintance Devine, and his associate Weston. Rather than being offered a bed for the night, as he had hoped, he is drugged and kidnapped, and on waking finds himself on a spaceship bound for a planet called Malacandra, which Weston and Devine have visited before. Gathering from an overheard conversation that the two men mean to hand him over as some form of sacrifice to the less than friendly inhabitants of the planet, the sorns, he resolves to escape at the earliest opportunity. But fleeing from the sorns he encounters another of Malacandra's intelligent species, the hrossa, from whom he learns that Weston and Devine have misunderstood completely the nature of life on Malacandra, revealed as Mars. And when he is summoned by Oyarsa, the ruler of Malacandra, the reason why Earth is the silent planet is finally revealed.C.S. Lewis was one of my favourite writers as a child - I loved the Narnia books and this reminded me slightly of The Last Battle. In common with Lewis's other books this has religious or perhaps spiritual overtones but not excessively so. The book was written in 1938, so it is science-fiction more along the lines of H.G.Wells or Jules Verne, rather than anything more modern. Don't go looking here for any scientific accuracy, but it's a fun read and Malacandra is beautifully described. I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series.more
I've seen this listed as a classic work of science fiction, but having now read this, I find that a misnomer. This is more anti-science fiction. Published in 1938, it involves a philologist, Elwin Ransom, kidnapped by a physicist, Professor Weston and his colleague Dr Devine and transported on a spaceship to Malacandra (Mars). It struck me early on that it was antithetical to science fiction, not because the science is ludicrous--after all, this was written in 1938, but I don't think Lewis even tries. The science isn't what this is all about. It's not speculative about nature, it's dogmatic. Mars and space is written to conform to Christian mythology the better to fit a very explicit Christian allegory. It's not as immediately blatant perhaps as Narnia, but note this passage from fairly early on while Ransom is on the spaceship:He wondered how he could have ever thought of planets, even of the Earth, of islands of life and reality floating in a deadly void. Now, with a certainty which never after deserted him, he saw the planets—the "earths" he called them in his thought—as mere holes or gaps in the living heaven--excluded and rejected wastes of heavy matter and murky air, formed not by addition to, but by subtraction from, the surrounding darkness.On Mars we're introduced to various sentient species, the Sorns, the Hross, the pfifltrigg. They're all ruled over by Oyarsa, and when we finally meet that entity, we have allusions to what is obviously the story of Satan and the Fall. In other words, this novel has a lot more in common with Dante, Milton, even Swift than Verne, Wells or Burroughs. Ransom even tells us the purpose of his book is "a change-over from the conception of Space to the conception of Heaven." And I prefer Space. Greatly.So, if that were all there were to it, I'd probably not rate the book so highly. But speaking of the spirit of Swift... Well, the scene where Ransom translates Weston's speech to Oyarsa, nay, the whole interview between Weston and Oyarsa, is priceless. I have mentioned this was published in 1938? Given this is the age of Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, the satire of fascism has particular resonance but that scene hits out not only at that kind of totalitarianism but the idea of Kipling's "White Man's Burden" and so Anglo-American forms of imperialism as well--and does so in a way not at all dry and didactic but really quite funny. Definitely my favorite scene in the book, although even the more allegorical passages had its pleasures if only for the poetry of Lewis' prose.more
This is the first of three novels Lewis writes and this first one is just as good as the second one is bad. Ransom is the protagonist who is captured by two evil men ("bent" is the word used ehrein and I like that!) and taken to Melcandria (Mars). He escapes from Weston and Devine and meets all three races of the planet, beginning with a walrus-looking fellow who takes Ransom home and tgeaches the earthman his language. Then he is introduced to a sorn who is commissioned by the Martian superviso/God/spirit to bring Ransom to see him. There are other creatures in the book, too, with unpronouncable names and unseeable bodies. Just wonderfully imaginative and spiritually interesting. Of course it would have to be with C. S. Lewis, a student and don of ChristChurch writing it, n'est-ce pas?more
Overall, I will definitely be interested in obtaining the other two novels in this series, but I was not in love with the story as I have been with Narnia.more
Ignoring the many critics of this book, and having long since had the desire to read it, being that I am a great fan of Martian fiction; I decided to forgo my trepidation at receiving a good 'Bible bashing' for my troubles and dived right in with my boots on!What did I discover after all the uming and aring? A damn fine story actually: kind of paced like one of those Dick Barton Special Agent stories but with a sort of Edgar Rice Burroughs thing going on. I liked it very much though. The best segment for me was undoubtedly the Earth bound adventure prior to getting to the red planet as I thought the suspense was absolutely spot on! I found some of the alien races on Malacandra more or less interesting but I would have liked to have gotten to the bottom of what was going on there supernaturally with the deitys hovering about? but I guess that's why it is a trilogy!Funnily enough, after all the positive feelings I had reading this book, I didn't find myself grasping for the next instalment right off my bookshelf, but instead vouched for something a little different instead. I'm not sure why? Usually I have to read a series right through without a break (unless it's as expansive as the Tarzans or Doc Savage collections) but I guess I will probably make a point of reading the others before the year is out? I am certain that once I have read all three I will probably want to go back and re-read Silent Planet again.Overall: Beautifully worded period (futuristic) drama.more
It is true that C.S. Lewis includes Christian overtones in his writing and this book is no different. However, it is not preachy or overpowering and even a non-religious person can read this book without feeling that they are being proselytized. The writing style is classic and flawless in a way which is rarely seen today. Some aspects of the story do not stand the test of time- such as the presence of civilizations on mars. Such problems do not necessarily destroy a work of science fiction and I was able to look past this minor point. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is no less of a good read today just because we now know there does not seem to be complex life on Mars and it does not affect this story either. I enjoyed the book and its message.more
You ever start a book and it seems to hold great promise, so much promise that you'll know you will finish it and in a small part feel that you've obtained something positive from your reading of it?This novel by the reknown Mr. Lewis isn't it. It falls short because it stays so wrapped with description that it could very well be a description exercise in a high school creative writing class; this exhaustive description is needlessly spent, which is perhaps a good thing because once that's been exhausted or seems to be, Lewis introduces life forms with imaginative names, customs, and language--but these names all tend to become bogged down to the point of being partially indistinct--and slows the plot down to the point of feeling indifferent and garbled and finally, stagnant--which would explain why I didn't finish it even though it's a short book.ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZmore
I read the Narnia series in 4th grade and again in my mid 20s before I gave them all to my nephew. I've read some of Lewis' more "adult" works, [The Screwtape Letters] and more recently, [The Great Divorce]. This book (and I'm guessing the trilogy) seems to be a bridge between those works. Unfortunately, it didn't hold my imagination the way Narnia did. I felt it concentrated more on landscape than on characters and in the case of the main character, I didn't feel he was believable. The depth found in his other books also wasn't there. I'm still going to give the others in the trilogy a chance at some point since I've enjoyed Lewis' work up to this point, but I'm in no rush to do so.more
I love this book. I have read it many, many times and the part that really stands out in my memory is when one of the creatures from Malacandra explains to the protagonist that it is not normal (it is bent) to wish to relive a period of time over and over again. Each part of a lifetime is a wonderful and unique thing and we should enjoy every second and not long to relive what is past.more
I'm more familiar with C.S. Lewis as the writer of children's books. This is the first book of his I have read for adults. It held my interest and his descriptions of leaving earth and life on another planet are worth reading it. Where the story lacks some for me is in the characters of the aliens. They were interesting but not engaging; it was hard to imagine them as real. I find this odd because in his children's books there are many characters that are not humans and I did not have the same trouble with them. However, it is worth the read for the plot and the stellar descriptions of life in space and on an alien world.more
Substance: As a science fiction writer, Lewis makes a great philosopher. In fairness, very few people writing in 1938 would have been able to imagine what space travel really looked like (he died in 1963). That aside, the story itself is weak and the apologia obvious.Style: The fanciful descriptions hold up, as does Ransom's (protagonist's) reactions and musings, but it's not a riveting read.more
Very good, though his musings on the connectivedness of the world are interesting - you can tell that he is Christian, but he's trying to fuse science with Christianity in a time really when there wasn't even a whole lot of resentment between the two. His narration is strange - every once in a while the "I" narrator breaks in, breaking the flow of the story so he seems godlike, but at times not seemingly very important to the overall cohesiveness of the story. at the end we find out Ransom is telling all this to a buddy after finding the word Oyarsa in ancient texts so it all comes out as there is basis, and the last few pages seem like a justificaiton for the entire tale - that it is indeed true and why it was at first presented as fiction.more
I did it! I finally conquered reading this book!!! This was my third attempt and I was able to complete it. My first two times the book seemed a bit long, descriptive and "heady," but this time the tale kept pulling me forward. Two types of my recent literary readings caused me to be more appreciative of the story. First, my fairly new (within the past two years) enjoyment of Star Wars books, where you explore different planets and lands. Secondly, I've deemed this summer as the "Summer of Lewis" where I've been reading C.S. Lewis' works like mad! I've grown familiar with his writing style and some of his reoccurring themes. Every time I read Lewis I feel as though my brain must be growing in some capacity or another."Out of the Silent Planet" is the first of Lewis' Space Trilogy. Dr. Ransom is taken captive on a space ship and where they eventually land on the planet of Malacandra. It is a planet it our own solar system, but you need to read the book to discover which one. He escapes from his captors and journeys to discover the planet.Conversation is a large part of the story and through Ransom's encounters with the species of a different world Lewis puts forward theological ideas. He is able to discuss sin, death, eternity, full life (not mortal life), love that becomes twisted to sit as a god--to name a few.I loved this book and am looking forward to the next in the trilogy (but I don't know when I might take it up). For those unfamiliar with Lewis, I'd suggest reading a few of his essays (The book "Mere Christianity" is a great place to start) and his book (its short and an easy read) "The Great Divorce." I would also advise you to skim over some biographical information, but I do not know that this is a necessity, just interesting.more
'Out of the Silent Planet', the 1st in Lewis' Space Trilogy, was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be. The journey of Ransom I found quite delectable. Really, this book proves to me why vintage Sci Fi is the best!I find several things of interest within that I believe are of importance in relating. The most obvious is [ SPOILER ALERT ] that the book centers around the planet Mars. I find this ironic given today's Mars conspiracy theorists such as Richard C. Hoagland. Hoagland is quite interesting to listen to, though I highly suspect mass pareidolia. I might throw in that Tesla suspected life on Mars, as does NASA, though they have failed to prove it (or have succeeded in hiding it) . It is a fascinating planet, Mars.I found Lewis' description of the eldila, Oyarsa, and Maleldil to be quite thought provoking. They, nearly invisible beings, were hindered from being whole in our world as we are hindered from even perceiving theirs—which is the Heavens. As Lewis put it, if you go so fast, you become still. They were creatures of Light, different from ours. His digression on Light and the Universe was quite stimulating.Essentially, Malacandra is a Garden of Eden with not one but 3 intelligent races. Lewis did an excellent job at developing each race. We had the Thinkers (Giants), Builders (Dwarves), and Poets (Beast-like).The Fall had never happened on Malacandra, though they did experience repercussions from Earth's fall—which was in fact the fall of Earth's Oyarsa. Within this peculiar world, Lewis is able to look back to Earth and reflect upon its inhabitants, its history, and its future. He succeeds in illuminating the failures of humanity and why postmodern materialism and the humanist's goals (Weston) are not logical (think of London's Wolf Larsen as the example of modern man).Ransom's eventual meeting with Oyarsa reveals much— not only to the story, but to Christian thought, and to Lewis' own unique and deep thoughts on God an the Universe. I can't imagine where the other 2 books in the trilogy will go from here, though I suspect Weston (as well as Ransom) will play a part!more
Eerie. That's the best word to describe Out of the Silent Planet. Lewis creates a world that is in stark contrast to his Narnia. It is a strange and mysterious place, and like the protagonist, we soon discover how insignificant Earth is to the other intelligent inhabitants of the universe. The story would be regarded as science fantasy today, but it remains one of the best examples of classic science fiction.more
C. S. Lewis, who most of you will instantly associate with either children's fantasy or epistemology, wrote a trilogy (or arguably, 3 and some proper fraction) of science fiction stories. Staying true to his evangelizing form, this series is very, very allegorical. The initial novel came to be as the product of a challenge between Lewis and Tolkien. Lewis would write a space travel story, while Tolkien would write a Time Travel story (find fragments of it in The Lost Road and Other Tales).The trilogy starts with the end. Not the end of the series, mind you: the end of Martian society. But let's back up...Elwin Ransom, philology professor, when taking a hike, ends up the subject of a scientific experiment by two fellows, Weston and Devine. After being drugged to sleep, he finds himself aboard a space ship headed for Mars, or Malacandra.It is here he meets a civilization nearing the end of its life, in contrast to Earth, which is somewhere in the middle. Ransom and his captors are caught in an endgame struggle between the three races of Mars.Lewis is able to write science fiction that isn't overly preachy, like many Christian sci-fi writers. And this makes it a bit more enjoyable thean the rest. This book, like many of Lewis' fiction, is very allegorical, even to the point of character names, like Pilgrim's Progress Through Space, or something. Nevertheless, those familiar with Lewis' writing, or of other allegorical science fiction, may find Out of the Silent Planet a nice way to break up the quiet period between your last and next book.more
Dr. Ransom is a Cambridge philologist who inadvertently runs into two old classmates from his school days. He never really liked them and with good reason. He likes them even less when they drug and kidnap him and take him for a cruise across the universe in a spaceship. They end up on the planet of Malacandra where Ransom is to be sacrificed to one of the alien creatures. Lewis tells this story as though the reader is sitting across from him beside a roaring fire. He describes Ransom's journey and reactions to this foreign new world as oddly detached and strangely calm. Probably the most interesting part to the whole story is how Ransom relates to his new world. He almost takes to it better than his own.more
Out of the Silent Planet was interesting and very worth the read, I think. In it, our hero Ransom is kidnapped by a former classmate (Devine) working with a renowned physicist (Weston) after he stumbles over them at a remote country estate. They take him aboard their spaceship bound for a second trip to Mars to fulfill the potentially sinister demands of the Martians (or Malacandrans, since they call the planet Malacandra). The speculative science is quite imaginative--the descriptions of the spaceship and its operation, the reaches of space, life on another planet with a different gravity, the psychology of kinship and xenophobia when confronted with the other, and Martian geography based on the best available information and hypotheses of the day (first published in the 1930s). The critique of attitudes of superiority derived from technological advancement, the pursuit of knowledge and wealth, and desire for conquest and colonization is spot on and at times hilarious. The arrogant pretensions of the men of science who refuse to see Martian society as anything other than superstitious, backwards savages hearken to colonial attitudes in our own history. Ransom feels ashamed of our history and society and general lack of morality and tries to hide the dark side of humanity from Malacandrans. The religious themes build from the first hints in the descriptions of space as filled with unearthly (celestial!) radiance rather than a barren nothingness to a complex, peaceful society of several species guided by unseen messengers to the final denouement of the scientists and their vanquishing by powers they cannot perceive or credit. The final speeches of the supreme being on Malacandra point toward the sequels in the trilogy. The title of the book refers to Earth, known as the Silent Planet to the rest of the cosmos when its supernatural guide became "bent" and was ultimately exiled (along with its planet) from the celestial plane. Hence our lost, immoral society and history filled with atrocities.more
One of the more powerful aspects of science fiction is its ability to take humanity out of context and thereby show things we take for granted in a different light. In Out of the Silent Planet Lewis unmasks the ideas of Social Darwinism and Manifest Destiny for the absurdities they are. Lewis is a master at world-building, as anyone who has read the more popular Narnia series can attest. The world of Malecandra is extremely well-crafted and it's easy to lose yourself in Ransom's slow journey to understanding of its inhabitants. I really enjoy Lewis's writing style and the subtle thread of joyful spirituality that lies beneath it. There is a good deal of theology woven into this story but it's not heavy-handed, and you won't enjoy it any less if you don't notice or don't believe in it. (After all, how many of you read and loved The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as kids without noticing the rather obvious theological parallels? I know I did.)Something I particularly liked was that Lewis does not pit spirituality against science itself, but against science used indiscriminately to serve greed and violence. This is a distinction that many Christians in this day and age have failed to grasp.I'm hoping the second and third parts of the trilogy turn out to be as good as this one.more
I've been a fan of C S Lewis, but I did not know that he wrote a science fictin trilogy trilogy. This is the first book of the trilogy and I want to read the other 2. This book has all of the word pictures that he has in The Croincles of Narnia, which I love. A man named Rasom was on a walking tour of England when he inquired of a woman if there were lodgings in a neighboring town, and she said no and for him to see if he could bring back her mildly retarded son back to her. She gave him the location and he said that he will do his best. When he arrives at the house, he sees two men harrassing the woman's son. Ransom tries to put a stop to it and as he was trying to do so, Devine recognises Ransom from their school days. Ransom was unsuccessful in saving the boy as Devine bops Ransom on the head and as he comes to, Ransom notices that he isn't in Devine's house any more. Devine tells him that he is on a space ship heading for Malacandra, which is the creatures of the planet name for Mars. The planet is very colorful and Ransom learns their way of life.There are a lot of symbolism in this book as there are in his Chronicles of Narnia and there are a few situation lessons that we can all learn from today as when this book was written in 1938.more
A really delightful early science fiction book. One of the things I loved was the way Lewis explains Mars' surface features using what little was known about the surface in 1938. His descriptions of space travel and arrival on an alien planet are quaint and improbable, but he seems to have tried to base his writing on scientific fact as he perceived it then. I really enjoyed the book and will try to find the other two in the trilogy to read.more
Out of the Silent Planet is an early example of science fiction. The protagonist, Ransom, is kidnapped and sent into space, eventually arriving at a planet called Malacandra (he finds out later that it's our Mars). A lot of it is simply an exploration of the landscape and its species - hopefully the other books in the trilogy will be less tiresome in that regard, now that we've had our introduction - but there are some good bits of religion and morality at the end. It turns out that the people of Malacandra think of Earth as the "silent planet," literally godforsaken, compared to their own society where their god interacts with them. Which is interesting, and hopefully will make for a good jumping-off point for the rest of the trilogymore
This is the only Lewis I've read aside from the Narnia series. Being as I was raised dirty heathen, I didn't pick up on the Christian aspects of his writing until later, and that still isn't the first thing that springs into view when I read him. Just so you know.I think my favorite parts of this one are the descriptions of Ransom lying in the spaceship, watching space go by. For someone who'd not only obviously never been to space, but didn't even have any descriptions from others who had, Lewis paints a detailed and engrossing picture of the teeming heavens. The whole book is obviously influenced by HG Wells' First Men in the Moon, but not enough to keep it from being very much its own novel.Now, don't get me wrong - there's a fairly simplistic "man is often evil due to the presence of Satan/bent Oyarsa on Earth, but the peoples of Mars are good, kind, and wise because they have true angels/true contact with God" theme running through the novel. Being as it's Lewis, I guess that's par for the course, and it didn't keep me from enjoying the story itself. I was intrigued by the idea of the various Martian races seeing each other as both human and animal (and thereby not needing pets in the way that Earthlings seem to, as a connection to the animal world within our own culture). I suspect that some folks right here see other races/nationalities the same way, and not in the respectful way Lewis lays on his creations.You know, I think this book (or the whole series - I haven't got far enough into it to know) helped inspired L'Engle when she wrote A Wrinkle in Time. Ransom's discussions with the different races is echoed in some of the childrens' encounters as they travel outward from Earth. Plus, there's the image of our planet being shrouded or silent - set apart from the rest of creation.final thought: It really all comes down to whether your believe that "Our right to supersede you is the right of the higher over the lower." I don't, and I enjoy the case made by Lewis on the matter as much as I enjoy his descriptions of the petrified Martian forests and the bright, warm stretches of space.more
This is the first book in Lewis’ “Space Trilogy” (so called even though the 3rd book takes place entirely on earth). The hero of the series, Ransom, is kidnapped and taken to another planet where his captors plan to offer him as a sacrifice to the beings on that planet in order to gain their favor so that they can exploit the riches of this new world. This example of early science fiction is fascinating—Lewis was much less interested in the science part than the “fantasy”—would make this book interesting in any event. However, as is usual with Lewis, the story has much more to say about the state of humanity than with the aspects of science he exploits to carry the story. It’s interesting that both Ransom and his captors fail to understand the inhabitants of this alien planet.more
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Reviews

Probably not fair to review it several decades after reading it, but I recall wanting to read it very much after discovering the Narnia books as a child, and being rather disappointed as I didn't find it anywhere near as engaging as I'd hoped.more
C S Lewis is well known as the author of the magnificent Narnia Chronicles. He deserves equal recognition, however, for his Space Trilogy and his Screwtape Letters.

Out of the Silent Planet is the first in the Space Trilogy. It is a wonderful piece of science fiction, with the description of Mars being outstanding, even if modern discoveries about our neighbour have changed our views. At the time it was written, Lewis could have been as accurate as any other in his view of the red planet.

The central character, Ransom, is entirely believable in his reactions and limitations. He represents "everyman", with his limited views and desires, essentially good - but only because of his normality. The two villains, Weston and Devine represent the two aspects of Humanity that most of us either despise or are at least suspicious of. Weston is the intellectual, the "brains" who will stop at nothing to see his ambitions satisfied, driven by scientific knowledge that has no emotional element whatsoever. Devine is the "exploiter", driven purely by greed - for money and power, wanting only to enjoy all that he desires - no matter the cost to others.

The denizens of Mars are also believable. The three intelligent species may be seen as representative of human "races", but here showing how their differences are accepted, even admired, and that harmony can, and should, exist between them. Then there are the "higher beings", the eldila, who might appear to inhabit Mars, but whose existence is far vaster than that, allowing them to inhabit the cosmos, wherein the planets are but specks. These eldila are entirely different to all other species, except in one important aspect - they are creations of Maleldil, the supreme being.

Out of the Silent Planet can be read as a simple science fiction novel. However, it takes little effort to identify the true nature of the tale. Earth, the "silent planet", is isolated - a world under siege, a trap for rebel eldila. We can easily identify the eldila with angels, and Earth's are the fallen ones, led by the governing eldil (Oyarsa) of Earth, who is clearly Satan. While this might sound unappetising to some readers, I believe that the book, and its sequels, are well worth reading. The allegorical nature of the trilogy is no more burdensome than it is in the Narnia Chronicles.more
I remember reading this, but it didn't make much impression on me.more
Like many older works of science fiction we now know that the planetary descriptions are definitely not correct. But, like many of those works, the story stands on its own merits outside of the science. Out of the Silent Planet is the first book in a trilogy which explores a great number of religious and philosophical questions by taking the protagonist to Mars (in this book) and Venus (in the next). The story is still fun to read, even on the sixth or seventh go-around. The plot is very well constructed. The villains are chosen to represent certain philosophical viewpoints and thus are a little latter than the protagonist and several of the Martian characters.Although I think anyone could enjoy the story, to fully enjoy it you will need to be at least in sympathy with Lewis' Christian viewpoint, as it flavors the entire work, and crucial plot elements (such as the entire organizational structure of the planets) are based on Lewis' Christian speculations and readings.more
Professor Elwin Ransome, a philologist from Oxford University, is on a solitary walking tour in the English Midlands, when he encounters an old school acquaintance Devine, and his associate Weston. Rather than being offered a bed for the night, as he had hoped, he is drugged and kidnapped, and on waking finds himself on a spaceship bound for a planet called Malacandra, which Weston and Devine have visited before. Gathering from an overheard conversation that the two men mean to hand him over as some form of sacrifice to the less than friendly inhabitants of the planet, the sorns, he resolves to escape at the earliest opportunity. But fleeing from the sorns he encounters another of Malacandra's intelligent species, the hrossa, from whom he learns that Weston and Devine have misunderstood completely the nature of life on Malacandra, revealed as Mars. And when he is summoned by Oyarsa, the ruler of Malacandra, the reason why Earth is the silent planet is finally revealed.C.S. Lewis was one of my favourite writers as a child - I loved the Narnia books and this reminded me slightly of The Last Battle. In common with Lewis's other books this has religious or perhaps spiritual overtones but not excessively so. The book was written in 1938, so it is science-fiction more along the lines of H.G.Wells or Jules Verne, rather than anything more modern. Don't go looking here for any scientific accuracy, but it's a fun read and Malacandra is beautifully described. I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series.more
I've seen this listed as a classic work of science fiction, but having now read this, I find that a misnomer. This is more anti-science fiction. Published in 1938, it involves a philologist, Elwin Ransom, kidnapped by a physicist, Professor Weston and his colleague Dr Devine and transported on a spaceship to Malacandra (Mars). It struck me early on that it was antithetical to science fiction, not because the science is ludicrous--after all, this was written in 1938, but I don't think Lewis even tries. The science isn't what this is all about. It's not speculative about nature, it's dogmatic. Mars and space is written to conform to Christian mythology the better to fit a very explicit Christian allegory. It's not as immediately blatant perhaps as Narnia, but note this passage from fairly early on while Ransom is on the spaceship:He wondered how he could have ever thought of planets, even of the Earth, of islands of life and reality floating in a deadly void. Now, with a certainty which never after deserted him, he saw the planets—the "earths" he called them in his thought—as mere holes or gaps in the living heaven--excluded and rejected wastes of heavy matter and murky air, formed not by addition to, but by subtraction from, the surrounding darkness.On Mars we're introduced to various sentient species, the Sorns, the Hross, the pfifltrigg. They're all ruled over by Oyarsa, and when we finally meet that entity, we have allusions to what is obviously the story of Satan and the Fall. In other words, this novel has a lot more in common with Dante, Milton, even Swift than Verne, Wells or Burroughs. Ransom even tells us the purpose of his book is "a change-over from the conception of Space to the conception of Heaven." And I prefer Space. Greatly.So, if that were all there were to it, I'd probably not rate the book so highly. But speaking of the spirit of Swift... Well, the scene where Ransom translates Weston's speech to Oyarsa, nay, the whole interview between Weston and Oyarsa, is priceless. I have mentioned this was published in 1938? Given this is the age of Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, the satire of fascism has particular resonance but that scene hits out not only at that kind of totalitarianism but the idea of Kipling's "White Man's Burden" and so Anglo-American forms of imperialism as well--and does so in a way not at all dry and didactic but really quite funny. Definitely my favorite scene in the book, although even the more allegorical passages had its pleasures if only for the poetry of Lewis' prose.more
This is the first of three novels Lewis writes and this first one is just as good as the second one is bad. Ransom is the protagonist who is captured by two evil men ("bent" is the word used ehrein and I like that!) and taken to Melcandria (Mars). He escapes from Weston and Devine and meets all three races of the planet, beginning with a walrus-looking fellow who takes Ransom home and tgeaches the earthman his language. Then he is introduced to a sorn who is commissioned by the Martian superviso/God/spirit to bring Ransom to see him. There are other creatures in the book, too, with unpronouncable names and unseeable bodies. Just wonderfully imaginative and spiritually interesting. Of course it would have to be with C. S. Lewis, a student and don of ChristChurch writing it, n'est-ce pas?more
Overall, I will definitely be interested in obtaining the other two novels in this series, but I was not in love with the story as I have been with Narnia.more
Ignoring the many critics of this book, and having long since had the desire to read it, being that I am a great fan of Martian fiction; I decided to forgo my trepidation at receiving a good 'Bible bashing' for my troubles and dived right in with my boots on!What did I discover after all the uming and aring? A damn fine story actually: kind of paced like one of those Dick Barton Special Agent stories but with a sort of Edgar Rice Burroughs thing going on. I liked it very much though. The best segment for me was undoubtedly the Earth bound adventure prior to getting to the red planet as I thought the suspense was absolutely spot on! I found some of the alien races on Malacandra more or less interesting but I would have liked to have gotten to the bottom of what was going on there supernaturally with the deitys hovering about? but I guess that's why it is a trilogy!Funnily enough, after all the positive feelings I had reading this book, I didn't find myself grasping for the next instalment right off my bookshelf, but instead vouched for something a little different instead. I'm not sure why? Usually I have to read a series right through without a break (unless it's as expansive as the Tarzans or Doc Savage collections) but I guess I will probably make a point of reading the others before the year is out? I am certain that once I have read all three I will probably want to go back and re-read Silent Planet again.Overall: Beautifully worded period (futuristic) drama.more
It is true that C.S. Lewis includes Christian overtones in his writing and this book is no different. However, it is not preachy or overpowering and even a non-religious person can read this book without feeling that they are being proselytized. The writing style is classic and flawless in a way which is rarely seen today. Some aspects of the story do not stand the test of time- such as the presence of civilizations on mars. Such problems do not necessarily destroy a work of science fiction and I was able to look past this minor point. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is no less of a good read today just because we now know there does not seem to be complex life on Mars and it does not affect this story either. I enjoyed the book and its message.more
You ever start a book and it seems to hold great promise, so much promise that you'll know you will finish it and in a small part feel that you've obtained something positive from your reading of it?This novel by the reknown Mr. Lewis isn't it. It falls short because it stays so wrapped with description that it could very well be a description exercise in a high school creative writing class; this exhaustive description is needlessly spent, which is perhaps a good thing because once that's been exhausted or seems to be, Lewis introduces life forms with imaginative names, customs, and language--but these names all tend to become bogged down to the point of being partially indistinct--and slows the plot down to the point of feeling indifferent and garbled and finally, stagnant--which would explain why I didn't finish it even though it's a short book.ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZmore
I read the Narnia series in 4th grade and again in my mid 20s before I gave them all to my nephew. I've read some of Lewis' more "adult" works, [The Screwtape Letters] and more recently, [The Great Divorce]. This book (and I'm guessing the trilogy) seems to be a bridge between those works. Unfortunately, it didn't hold my imagination the way Narnia did. I felt it concentrated more on landscape than on characters and in the case of the main character, I didn't feel he was believable. The depth found in his other books also wasn't there. I'm still going to give the others in the trilogy a chance at some point since I've enjoyed Lewis' work up to this point, but I'm in no rush to do so.more
I love this book. I have read it many, many times and the part that really stands out in my memory is when one of the creatures from Malacandra explains to the protagonist that it is not normal (it is bent) to wish to relive a period of time over and over again. Each part of a lifetime is a wonderful and unique thing and we should enjoy every second and not long to relive what is past.more
I'm more familiar with C.S. Lewis as the writer of children's books. This is the first book of his I have read for adults. It held my interest and his descriptions of leaving earth and life on another planet are worth reading it. Where the story lacks some for me is in the characters of the aliens. They were interesting but not engaging; it was hard to imagine them as real. I find this odd because in his children's books there are many characters that are not humans and I did not have the same trouble with them. However, it is worth the read for the plot and the stellar descriptions of life in space and on an alien world.more
Substance: As a science fiction writer, Lewis makes a great philosopher. In fairness, very few people writing in 1938 would have been able to imagine what space travel really looked like (he died in 1963). That aside, the story itself is weak and the apologia obvious.Style: The fanciful descriptions hold up, as does Ransom's (protagonist's) reactions and musings, but it's not a riveting read.more
Very good, though his musings on the connectivedness of the world are interesting - you can tell that he is Christian, but he's trying to fuse science with Christianity in a time really when there wasn't even a whole lot of resentment between the two. His narration is strange - every once in a while the "I" narrator breaks in, breaking the flow of the story so he seems godlike, but at times not seemingly very important to the overall cohesiveness of the story. at the end we find out Ransom is telling all this to a buddy after finding the word Oyarsa in ancient texts so it all comes out as there is basis, and the last few pages seem like a justificaiton for the entire tale - that it is indeed true and why it was at first presented as fiction.more
I did it! I finally conquered reading this book!!! This was my third attempt and I was able to complete it. My first two times the book seemed a bit long, descriptive and "heady," but this time the tale kept pulling me forward. Two types of my recent literary readings caused me to be more appreciative of the story. First, my fairly new (within the past two years) enjoyment of Star Wars books, where you explore different planets and lands. Secondly, I've deemed this summer as the "Summer of Lewis" where I've been reading C.S. Lewis' works like mad! I've grown familiar with his writing style and some of his reoccurring themes. Every time I read Lewis I feel as though my brain must be growing in some capacity or another."Out of the Silent Planet" is the first of Lewis' Space Trilogy. Dr. Ransom is taken captive on a space ship and where they eventually land on the planet of Malacandra. It is a planet it our own solar system, but you need to read the book to discover which one. He escapes from his captors and journeys to discover the planet.Conversation is a large part of the story and through Ransom's encounters with the species of a different world Lewis puts forward theological ideas. He is able to discuss sin, death, eternity, full life (not mortal life), love that becomes twisted to sit as a god--to name a few.I loved this book and am looking forward to the next in the trilogy (but I don't know when I might take it up). For those unfamiliar with Lewis, I'd suggest reading a few of his essays (The book "Mere Christianity" is a great place to start) and his book (its short and an easy read) "The Great Divorce." I would also advise you to skim over some biographical information, but I do not know that this is a necessity, just interesting.more
'Out of the Silent Planet', the 1st in Lewis' Space Trilogy, was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be. The journey of Ransom I found quite delectable. Really, this book proves to me why vintage Sci Fi is the best!I find several things of interest within that I believe are of importance in relating. The most obvious is [ SPOILER ALERT ] that the book centers around the planet Mars. I find this ironic given today's Mars conspiracy theorists such as Richard C. Hoagland. Hoagland is quite interesting to listen to, though I highly suspect mass pareidolia. I might throw in that Tesla suspected life on Mars, as does NASA, though they have failed to prove it (or have succeeded in hiding it) . It is a fascinating planet, Mars.I found Lewis' description of the eldila, Oyarsa, and Maleldil to be quite thought provoking. They, nearly invisible beings, were hindered from being whole in our world as we are hindered from even perceiving theirs—which is the Heavens. As Lewis put it, if you go so fast, you become still. They were creatures of Light, different from ours. His digression on Light and the Universe was quite stimulating.Essentially, Malacandra is a Garden of Eden with not one but 3 intelligent races. Lewis did an excellent job at developing each race. We had the Thinkers (Giants), Builders (Dwarves), and Poets (Beast-like).The Fall had never happened on Malacandra, though they did experience repercussions from Earth's fall—which was in fact the fall of Earth's Oyarsa. Within this peculiar world, Lewis is able to look back to Earth and reflect upon its inhabitants, its history, and its future. He succeeds in illuminating the failures of humanity and why postmodern materialism and the humanist's goals (Weston) are not logical (think of London's Wolf Larsen as the example of modern man).Ransom's eventual meeting with Oyarsa reveals much— not only to the story, but to Christian thought, and to Lewis' own unique and deep thoughts on God an the Universe. I can't imagine where the other 2 books in the trilogy will go from here, though I suspect Weston (as well as Ransom) will play a part!more
Eerie. That's the best word to describe Out of the Silent Planet. Lewis creates a world that is in stark contrast to his Narnia. It is a strange and mysterious place, and like the protagonist, we soon discover how insignificant Earth is to the other intelligent inhabitants of the universe. The story would be regarded as science fantasy today, but it remains one of the best examples of classic science fiction.more
C. S. Lewis, who most of you will instantly associate with either children's fantasy or epistemology, wrote a trilogy (or arguably, 3 and some proper fraction) of science fiction stories. Staying true to his evangelizing form, this series is very, very allegorical. The initial novel came to be as the product of a challenge between Lewis and Tolkien. Lewis would write a space travel story, while Tolkien would write a Time Travel story (find fragments of it in The Lost Road and Other Tales).The trilogy starts with the end. Not the end of the series, mind you: the end of Martian society. But let's back up...Elwin Ransom, philology professor, when taking a hike, ends up the subject of a scientific experiment by two fellows, Weston and Devine. After being drugged to sleep, he finds himself aboard a space ship headed for Mars, or Malacandra.It is here he meets a civilization nearing the end of its life, in contrast to Earth, which is somewhere in the middle. Ransom and his captors are caught in an endgame struggle between the three races of Mars.Lewis is able to write science fiction that isn't overly preachy, like many Christian sci-fi writers. And this makes it a bit more enjoyable thean the rest. This book, like many of Lewis' fiction, is very allegorical, even to the point of character names, like Pilgrim's Progress Through Space, or something. Nevertheless, those familiar with Lewis' writing, or of other allegorical science fiction, may find Out of the Silent Planet a nice way to break up the quiet period between your last and next book.more
Dr. Ransom is a Cambridge philologist who inadvertently runs into two old classmates from his school days. He never really liked them and with good reason. He likes them even less when they drug and kidnap him and take him for a cruise across the universe in a spaceship. They end up on the planet of Malacandra where Ransom is to be sacrificed to one of the alien creatures. Lewis tells this story as though the reader is sitting across from him beside a roaring fire. He describes Ransom's journey and reactions to this foreign new world as oddly detached and strangely calm. Probably the most interesting part to the whole story is how Ransom relates to his new world. He almost takes to it better than his own.more
Out of the Silent Planet was interesting and very worth the read, I think. In it, our hero Ransom is kidnapped by a former classmate (Devine) working with a renowned physicist (Weston) after he stumbles over them at a remote country estate. They take him aboard their spaceship bound for a second trip to Mars to fulfill the potentially sinister demands of the Martians (or Malacandrans, since they call the planet Malacandra). The speculative science is quite imaginative--the descriptions of the spaceship and its operation, the reaches of space, life on another planet with a different gravity, the psychology of kinship and xenophobia when confronted with the other, and Martian geography based on the best available information and hypotheses of the day (first published in the 1930s). The critique of attitudes of superiority derived from technological advancement, the pursuit of knowledge and wealth, and desire for conquest and colonization is spot on and at times hilarious. The arrogant pretensions of the men of science who refuse to see Martian society as anything other than superstitious, backwards savages hearken to colonial attitudes in our own history. Ransom feels ashamed of our history and society and general lack of morality and tries to hide the dark side of humanity from Malacandrans. The religious themes build from the first hints in the descriptions of space as filled with unearthly (celestial!) radiance rather than a barren nothingness to a complex, peaceful society of several species guided by unseen messengers to the final denouement of the scientists and their vanquishing by powers they cannot perceive or credit. The final speeches of the supreme being on Malacandra point toward the sequels in the trilogy. The title of the book refers to Earth, known as the Silent Planet to the rest of the cosmos when its supernatural guide became "bent" and was ultimately exiled (along with its planet) from the celestial plane. Hence our lost, immoral society and history filled with atrocities.more
One of the more powerful aspects of science fiction is its ability to take humanity out of context and thereby show things we take for granted in a different light. In Out of the Silent Planet Lewis unmasks the ideas of Social Darwinism and Manifest Destiny for the absurdities they are. Lewis is a master at world-building, as anyone who has read the more popular Narnia series can attest. The world of Malecandra is extremely well-crafted and it's easy to lose yourself in Ransom's slow journey to understanding of its inhabitants. I really enjoy Lewis's writing style and the subtle thread of joyful spirituality that lies beneath it. There is a good deal of theology woven into this story but it's not heavy-handed, and you won't enjoy it any less if you don't notice or don't believe in it. (After all, how many of you read and loved The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as kids without noticing the rather obvious theological parallels? I know I did.)Something I particularly liked was that Lewis does not pit spirituality against science itself, but against science used indiscriminately to serve greed and violence. This is a distinction that many Christians in this day and age have failed to grasp.I'm hoping the second and third parts of the trilogy turn out to be as good as this one.more
I've been a fan of C S Lewis, but I did not know that he wrote a science fictin trilogy trilogy. This is the first book of the trilogy and I want to read the other 2. This book has all of the word pictures that he has in The Croincles of Narnia, which I love. A man named Rasom was on a walking tour of England when he inquired of a woman if there were lodgings in a neighboring town, and she said no and for him to see if he could bring back her mildly retarded son back to her. She gave him the location and he said that he will do his best. When he arrives at the house, he sees two men harrassing the woman's son. Ransom tries to put a stop to it and as he was trying to do so, Devine recognises Ransom from their school days. Ransom was unsuccessful in saving the boy as Devine bops Ransom on the head and as he comes to, Ransom notices that he isn't in Devine's house any more. Devine tells him that he is on a space ship heading for Malacandra, which is the creatures of the planet name for Mars. The planet is very colorful and Ransom learns their way of life.There are a lot of symbolism in this book as there are in his Chronicles of Narnia and there are a few situation lessons that we can all learn from today as when this book was written in 1938.more
A really delightful early science fiction book. One of the things I loved was the way Lewis explains Mars' surface features using what little was known about the surface in 1938. His descriptions of space travel and arrival on an alien planet are quaint and improbable, but he seems to have tried to base his writing on scientific fact as he perceived it then. I really enjoyed the book and will try to find the other two in the trilogy to read.more
Out of the Silent Planet is an early example of science fiction. The protagonist, Ransom, is kidnapped and sent into space, eventually arriving at a planet called Malacandra (he finds out later that it's our Mars). A lot of it is simply an exploration of the landscape and its species - hopefully the other books in the trilogy will be less tiresome in that regard, now that we've had our introduction - but there are some good bits of religion and morality at the end. It turns out that the people of Malacandra think of Earth as the "silent planet," literally godforsaken, compared to their own society where their god interacts with them. Which is interesting, and hopefully will make for a good jumping-off point for the rest of the trilogymore
This is the only Lewis I've read aside from the Narnia series. Being as I was raised dirty heathen, I didn't pick up on the Christian aspects of his writing until later, and that still isn't the first thing that springs into view when I read him. Just so you know.I think my favorite parts of this one are the descriptions of Ransom lying in the spaceship, watching space go by. For someone who'd not only obviously never been to space, but didn't even have any descriptions from others who had, Lewis paints a detailed and engrossing picture of the teeming heavens. The whole book is obviously influenced by HG Wells' First Men in the Moon, but not enough to keep it from being very much its own novel.Now, don't get me wrong - there's a fairly simplistic "man is often evil due to the presence of Satan/bent Oyarsa on Earth, but the peoples of Mars are good, kind, and wise because they have true angels/true contact with God" theme running through the novel. Being as it's Lewis, I guess that's par for the course, and it didn't keep me from enjoying the story itself. I was intrigued by the idea of the various Martian races seeing each other as both human and animal (and thereby not needing pets in the way that Earthlings seem to, as a connection to the animal world within our own culture). I suspect that some folks right here see other races/nationalities the same way, and not in the respectful way Lewis lays on his creations.You know, I think this book (or the whole series - I haven't got far enough into it to know) helped inspired L'Engle when she wrote A Wrinkle in Time. Ransom's discussions with the different races is echoed in some of the childrens' encounters as they travel outward from Earth. Plus, there's the image of our planet being shrouded or silent - set apart from the rest of creation.final thought: It really all comes down to whether your believe that "Our right to supersede you is the right of the higher over the lower." I don't, and I enjoy the case made by Lewis on the matter as much as I enjoy his descriptions of the petrified Martian forests and the bright, warm stretches of space.more
This is the first book in Lewis’ “Space Trilogy” (so called even though the 3rd book takes place entirely on earth). The hero of the series, Ransom, is kidnapped and taken to another planet where his captors plan to offer him as a sacrifice to the beings on that planet in order to gain their favor so that they can exploit the riches of this new world. This example of early science fiction is fascinating—Lewis was much less interested in the science part than the “fantasy”—would make this book interesting in any event. However, as is usual with Lewis, the story has much more to say about the state of humanity than with the aspects of science he exploits to carry the story. It’s interesting that both Ransom and his captors fail to understand the inhabitants of this alien planet.more
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