Friday, June 18, 2010

Book Review: Out Of The Silent Planet

Book Review: Out Of The Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis (Part 1 of the Cosmic Trilogy)

When most people think of C.S. Lewis and fiction they think "The Narnian Chronicles." Or if you know your C.S. Lewis fairly well you might think of "The Screwtape Letters." But very few people are aware of his much lesser known foray into science fiction, "The Cosmic Trilogy." Part of this is due to the fact that you can't even buy it as a trilogy any more, instead you buy each book as an individual volume. But the fact is that Lewis' Cosmic Trilogy just never caught on that much. Which I think is sad.

It was with much surprise that I saw that this hard to find trilogy was in my church's library so of course I had to pick them up to read again. Out Of The Silent Planet (book one of the trilogy) introduces to us the character of Ransom, an English professor who is on a walking vacation when he stumbles upon a cottage in the middle of nowhere. Through a series of unfortunate events he finds himself a captive and a passenger . . . on a spacecraft. Later he has the opportunity to explore a strange new world and meet it's inhabitants. I don't want to share more of the plot then that, but suffice it to say that there is little mind-blowing in the basic plot, but it is the descriptive detail and theological ideas that Lewis presents in a quasi-allegorical form that is the most compelling. What if a planet wasn't "sinful" like ours? What would it and the people who lived there look like?

Billy Graham famously speculated that there could be life on other planets but how that would fit theologically has been difficult to sort out. Lewis, in the first of the Cosmic Trilogy begins laying this out a theology in just such a case I must say it is fascinating. The book itself is a little more "English" and little more difficult to follow then some of his other fiction but it has the genius of C.S. Lewis all over it. Think H.G. Wells meets The Pilgrim's Progress meets J.R.R. Tolkien. I rate it 3.8 stars out of 5.


Marc Vandersluys said...

If I may be anal-retentive for a moment: it has been available as a trilogy since the final volume was published, as all three books have been available since then. I suspect what you mean is that you can no longer buy it as a one-volume edition.

(Sorry. I couldn't help myself.)

Mark said...

Marc: You are correct, it can no longer be bought new in a one-volume version!