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Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
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Out of the Silent Planet (1938)

by C. S. Lewis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Space Trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,333121482 (3.85)205
  1. 30
    That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis (atrautz)
  2. 20
    Perelandra by C. S. Lewis (atrautz, KayCliff)
  3. 20
    The Dark Tower and Other Stories by C. S. Lewis (Sylak)
    Sylak: Once you've read every book C.S. Lewis published read this one for one last treat.
  4. 10
    The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley (legendaryneo)
    legendaryneo: This is another Christian space trilogy, and one of the best series I've ever read.
  5. 11
    Between Planets by Robert A. Heinlein (markusnenadovus)
    markusnenadovus: Lewis is great, but Heinlein does better SF
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» See also 205 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
Nearly everyone has read C.S. Lewis’s iconic series The Chronicles of Narnia. Despite Lewis being a fairly prolific author in his time, I’ve never read anything else by him, living in the delusion that there really wasn’t much more that he’s written, or, perhaps, anything worth reading. Recently, I stumbled upon the first and third books in his science fiction series at a used book sale. Out of the Silent Planet is a short but dense book that is absolutely worth reading.

The main character of Out of the Silent Planet is Dr. Ransom, an academic who begins a walking tour of England and is searching for a place to stay the night when the story opens. Things quickly go downhill for him when he is kidnapped by a mysterious, aging physicist and brought to a planet called Malacandra. But Dr. Ransom isn’t too keen on being a human sacrifice and escapes into the wilds of this unknown world, his chances of ever making it home becoming slimmer and slimmer.

Like Lewis's more famous series, this, too, is steeped in allegory, not all of which I am convinced I recognized. Despite just finishing this novel, I feel like I should reread it. More than that, I want to. Some of the allegory is hard to miss. But even then, I feel as if it were crafted more finely than some of his children’s series. While I love Narnia, it can feel as if you’re being hit with an allegorical sledgehammer at times when read as an adult. Maybe it was because it was my first time reading the book, but I felt that wasn’t always the case here.

C.S. Lewis is a wonderful writer, his sentences lyrical, his descriptions near perfect. This is denser than the Chronicles of Narnia. Descriptions are more detailed, and there are more of them. The native tongue of the peoples of Malacandra is described and related in parts, but not quite to the sort of extent someone such as Tolkien goes.

While I did love this novel, it is rather dense for being only 158 pages. A lot of a time is spent on Malacandra. And a lot of that time is spent with Dr. Ransom as he explores and gets to know the peoples and ways of this other world. There is forward momentum, but it can be bogged down in descriptions, beautiful and lyrical as they are. It also took me longer to read than many other novels take me, again despite the page count. While this doesn’t detract from the story in any way, it is something to keep in mind if you were looking for a quick read.

Ransom beings as a likeable, but perhaps timid character. While likeable he does have his flaws. However, there is more character growth than I had initially expected. We see Ransom grow throughout the tale. The way he treats the Hross, one of the native peoples of the planet, changes. This is slight, and it takes several chapters, but it is there. Where he referred to the Hross as ‘its’ they become ‘he’s’ and ‘she’s’, real people with real lives and cultures instead of the very 19th century idea of the 'uncultured savage'. When we were first introduced to these peoples through Ransom’s eyes I was afraid the story would fall into this stereotype. It was something I really didn’t want to happen, partially because I have such fond memories of reading the Chronicles of Narnia. However, this really never happened. If anything, the opposite occurred.

And the world building! Malacandra is a strange and wondrous place, at once so very unlike Earth, but pleasantly reminiscent at times as well. Its history, as much as we hear in this novel, at least, is rather fascinating. We learn a lot about the Hross, but I want to learn more about the two other races which inhabit Malacandra as well. I want more about the beginnings of the world, and the dead but still present surface world, an ever silent reminder of the horrors of the past and the fleetingness of life.

The ending is rather brilliant as well. There is an epilogue, called a Postscript here, which is supposed to be part of a letter to the narrator of the story. The one or two times the narrator breaks the fourth wall begin to come into focus, and this narrator feels more like another character within the tale. There are hints of more to come, though I can’t begin to predict what would happen in the next book.

Despite there being two more books in the series, the ending feels like a real conclusion. Sure, there are hints that there are more, or there could be more, but the ending is very satisfying. I would be completely happy if this were a standalone novel; it doesn’t necessarily need more. I really appreciate books like this. Too often I find books in a series just sort of stop instead of providing any real closure at the end. Also, if you are hesitant about dedicating yourself to reading yet another series, you don’t have to be. This can definitely be read as a standalone novel, and as it is the first in the series no background information or early world building will be missed.

There’s something magical about discovering a ‘new’ book by an old favorite author. Out of the Silent Planet was a little dense, but a truly wonderful read. I’m definitely going to have to find a copy of Perelandra, the second book in this series. If you like C.S. Lewis’s other work, or like stories with a lot of in-depth world building, this is for you. If you don’t like heavily descriptive writing this book may not be the one for you. ( )
  kateprice88 | Jul 22, 2017 |
This is not a full review of his book...more of a recall of some of the many other times I tried to read this book. I found the three thin paperbacks of Lewis's Space Trilogy I owned at a used bookshop in Connecticut more than 30 years ago after failing to get into the library copies when I was younger. I rediscovered them - and attempted vainly to read them - each time after packing and unpacking them through 14 moves, only to lose them in a fire in 2013. I tried more times than I can remember to read them, but never succeeded.

Just. Couldn't. Get. Into. Them...

Or, more accurately, couldn't get into this one. I finally forced myself to read it, and I discovered carrying around the negligible weight all those years was a waste. His writing is tedious, his science poor (yes, I know...1938), but really, the book doesn't even hold its own against the pulp from the era that I've read. The phrase about the devil in the details is ironic and appropriate, given all the other ... material ... Lewis wrote. He was far too preachy and obvious for an intelligent reader.

I kept the books because Lewis's trilogy is called a classic, and classic science fiction that I wanted dearly to someday read. I read and really liked the Narnia books as a child, but found them immature when reread as a teen and incredibly shallow, naive, and comically transparent as an adult. Some young fiction does okay for adults, and some, like Narnia, does not. None of Lewis's books I've read can hold up to any rational thought, so if they aren't entertaining, then they have no value. Please don't troll me with Screwtape (read it...unfortunately) or any of his other apologetic attempts...he's quite unconvincing.

It took me forty years to final power though this book. I doubt I have eighty more for the next two. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
This classic book from bestselling author C.S. Lewis is the first book in his space trilogy. You will take a journey with Dr. Ransom who escapes death after being abducted by a megalomaniac physicist.
  mcmlsbookbutler | May 23, 2017 |
I tried reading the ebook version, then listening to the audio version, but it's just too dull for me. (I made it through 2 out of 5 audio segments.)
  J.Green | Apr 7, 2017 |
Genre: Science fiction
Age: Middle School
Media:none
Review/ Critique: Two men capture the main character and bring him to another planet because they think the inhabitants want a blood sacrifice. He runs away once on the new planet and learns a lot about their world, the creatures on it, and their language. He understands the aliens more than the other guys do and learns that they do not want to hurt them. This is a science fiction story because they didn't have spaceships in the 1930s when this takes place. Also, as far as we know there are not intelligent creatures living elsewhere in our solar system. Once the story begins to unfold the reader gets lost in this intriguing world.
  kwilson14 | Mar 23, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lewis, C. S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chu, KaiCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kannosto, MattiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koven, BrookeDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Symancyk, BernardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my brother W. H. L. a life-long critic of the space-and-time story
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The last drops of the thundershower had hardly ceased falling when the Pedestrian stuffed his map into his pocket, settled his pack more comfortably on his tired shoulders, and stepped out from the shelter of a large chestnut-tree into the middle of the road.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743234901, Paperback)

The first book in C. S. Lewis's acclaimed Space Trilogy, which continues with Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, Out of the Silent Planet begins the adventures of the remarkable Dr. Ransom. Here, that estimable man is abducted by a megalomaniacal physicist and his accomplice and taken via spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra. The two men are in need of a human sacrifice, and Dr. Ransom would seem to fit the bill. Once on the planet, however, Ransom eludes his captors, risking his life and his chances of returning to Earth, becoming a stranger in a land that is enchanting in its difference from Earth and instructive in its similarity. First published in 1943, Out of the Silent Planet remains a mysterious and suspenseful tour de force.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:08 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Dr. Ransom, a noted philologist, is kidnapped and flown by spaceship to Malacandra (Mars) where he flees his human captors and establishes communication with the planet's extraordinary inhabitants. What he learns galvanizes his attempt to return to Earth with a message of great urgency.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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