(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)
“A violet yellow sunset was pouring through a rift in the clouds to westward, but straight ahead over the hills the sky was the colour of dark slate.”
How have I not read this until now? I feel like a fake fan! It was a fabulous read to kick off the series and I look forward to reading the other two in the series, but first to discuss!
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.
Here’s a fun fact to kick things off (in case you didn’t catch last month’s read): Tolkien and Lewis once flipped a coin deciding who would write a time travel story and who would write an outer space novel. Thanks to that coin toss, Lewis wrote Out of the Silent Planet and Tolkien wrote The Notion Club Papers (a time travel set in the future of the 1980s :).
I wish I had a better way to say this, but the way C.S. Lewis paints a story is rad. I constantly found myself pausing during the book and just thinking how talented and gifted he was as a writer (and by my description of “rad,” you can see we’re on slightly different playing fields).
“Pulsing with brightness as with some unbearable pain or pleasure, clustered in pathless and countless multitudes, dreamlike in clarity, blazing in perfect blackness, the stars seized all his attention, troubled him, excited him, and drew him up to a sitting position…
…now that the very name “Space” seemed a blasphemous libel for this empyrean ocean of radiance in which they swam.”
Now onto the actual storyline :). Not only did we once again see the creative and imaginative genius of Lewis, but I found myself wishing all the creatures on the planet were real and that one day I could hang out with them (add that list to Narnia and Middle Earth). I loved what got Ransom to speak with Hyoi was he heard him speaking and his love of language took over, especially since both Tolkien and Lewis loved languages.
I laughed quite a bit too, like with this line: “For a moment Ransom found something reassuring in the thought that the sorns were shepherds. Then he remembered that the Cyclops in Homer plied the same trade.”
When Hyoi was shot and killed (which, by the way did not see coming ), I thought Lewis portrayed the aftermath in such a poignant way. How do you explain someone kills something for no other reason than they wanted to?
As I mentioned before, I haven’t read the rest of the series, but I hope there is more to come battling Weston and the forces behind him.
“…our cry is not merely “Hands off Malacandra.” The dangers to be feared are not planetary but cosmic, or at least solar, and they are not temporal but eternal. More than this it would be unwise to say.”
I also really enjoyed the Postscript and the letter between Ransom and the writer. Not only was it a creative way to gain more insight into the world Lewis created, but I like that we got more of what it was like when Ransom returned home.
Here’s some questions I was thinking about:
1. How the hey was Jack (aka Clive Staples aka my BFF) so creative?!
I mean, geez, save some genius for the rest of the world. Obviously this isn’t really a question I expect answered, but I still needed to get it off my chest :).
2. How does this rank against Lewis’ other fiction books for you?
It might be too early for me to make this statement (since I have to read the others), but I think Narnia still holds the top spot for Lewis’ fiction work. But please don’t take that to mean I didn’t enjoy this – I thoroughly did. It’s just hard to beat Aslan.
3. I love that Lewis used a sci-fi novel to take a look at humanity. Did that stick out to any of you?
It could be because I’ve been watching Breaking Bad and I love The Walking Dead, two shows that reveal both the bad and good of humanity in different/unique/dire circumstances, but that kept popping up. Take Weston. He’s arrogant and refuses to truly learn about the lives he encounters. He only sought power and dominance. Devine clearly didn’t grasp mo’ money, mo’ problems. Greed drove him, even when he encountered something no one else from planet Earth had. Then there was Ransom. Sweet Ransom. The complete opposite of the other two. I kinda think Lewis wrote pieces of his personality in Ransom’s character too.
4. Did you have a favorite of the Malacandra beings? Between the sorns, hrossa, Oyarsa and pfifltriggi?
I want to pick the pfifltriggi based solely on their name. I have no idea how to pronounce it, but it makes me laugh! This really is a tough one though, but I think I might have to go with the hrossa. They were the first we really encounter, so that probably has something to do with my bias.
What about you readers? As always, please share any other insights as well! Looking forward to reading what you thought of the book!