Terri (Reading By Starlight)'s Reviews > Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
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's review
Nov 07, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: classics, science-fiction, christian, fiction
Read from September 24 to October 15, 2012

OSP is short, only 160 pages. The reader starts with Ransom, on a walking journey, looking for a place to spend the night. He is abducted by two men, Weston and Devine, the latter being an old school mate of Ransom’s whom he thoroughly disliked. They drug him and go flying off into space, with Ransom their unwilling third and intended sacrifice to the aliens. Once they arrive on the planet Malacandra, Ransom escapes and befriends the Malacandrians.

*slight spoiler ahead*

There are three distinct “hnau” or types of beings on Malacandra, and Ransom interacts all three. Each species values different things and respects the abilities and talents of the others without dispute. Ransom spends time with each type of hnau, and learns that they answer to a being called an Oyarsa, who rules their kind from the heavens. He realizes that “the Silent Planet,” Thulcandra, is Earth, and Malacandra is Mars. The Oyarsa explains that once, long ago, the Earth also had an Oyarsa, the brightest of them all and much more powerful than the others, but he became evil and was confined to Earth. No message has been received from Earth since, and so it is known as the Silent Planet.

Weston and Devine are captured shortly after this, and Weston proceeds to haughtily tell Oyarsa that Earthlings are much more advanced, and can build proper houses, teach them to farm, and expand their knowledge of many things, and that since the Earthlings are so superior, they deserve to expand to Malacandra and take over, and they’ll expand to other planets too until Men are so populous in the universe that they’ll never die out. Oyarsa refuses to kill Weston, because he is from Thulcandra and not under his authority. Instead, they put him and Devine back into their ship, offer Ransom the choice to return or not, which he accepts, and send them back home. If they don’t reach Earth in 90 days, their space ship will disappear and they’ll die.

Ransom wonders whether or not it was all a hallucination, until the author, C.S. Lewis, writes him a letter asking him if he’s ever heard of a word similar to Oyarses. Ransom then dictates this entire tale to Lewis, and they decide to write it all down and present it as fiction, so that those who know the truth will find it in their story and be able to identify Weston and stop him from further evil. Those who do not will only receive it only as fiction.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book. The world-building was phenomenal, and the narrative was filled with the philosophical depth a C.S. Lewis fan would expect. It moved a little slow at times, mostly because this book was more about setting up the world and exploring how differently Malacandrians act and feel because they are not “bent” (evil) in their every action, like Earth people. There are two more in the series, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Lewis has in store!

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