Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Out of The Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

Genre: Sci-Fi
Length: 158 pages

Reviewed by: Laurelyn Aubrey

An oblong of dazzling light appeared behind him and instantly vanished as the door closed again, having admitted the bulky form of a naked man whom Ransom recognized as Weston. No reproach, no demand for an explanation, rose to Ransom’s lips or even to his mind; not with that monstrous orb above them...

”Weston! Weston!” he gasped. “What is it? It’s not the moon, not that size. It can’t be, can it?”

“No,” replied Weston, “it’s the Earth.”

Full of suspense and splendor from first to last, Out of The Silent Planet is the beginning of C.S. Lewis’s brilliant Space Trilogy. One wet day in England finds Elwin Ransom, a 40ish-year-old philologist, in between towns on his vacation walking-tour. While looking for a place to stay the night, he offers to help a distressed mother looking for her missing son. Ransom finds the boy and attempts to resolve the suspicious situation, but instead finds himself kidnapped and on his way to a distant planet. Ransom’s bewilderment and terror of alien lands and creatures soon give way as he begins to discover the true scope of the universe; for, as the author comments, “These events have already made [this] rather a prologue to our story than the story itself.” (pg. 152)

C.S. Lewis is considered a literary genius for good reason: his writing is perfectly captivating. What more can be said? With masterful strokes and comfortable language, Lewis paints glowing pictures and memorable creatures into the mind of his reader. This is the sort of book your mother will catch you reading for the seventh or eighth time, and wonder that you haven’t tired of it yet…

Part of the reason this story is so compelling is that Lewis wove it into beautiful harmony with Biblical theology. Instead of contradicting the Christian worldview, as sci-fi frequently does, Lewis imagines a universe full of diverse creatures living under the Lordship of the one true Trinitarian God. The result is a beautiful contrast that elicits new wonder at God’s creation and majesty. A word of caution: mild language and mature themes (particularly in the second and third books) make this series better suited to older readers.

Even though I am not a particular fan of sci-fi, this book (along with the rest of the trilogy) joins a few other books by Lewis and Tolkien as one of my all-time favorites. Though it can take some effort to mentally push through the strange descriptions and concepts, the willing reader will be greatly rewarded as Lewis sweeps him up and leaves him in awe of God’s imagination. This series is a must-read for Christians in their late-teens and older.

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