Review--Out of the Silent Planet

I’ve been meaning to read this for years. Not sure why it took me so long to get to it. Out of the Silent Planet is the first of C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy and I intend to get to the second one soon.

C.S. Lewis wrote many works of fiction, including the brilliant Screwtape Letters, and a number of non-fiction books and works of Christian literature, and is best known for the Chronicles of Narnia, in which his world building and character development are paired with a wonderful sense of allegorical storytelling. Narnia, of course, is fantasy while The Space Trilogy is meant to be science fiction. It comes out as allegory and is far more science fantasy than science fiction.

Surprisingly interesting and unusual for science fiction. A lot of sci-fi winds up having a dystopian feel, or even utopian, even if the story in question is not billed as dystopian or utopian. Out of the Silent Planet is not bleak or overly optimistic but is evocative. The prose brings various ideas to life, all thought-provoking and intriguing. The cosmology is a clever (if thinly veiled) take on theism in the context of alien races.

Those races are, naturally, extraterrestrial angelic beings. This is, in itself, a curious concept, considering that angels, by definition, if you really take a moment to think about it, our extraterrestrial beings.

In typical Lewis fashion, the story is simple, straightforward, and thought-provoking. If you like Narnia you’ll love Out of Silent Planet.  Much like the Chronicles of Narnia, this story has a very Christian feel to it and deals with the nature of the universe, the struggle of good and evil and the status of “Earth” as “The Silent Planet.” Well written, entertaining and, as one would expect from the mind of C.S. Lewis, profound.

Although it’s part of a trilogy, this novel reaches a satisfactory stand-alone ending. (As of this writing, I have not yet read the other books in this trilogy). When our protagonist, having wandered the solar system, finally returns to Earth, his first act is to find a bar and order a pint of bitter.