Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Did you know C.S. Lewis wrote science fiction?
Apparently he and J.R.R. Tolkien agreed once, since fiction was in such a sorry state, that Lewis would write a space travel book, and Tolkien would write a time travel story. As usual, Tolkien never finished his, but Lewis did.
Dr. Ransom is kidnapped (not by aliens!) and taken to another planet, which is NOT the silent planet. What happens there is humbling and convicting to him, while his captors remain proud and condescending. This is because they are captive themselves to assumptions that man has surpassed the primitive stage of evolution, and that anyone else man may meet must be below them. They wreak havoc while Ransom learns and seeks to understand the aliens, mankind, and himself.
- Greed isn’t as bad as idolizing the human race. Men tend to justify all kinds of wicked deeds in the name of continuing the species and progress. Lewis asserts instead in this tale that all worlds and races must have their beginning and end.
- The Eldila show the spiritual ineptness of man. There are truths and beings we are blind to, yet we think we’re hot stuff. Space is chock full of beings, not an empty void. Knowing Lewis’ thought a bit, this goes for earth, too. We are so full of ourselves, we can’t even see what’s going on around us.
- Having multiple sentient species on one planet shows the human desire for dominance. Not just to take dominion in a godly way, but the “bent” impulse to be in charge.
- Lewis weaves a biblical cosmology into the story, posing a possible scenario for life on other worlds integrated with biblical truth. If you wonder how this could work, your hint is in Daniel 10:13-14 and Revelation 12:7.
I don’t want to give too much away, though. Aside from some off-base mechanics of space travel (and a bit too much on the flora and fauna for my taste), this is an excellent read. In the great tradition of science fiction, it’s really an exploration of the human heart more than of space. This trilogy has far more biblical truth in it than Star Trek, Star Wars and other sci-fi writings combined.
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