Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis



"Out of the Silent Planet"

If you don't know who C.S. Lewis is, then it is impossible for me to forgive you.  However, if you didn't know that he wrote a Science Fiction story, then I might be able to muster some compassion at least.  Lewis is known for "The Chronicles of Narnia", and being a lifelong friend of J.R.R. Tolkien.  What he is not known for, is writing Science Fiction.  That's why this week's Free Reading is a rare treat.  It is a glimpse into a non-fantasy imagination of a fantasy icon.  C.S. Lewis, not unlike Tolkien, was reponsible for feeding the budding desire amongst many a pre-teen for fantasy stories, including my own.  Tolking was an integral factor in Lewis having written this story.  In fact the two agreed that Lewis would write this and Tolkien would write a fantasy story.  Though it is unclear if that story ended up being "The Lord of the Rings".  Tolkien and Lewis were lifelong friends and sometime collaborators.  Both had an affinity for Northern European cultures and mythos though the two manifested this love in very different ways.  Lewis was heavily influenced by his reversion to Christianity and, oddly, the anthropomorphisation of animals in Beatrix Potter books.  It is no surprise that "Aslan" in the "Narnia Chronicles" is not only a talking lion, but one that displays some very Christlike attributes.

"Out of the Silent Planet" is about a man named Ransom is is abducted by two other men and taken to another planet.  Not unlike Burroughs "Barsoom" series, the indigenous population are a mix of tribale like aliens with a mish mash of organic and semi-advanced technologies.  Some of it even far beyond human technology.  Ransom escapes once he arrives at the alien planet and is eventually taken in by a race of beings called the "Hross".  He spend some months there learning their language and the ways of the other species on the planet while trying to discover what the other two humans had in mind for him.  The story is full of interesting interspecies conversation and reflection, and the aliens are frequently used as a mirror to reflect the brutality of mankind.  It has been rumored that this work, on some level, was an indictment of the time Lewis spent in combat during WWI.  If you enjoy this story, I would also recommend the second two parts of this series.  Below is a link to the free pdf version of part one as well as a Youtube video narrating the entire trilogy.  We hope you enjoy this one.

Out of the Silent Planet (pdf)