The first book in C. S. Lewis’s acclaimed Space Trilogy, which continues with Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, Out of the Silent Planet begins the adventures of the remarkable Dr. Ransom. Here, that estimable man is abducted by a megalomaniacal physicist and his accomplice and taken via spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra. The two men are in need of a human sacrifice, and Dr. Ransom would seem to fit the bill. Once on the planet, however, Ransom eludes his captors, risking his life and his chances of returning to Earth, becoming a stranger in a land that is enchanting in its difference from Earth and instructive in its similarity. First published in 1943, Out of the Silent Planet remains a mysterious and suspenseful tour de force.
Have you ever desperately needed to stay awake while driving, after being on the road for over 20 hours? I have, and listening to this audiobook helped me get through several more hours of twilight drive time because of its creativity and intrigue! Journeying with Ransom and company through the galaxy to a far-off planet was, admittedly, one of the cooler ways I’ve found for fighting off highway hypnosis. I had actually already read this fantastic story on my own 8 years ago, but I never finished the series, so I decided to pick it back up with an audiobook to help me get back on track. I’m so glad I did because I had forgotten about the amazing world C.S. Lewis created (once again!).
In typical Lewis fashion, he knocked it out of the park for me. The detailed (but not tedious) descriptions of Malacandra (which is actually Mars, by the way) and its inhabitants were striking and creative. Just go look up Hrossa, Séroni, and Pfifltriggi on Google images to see how cool they are! But, as I have always been terrified by the idea of outer space (aliens are cool, but floating in an airless, endless void is a solid no for me), Lewis achieved the impossible, moving me to tears when he described the heavens from Ransom’s point of view. I sat in my car, driving through Ohio in the middle of the night, with tears streaming down my face as I realized how amazing our Creator is and how crazy I have been to take His artwork for granted all this time. Thanks to Lewis, I now have a deep appreciation for the majesty of the nighttime sky.
“And I say also this. I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.”
C.S. Lewis is known for eloquently wrapping religious elements into his writings, and Out of the Silent Planet proved to follow that trend, as will the rest of the series, I suspect. Beneath his colorful descriptions, Lewis made sure to include plenty of important lessons if you know how to spot them. Themes relevant to our day and age include fear of the unknown, racial supremacy, sacrifice, and human greed, among others.
The voice narration of this audiobook was also done well. Geoffrey Howard obviously kept a lively enough tone to help an exhausted driver stay awake, if that gives you an idea of his performance! It was easy to tell which character he was voicing, and he did a great job of making the sometimes complicated language and style of Lewis feel natural and easy to follow. I am still a little new to audiobooks, but I can say I would definitely listen to this one again with no complaints! I give it 5 out of 5 stars!
Content Warning: Racial Discrimination (negative connotation, but it is nevertheless present); Kidnapping and brief instances of Violence; Mild Language. All aspects of this content warning were small enough to be of no real consequence.