Review: Out of The Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet was a gift I received for my birthday.  This Space Trilogy was one I had been wanting for a long time and when I received it, I couldn’t wait to dive right in.

Out of the Silent Planet-CoverThe story takes you on a space adventure to a planet called Malacandra.  It all begins when Ransom is kidnapped by Weston and Devine who plan on giving Ransom to the Sorn, inhabitants who live on Malacandra.  Before they can make the trade, Ransom escapes.  He runs aimlessly through the forest until he is overcome with exhaustion.  When he awakes, he decides to look for water and when he finds a river he discovers another inhabitant of Malacandra, the Hross.  This creature is covered in fur and kind of resembles a seal.  To Ransoms surprise, the Hross is an intelligent being who attempts to make contact with him.  After several attempts, Ransom finds out the Hross is named Hyoi, who offers Ransom a place to stay.  Hyoi takes Ransom to his village and Ransom stays with the Hross for a few months.

Staying with Hyoi, Ransom learns about Malacandra and those who live there.  One of the beings is the eldil who instructs Ransom to leave the Hross village in order to seek out the great Oyarsa, ruler of Malacandra.  But before Ransom can muster up the courage to leave on this quest, Weston and Devine hunt him down and attack the Hross that are with him.  Ransom runs away hoping if he’s gone, Weston and Devine will spare the Hross.  He sets out on his journey to Meldilorn (the home of Oyarsa).  Ransom isn’t sure what to expect, he only knows that Oyarsa might hold the key to his returning to Earth.

Cover art for an earlier edition of

Cover art for an earlier edition of “Out of the Silent Planet”. I thought it was interesting to see this rendering of the Hross and Sorn.

Science Fiction isn’t a genre I am familiar with – except for Star Trek.  I am not a reader of SciFi unless it is Star Trek related, so reading this novel was a difference experience for me.   When reading a fiction, mystery, or suspense, all these genres have something in common; they are about our world and describe objects I am familiar with.  Not so with Out of the Silent Planet.

From the beginning to the end, I was enveloped in this new world that C.S. Lewis created.  There were so many new things to discover: space travel, the planet, and the inhabitants.  I do have to admit, there were times I was a bit baffled by what the author was describing.  Having to create a whole new planet with different scientific laws had to be a challenge, and reading about them had my imagination running wild.  I’m not even sure I captured the true essence of what Lewis was describing.

Even with this new aspect of SciFi, reading Out of the Silent Planet was pure delight for me.  Once I became familiar with the world C.S. Lewis created, I was able to follow the story of Ransom and his companions without confusion or misunderstandings.  And although the story is science fiction, the theme of the story and the plight of Ransom was a subject I had read about before which made the storyline easy to follow.

I felt the characters were believable and I could relate to the various situations Ransom found himself in.  Even with the alien creatures of Malacandra, I was able to view them as “people” I could identify with.  There were brief descriptions of some of the Malacandra inhabitants mentioned in the book, which aided my understanding of those who lived on the planet and the way they viewed life and one another.

Me-Out of the Silent PlanetThis book would be a great fit for those who love science fiction, or for those who enjoy stories about other worlds and cultures.  I think this book could also be a nice introduction to scifi for readers who are not normally drawn to this genre since Out of the Silent Planet is more about the planet and its inhabitants than the technology aspect of science fiction; the reader will not be boggled down by unfamiliar science fiction terminology (although Malacandra has its own language structure), but instead be drawn into the story of Ransom’s abduction and his effort to return home.

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