Out of the Silent Planet (1938) by C. S. Lewis

OutoftheSilentPlanetWhat is it about minorly stressful moments like get-togethers with family and sudden illness that make me want to curl up with 1930’s pulp SF? I don’t know, but it’s not something I’m proud of. Perfect timing, though, because I’m due to read some C.S. Lewis and, not counting an aborted attempt at The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950) when I was twelve or so, this is my first C.S. Lewis novel. This Lewisian deficiency may have something to do with his well-known reputation as a Christian allegorist, of which, perhaps, Mom was aware and, striving to expose me to things outside our Southern Baptist church landscape, opted to omit Lewis from the bedtime reading repertoire. I dunno, I’ll have to ask some time.

Inspired by the philosophical sci-fi writings of David Lindsay (A Voyage to Arcturus, 1920) (an author new to me and why haven’t I heard of him?) and Olaf Stapledon (Star Maker, 1937), C.S. Lewis set out to write his own version of a metaphysical journey in space, yet doesn’t come close to the transcendence he wishes to achieve. Where Stapledon expounds on humanity’s place and purpose within the infinite bounds of the cosmos, Lewis’ effort is limited to the parameters of a constrained and commonplace worldview, resulting in a mere cosmic contrivance, like so many other space tales. Continue reading