"C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia are rightly beloved by millions as a modern masterpiece of fantasy and as a gentle introduction to Christian theology as well. Not as well known, but just as deserving of a place on a discerning reader's bookshelf are his only works of science fiction, sometimes known collectively as the Space Trilogy.
"In this, the first book of the trilogy, Dr. Elwin Ransom, a philologist and Cambridge college don, is on a walking tour of rural England when he is kidnapped by Devine, an old school acquaintance, and Weston, a physicist, and taken to Malacandra via a spacecraft of Weston's invention. It's a second trip for Weston & Devine; they kidnap Ransom for what they believe is a human sacrifice required by the alien species called Sorns for their mythical god. Upon arrival, Ransom manages to escape, fleeing in panic from approaching Sorns.
"After escaping, Ransom discovers the Hrossa. The Hrossa are the poets of Malacandrian society and are its fishermen and boatmen as well. Ransom makes a beginning of learning Hrossan speech (which is the lingua franca of Malacandra). He also learns of other Malacandrian species, the Pfifltriggi, Malacandrian engineers, and the Sorn or Seroni, the intelligentsia. Most importantly, he discovers the Eldila, non-corporeal beings which Ransom can hear, but not see. An Eldil messenger sends Ransom on a quest to meet Oyarsa, ruler of the Eldil and by definition of all Malacandra as well. While on his journey to Meldilorn, island home of the Eldil, Ransom's life is saved by a Sorn; he thus loses any remaining fear of human sacrifice.
"Ransom's meeting with Oyarsa, ruler of the Eldil is a lesson in the cosmology of Lewis' solar system. Each planet is ruled by an Eldil and they regularly communicate and roam the heavens—with the sad exception of Earth's Eldil, the "Bent One" who has disobeyed Maleldil the Young (the ruler of the Eldil). The Bent One has been confined to the Earth and its moon; Thulcandra, the "Silent Planet," is cut off spiritually from the rest of the solar system.
"Weston and Devine are captured and brought before Oyarsa as well; He realizes that Weston is "bent" and Devine "broken" and requires that they depart from Malacandra forthwith. Ransom is offered sanctuary on Malacandra, but chooses to risk the trek back to Earth. Oyarsa arranges for Ransom's protection by Eldil on the journey home, then the destruction of the spacecraft once it safely reaches Earth.
Out of the Silent Planet is a Christian vision set within a science fiction framework. Maleldil is a God/Christ figure, Oyarsa an archangel and the Eldil angels. The Bent One, the Oyarsa of Thulcandra, is Lucifer who separated, not only himself, but all Earth as well from the rest of the solar system and by inference from God."
—Jeff Elkins (to see more of his Space Trilogy review, click here.)
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