This podcast is the first is a set of three that will cover the Space Trilogy written by C. S. Lewis, and it covers the book “Out of the Silent Planet”. This trilogy is from the science fiction genre, a genre that Jack read and enjoyed all of his life. (He even wrote several science fiction short stories as well as this set of three novels). The three books are, in order, “Out of the Silent Planet“, “Perelandra“, and “That Hideous Strength“. They are unified by their view of the universe, their presentation of good and evil, and the main characters. The first two take place on Mars and Venus while the third takes place on earth. Many consider “Perelandra” the best of Jack’s fiction, surpassing any of the Chronicles of Narnia. I myself prefer “That Hideous Strength“, but they are all worth reading.
The plot is of Out of the Silent Planet is fairly complex. It tells how two evil men kidnap a third man and travel to Mars to hand the third man over as a victim to one of the three races there, the Sorns. The hero, named Ransom, escapes from them on Mars and encounters one of the other races, the Hrossa. He is a specialist in language development and finds that the Hrossa are friendly and can speak. He accompanies the strange creature to its village, where he stays for several months and learns their language and culture. Ransom finds that all the 3 races on Mars are ruled by a spiritual being called the Oyarsa, and Ransom is summoned to meet this ruler, who can be thought of as an archangel. He delays responding, and as a result, Hyoi, the Hross who found him, is shot and killed by Weston. Ransom then goes to the Oyarsa and they have a long discussion about Mars and Earth. The Oyarsa has the Hrossa capture the two villains and bring them to him so that he can speak with them also. He finds that they are completely evil and compels them to take their ship and return to Earth, never to come back to Mars. Ransom reluctantly goes with them. When the spaceship lands, the villains and Ransom abandon it, for it disintegrates as Oyarsa has promised.
Lewis seems to want to make three points in his story. First, that the universe is not empty but full of life, light and spiritual beings. Second, that three utterly different races can live together in harmony. Finally, Lewis uses this story to repudiate the idea that humanity has the right to travel to other planets and colonize them, displacing the planet’s inhabitants if they are at a lower stage of cultural development.