Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis (The Bodley Head)

The first book in C. S. Lewis' Cosmic Trilogy. I listened to the audio book version through Audible.

Spoilery thoughts behind the link.

75-year-old book spoilers! Look out!!

Wow. I really loved this book! It hits a number of my sweet spots.

Journey to Mars? Yes, please! With an anthropologist who really wants to grok the resident sentient lifeforms and their culture? YES, please! Told by a master storyteller who makes me feel like I've really been there? YES! PLEASE!

Given the the year this was written, the science actually wasn't bad. Lewis was off in a few ways, of course. But you could tell he really gave it a lot of thought. Quite a lot of it was believable, and the story was so compelling, it was easy enough to suspend disbelief for the rest.

This story wasn't entirely about a journey to Mars and back, of course. It also explored the nature of good and evil, the mythology and spirituality of extraterrestrial cultures and how they do (and do not) tie into our own plethora of mythologies. The 'planetary spirits,' and the description of our own 'silent planet' and the reasons why it is so, just fascinate me.

I loved the exploration of the three sentient species, so different from each other, but appreciative of their differences and the way they complemented each other. Living in peace and fondness with each other in a way that humans have yet to manage. I want to meet them, learn their languages, talk with them, wander their world with them.

But the crowning jewel - the world. Oh, the world. Lewis described this Mars, its peoples, its landscape, and its flora such that I felt I was there. If I didn't know we've already landed rovers on Mars, and if I hadn't seen some of the images the rovers have sent back, I would almost believe that this could be a true account. Knowing the reality, a little bit of me still wants to believe this account of a trip to Mars. Amazing. I feel the loss of the place almost as though it was a real place I've visited and will never be able to see again for the rest of my life.

The letter at the end, from the anthropologist to the author? Perfection!! Absolutely priceless. Lewis has clearly worked with real anthropologists before, or at least read their letters. Ha!

Also, how fun a word is pfifltriggi?!

As I was looking for the cover art to add to this post, I saw... Oooo! It's the first part of a trilogy?? Come on, July 31! I've got two more non-nominated books that I need to read! :)

Masterpiece. This book is simply wonderful. This book is, to me, what the Hugo Awards are all about.

Up or down ballot (note for myself): Guess. :) The other three nominees I haven't yet read are going to have a hard time topping this one.

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