The first novel in Lewis’ series of “interplanetary romances,” Out of the Silent Planet, introduces Ransom, an English philologist who finds himself kidnaped and forcibly taken to the planet Malacandra, or Mars, by the evil physicist, Dr. Weston, and Dick Devine, a rich eccentric who had attended school with Ransom. During the voyage to Malacandra, Ransom overhears that they intend to deliver him to the sorns—who, he assumes, are like the horrible monsters in H. G. Wells’s science-fiction tales.
When a sea monster attacks the trio’s campsite, Ransom escapes. As he encounters representatives from each of the three species on Malacandra, he begins to learn the language and history of the planet. The sorns, he discovers, are a wise, peaceable race whom he can trust and from whom he can learn much. Most important is what Ransom learns about Maleldil the Younger, righteous ruler of the universe and the head of the eldila, the angel-like creatures of light who serve him. He finds that each planet has its own special eldil, or Oyarsa, who rules it—every planet except Earth, or Thulcandra, the silent planet, whose Oyarsa is “bent.”
The novel reaches its climax when Ransom is called into the presence of the Oyarsa of Malacandra, who explains, to Ransom’s surprise, that it was, in fact, the Oyarsa himself who had engineered Ransom’s voyage in order to prepare him for service to Maleldil. He is being called to battle against the treachery of Devine and Weston. Lured with the promise of riches, the two villains were tricked into bringing Ransom along as a human sacrifice. The Oyarsa declares that Devine and Weston must be banished from Malacandra; the three of them are then ordered to return to Earth, undertaking the perilous voyage back.
Out of the Silent Planet ends with a framing narrative written by “Lewis,” a friend of Ransom, who explains that he has recorded Ransom’s adventure so that Weston and Devine, and the forces behind them, may be thwarted before they can further corrupt Earth and spread their evil to other planets. This same “Lewis” begins the narration of Perelandra within a similar framing device. He is rushing to meet Ransom at his cottage at an appointed time and...
(The entire section is 926 words.)