Out of the Silent Planet Analysis

  • In Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis depicts an almost idyllic society on the planet of Malacandra, known to Earthlings as Mars. On Malacandra, three races live in perfect harmony under the rule of the benevolent spirit Oyarsa. Lewis contrasts the happiness on Malacandra with the turmoil on Thulcandra, or Earth, where racism has led to widespread discord.
  • Out of the Silent Planet is the first book is C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. In it, he employs many common science fiction tropes: the use of space travel, the discovery of extraterrestrial life, and the difficulty of communicating with alien races, to name a few. Lewis' depiction of alien society may seem simplistic in its harmony, but it contrasts will with the evil on Earth, as represented in the figures of Weston and Devine.
  • C. S. Lewis invented a new language spoken by the inhabitants of Malacandra. This language is shared by all three races on the planet and allows for harmonious interactions between residents. Weston's inability to speak the language with any fluency makes him a laughable figure and underscores his contempt for aliens.


(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)



Thulcandra. Martian name for Earth, meaning “Silent Planet,” where the narrative begins and ends. Ransom, a Cambridge philologist, is a solitary bachelor starting out on a walking tour, savoring the charms of his native England. Like a classic epic, this tale begins and ends on the native green. Before Ransom has gone far, he is hijacked to Mars by two villains he knows. While on his adventure, Ransom discovers that Thulcandra is presided over by a perverted Oyarsa (demoniac being), who has revolted against Maleldil the Younger (Christ), and therefore has been placed under planetary quarantine. Though Ransom clearly sees why the universe must be protected from the poisonous practices of Earth, when given the opportunity, he does not hesitate to return home.

Decades before the first photos of Earth from space were made, Lewis provided a vivid and accurate description of the planet as seen from Mars. Even as he views that radiant agate ball hanging in the sky, Ransom nostalgically tries to spot England and thinks of the tiny plot where he left his backpack.

Malacandra (Mars)

Malacandra (Mars). Martian name for their own planet. While epic adventures, such as the hnakra (vicious monster) hunt take place, suggesting that not all is paradisiacal on this planet, Ransom discovers that three intelligent species live here in harmony, with a neat division of tasks. These are the intellectual sorns, the...

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Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

As is the case with any fantasy novel, Lewis must establish verisimilitude as the work begins and sustain it throughout the narrative. He...

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Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The debt to Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726) is apparent in several details of the novel: Ransom is a philologist, and Gulliver...

(The entire section is 280 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The adventures of Ransom continue in Perelandra and That Hideous Strength (1945). In the first Ransom is transported by a...

(The entire section is 399 words.)


(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Downing, David C. Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C. S. Lewis’s Ransom Trilogy. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992. The only book-length study of the space trilogy. Exceptionally insightful, helpful, and complete. Begins with a discussion of Lewis’ life, showing how Lewis’ values and Christian faith influenced these books.

Gibson, Evan K. C. S. Lewis: Spinner of Tales: A Guide to His Fiction. Washington, D.C.: Christian University Press, 1980. Out of the Silent Planet receives a rather brief chapter; a good introduction to Lewis’ fiction.

Howard, Thomas. C. S. Lewis: Man of Letters: A Reading of His Fiction. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987. Contains a lengthy chapter about Out of the Silent Planet. A highly personal and energetic discussion.

Manlove, Colin N. C. S. Lewis: His Literary Achievement. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987. Analyzes each of Lewis’ novels, with careful attention to the underlying themes of each.

Walsh, Chad. The Literary Legacy of C. S. Lewis. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979. Evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of Lewis’ works, concluding that Lewis’ best work is his fiction. Praises Lewis’ ability to combine great literary skill with a distinctly Christian worldview.