The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In the three novels commonly known as the Space Trilogy and sometimes as the Cosmic Trilogy or Ransom Trilogy (the series was not given a formal title by its author), the celebrated literary scholar and Christian essayist C. S. Lewis combines elements of classical science fiction, medieval romance, and the epic to create a sprawling depiction of an interplanetary struggle between good and evil.

Out of the Silent Planet, the first of the novels, centers on the adventures of Elwin Ransom, a Cambridge philologist who is abducted by Dick Devine, a grammar-school classmate who has become a ruthless opportunist, and Edward Weston, a renowned physicist. Devine and Weston drug Ransom and take him aboard a spacecraft that Weston has created; together, they travel to Mars. During the journey, Ransom learns that his abductors plan to give him to the Martians as part of a prearranged scheme. Imagining that he is to be sacrificed in some alien ritual, Ransom escapes from his captors soon after they arrive on Mars, only to realize that he has run from his only means of returning to Earth.

After wandering for some time, Ransom meets the hrossa, intelligent, otterlike beings; as he learns their language and way of life, he comes to understand that the hrossa are an entirely benevolent, unfallen race. Ransom also meets the planet’s two other rational species, which like the hrossa are supremely talented, peaceful beings sharing the planet they call Malacandra in complete harmony. He is also introduced to the eldils, luminous spiritual beings of a higher order.

Ransom is eventually taken to meet the oyarsa, or chief eldil, of Malacandra. He learns that Earth (or Thulcandra) is known as the “silent planet” because it has been isolated from the remainder of the solar system since its own oyarsa rebelled against Maleldil (the eldilic name for God), an event...

(The entire section is 772 words.)