Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Space Trilogy

Some of you are probably familiar with C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy series. The first book is entitled Out of the Silent Planet. It begins on earth and then quickly moves to the planet Malacandra (commonly known on Earth [or "Tellus"] as Mars). The main character, Ransom, is kidnapped from earth and then arrives on Mars with his two kidnappers. He quickly escapes from them, however, and ventures around this planet which is beaming with life. He first suspects this life to be insidious but it is actually completely harmeless. He slowly discovers that he has been taken to a world which is completely (though you'd never explicitly read it in the book this way) innocent, in original holiness and un-fallen. Ransom eventually meets up with other more or less intelligent creatures, but struggles to communicate with them, especially when it comes to ideas which are wholly unknown to that planet. For example, when trying to warn them about the other two humans on the planet, he can't simply tell the Malacandrans that they are evil or bad, he eventually can only tell them that they're "bent."

While on the planet, however, Ransom discovers that all the creatures are knowingly or unknowingly subservient and obedient to the great Maleldil, Oyarsa and eldila. The eldila somehow serve both the creatures of the planet and Oyarsa, but their presence is for the most part unknown. Oyarsa is an eldil, too, but is the chief eldil of Malacandra. Maleldil remains always something mysterious beyond all of these, and greater.

In the end, Ransom's "friends" end up killing a Malacandran creature or two. The eldila eventually remedy the whole situation and send Ransom and his buddies back to earth, while Ransom is in control and the other two are, well, crazy. Crazy because they couldn't hear or understand what Ransom heard and understood, because those two men chose to disbelieve Ransom and chose not to see. Ransom is sent back, in the end, in the same spaceship that he came in (which was then commanded by his captors), but since it was inoperable, it was powered by the eldila through "deep space" back to the Silent Planet, Tellus, Earth.

This raises an interesting point: why did C.S. Lewis choose to call his first book in the series, "The Silent Planet"? How does that fit into the whole plot? Well, as we discover in the book, each planet has its own primary eldil (its own Oyarsa) - Mars' was Malacandra. The eldila can travel from planet to planet, but for the most part, each eldil has command of their planet and other eldila respect that and don't descend without permission of each planet's Oyarsa or the command of Maleldil. Earth is the Silent Planet because its Oyarsa (its primary eldil) turned upon the rest and ceased communication with Maleldil and the rest of the eldila; it went bent. Hence, the book's title refers to the three men's leaving Earth and traveling to Mars.

Obviously, this book is allegorical - though C.S. Lewis may have denied it. It is very effective, however. It is so very interesting how the genius theologian and writer attempts to show the reader how sad our condition is. This first book is largely the encounter between fallen man and an unfallen world, as well as some of an education on angels. In this unfallen world, it is interesting to see how simple relationships are. Lewis does a fine job of trying to show the beauty of obedience and the real simplicity of unfallen innocence - something we sadly never see, not even in children.

Overall, a great read. If you're looking for a Christian novel which is not explicitly theological, yet sound and entertaining, this is your book. So too are the next two books, which I will post on very soon.

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