Author photo

By Midge Lyndee
Book Review 

Out of this World!

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment


September 2, 2023

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) better known to the reading world as C. S. Lewis of Narnia fame, published in 1950, was a voracious writer of more than 30 books. What is not as commonly known, Lewis wrote "The Space Trilogy" between 1938 and 1945, the first of the series titled "Out of the Silent Planet."

This time in history was tumultuous. Hitler became German Chancellor and then Fuhrer. His troops marched through Europe. There were concentration camps built and filled. Ghettos of deportees were built and demolished. The Blitz, a sustained campaign of aerial bombing attacks on towns and cities across England, brought the war home. Lewis, who was injured in France and discharged in WWI, joined the Home Guard to do regular patrols around Oxford, his home. And he wrote his sci-fi trilogy.

It is hard to imagine what the world around him was like as he wrote. Perhaps the journey to outer space seemed a safer place to be. But as we find out in "Out of the Silent Planet" space travel was quite a mixed bag in the perceptions of a 1938 mind. Space discovery in the 1930s was not sophisticated. There were no high powered telescopes, spaceships and rovers that later took man to the moon and Mariner 4 to fly past Mars while sending photos home of its surface.

Lewis used the science known at the time and created the rest. He imagined planet Mars, inhabited by three different beings (not necessarily Martians) having their own unique shared language and definite perceptions of their world and the heavens. They also seemed to have an intrinsic respect for life, did not live with malice and did not understand the minds of men from this planet.

They called Earth by a different name. Thulc. The silent planet. Why silent? Well it seems that though others in the universe communicated through numerous eldils (hard for the traveler Ransom to define, not quite angels or quite invisible but made with light), the eldils had become corrupt in Thulc and communication had been severed. This is where imagination merges into philosophy and the deeper areas between morality and spirituality. Whether you choose to read this book as an entertaining story or delve into the deeper layers, you can enjoy the red planet like no other author has portrayed it. There is water that is warm and effervescent. Edible grasses and flowers. Trees 40 feet and taller, that look like black tulips. Landscapes that boggle the logical mind in their angles and contortions. Had Lewis known the facts of rovers Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance, it might have interrupted his flow!

If you want to further take a visit to Mars, you might enjoy "The Martian" by Andy Weir. The movie was great but reading the book draws you in as a participant, being left behind and surviving while holding on to hope that one day you will somehow be rescued. You certainly root for Mark Walney as he grows his potatoes.

If you just feel a need to get away, "Beacon 23" by Hugh Howie may fit the bill. "Beacon 23" is about living in a lighthouse. Not the kind that sits on the edge of a treacherous piece of water, but rather a lighthouse in the stars that beams a light to guide ships in space through the Milky Way. It is also a story about choosing to be alone, choosing to face isolation instead of facing life in the midst of relationships and difficult responsibilities. Curious thing, we can run away from others, but not run away from ourselves.

As we face challenges on our brilliant Blue Marble, we might yearn for the unknowns of space as an escape. Lewis escaped there during a horrific war. Mark Walney got trapped there because of his curiosity. The sentry at Beacon 23 faced himself there. But in reality, like Dorothy realized in the land of Oz, there is no place like home. Our problems do not dissolve into thin or thinner air. I think though that maybe we keep looking for the next good book as a reprieve. For a brief escape from the inevitable. Life meets us running and waits for our return. Hopefully a good story and out of this world experience, equips us with new and stellar perspectives. There are certainly a lot of books to explore and to "boldly go" (borrowed of course from the Star Trek theme). Read boldly!

Good Books.

Good reading.

*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2024

Rendered 04/23/2024 12:18