This review will contain spoilers!
In many sentences:
This is actually the second time reading Out of the Silent Planet for me. I remember enjoying the book greatly the first time, and I did enjoy this time as well. However, I felt the first half (basically up to the point that they go on the hnarka hunt) to be a little slow. After that point, it was really excellent.
In general, I simply love the idea of reconciling the Christian tradition of God, Jesus, angels, Satan and the possibility of life on other planets. Maybe it is because I am a sci-fi geek at heart, but it is so much fun for me to read a philosophical, logical treatment that brings all these subjects together. Specifically, there are a few points I would like to record. First, Ransom has an interesting conversation with Hyoi at one point about memory in regards to sexual experience. The hrossa only have sex for procreation, so Ransom asks if they miss the fact that it happens so infrequently. Hyoi, however, claims that it is only be remembering something for years does the experience of that thing truly become complete. Clearly this is a very Catholic idea, but at heart it is very appealing. After all, I often find myself always jumping from one new experience to the next (be it books, games, or life in general) rather than reflecting and contemplating what I have experienced in the past. In fact, this book database effort is an example of me realizing that and attempting in some way to deal with it. My hope is that, in time, my past experience with a book will become richer as I reflect upon it with greater wisdom and maturity.
Another part of the book that was particularly evocative was towards the end when Ransom was translating for Weston as he told Oyarsa of his dreams from galaxy domination by humans. It was fascinating to read as Weston would describe something that I could immediately understand and see the logic of. However, when Ransom would translate it into a language that did not have words for Weston"s bent desires, the ridiculousness and depravity of what he wanted became clearer and clearer. Ransom was doing nothing more than defining what Weston said, but the need to break it down to be clear to others was amazingly effective at revealing the heart of what Weston desired. See pages 134-136 for the specific examples (they are too long to quote, as the context is necessary).
In the end, I strongly recommend this book to fans of science fiction in general, but particularly Christians who would enjoy a developed theology that melds an understanding of God and creation with the imagination of life on other planets. It may get off to a slow start, but it is ultimately thought provoking and clever in its amalgamation of science fiction and religion.
"He wondered how he could ever have thought of planets, even on Earth, as islands of life and reality floating in a deadly void. Now, with a certainty which never after deserted him, he saw the planets - the 'earths' he called them in his thought - as mere holes or gaps in the living heaven - excluded and rejected wastes of heavy matter and murky air, formed not by addition to, but by subtraction from, the surrounding brightness."C.S. Lewis in Out of the Silent Planet
"The last drops of the thundershower had hardly ceased falling when the Pedestrian stuffed his map into his pocket, settled his pack more comfortably on his tired shoulders, and stepped out from the shelter of a large chestnut-tree into the middle of the road."C.S. Lewis the First Line of Out of the Silent Planet
C.S. Lewis the Last Line of in Out of the Silent Planet