Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Audible Review, "Out of the Silent Planet"

            I was/am sort of on a kick to try out lots of different science fiction titles from the past.  “Stranger in a Strange Land”, “The Forever War”, "The Sirens of Titan", and “2001: A Space Odyssey” I have already listened to and so I decided to expand my scope to a Christian-Fantasy author and his brief foray into Science Fiction.  C.S. Lewis’ “Out of the Silent Planet”.
            Until recently I never knew about this three-part series, it being totally eclipsed by “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” which Lewis wrote 12 years later.  I only heard about it indirectly when reading about one of those incidents in history that sounds like something made up by an English Literature nerd on tumblr.
            There was a rivalry/argument between Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke, writer of “2001: A Space Odyssey” which happened in a pub, and they each brought a guest, one was a prominent writer in the field of science academia and the other was JRR Tolkien.  You can read about it here.
This is book 1 of 3.   Apparently, part 3 is as long as the other two together.

            Since this book and its sequels have been mostly eclipsed I could have ignored it, it is not nearly as influential as the books it borrows ideas from, but I liked the author’s style and maybe I would discover a gem neglected by the popular sphere.  I did, if I had to describe this book in a short statement it would be, "Beautiful Heavy Words".
            Since I got this on Audible I am posting the opinion I put there here along with the questions they ask their users to help guide their review writing.  Hopefully, this style is as easy to read as it is to write.

Would you listen to Out of the Silent Planet again? Why?
            Maybe.  The writing is haunting in many instances.  To the point of being beautiful poetry.  Descriptions of alien landscapes, drifting thru the heavens, or seeing humanity almost with the eyes of an extraterrestrial.  The language is fantastic.
            It is however, tiring to read.  Much like listening to long quotations of Shakespeare by the end of them my mind feels like it has been worked out listening to the rhythm and word selection so earnestly.
I would also like to say that the artwork produced for the covers of this series is consistently eye catching and beautiful.
There is also a good bit of fan art.  I wish all the books I looked at would be so inspiring to artists.
What other book might you compare “Out of the Silent Planet” to and why?
            The setting will have to be compared to the "John Carter of Barsoom" franchise.  Except that this vision of the alien landscape is less bleak and barbaric and more of a semi-celestial Eden.  It is also more of a haunting walk thru a strange world as opposed to an action/adventure.
            The appeal of the story is gazing at the world it creates and seeing the peaceful existence of the inhabitants but still being sort of scared for the enormity of it all.  I suppose another good comparison would be "2001: A Space Odyssey" (ironic), as there is a core theme of exploration and a guiding hand of a powerful and benevolent figure, with an emphasis on enormous thoughts and large scopes.

Which character – as performed by Geoffrey Howard – was your favorite?
            Oyarsa the invisible all-knowing lord of the planet is the sort of benevolent deity I like in stories. Involved, clearly wise and helpful, but Oyarsa has limits to both his authority and his patience.  Oyarsa knows what a threat is and acts accordingly to eliminate them.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
            That would be impossible.  I found listening to it almost exhausting because I would hang on near every word.  I needed breaks to digest it.

Any additional comments?
            I think that after a long break I will return to the series and eventually finish it.

            I don’t know if I can recommend this book to anyone except those who will find the appeal of the writing style.  There is little action, it is totally sexless (there isn’t any women in the book), and a big conceit of the narrative is based on decrying colonialism which is good from a historical perspective, but less a part of the modern cultural zeitgeist.

I am 90% sure this is supposed to be about the books.

            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

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