Name That Book

The story started somewhat slowly, what with the main character off taking a hike. Alone. In an isolated countryside.

And a good deal of it was told, with long sections reserved for first person descriptive observations.

What’s more, the “train-wreck” scene — apparently part of the contemporary formula for holding readers’ interest (see author Mike Duran’s recent post “What Grabs Readers and What Keeps Them”) was only alluded to because the main character was out cold.

And yet, this is a classic. Not one from the 1800s, mind you. This book was written in modern (though certainly not contemporary) times. It’s even part of a series.

Most Christians would list it as Christian fiction, though it was published by a general market press before the era of Evangelical Christian Publishing Association houses. There is no conversion scene, no gospel message, no allegory.

The genre is adult speculative, and speculate is probably what this one does the best. It’s imaginative, original, inventive.

But in contrast to today’s literature, I suspect the meandering sentence structure, the somewhat stiff style, and the more expansive vocabulary of this one might be somewhat off-putting. I confess that I had to make a personal adjustment to a kind of writing I haven’t enjoyed for some time.

The story itself broke a lot of the “good story” guidelines. The main character didn’t particularly want anything except to survive. The antagonists turned out to be allies. The stakes didn’t seem particularly high. The rising action happened too soon and the denouement was far too long.

And yet …

Something about this one makes it compelling. Perhaps it’s the fresh view of our world. Or the ideas it suggests about the supernatural. Maybe it’s the close look at human nature the story affords.

Certainly the total is greater than its parts, but I have to think this one is great because of what it says more than anything else. Maybe that’s just my perspective.

And now, if you haven’t guessed already, I’ll give a series of specific clues. In the comments let me know if and when you figured out the title of this classic.

10. Though the story begins on earth, most of it takes place elsewhere.
9. There is no portal.
8. The main character is kidnapped.
7. His kidnappers mistakenly think they need to provide a human sacrifice.
6. The main character is a philologist by occupation.
5. His ability with language helps him discover the truth.
4. The hnau he once feared become his allies.
3. The storyline may have been influenced by H. G. Wells’s First Men in the Moon.
2. The main character is Dr. Elwin Ransom.
1. The author is C.S. Lewis.

And the book title is …

Out Of The Silent Planet.


  1. Honestly, Planet is one of my favorites. I had a hunch when you said “hike”, and I figured it out when you said “out cold”. That narrowed it down pretty well.


  2. I figured it out at the clue “there is no portal”. Obviously it’s been too long since I read this classic! 🙂 (Incidentally, this is the first Christian science fiction I read.)


  3. I figured it out on the word hike… though I haven’t read the Space Trilogy in too long. It’s high time I read it again!


  4. LOL, yes, I was thinking that one from the first paragraph! One of my favorites as well … 🙂


  5. I knew it was “Out of the Silent Planet” from the first sentence when Ransom was the pedestrian. I taught this book for many years. The first time that I read it, the most poignant point to me was the realization at the end was that Thulcandra with the flame-like figure gouged out of its sculpture represented Earth. C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy was my favorite set of books to teach.


  6. […] of a series. Most Christians would list it as Christian fiction, though it was … Read more- christian book classics – Google Blog Search Lion of Judah Movie- Sponsor: Lion of Judah the Movie- Check out "The […]


  7. Well, I’m impressed! You guys are first rate! I would never have figured it out so early — at least, not before I re-read it.

    I’m looking forward to Perelandria now.



  8. “But in contrast to today’s literature, I suspect the meandering sentence structure, the somewhat stiff style, and the more expansive vocabulary of this one might be somewhat off-putting.”

    It’s probably just me not being well read in fiction, but I find much of current prose too ‘flowery’ in its imagery, making my brain have to work harder than it wants to – to enjoy the story. I’m sure its the vogue, and the more a writer reads, the more the trend is incorporated in their works. I suppose it counts as original to describe a sunset in a way that no one else has done before. But if you have to scratch your head after you’ve read it, maybe it’s ‘overdone’. Or maybe I’m just a simpleton.


  9. Got it at “classic” 🙂 Love my 1948 edition…


  10. That was a very good sci-fi. I think it’s sad that Lewis’ Space Trilogy has been largely forgotten these days, since it features some of Lewis’ best writing. The council scene at the climax was VIVID!


  11. […] : Speaking of the evasive nature of good fiction, read the Rebecca’s post on C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet. It breaks some cardinal “rules” of fiction yet it’s one of the finest […]


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