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The Space Trilogy

From Tolkien Gateway

The Space Trilogy is a series of novels by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien's friend and fellow Inkling.

The story of the first book, Out of the Silent Planet, shares a common genesis with Tolkien's unfinished The Lost Road. The two men had a conversation about the shortcomings of Science Fiction literature and Lewis remarked that "there is too little of what we really like in stories", suggesting they try their hand at the genre "as amateurs":[1]

We... meant each to write an excursionary 'Thriller': a Space-journey and a Time-journey (mine) each discovering Myth.

Lewis' 'Space-journey' became Out of the Silent Planet and was published in 1938 by The Bodley Head. Lewis initially tried to interest Allen & Unwin in the work, but despite the positive review Tolkien gave the publishers they passed.

The work belongs to the obscure subgenre of "Theological/Christian Science Fiction". The last part is much darker and occult in tone, similar to such works of fellow Inkling Charles Williams, who had some influence on Lewis.

Tolkien noted that some of his onomatopoeia influenced names in this work, including Numinor (That Hideous Strength), Eldil (Out of the Silent Planet) and Tor and Tinidril (Perelandra).[3]

Elwin Ransom

The protagonist of the trilogy is Dr. Elwin Ransom, sharing the name with Elwin, one of the characters in Tolkien's contemporary The Lost Road. The modern form of Alboin/Ælfwine, the name means "Elf-friend", a frequent motif in Tolkien's Legendarium.

Dr. Ransom is apparently modelled in part on Tolkien (as well as Lewis himself and Charles Williams): he was born in 1898 (like Lewis, Tolkien's junior by 6 years), fought in World War I and the Somme, he is a philologist at an Oxbridge university (Tolkien was at Oxford University), and has a special interest in languages. Lewis himself appears as a character in the books, as a friend of Ransom's.

Tolkien played down this similarity on multiple occasions, admitting it only in that both were philologists.[2][4]

See also: Professor Rashbold


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