Space Trilogy

From Academic Kids

The Space Trilogy or Ransom trilogy is a group of three science fiction novels by C. S. Lewis:

The books are not especially concerned with scientific accuracy or technological speculation, and in many ways they read like fantasy adventures. Like most of Lewis's mature writing, they have a thoroughly Christian outlook and much discussion of contemporary rights and wrongs.



A philologist named Elwin Ransom is the hero of the first two novels and an important character in the third. He appears very similar to Lewis himself: a university professor, expert in languages and medieval literature, unmarried (Lewis did not marry until his fifties), wounded in World War I and with no living relatives except for one sibling. Lewis, however, apparently intended for Ransom to be partially patterned after his friend and fellow Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien, since Lewis is presented as novelizing Ransom's reminiscences in the epilogue of Out of the Silent Planet and is a character-narrator in the frame tale for Perelandra.


According to the Oyarsa of Malacandra, Maleldil, the son of the Old One, ruled the Field of Arbol directly. But then the Bent One (The Oyarsa of Earth) took hold a rebellion against Maleldil and all the eldila of Deep Heaven. By this act, the Bent One was to suffer confinement on Earth where he first inflicted great evil, thus making Earth a silent planet, cut off from the rest of the Oyarses of other planets, thus the name 'Thulcandra' the Silent Planet. Maleldil tried to reach out Thulcandra, and became a 'man' to save the human race. According to the Green Lady, Tinidril (Mother of Perelandra) Thulcandra is favored among all the worlds.


The eldila (singular eldil) are a species of intelligent extraterrestrial. The human characters in the trilogy encounter them on various planets, but the eldila themselves are native to interplanetary and interstellar space ("Deep Heaven"). In standard science-fiction terms, they are "multi-dimensional energy beings." They are barely visible as faint, shifting light.

Certain very powerful eldila, the Oyéresu (singular Oyarsa), control the course of nature on each of the planets of the Solar System. They (and maybe all the eldila) can manifest in forms other than faint light.

The eldila are science-fictionalized depictions of angels, immortal and holy, with the Oyéresu perhaps being angels of a higher order (possibly in the traditional Hierarchy of angels). The eldila resident on (actually, imprisoned in) Earth are "dark eldila", fallen angels or demons. The Oyarsa of Earth is Satan.

Connections to Lewis's non-fiction

The cosmology of all three books—in which the Oyéresu of Mars and Venus somewhat resemble the corresponding gods from classical mythology—derives from Lewis's interest in medieval beliefs. Central concerns of his book The Discarded Image are the way medieval authors borrowed concepts from pre-Christian religion and science and attempted to reconcile them with Christianity, and the lack of a clear distinction between natural and supernatural phenomena (or between what are now called science fiction and fantasy) in medieval thought. The Space Trilogy also expands on Lewis's essay "Religion and Rocketry", which argues that as long as humanity remains flawed and sinful, our exploration of other planets will tend to do them more harm than good.

The Dark Tower

A fragmentary work featuring Ransom, The Dark Tower, was published in 1977 as a manuscript that Lewis had left unfinished at the time of his death. However, some have argued that The Dark Tower is a forgery.


According to the Space Trilogy's cosmology, the speech of all the inhabitants of the Field of Arbol is the Old Solar or Hlab-Eribol-ef-Cordi. Only Earth lost the language due to the Bent One's influence. Old Solar can be likened to the Elvish languages invented by Lewis' friend, Tolkien.


Some terminology in the "Old Solar" language is used throughout the trilogy:

  • Field of Arbol— the Solar System
  • Malacandra — Mars
  • Perelandra — Venus
  • Thulcandra — Earth
  • Seroni — or Sorns are creatures of knowledge in the world of Malacandra. They have long giant bodies covered with white feathers.
  • Hross — creatures of poetry and song in Malacandra. They are likened to seals with their skin, having beaver-like forelimbs, and heavily whiskered skin. They have a prominent 'h' when speaking Old Solar.
  • Pfifltriggi — a snout small people of Malacandra. Known for their digging and craftsmanship.
  • handra — earth
  • harandra — high earth, mountain
  • handramit — low earth, valley
  • hnau — a rational being, capable of speech, intellect, and personhood.

Some of this terminology can be linked up with Christian concepts:

  • Maleldil — God, or specifically Jesus (sometimes from the point of view of extraterrestrials who haven't heard that he was incarnated as a human being)
  • Eldila — Angels
  • Oyarsa — (Title) Ruler of a planet, a higher-order angel

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