Out of the Silent Planet
Cosmic Anthropology: Race and Reason on Planet Mars
This chapter examines the first novel in the series, Out of the Silent Planet. It is based on the premise that the physically damaged but “unfallen” world of Malacandra (Mars) is a sublimated or “beatific” version of the Darwinian view of life as a relentless “struggle for existence.” Lewis’s would-be conquerors of Mars—the physicist Weston and the businessman Devine—use the presumption of their own evolutionary superiority to justify the conquest or outright eradication of other beings. In contrast to our own self-divided species, Mars possesses three rational species—each with its own body-type—who nevertheless live peacefully (if separately) in a condition of mutual equality. In the footsteps of his eminent predecessor H.G. Wells, Lewis employs interplanetary conflict as a means of exploring the perpetual strife within humankind itself, especially as it appears in modern European imperialism and in the virulent nationalism, racism, and genocidal mania of the 1930s.
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