This is a sci-fi novel, fairly short, and I think fairly old (50s/60s, but might be earlier). The author is well-known, but possibly for other genres as well as sci-fi, and definitely anglophone. I'm fairly sure it's the first book of a trilogy.

This man travels to another planet, and things are poisonous (I'm not quite sure about that). Plants have grown to enormous sizes there.

The bit I remember the best is that he's rescued by another race, who go out on the water in canoes a lot, and look a bit like otters or seals. He lives in their village for quite a while and learns their language. I think a lot of their words start with "br" or similar, and their life is at quite a slow pace. There's a battle against some other creatures at one point and an elder is killed. He refers to them a lot by the name of their race.

There's also a part where he travels over a mountain pass, although I can't remember why, and stops in a cave midway, where he meets a different race, who possibly gives him oxygen (although I might be making that up).

I think it's very well known, but I can't get search terms close enough to find it!

  • @FuzzyBoots I thought it probably would end up being a dupe, because I thought it would be well known. Unfortunately the bits I remembered were completely different to the ones in that question so that one didn't come up when I searched, or as a suggestion when I wrote mine. I think my question is more accurate in terms of getting plot elements right, but theirs is obviously earlier — I don't know how that affects closing as dupes? (I'm still pretty new.) Jan 22, 2021 at 17:45
  • Official policy is that the most comprehensive question and answer should be the base question, with a slight preference to using the older question if all other things are equal.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jan 22, 2021 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


This is surely "Out of the Silent Planet", the first book in the "Space Trilogy" by C.S. Lewis. The other planet was Mars, known within the book as "Malacandra".

It was first published in 1938, the author was indeed an Anglophone, and was famous for another fantasy series (Narnia).

The protagonist, Ransom, was brought to Mars against his will by two Earthmen. He escapes from them and meets a peaceful race of Martians, living along the Martian canals, called the hrossa. Ransom was a philologist and learns their language and becomes friends with them. Indeed, many of their words begin with "hr") (rather than "br" as in the question).

At one point he has to climb over a mountain pass where the oxygen is very thin, and is revived by another Martian race, one of the "Sorns". The Sorns are much more interested in science and technology than the hrossa, who concentrate on songs and poetry.

  • It is, thank you! I actually had "Ransom" in my head, but tried Arthur Ransome as the author rather than it being the name of the character. I'll accept the answer when I'm allowed to. Jan 22, 2021 at 11:11
  • 1
    I too first read the name of the race as the brossa. In the italic font used in the edition I read the "h" looked very similar to a "b" - and also "brossa" is much easier to pronounce than "hrossa" (especially in Spanish!) Jan 22, 2021 at 11:19

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