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":
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 protagonist of the trilogy is Elwin Ransom, and is apparently modelled in part on Tolkien (as well as Lewis himself and other Inklings): he is a philologist at an Oxbridge university, has a special interest in languages (and it is men, fought in World War I and the Somme and his first name means "Elf-friend" (Elwin is the modern form of Ælfwine). Tolkien played down this similarity on multiple occasions, admitting it only in that both were philologists.
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 294, (dated 8 February 1967)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 24, (dated 18 February 1938)
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 27, (dated March or April 1938)