- Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Del Rey (May 29, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345447980
- ISBN-13: 978-0345447982
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (231 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Planet of the Apes Mass Market Paperback – May 29, 2001
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If you've seen the progressively cheesier Planet of the Apes movies of 1968-1973, you may be shocked to learn the first movie was adapted from an intelligent, ironic, and literate novel. You'll be less surprised when you learn the original novel Planet of the Apes was written by Pierre Boulle, author of The Bridge over the River Kwai.
In the novel Planet of the Apes, the three Frenchmen making the first interstellar journey discover a remarkably Earth-like world orbiting Betelgeuse--Earth-like, with one crucial difference: The humans are dumb beasts, and the apes are intelligent. Captured during a terrifying manhunt, locked in a cage, and ignorant of the simian language, Ulysse Merou struggles to convince the apes that he possesses intelligence and reason. But if he proves he is not an animal, he may seal his own doom.
Like the first movie, the novel Planet of the Apes has a twist ending, but a twist of a different--yet equally shocking--sort. --Cynthia Ward
Boulle's classic 1963 novel differs in several ways from the 1968 movie and its various spinoffs. While the bare-bones story is familiar—astronaut travels to a planet populated by intelligent apes, is captured, fights to prove that he is a thinking creature—the novel is richer in detail and parallels to human culture. Boulle's apes live in cities, wear human-style clothing, drive automobiles. Technologically, they are in pre-spaceflight mode (although they have sent vessels into orbit, with humans as pilots—just like we did with monkeys, back in the 1950s and '60s). As in the '68 movie, Boulle's humans are essentially wild animals, unclothed and uncivilized—which is why our hero, French journalist Ulysse Mérou, poses such a problem for his captors: intelligent humans, capable of speech and advanced thought, are not supposed to exist. Many familiar ape characters are here—Zira, Cornelius, Nova, Zaius—but they are subtly different: for example Zaius, the orangutan scientist, is less buffoonish, and more menacing, than you might be expecting. The novel is paced more slowly than the movie, too: the film is a sci-fi movie with philosophical undertones, but the novel is more like a fable, an overt morality tale posing as science fiction, weighted more toward dialogue than action. It should be considered essential reading not just for fans of the movie, but for all science-fiction readers. --David Pitt
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Top Customer Reviews
Pierre Boulle's book is a vastly superior story to that of the same name that became a movie. Pierre paints a picture of 3 men leaving a planet led by men that is superior in its capabilities. They venture forth to a new planet that sees the opposite, men are simple and apes are superior.
He explores this world with a factual approach, working to a cresencdo that leaves the reader unsure of the true nature and outcome of the journey... cryptic I know but we don't want any spoilers!
The only downside, is the lack of depth given to the characters through the narrator, which of course helps keep the book short but does not allow the reader to get lost in them either.
I truly am glad I have now read this book, and it will make watching the movie once again a special moment.
But this book, this story, this is genius. In many respects the film - the one with Charleton Heston and known to most people now only for the quote above (only slightly less well-known than "Leave the gun, take the cannolis) - stays faithful to its genesis. Still, the book is truly worth reading. It's short - a very quick read. Not quite a short story but more novella than novel. But the value is in the different perspective - first-person - in which, and from whom, it's written - and in the ending. This may be one of those few times when having seen the film beforehand makes for a greater appreciation of the book. Or at least doesn't take away from the experience of reading it.
Having seen the film or not, my bet is that, if this niche of science fiction is intriguing to you, you'll enjoy this - even though it's more than half a century old. Enjoy!
The main strength of "Planet of the Apes" is Boulle's portrayal of apes as the planet’s dominant species. The eversal of roles is one of the classic tools that science fiction uses to hold up a mirror up to our own society, and in this respect, "Planet of the Apes" works as a cautionary story on an evolutionary scale. While here on Earth we may see apes as animals, the society of the apes on Soror is fairly advanced. Their level of technology allows for cars, aircraft, and even satellites, for example. Perhaps even more impressive is that there is equality among apes, even though the three races have their definite roles in society. But they also experiment on humans for the benefit of science, and therein lay the danger: if Ulysse cannot prove his intelligence, he will eventually be subject to medical experimentation. This fight for intellectual freedom and social acceptance is the driving thread of the book.
Worth noting are some minor quibbles that, while making a small impact overall, made "Planet of the Apes" feel slightly rough around the edges. Foremost is the prose which is clunky at times. Also, some of the science is questionable; particularly the ability to stimulate the recall of species memory, which provided convenient plot advancement at the expense of being believable. Also, why do the travelers take it in stride that human life would exist on another planet?
But these anomalies only detract from the reading experience in a small way. "Planet of the Apes" is well worth the read even if you think you know how it will turn out. The book ending is different than the 1968 film version.