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Planet of the Apes Mass Market Paperback – May 29, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 219 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Planet of the Apes Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

From Booklist

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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Product Details

  • 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 0.7 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 (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
A whimsical, fun and quick read, made amusing because, unlike in the 1967 movie, the apes live in modern cities, have present-day technology and wear 20th century human clothing. You can see in the book where screenwriter Rod Serling found many of the elements for the movie, but the book is different from the film in many ways, including in its assessment of man. The story begins in the year 2500, and the Heston character is a French journalist who really does travel to another planet. As in the film, he finds a world where apes are the ruling species with language, science and culture, and humans are dumb, inarticulate brutes who communicate by screeches and are exhibited in zoos. Don't expect Serling's crackling scenes and dialogue, or his blunt and searing indictment of humanity, and there is no Statue of Liberty at the end to wrap it all up. The book is much more in the spirit of Gulliver's Travels; our protagonist is at first considered an odd stranger but is later accepted into the society as almost an equal. But you will learn here the reasons behind some of the unexplained features of the movie: why the humans are mute, and how the planet of the apes came to be. The reasons are part and parcel, though, of the statement Boulle wishes to make about humanity: that truly innovative and revolutionary ideas and the people who bring them forth are very few and far between, and that most people really do not think, and simply follow and imitate the practices of those around them and those who came before them. Boulle wants to take our pride in our superiority above other animals, based on our higher intellectual abilities, down a notch or two, and that he has done so becomes clear after you read the last words and set the book down. I first read this book as a boy enthralled by the movie series, when the "Apes" movies were in the theaters, and I still occasionally thumb through my 25-year-old Signet paperback edition of the novel.
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By A Customer on May 2, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having been a fan of the movie for years, I was excited to find out that it was actually based on a book. However, the book, while being similar to the movie in theme and idea, was completely different from what I had expected. Starting with two space travelers finding a ship which has been abandoned for some time, floating in space, the book catapults you into the story of Heston, a space travelling journalist who finds his way to and escapes from a planet entirely ruled by apes. The ending of the book is classical science fiction and will be an awesome surprise to anyone who has seen the movie. Although almost entirely different from the movie, I enjoyed the book immensely. While I've found myslef distracted watching the movie at times due to the underlining political themes, the book was duly unadulterated science fiction and I was able to detach wholly into the world of imagination and be enthralled in this incredible story. I would give this book to anyone.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Given the impending release of the movie "THE PLANET OF THE APES" I rented the original movie, which I thought was great. But I just had to read the original book too. (I'm a reader, what can I say?)
I was greatly and pleasantly surprised, quite honestly, about the quality of the book. It was originally written in French trnaslated by Xan Fielding. The prose read extremely well for a translation and the acerbic wit, humor and biting satire comes through loud and clear in the book.
The novel is absolutely wonderful satire. Especially poignant were the scenes where the intelligent human has to witness his fellow human beings subjected to sometimes deadly but always degrading biological and mental experiments. Here, MAN is the object of big game hunts where apes go out and shoot down their human prey for sport. The novel also takes shots at academia and the scientific "establishment", the stock market, and most clearly of all "species-centrism" (or ethnocentrism if you will).
There are a few differences between the book and the original movie. Here, the "Planet of the Apes" is on the other side of the galaxy and is reached through intergalactic flight. Apes are much more technologically advanced than they are in the movie and even have space flight (even if it is described in a somewhat cheesy manner). The apes take over more through the technologcial (and read between the lines, moral) stagnation of mankind than a nuclear holocaust (as in the movie). But for the most part, the movie did an excellent job of telling a similar, yet different story, using the book as it's basis.
In short, I highly recommend the book and the /original/ movie if you haven't seen it. The novel is rewarding in its own right. Hopefully the new movie will be too.
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Format: Hardcover
When I finally got a chance to read this book I took my sweet time. Too many others knock the book because it's not the movie. This book is one of the greatest narratives I have ever read. It's very refreshing! Too much SF gets heavy-handed and pounds a message into you. Planet Of The Apes let's you decide as to what depth you wish to explore the story.
Despite the fact that I really liked the film, I enjoyed the book even more. You can tell where a lot of the ideas for the follow-up films came from and that alone says how much story is really in this short piece. Which, by the way, has been seriously lacking in today's SF.
Too many books are written with the intent of selling them as movies, long trivial side stories and multiple characters used just to fill in pages.
And to all of those who miss the surprise ending (in the movie)...did you read the same book...
Read It! (Slow). Nuff Said!! :)
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