Planet of the Apes (novel)
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Publisher||Livre de Poche|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
The novel tells the tale of three human explorers from Earth who visit a planet orbiting the star Betelgeuse, in which great apes are the dominant intelligent and civilized species, whereas humans are reduced to a savage animal-like state.
In a frame story, a frivolous couple sailing alone in space, Jinn and Phyllis, rescue and translate a manuscript from a floating bottle. The manuscript was written by journalist Ulysse Mérou, who in the year 2500 was invited by wealthy Professor Antelle to accompany him and his disciple, physician Arthur Levain, to Betelgeuse.
Because they travel close to the speed of light, time dilation causes centuries to pass on Earth during their two years in transit. They reach orbit around a temperate, lushly forested planet they name Soror (Latin for sister). They launch a shuttle to land on the surface. They can breathe the air, drink the water, and eat the fruit. Attracted by a lovely golden naked woman they call Nova, they swim below a scenic waterfall. She is frightened by their pet chimpanzee, Hector, and she strangles it. Her tribe, who comport themselves as dumb animals, wreck the newcomers' clothing and shuttle.
Fully dressed gorilla hunters attack the tribe with firearms. Many are killed, including Arthur. Ulysse is captured with the survivors. Ape clothing matches that of modern Earth men, except that the apes wear gloves instead of shoes on their prehensile feet. The apes smoke tobacco, photograph their hunting trophies, drink through straws, and appear utterly civilized. Their stagnant society is divided into three strata: aggressive gorilla soldiers, pedantic and politically conservative orangutan administrators, and liberal chimpanzee intellectuals. Men are mindless animals.
In an urban biological research facility, Ulysse recognizes Pavlov's dog conditioning being used on captured humans. He is mated with Nova. Curious chimpanzee researcher Zira takes interest in his geometric drawings and his ability to speak a few simian words. With help from her fiancé Cornélius, Ulysse makes a speech in front of several thousand apes. He is granted freedom, and is given tailored clothing. Old Antelle reverts to bestiality in the zoo and is moved to the lab for safety, where he is mated to a young female.
Cornélius, an archaeologist, excavates an ancient human city. An unconscious human lab subject whose brain has been stimulated by electrodes recites from racial memory the events that led to the fall of human civilization. Ape slaves, who outnumbered their masters, plotted the overthrow of their oppressors, and killed their masters or evicted them to the wild.
Nova bears Ulysse a son, Sirius, who precociously walks and talks at three months. Fearing for their lives, they take the place of the human test subjects in a space flight experiment. Because all humans look alike to apes, they are able to escape notice, and they rendezvous with the orbiting ship.
Ulysse programs robots to fly the ship back to Earth. As they fly over Paris, Orly Airport and the Eiffel Tower look the same. When they land, however, they are greeted by a field officer in a Jeep who is a gorilla.
Jinn and Phyllis refuse to believe Ulysse's "impossible" story, being civilized chimps. They discard the manuscript.
The novel was published in France in 1963 by René Julliard. The first English language version, with a translation by Xan Fielding, was published in the United States by Vanguard Press in June 1963 under the title Planet of the Apes. In January 1964 it was published in the United Kingdom as Monkey Planet by Secker & Warburg of London, then re-issued as Planet of the Apes in August 1973 to tie it in to the film franchise it inspired. The first paperback edition was published in the US in March 1964 by Signet / New American Library. In May 1964 Saga: The Magazine For Men printed an abridged version of the novel.
The novel has inspired a media franchise comprising eight films, two television series (one animated), and comic books.
The first was Planet of the Apes (1968), a science fiction feature film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner from a screenplay by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling. It stars Charlton Heston. The film was a critical and commercial success, spawning four sequels.
A second adaptation of the book was produced in 2001 directed by Tim Burton. A series reboot with a new production team called Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released in August 2011 to critical and commercial success. It is the first in a new series of films.
Notes and references
- David L. Ulin (July 14, 2014). "The transformation of 'Planet of the Apes,' from book to movie legend". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
- Michael Orthofer. "Planet of the Apes". complete review. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
- Paul A. Woods (2001). "Chapter 1: Those Damned Dirty Apes!". The Planet of the Apes Chronicle. Plexus Publishing. Reprinted with permission at www.mediacircus.net. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
- Lussier, Germain. "Collider Visits The Set of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES; Plus Video Blog", Collider.com, 14 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-14.
- Handley, Rich (2009). Timeline of the Planet of the Apes. Hasslein Books. ISBN 978-0615253923. Includes cover gallery (p. 269).