Planet of the Apes

by Pierre Boulle
Reviewed date: 2009 Jul 29
Rating: 4
128 pages
Translated from the French by Xan Fielding
Previously published as Monkey Planet
cover art

I enjoyed the classic Planet of the Apes movie with Charlton Heston. The remake starring Mark Wahlberg, not so much. The book is better than Wahlberg but doesn't hold a candle to Mr. NRA.

The basic plot of the book is the same as the movie, except everybody is French. Our hero is Ulysse Merou, a journalist. He is one of three people on an interstellar journey to Betelgeuse. He and his compatriots arrive to discover a habitable earthlike planet ruled by intelligent apes. Orangutans are the elite ruling class; chimpanzees are the artisans, businessmen, and scientists; gorillas are the brutish lower class. Humans exist, but they are unintelligent animals. Ulysse is captured and held in a science lab where he is experimented on.

Ulysse succeeds in convincing two chimpanzees of his intelligence. With help from Zira and Cornelius, Ulysse wins his freedom. However, he is a threat to the ruling order. Cornelius has uncovered archeological evidence that ape civilization is descended from an earlier, human civilization. Ulysse's existence is further proof that humans can be intelligent. The orangutans are unwilling to accept that.

Zira and Cornelius help Ulysse escape and reach his spaceship, and he makes the trip back to Earth. The relativistic effects of the trip mean that 700 years have passed since his departure. When he arrives on Earth, he is greeted by two airport officers. They are gorillas.

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