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Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
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Planet of the Apes (original 1963; edition 1963)

by Pierre Boulle

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Title:Planet of the Apes
Authors:Pierre Boulle
Info:Del Rey (2001), Mass Market Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:science fiction

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Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (1963)

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English (28)  French (4)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I'm happy to know the source material for all these movie adaptations that I've seen and enjoyed !

I've always been repulsed by all these apes with clothes and cosmetics. Don't get me started on Zira, the female chimpanzee who befriends, Ulysse Mérou. Her lipstick always gives me nightmares.

The relationship between Zira and Ulysse is natural and I'm glad because it was always a point of discomfort for me in the movie. It always had an unnatural after-taste but I think the question about what it means to be sentient is well addressed. I loved the end so all in all it was a great novel. ( )
1 vote electrice | Jan 5, 2014 |
This was one of my favorite movies growing up, so I really wanted to read the book. First, let me tell you I bought the 1969 printing of the book. The typeset on a 1969 paperback is REALLY small. My old eyes just couldn't do it! As a result, I subsequently bought the Kindle version of the book so that I would have a font size that was more agreeable to my eyes. (I will be keeping the 1969 paperback as an addition to my permanent library, however.)
Long story short, while the book differs considerably from the movie, I still loved it. The social commentary throughout definitely reflects the times in which it was written, yet many of the situations are still applicable to today's society. While I saw the end coming from a mile away, I was still quite satisfied with it. I highly recommend this book. ( )
  TheBoltChick | Nov 19, 2013 |
...I can see why Planet of the Apes became a classic but truth be told, I don't really think it merits that status. It is an interesting read in a way though. The Hollywood adaptation of it differs considerably from the original (although the 2001 remake is closer to the book). In fact, the story is changed to such an extent that the end of the novel will come as a surprise to readers who are only familiar with the classic movies. I thought the difference between the novel and he movie adaptation was probably the most interesting aspect of this read. It almost begs the question what a French movie adaptation would look like.

Full Random Comments review ( )
  Valashain | Sep 8, 2013 |
Caution: Vague Spoilers Ahead

I don't really think that I can do this book justice in my review. I thought that it was brilliant. I know that I have seen the movie long ago, and remember the big reveal at the end and Charlton yelling about damning everyone all to hell, but I don't remember much more than that. I'll have to watch the movie again.

I really loved the subtle cautionary tale running throughout the story. Maybe it's just my feminist liberal bleeding heart whispering to me, but I feel that Boulle just plain hated live-animal experiments and was determined to show people that the tables could be turned one day. Easily. But more than that, the book cautions us not to be complacent and lazy about our place in life and in the food chain and to keep striving and learning and bettering ourselves, but NOT at the cost of other life-forms. We're on top now, but only time will tell if we stay there.

And do we actually deserve to be? We, the "Lords of Creation," seem to think that we can do anything and everything we want to do. We're so filled with pride that we never think that OUR civilization could fall. Those kind of things are for history books, not real life. Yet we consume resources like they're going out of style, and pollute the earth like we have a spare, and just generally act like there's a "Reset" button somewhere that we can just press when we've reached the point of no return. Why shouldn't another species give running things a try? If they can do it better...

But that's the thing. They imitate us, so WOULD they do it better? At one point in the story, when Merou was being shown the experiments, I thought to myself, "They are proud of the fact that they are keeping the "animals" down... Taking any vestiges of humanity or rational thought away as soon as it is displayed in order to protect themselves. They are so fearful of the possibility of human uprising that they commit atrocities to prevent them." And then I thought to myself, "Oh, snap! So do we." We can justify anything. And so can Apes, who apparently learned from the best. In examining the Apes, we're looking at ourselves. Can we really pass judgment?

But, I was happy to see that the three "races" of Apes could cohabitate and cooperate in peace, which is more than we've accomplished so far. Our differences divide us, but the Apes recognize and relish their differences and use them well. But Apes still seem to rival Man in the fear department: the unknown is scary, so just destroy it and move on.

I do have to say that I was kind of annoyed with Merou's assumption that life forms in a far, far away galaxy would automatically be human to be intelligent. It just goes to show that our pride will be our downfall. But it reminded me of a quote from another science-fiction book that I enjoyed, Solaris by Stanislaw Lem (which you should remember if you keep up with my reviews):

"...We take off into the cosmos, ready for anything: for solitude, for hardship, for exhaustion, death. Modesty forbids us to say so, but there are times when we think pretty well of ourselves. And yet, if we examine it more closely, our enthusiasm turns out to be all sham. We don't want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. For us, such and such a planet is as arid as the Sahara, another as frozen as the North Pole, yet another as lush as the Amazon basin. We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don't want to enslave other races, we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don't know what to do with other worlds. [...:] We arrive here as we are in reality, and when the page is turned and that reality is revealed to us--that part of our reality which we would prefer to pass over in silence--then we don't like it anymore."

Oh, it's so apt. We inherently assume that anyone of any worth or intelligence will be just like us. Even the "Little Green Men" type aliens that pop up in the Weekly World News magazines are still modeled after humans, and hell, they are nicknamed "men"! I just hope that one day we'll be able to see the bigger picture.

I do want to mention two things that I wish were clarified a little more in the book. I'd been told that the twist in the book was different than the twist in the movie. I had had a theory that somehow during the journey from Earth, something got mixed up and the planet they landed on WAS Earth, only far in the future. Since it seems that was not correct, I'm confused as to how two planets so distant actually would be so very similar. The two main races (Apes and humans) are the same genetically (or so it seems as Merou was able to successfully mate with an "alien" human), and there are several other animals that are similar. Not to mention the society and transportation etc. It just seems so unlikely that Soror would be so similar to Earth without knowing of its existence.

And speaking of which, that brings me to the second thing. Merou named the planet Soror prior to meeting any sentient beings. Didn't they have their own name for the planet? I cannot believe that throughout ANY of the discussions they had regarding the origins of their species, or space travel, or anything, that they did not once say, "Oh, and by the way, we call our planet Apex." (Haha, get it?) But really, that point bothered me in the story.

Anyway, Aside from those two points, I thought that this was a really great book. I hope that everyone gets a chance to read it one day. ( )
  TheBecks | Apr 1, 2013 |
I read this book because I love the original movies and the 70s TV show and, as it's a sci-fi classic, I thought that I should. I was not expecting it to be particularly good, and so was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

At the start, I was rather irked that the translator more often rendered singe as monkey, when clearly we're dealing with APES! After I put that aside, I really got into the story.

There was more of the book in the films than I had expected (although there is a different "surprise" ending!). However the main theme is not about how warlike men are (no, You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!), but how decadence leads to cultural stagnation. There's also a very strong, and compelling, anti-vivisection message.

Despite a slight datedness, this still stands up very well. ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | Mar 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (56 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pierre Boulleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fielding, XanTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dehn, PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Jinn et Phyllis passaient des vacannces merveilleuses, dand l'espace; le plus loin possibles des astres habités. -

Jin and Phyllis were spending a wonderful holiday, in space, as far away as possible from the inhabited stars.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345447980, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:30 -0400)

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Three astronauts land on an planet very much like Earth, except that here apes rule over humans.

(summary from another edition)

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