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Jinn and Phyllis were spending a wonderful holiday, in space, as far away as possible from the inhabited stars.
In those days interplanetary voyages were an everyday occurrence, and interstellar travel not uncommon. Rockets took tourists to the wondrous sites of Sirius, or financiers to the famous stock exchanges of Arcturus and Aldebaran. But Jinn and Phyllis, a wealthy leisured couple, were distinguished in their cosmos for their originality and a few grains of poetry. They wandered over the universe for their pleasure—by sail.
Their ship was a sort of sphere with an envelope—the sail—which was miraculously fine and light and moved through space propelled by the pressure of light-radiation. Such a machine, left to its own devices in the vicinity of a star (though far enough away for the field of gravity not to be too power- ful), will always move in a straight line in the opposite direction to the star; but since Jinn and Phyllis’ stellar system contained three suns that were relatively close to one another, their vessel received rays of light along three different axes. Jinn had therefore conceived an extremely ingenious method of steering. His sail was lined inside with a series of black blinds that he could roll up or unroll at will, thus changing the effect of the light-pressure by modifying the reflecting power of certain sections. Furthermore, this elastic envelope could be stretched or contracted as the navigator pleased. Thus, when Jinn wanted to increase his speed, he gave it the biggest diameter possible. It would then take the blasts of radiation on an enormous surface and the vessel would hurtle through space at afurious velocity, which made his mate Phyllis quite dizzy. He would also be overcome by vertigo, and they would then cling passionately to each other, their gaze fixed on the mysterious and distant depths to which their flight propelled them. When, on the other hand, they wanted to slow down, Jinn pressed a button. The sail would shrink until it became a sphere just big enough to contain them both, packed tightly together. The effect of the light became negligible, and this minute bubble, reduced to nothing more than its own inertia, seemed motionless, as though suspended in the void by an invisible thread. The young couple would spend rapturous idle hours in this reduced universe, erected on their own scale and for them alone, which Jinn compared to a becalmed sailing ship and Phyllis to the air bubble of the sea spider.
Jinn knew a number of other tricks, considered as the height of art by sailing cosmonauts: for example, making use of the shadows of the planets and certain satellites in order to change course. He imparted this skill to Phyllis, who was now almost as accomplished as he himself and often more daring. When she held the tiller, she would sometimes fire a broadside that swept them right to the borders of the stellar system, heedless of the resulting magnetic storm, which would start to upset the light-rays and to shake their skiff like a cockleshell. On two or three occasions, waked up with a start by the tempest, Jinn had had quite a struggle snatching the tiller from her and, in order to run for shelter as quickly as possible, starting the auxiliary rocket, which they made it a point of honor never to use except in case of danger.
One day Jim and Phyllis were lying side by side in the middle of their spacecraft without a care in the world, making the most of their holiday by exposing themselves to the rays of their three suns. Eyes closed, Jinn was thinking only of his love for Phyllis. Phyllis lay stretched out on her side, gazing at the immensity of the universe and letting herself be hypnotized, as she often did, by the cosmic sensation of the void.
All of a sudden she came out of her trance, wrinkled her brow, and sat up. An unusual flash of light had streaked across this void. She waited a few seconds and saw a second flash, like a ray being reflected off a shiny object. The cosmic sense she had acquired in the course of these cruises could not deceive her. Moreover, Jinn, when it was pointed out to him, agreed with her, and it was inconceivable that he should make a mistake in this matter: a body sparkling in the light was floating through space, at a distance they could not yet assess. Jinn picked up a pair of binoculars and focused them on the mysterious object, while Phyllis leaned on his shoulder.
“It’s not a very big object,” he said. “It seems to be made of glass. . . . No, let me look. It’s drawing closer. It’s going faster than we are. It looks like . . .”
A puzzled expression came into his eyes. He lowered the binoculars, which she at once snatched up.
“It’s a bottle, darling.”
She looked at it, in turn.
“Yes, it’s a bottle. I can see it quite clearly. It’s made of light-colored glass. It’s corked; I can see the seal. There’s something white inside that looks like paper—a message, obviously. Jinn, we’ve got to get hold of it!”
Jinn was of the same opinion and had already embarked on some skillful maneuvers to place the sphere on the trajectory of the unusual body. He soon succeeded and then reduced his own speed to enable it to catch up with him. Meanwhile Phyllis donned her diving suit and made her way out of the sail by the double trap door. There, holding onto a rope with one hand and brandishing a long- handled scoop in the other, she stood in readiness to retrieve the bottle.
It was not the first time they had come across strange bodies, and the scoop had already been in use. Sailing at low speed, sometimes completely motionless, they had enjoyed surprises and made discoveries that were precluded to travelers by rocket. In her net Phyllis had already gathered up remnants of pulverized planets, fragments of meteorites that had come from the depths of the universe, and pieces of satellites launched at the outset of the conquest of space. She was very proud of her collection; but this was the first time they had come across a bottle, and a bottle containing a message—of that she was certain. She trembled from head to foot with impatience, gesticulating like a spider on the end of its thread as she shouted down the telephone to her companion:
“Slower, Jinn. . . . No, a bit faster than that, it’s going to pass us. . . . Starboard. . . . Now hard to port. . . . Hold it. . . . I’ve got it!”
She gave a triumphant cry and came back inside with her trophy.
It was a largish bottle and its neck had been carefully sealed. A roll of paper could be seen inside.
“Jinn, break it open, hurry up!” Phyllis begged, stamping her foot.
Less impatient, Jinn methodically chipped off the sealing wax. But when the bottle was thus opened, he saw that the paper was stuck fast and could not be shaken out. He therefore yielded to his mate’s entreaties and smashed the glass with a hammer. The paper unrolled of its own accord. It consisted of a large number of very thin sheets, covered with tiny handwriting. The message was written in the language of the Earth, which Jinn knew perfectly, having been partly educated on that planet.
An uncomfortable feeling, however, restrained him from starting to read a document that had fallen into their hands in such an inconguous manner; but Phyllis’ state of excitement decided him. She was not so well acquainted with the language of the Earth and needed his help.
He reduced the volume of the sphere so that it floated idly in space, made sure that there was no obstacle in front of them, then lay down beside his companion and began to read the manuscript.
Posted October 5, 2011
I found this book very interesting. I have always been a fan of the movie series, so thought I would check out the source material. It is a very quick read, but well worth it. I would love to discuss certain parts of the book on here, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 27, 2012
Posted September 10, 2006
Three men set off for Betelgeuse, a journey that takes two years from their viewpoint. Thanks to relativity, though, centuries pass on Earth. Journalist Ulysse Merou and his two companions encounter no difficulty establishing orbit around a habitable planet and descending to its surface in their space ship's launch. Once there, they make first contact with the planet's Human inhabitants under what they don't understand to be fortuitous circumstances. They're swimming naked, on a hot day, when a beautiful and equally bare Human female notices them and approaches. She reacts violently to the presence of their pet chimpanzee, and runs away in horror when she realizes that the clothes piled nearby belong to these members of her own species. Nova, as Merou names the woman, brings others to see the newcomers. Stripped of all their technology, and even of their clothing, the three Earthmen have just started trying to understand these people when they - along with the tribe they've unwillingly joined - become targets of an organized hunt. The hunters are gorillas, assisted by chimpanzees. While most of the tribe's members are slaughtered, including one of Merou's companions, he and Professor Antelle (the Betelgeuse expedition's leader) are among the 'lucky' captured ones. Alive, but separated, with Merou winding up caged in what he soon learns is a laboratory. Author Boulle uses the role reversal he's thus established, of apes vs. Humans, to stage a chilling and succinct morality play. At first it seems that his main theme is Humankind's lack of compassion toward 'lesser' yet highly intelligent creatures (our own planet's various ape species), but as the book progresses the reader realizes he has a far more disturbing agenda. Boulle's real concern is what makes Humans - well - human. What qualities do we possess that have combined to give us dominance over all of Earth's other species? Is it possible we might sacrifice that dominance, one day, on the altar of sloth and/or other flaws indulged instead of conquered? Witty, brutally clever, and filled with material so 'hot to handle' that I'm not a bit surprised most of it never made the transition from novel to motion picture script, this venture by a mainstream writer into speculative fiction fully shares the wonderful irony of Boulle's at least equally famous (and, I suspect, far more widely read) THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI. This is satire at its finest, a book to make readers sputter with laughter and shiver with fright simultaneously.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 13, 2011
Posted April 13, 2013
I grew up watching the movies and enjoy all of them. This book is simply amazing its got so much more detail and takes its time unlike the movie and im glad i have devoured every page of this book and enjoyed it. I think they should make a movie more close to the book the original movie as good as it was could of been better by staying closer to the book. I def give this book 5/5 stars absolutely amazingWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 28, 2012
Simply amazing and brilliantly written. You're pulled through Ulysses' struggle to assert his mind and soul, and you rejoice alongside him in his triumph, only to come full circle with his bizzare and catastrophic return to Earth.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 5, 2012
Posted April 20, 2012
First off let me be clear: the book and the movie (any version of the movie you care to name) have very little in common. Therefore disregard any precocieved ideas you have. The book reminds me of jules verne in its style... not really able to articulate why, but that is high praise. Its well worth reading and you really ought to do yourself the favor of reading it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 14, 2012
Posted April 10, 2012
Posted September 27, 2011
Havent read the book yet but the movie was great so i think that the book will be geat to but usually the book is much better than the movie soif the movie was godd then the book will be much better
0 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2011
Posted October 25, 2005
This is a solid novel that keeps you guessing even if you already know the infamous ending. The characters are interesting and the pacing is solid. The book rarely slows down except for small portions toward the end. Any of you thinking of avoiding the book because you saw the Tim Burton flick, don't worry. The book isn't half as bad, and the ending is much more reasonable. The book is all around exceptional and solid for any sci-fi fan.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 24, 2002
Planet of the Apes, hum, wasn¿t that with Rowdy McDowell? Okay, Pierre Boulle and the ape thing, an allegory of world-gone-wrong, space travel, crash landings, baby chimps that could be featured in Marco Ferreri¿s Bye Bye Monkey, Good-vs.-evil, a smashing ending and much more. Where Man is Brute and Ape is Intelligent reads the tagline, adjoining a lurid photo-montage from the film itself. I acquired this handy purchase at the bookstore for a buck. Indeed, it kept me pretty interested and I finished it in a few days, but it¿s not something to rave about. Is there a simian manifesto amongst these brittle pages that may change my beliefs and cynical philosophy? Simply pulp material to be read once then placed under those old copies of Cracked magazine. And it was made into a swell remake by Tim Burton. A precious little tale but definitely no Ulysses.
0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2002
As for the rest of it, it's all right, but I have to wonder what was lost in the translation. Some parts read too elementary, like a childrens book. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it and definitely recommend it to any ape-o-phile!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 12, 2001
Posted June 30, 2001
This was a wonderful book, and I wished that it could have been longer. This brilliant book is a must read for fans of the old movie and for hard Science Fictoin fans. I wont ruin the story for those of you that dont know it but the book pulls everything off far more believably than the movie with Charlton Heston. This book is well written, and full of suprises. I must read for any Science Fiction fan.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 1, 2012
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Posted May 30, 2011
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Posted December 31, 2011
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