Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes


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“I am confiding this manuscript to space, not with the intention of saving myself, but to help, perhaps to avert the appalling scourge that is menacing the human race. Lord have pity on us!”

So begins the extraordinary science fiction classic, a tale so full of imagination, originality, chilling credibility.

With these words, Pierre Boulle hurtles the reader onto the Planet of the Apes. In this simian world, civilization is turned upside down: apes are men and men are apes: apes rule and men run wild: apes think, speak, produce, wear clothes and men are speechless, naked, exhibited at fairs, used for biological research. On the planet of the apes, men, having reached the apotheosis of his genius, has become inert.

To this planet come a journalist and a scientist. The scientist is put in a zoo, the journalist into a laboratory. Only the journalist retains the spiritual strength and creative intelligence to try to save himself, to fight the appalling scourge, to remain a man.

Out of this situation, Pierre Boulle has woven a tale as harrowing, bizarre, and meaningful as any in the brilliant roster of this master story teller. With his customary wit, irony and disciplined intellect and style, the author of the Bridge Over the River Kwai tells a swiftly moving story dealing with man's conflicts, and takes the reader into a suspenseful and strangely fascinating orbit.

Pierre Boulle is no stranger to the desperate games in both the scientific and political worlds. Born in Avignon in 1912, he was trained as an engineer, went to Malaya in 1936 as a rubber planter and joined the Free French in Indo-China at the outbreak of World War II. Captured and imprisoned for two years, he escaped in 1944 and was picked up by a British plane, spending the rest of the war with Special Force, Calcutta.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9784871871938
Publisher: Ishi Press
Publication date: 10/14/2018
Pages: 260
Sales rank: 1,125,413
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Pierre Boulle was born in Avignon, France in 1912. He originally trained as an engineer, but in 1936 went to Malaysia as a rubber planter. In 1939 he was called up in the French forces in Indochina. When France fell during World War II, he fled to Singapore, where he joined the Free French Mission. After the Japanese invasion, he was sent via Rangoon and the Burma Road to Yunnan to establish contact with Kuomintang forces. He infiltrated Indochina as a guerilla where he was captured in 1943. He escaped in 1944, was picked up by a British plane, and served in the Special Forces in Calcutta for the rest of the war.

His first novel published in the United States was The Bridge on the River Kwai. It was awarded the Prix Ste. Beuve in France, and led to the motion picture that received an amazing seven Academy Awards. He considered his subsequent books, of which Planet of the Apes is the most well-known, to be social fantasies.

Read an Excerpt


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.”

“A bottle!”

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.

“Jinn, please!”

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.

Copyright 2001 by Pierre Boulle

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Planet of the Apes 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Sabin_Knight More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is more enjoyable than sex. That is all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 10 hours ago
Very good.
cbradley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book that started it all. What would eventually be translated into a film, several film sequels, a short-lived television series, and a film remake, began with this intriguing story. Even if you have seen the movies this book will still be interesting. None of the adaptations do justice to the wonderfully thought out plot of the original. Stranded on a world where the roles of humans and apes are reversed, the protagonist must figure out a way to survive and ultimately get back to his world. The main character has to suffer through animalistic humans, ape scientist who perform degrading and often disturbing experiments on humans, ape leaders who cannot accept the idea of an intelligent human, and an ape society that is not ready for the truth of their evolution. The ending doesn¿t quite pack the emotional punch that the original movie does, rather it packs an intellectual punch leaving the reader wondering what just happened. All in all a great book that deserves to have a more accurate portrayal in film.
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, especially being a fan of the original movie and the current film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. What I didn't expect was the book to be so good. While I heard the main character's voice in that of Heston's, that was one of only a few ways the movie stuck to the book (aside from the obvious). I enjoyed the change, especially the ending (they're both shocking in their own way, even when you know what's coming). I loved the apes, especially Zira. When I finished, I did wish that there had been a French movie version of Planet of the Apes, because I'd like to have seen it. Otherwise, this was very good, if very different from the very familiar movies. I'm glad I read it.
jburlinson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A rousing fantasy of racist paranoia. Boulle shifts his attention from the asian-bashing of Bridge Over the River Kwai to admonishing his countrymen, and the western world in general, to beware the dangers of becoming too lazy and comfortable, lest the lower orders wrest power from our enfeebled grasp.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The original inspiration for the film of the same name, this story tells of a group of astronauts who take their ship to a new world only to discover that the humans are animalistic while the apes are sentient. The apes, hunting humans for sport, manage to capture the main character, Ulysse, and send him to a lab as a test subject.Soon, Ulysse's intellect is discovered, and his existence challenges the fiber of the ape society. The rulers wish to remove Ulysse and forget him, while the ape responsible for him wishes to preserve him, and learn from him as he learned from them.Why the apes rule over the humans on this world, though, is a discovery left to the reader.An amusing piece of French satire to be enjoyed by those who like satirical dystopias, or even those who enjoyed the movie, though the film does deviate greatly from the book.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
PLANET OF THEAPES is an entertaining, fast, but not particularly heavy book. You¿re probably already familiar with the story (and if you¿re not, I have to ask what cave you¿ve been living in). An Earthman crashes his spacecraft on an alien planet and finds it populated by intelligent apes, while the humans there are just dumb animals used for zoo entertainment and lab tests. More social criticism and satire than science fiction (and those looking for hard science are bound to be disappointed, by the way), the tone tends to get overly didactic toward the end, as well as depressingly cynical in its evaluation of human achievements. The protagonist and narrator is thoroughly unlikeable, probably by intention. Still, this is a good read for an afternoon by the pool, and the twist ending won¿t be spoiled if you¿ve already seen the movies.
OzzieJello on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After having seen all of "Planet of the Apes" movies, including the 2001 remake, I wanted to read the book that started it all. I wasn't disappointed. The story contains some twists, some surprising and some not. Definitely worth a read.
mustreaditall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Planet of the Apes or La Planète Des Singes or Monkey Planet. Whatever. Translated into English by Xan Fielding.Okay, now, you have to remember that the original novel and the movie deviate in certain major ways. The end twist is completely different, for example, and the main character is a journalist who is essentially just along for the ride, not an American astronaut. He's also a lot less... Hestonish, if you will, of course. More intellectual, less "get your stinking paws off me." I love the movie, by the way, and consider it a classic, but had to sort of ignore it in reading the novel.You can read this one as a straight ahead 60s scifi story, and a damn good read it is. From the curiosity of the travelers as they first encounter the inhuman humans to the panicked frenzy of Mérou escaping death at the hands of gorilla hunters to the strange love triangle of intelligent human/primitive human/intelligent chimpanzee, there's no mystery as to why the basic concept could be so well translated to the screen.If you are inclined that way, as I sometimes tend to be, you can also read it as paranoia about "lesser" races rising up to surpass and suppress European culture. With all the devolved people being depicted as beautiful and white - and the common racist portrayal of Africans as apes - this isn't exactly a stretch. But then, I may be playing Boulle false to assume that comparison was intended. I haven't studied him enough to know one way or the other.The little details, mostly of ape culture, were what I enjoyed most about this one. Their stock market, with various apes flinging themselves around a giant room, climbing into the rafters, all shrieking at the tops of their lungs as they buy and sell, is a memorable image. The idea that the chimp scientists focus so strongly on biological and brain studies because that's the last thing their unevolved ancestors were used for by human was inspired. And, of course, Zira's refusal of the human Mérou because he's "just so ugly" - a great thought: Our nearest cousins, and the ones most likely to overrun us in the end. Who doesn't feel that apes are just slightly too human sometimes?
bigorangemichael on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Planet of the Apes¿ is one of those books that¿s hard to approach without bringing along the baggage of the original 60s film adaptation or the less-than-successful remake a few years ago. The original film is such a part of our pop-culture concsiousness that it¿s almost impossible to separate it from what we have here.This is one of those books that is what it is¿no more, no less. I could spend several paragraphs detailing the differences between the movie and the book, but that would be kind of pointless and wouldn¿t tell you much about the book as a whole. That said, Boulle¿s original novel is a social satire, as advertises and it¿s one of what I¿d classify as a fairly light, ¿bubble-gum¿ sci-fi read. It has just enough in there to make you think while reading it, but it¿s not going to stay with you long after you¿ve finished the final pages. The thing is that not a lot of the characters have much depth. They¿re all in here to be part of the satire of modern life and humanity¿s relationship with each other and animals. For a satire that wants to point out how drawing distinctions based on external apperances isn¿t a great thing, you¿d think it would have a bit more depth to the characters. Add to that that the central narrator has a tendency to become a bit pompous in his relation of events and you¿ve got a story that works, quite frankly, better as a movie than it does as a novel. I¿d even go so far as to say that without the series of movies, this is one novel that would have faded in memory long ago, remembered by some who read it for a few of the twists in the final pages but not much more.It¿s not to say I hated this novel. But it¿s not to say I loved it or found it nearly as compelling as some of the mid-range works by Issac Asimov or Orson Scott Card.
orangemonkey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Saw this book while at the World's Biggest Bookstore and picked it up, having been a fan of both movies. Of the two films, the Burton one is closer to the novel than the Heston one, which I found a little surprising, if I recall how many complaints I heard about the 2001 film being "just another Tim Burton movie". The plot: a trio of explorers go into space and find a planet with Earthlike living conditions, only this is a planet where apes are civilized, and men are not! Despite the b-movie set up of the book, it's actually a Swiftian sort of satire on theories of animal intelligence and behaviourism, which was something that I didn't see coming, and which was a rather pleasant surprise. Boulle uses apes as a metaphor for different prevalent and problematic attitudes that he saw present in society as he wrote it, and which mainly still exist today. A must read for fans of social science fiction!
john257hopper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting read. The main narrative takes place as a story recounted in a message in a bottle, topped and tailed with an overarching storyline with a fairly predictable twist. Most of the main narrative is actually very similar to the film, except that the ending, while quite dramatic, lacks the punch of the film's ending (won't give spoilers here, but the shock revelation seems more ambiguous and there is no Statue of Liberty in the book, ironically as my edition has the famous landmark plastered all over the cover!). The writing is actually very simple, almost like a children's book, and I read it very quickly. But it does contain some haunting imagery, such as the scenes of experimentation, the regression of Professsor Antelle, and the snippets we learn about how simians took over from humans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What can I say have read this 4 times now. Always a worthy read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the book as teenager when it came out. I knew the movie was not true to the book but now that i read it again i appreciate the moral issues and the application of physics at the heart of the story that are completely ignored by the movie which missed all the points by embracing cold war paranoia. The story is amazingly thought provoking. I knew the movie dumbed down the story but realized how much of importance was not in the movie after reading the book a second time fifty years later.
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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 amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago