Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes

infobox Book |
name = Planet of the Apes
(Monkey Planet)
title_orig = La Planète des singes
translator = Xan Fielding

image_caption = 1970s film tie-in edition
author = Pierre Boulle
cover_artist =
country = FRA
language = French
series =
genre = Science fiction novel
publisher = Livre de Poche
release_date = 1963
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages =
isbn =
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Planet of the Apes" is a novel by Pierre Boulle, originally published in 1963 in French as "La Planète des singes". As "singe" means both "ape" and "monkey," Xan Fielding called his translation "Monkey Planet". It is an example of social commentary through dystopia.

Plot summary

The main events of the book are placed in a frame story, in which Jinn and Phyllis, a couple out on a pleasure cruise in a spaceship, find a message in a bottle floating in space. The message inside the bottle is the testimony of a man, Ulysse Mérou, who has written down his story in the hope that someone else, somewhere, will find it.

Ulysse begins by explaining that he was a friend of Professor Antelle, a genius scientist on Earth, who invented a spaceship that could travel at nearly the speed of light. Ulysse, the professor, and a physicist named Levain fly off in this ship to explore outer space. They travel to the nearest star system that the professor theorized might be capable of life, the red sun Betelgeuse, which would take them about 350 years to reach. Due to time dilation, however, the trip only seems two years long to the travelers.

They arrive at the distant solar system and find that it contains an Earth-like planet, which they name "Soror" (Latin for "sister"), "because of its resemblance to our Earth." They land on the planet and discover that they can breathe the air, drink the water, and eat the local vegetation. They soon encounter other human beings on the planet, although these others act as primitively as chimpanzees and destroy the clothing of the three astronauts. They are captured by the primitive humans and stay with them for a few hours.

At the end of this time, they are startled to see a hunting party in the forest, consisting of gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees using guns and machines. The apes wear human clothing identical to that of 20th-century Earth, with the exception that they wear gloves instead of shoes on their prehensile feet. The hunting party shoots several of the humans for sport, including Levain, and capture others, including Ulysse.

Ulysse is taken off to the apes' city, which looks exactly the same as a human city from 20th-century Earth, with the exception that some smaller furniture exists for the use of the chimpanzees. While most of the humans captured by the hunting party are sold for manual labor, the protagonist is sent to a research facility. There, the apes perform experiments on the humans similar to Pavlov's conditioning experiments on dogs, and Ulysse proves his intelligence by failing to be conditioned, and by speaking and drawing geometrical figures.

Ulysse is adopted by one of the researchers, Zira, a female chimpanzee, who begins to teach him the apes' language. He learns from her all about the ape planet. Eventually, he is freed from his cage, and meets Zira's fiancé, Cornélius, a respected young scientist. With Cornélius' help, he makes a speech in front of the ape President and numerous representatives, and is given specially tailored clothing. He tours the city and learns about the apes' civilization and history. The apes have a very ancient society, but their origins are lost in time. Their technology and culture have progressed slowly through the centuries because each generation, for the most part, with what is recognized as characteristically ape-like behaviour, imitates those of the past. The society is divided between the violent gorillas, the pedantic and conservative orangutans, and the intellectual chimpanzees.

Although Ulysse's chimpanzee patrons Zira and Cornélius are convinced of his sentience, the society's leading orangutan scientists believe that he is faking his understanding of language, because their philosophy will not allow the possibility of sentient human beings.

Ulysse falls in love with a primitive human female, Nova, whom he had met in the forest at the beginning of his visit to the planet. He impregnates her and this proves that he is the same species as the primitive humans, which lowers his standing in the eyes of many of the apes. However, their derision turns to fear with a discovery in a distant archaeological dig and an analysis of memory in some human brains. Evidence is uncovered that fills in the missing history of the apes. In the distant past, the planet was ruled by human beings who built a technological society and enslaved apes to perform their manual labor. Over time the humans became more and more dependent upon the apes, until eventually they became so lazy and degenerate that they were overthrown by their ape servants and fell into the primitive state in which our protagonist found them.

While some of the apes reject this evidence, others - in particular, an old orangutan scientist, Dr. Zaius - take it as a sign that the humans are a threat and must be exterminated. Ulysse learns of this, and escapes from the planet with his wife and new-born son, returning to Earth in the professor's spaceship.

Again, the trip takes several centuries, but only a relative time of a few years to the protagonist. Ulysse lands on Earth, over 700 years after he had originally left it, and lands outside the city of Paris. However, once outside the ship, he discovers that Earth is now ruled by sentient apes just like the planet from which he has fled (this is where his story on paper ends). He immediately leaves Earth in his ship, writes his story, places it in a bottle, and launches it into space for someone to find. It is at this point in the story that we discover that Jinn and Phyllis, the couple who found the bottle, are chimpanzees. Jinn and Phyllis dismiss Ulysse's story, saying that a human would not have the intelligence.

Other media

This story of a dystopian ape society has been popular in other media as well. Boulle's idea has been made into movies, television series, additional novel adaptations, and a video game.


"Planet of the Apes" (1968) was a groundbreaking science fiction film based on Boulle's novel, and was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starred Charlton Heston. It was the vision of producer Arthur P. Jacobs, who commissioned Rod Serling to write the script, but the final version would be written by Michael Wilson. Jacobs enlisted Heston (who enlisted Schaffner) well before any production deal was made, and Heston's star status was instrumental in gaining support for the film. They gained the support of Mort Abrahams after producing a short film demo which showed that the makeups (initially created by Ben Nye, Sr., not to be confused with the design by John Chambers for the actual film) could be convincing enough to not appear funny, as most "monkey suits" up to that time had. In the English-language films, the apes are insulted when called "monkeys," but in the original book, no distinction is made because "singes" is a French word for both "apes" and "monkeys".

There were four sequels to Schaffner's film, creating a pentalogy, which also deviate from the finer points of the storyline in Boulle's book:
*"Beneath the Planet of the Apes" (1970)
*"Escape from the Planet of the Apes" (1971)
*"Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" (1972)
*"Battle for the Planet of the Apes" (1973)

The 1968 film was reimagined in 2001 - see "Planet of the Apes (2001 film)".

Television series

There were also two television series:
*"Planet of the Apes" (1974)
*"Return to the Planet of the Apes" (animated) (1975)



Original novel

*"Planet of The Apes" ("Monkey Planet") by Pierre Boulle 1963

Original film adaptations

*"Beneath the Planet of the Apes" by Michael Avallone
* "Escape from the Planet of the Apes" by Jerry Pournelle
* "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" by John Jakes
* "Battle for the Planet of the Apes" by David Gerrold

Film adaptations and prequels to the 2001 version

*"Planet of the Apes" by William Thomas Quick 2001
*"" by William Thomas Quick 2002
*"" by William Thomas Quick 2003
*"" by John Whitman 2001
*"Resistance (Planet of the Apes)" by John Whitman 2002
*"Force (Planet of the Apes)" by John Whitman 2002

Graphic novel

*"" by Scott Allie

*"" by Ian Edginton

*"" by Ian Edginton

*"" by Dan Abnett & Ian Edginton

="Television series adaptations"=

*"Planet of the Apes #1 - Man The Fugitive" by George Alec Effinger
*"Planet of the Apes #2 - Escape to Tomorrow" by George Alec Effinger
*"Planet of the Apes #3 - Journey into Terror" by George Alec Effinger
*"Planet of the Apes #4 - Lord of the Apes" by George Alec Effinger

="Animated series adaptations"=

*"Return to the Planet of the Apes #1" by William Arrow [ William Rotsler ]
*"Return to the Planet of the Apes #2" by William Arrow [ Donald J. Pfeil ]
*"Return to the Planet of the Apes #3" by William Arrow [ William Rotsler ]

Children's filmstrips

Chad Valley, a U.K. toy company, produced 32 short filmstrips containing an original TV-series-era story, packaged as the Chad Valley Picture Show Planet of the Apes Sliderama Projector (very similar to the many Give-a-Show projector sets of the 1970s. These strips are extremely rare and difficult to come by.

Video game

*A "Planet of the Apes" PC game was released by Ubi Soft in 2001, but did not gain much popularity due to poor graphics, repetitive and simple gameplay, and lack of promotion. The game revolves around the struggle of main character Ulysses to find a way to protect the fate of the remaining humans. In this game world, all humans speak and ape technology is much more advanced than that of the "Planet of the Apes" films (computers, laser guns, etc.)
*In 2001, a "Planet of the Apes" video game developed by Torus Games and published by Ubi Soft for Game Boy Advance and the Game Boy Color.
*In 2002, a "Planet of the Apes" video game developed by Visiware and published by Ubi Soft for Sony PlayStation.
*A "Planet of the Apes" video game was canceled for Sega Dreamcast.
*A "Planet of the Apes" game was planned for the Atari 2600 but was cancelled because of the 1983 game crash.


*"Planet of the Apes" (Magazine) #2, October 1974. P. 41-45, "Simian Genesis" by Gary Gerani. A review of Pierre Boulle's classic novel, Planet of the Apes.

Other references

*"A Fish Called Selma", an episode of "The Simpsons", featured Troy McClure as the lead in a stage musical "Stop the Planet of the Apes I Want to Get Off" based on "Planet of the Apes". The musical featured such hit showstopper songs as "Dr. Zaius" (to the tune of "Rock Me Amadeus") and "You'll Never Make a Monkey Out of Me" with the lyrics "I hate every ape I see, from chim-pan-A to chim-pan-ZEE".
*Many toy tie-ins to the 1974 television series were produced, such as toy weapons and playsets.
*Horror Punk band The Misfits had a song named "The Forbidden Zone] on their album Famous Monsters
*Horror Punk band Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 had a song named "Planet Of The Apes" on their album "Viva Las Violence".
*Alternative group They Might Be Giants included several hidden tracks named after the titles of each of the original films on their album "Severe Tire Damage".
*Punk band Screeching Weasel had a song named "Planet Of The Apes" on their album "How to Make Enemies and Irritate People".
*In "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," Jay muses about Suzanne the orangutan being the cause for the downfall of humanity. He envisioned himself hitting the sand on a beach after seeing a half buried Statue of Liberty, much like Charlton Heston did in the movie version.
*In the movie Spaceballs in a scene after Spaceball 1 self-destructs, the head of Spaceball 1 is spotted, having crashed onto the shore, by sentient apes riding horses and wearing armor similar to those in the movie.
* In Raving Reporters Episode 9, Flame the Dragon gets stuck on The Planet Of The Apes.
* In episode 15 of My Life As A Teenage Robot, Tuck looks into the Future Scope and says "The future is ruled by talking apes."
* In "", Austin Powers describes the future to Felicity Shagwell as being "...ruled by damned dirty apes!"
* In "Lewis Black's Root of All Evil", comedian Paul F. Tompkins claims that due to the actions of PETA, the world will be ruled by apes, going into a passionate (comedic and silly) tirade, ending with the famous line "You finally did it! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!" drawing a very loud ovation from the crowd.
* The opening to the first episode of "Pani Poni Dash!" spoofs the end of the film but the statue of liberty is replaced by a statue of the main character.

ee also

*Twist ending

External links

* [ Planet of the Apes Media Archive] -- Multi-Media website including original One Sheet posters, Trading Card, Restored Comics Covers, an interactive Timeline, Rare Videos and much more.
* [ Planet of the Apes Yahoo Group]
* [ Planet of the Apes discussion group]
* [ Character information]
* [ A good reference for the TV and movie franchises]
* [ Chronology Central's Planet of the Apes page] - Contains a chronological listing of all the Planet of the Apes material, including the television series, the films, and the comic book series
* [] - includes 1974 CBS fall preview for the live-action series
* [ h2g2 link on Planet of the Apes]
* [ "Planet of the Apes Gag"] -- Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
* [ Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive] Extensive fan site with information on all original films and series, scripts, comics and other relevant material.
* [ The Forbidden Zone] Large Fan site with information on the films, TV shows, comics, and more.
* [] Information about the Atari 2600 game
* [ The Planet of the Apes galleries] at Mego Museum

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