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I can't imagine that there's anyone reading this who doesn't know the plot of Planet of the Apes.  If you've never read the book, suffice it to say that the movie (Planet of the Apes--1968) was a relatively faithful adaptation of the text.  Most of the changes that were made relate to the framing devices used to begin and end the respective stories and some understandable deFrenchifying of the astronauts.

Here again, as in Bridge on the River Kwai (see Orrin's review), Boulle brilliantly succeeds in presenting an idea-rich novel in a minimum number of pages (I read an old movie tie-in copy that was just 128 pages long).  This brevity does a few things: it provides the novel with a headlong narrative drive; it speeds the reader past the holes in the plot and premise; and it makes for a book whose full implications only really become apparent on further reflection.  I think many of the ideas conveyed by the novel are false.  There is no bigger lie in the history of symbols than the schoolroom wall charts of our youth showing the tree of life with man and apes dangling at the end of one branch or the march of species leading from australopithecus, or whoever, on up to homo sapiens, and the book relies heavily on this shaky premise that evolution is just that smooth and linear and that our interconnectedness with the lesser primates is exactly that close.  This is all extraordinarily dubious; but it is assuredly thought provoking and it's great fun besides.


Grade: (A-)


See also:

Pierre Boulle (2 books reviewed)
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Book-related and General Links:
    -OBIT: Pierre Boulle, Novelist, Is Dead; Author of 'River Kwai' Was 81 (WILLIAM GRIMES, NY Times)
    -Pierre Boulle (1912-1994)(kirjasto)
    -Pierre Boulle: VITAL STATISTICS
    -ESSAY :  'Planet' originally aped a good novel (Jacqueline Blais, 08/09/2001, USA TODAY)
    -REVIEW: Willibald Sauerländer: The Nazis' Theater of Seduction, NY Review of Books
        'Degenerate Art': The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany by Stephanie Barron, et al
        The Art of the Third Reich by Peter Adam
        Artists Under Vichy: A Case of Prejudice and Persecution by Michèle C. Cone

    -Planet of the Apes (1968)(IMDb)
    -Planet of the Apes 30th Anniversary (Fox)
    -Planet of the Apes: The Forbidden Zone
    -REVIEW: Planet of the Apes: "A planet where apes evolved from..." well, you know the rest (Classic Sci Fi Reviews,
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Preserving the Human in Planet of the Apes: The Planet of the Apes series may seem like popcorn fun, but really it can teach us something important about what it means to be human. (Andrew Pierce, 7/12/24, Law & Liberty)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Hope and Optimism on the Planet of the Apes (Tyler Hummel, 5/17/24, Voegelin View)