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Audio Book Review


Planet of the Apes


Author: Pierre Boulle
Read by: Greg Wise

Complete and Unabridged
RRP: £15.00
ISBN: 978 1 4458 4679 8
Available 03 May 2012

In a spaceship that can travel at the speed of light, Ulysse, a journalist, sets off from Earth for the nearest solar system. He finds there a planet which resembles his own, except that on Soror humans behave like animals and are hunted by a race of primates. Captured and sent to a research facility, Ulysse must convince the apes of their mutual origins. But such revelations have always been greeted by prejudice and fear...


The complete and unabridged reading of Pierre Boulle's original 1963 Planet of the Apes novel, begins with a couple on a pleasure cruise in space finding a bottle containing the written testimony of the journalist Ulysse Mérou. Along with two companions, Ulysse has travelled to the star Betelgeuse and discovered an Earth like planet, which they name Soror, able to support human life.

They encounter primitive humans who capture them and tear off and destroy their clothing. Shortly afterwards they are attacked by a hunting party of apes dressed in human style clothing, apart from wearing gloves instead of shoes on their feet. Ulysse is captured and taken to a research facility where he is caged with a primitive human female whom he calls Nova. During this time Nova becomes pregnant by Ulysse and a baby boy is born. Eventually Ulysse manages to gain the confidence of researcher Zira, a female chimpanzee who teaches him her language whilst he teaches her his native tongue, French. With Zira’s help and that of her fiancé, Cornélius, Ulysse makes an impassioned speech in front of an astonished gathering of ape officials and subsequently gains his liberty - and clothing, having been naked since his capture.

Able to explore the city, and beyond, he discovers that the apes have no knowledge of their origins. On a visit to an archaeological dig, evidence begins to appear that shows that humans were once the rulers of Soror and enslaved the apes. However, over time they became lazy and were ultimately overthrown by their servants.

Zira and Cornélius are convinced of the findings but leading orangutan scientists see them a threat to the ape’s future. Learning that he may be hunted and killed for his discoveries, Ulysse escapes with Nova and his newborn son and returns to Earth 700 years after he had left it only to discover that it is now ruled by intelligent apes.

The couple who discovered the bottle dismiss Ulysse's narrative, saying that a human would not have the intelligence to write such a story. We discover that they are chimpanzees.

This 6 disc CD set lasts for approximately 7 hours. Fortunately, each disc is split into about 20 tracks making it possible to stop at convenient intervals - good for car travellers - and the reader, Greg Wise, has a clear listening voice. The original book was written in 1963 and this is reflected in descriptions of spaceship technology but does not spoil the story in any way.

As the book progressed I noted that nearly every aspect of the storyline has been utilised, in some way or another, by the film series apart from the rather ludicrous concept of a message in a bottle floating in space. Otherwise, an enjoyable listen.


Tim Williams

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