Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Planet of the Apes audiobook

I’m immediately biased here, as Planet of the Apes is one of my very favourite books.
If you have never read it and are only familiar with the various movie incarnations, then shame on you! Well actually, apart from the very disappointing Tim Burton one, the movie adaptions are pretty good. And while the most recent prequel movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is very much a prequel to the original Charlton Heston movie and not the novel, it is quite brilliant.
So, a quick review of the book. It starts with a couple of astronauts in deep space finding an actual message in a bottle floating in the vacuum. When they read it, they are amazed at the tale told. It is of a group of space travellers from Earth who end up on a planet on the other side of the galaxy – one populated by, you’ve guessed it, apes!
Again, if you are only familiar with the movies, then some of what you hear here may be surprising – the Apes here live in a world much like our own, with cars and airplanes and whatnot, and not in a quasi-medieval world like the movies. But like the movies, there is a subtext, and it is not a particularly subtle one.
Pierre Boulle, the author of the book, was a Japanese POW during WWII, and it is obvious that a lot of what he saw there has informed his writing as he addresses the morality of torture and vivisection. These are subjects that were skimmed over in the movies (although Escape from Planet of the Apes tackles it in an almost head-on way). Yes, the message is not subtle, but it is a thought provoking one nevertheless.
I should also warn you not to assume you know how this book ends. The iconic image at the end of the original movie does not appear here – it was an invention of Rod Serling, who also created The Twilight Zone television series.  The ending here is… different, and I shall say no more about it than that.
The other major difference between this and the movie is the relationship between the human narrator and Zira, the female chimp who befriends him. Much as I would have loved to have seen what is more-or-less a love triangle between a human, Zira and her fiancĂ©e Cornelius on screen, I don't think it will ever be. And no, it’s not like you think, but does have a quite brilliant ‘punchline’ to it.
The book is read here by Greg Wise, and he does a marvellous job. At first I was unsure of his decision to give the ape characters American accents, but it works perfectly.
So in conclusion, this is a great book and is well read, so you should pop over to AudioGo and buy it.

Do you have any Doctor Who Treasures in your attic?

Calling all Doctor Who fans with lost treasures squirrelled away.  AudioGO has launched their second ever Doctor Who at the BBC Appeal and are keen to hear from anyone who has off-air recordings of Doctor Who-related items from BBC TV and radio programmes, particularly those recorded in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. These could include interviews with the cast and crew of Doctor Who, features on the making of the series, discussions about Doctor Who, or even comedy sketches.
Any useable contributions will be gathered together in a new volume of Doctor Who at the BBC to be published as a CD or download in 2013. The original appeal in 2005 led to several rare finds, some of which appeared on Doctor Who at the BBC Volume2 (there have been six so far, all currently available to download). Commissioning Editor Michael Stevens said, ‘It was amazing to discover the gems people sent us last time we ran this appeal. We’re hoping for an equally exciting response this time, aspeoplemay still have excerpts which are no longer in the BBC archive and haven't previously come to light.’
If you have something which you think might be of interest, please drop an email to info@audiogo.co.uk, with the subject header'Doctor Who at the BBC Appeal'. All you would have to do is send AudioGO either a copy or your original on loan.