Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970) was the first sequel in the original Planet Of The Apes franchise, following the disappearance of Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) who is tracked down by fellow astronaut Brent (played by James Franciscus) in a destroyed future version of New York City, which is controlled by telepathic mutants who worship an atomic bomb as their God. However, much detail is missing from Taylor’s narrative: Where does he go when he disappears? How does he wind up captured by the telepathic mutants? Death Of The Planet of the Apes seeks to answer those questions.
The story begins at the end of Planet Of The Apes and follows the events of Beneath until Taylor’s disappearance. Taylor begins to discover the fate of the world he left behind, but meanwhile, a chain of events is unfolding around him: General Ursus, the militaristic gorilla, is leading an expedition into the Forbidden Zone to root out the unknown inhabitants, and kind-hearted chimps Cornelius and Zira (reduced to a ten minute appearance in Beneath) have now put plans in motion to assist Dr. Milo in reconstructing the spacecraft that brought Taylor to this nightmare version of the future. Is it their way of escaping the horrors that will follow?
Death of the Planet of The Apes can only be described as epic. Its non-linear structure creates a multi-layered protagonist; we have the main narrative of Taylor, which will then temporarily give way to a recollection of Taylor’s life as a solider and his space training, and we learn what makes Taylor so cynical. Meanwhile, we see the narrative of Cornelius and Zira evolve and how they ultimately arrive at the decision to chance Dr. Milo’s experimental space flight, as well as the impact of the whole crisis on Dr Zaius. At times the plot is so grand that you can forget the large number of characters (you know when novels come with a cast list, it might be easy to lost track). Nevertheless, Death Of The Planet of The Apes is a definite must-read.
DEATH OF THE PLANET OF THE APES / AUTHOR: ANDREW E. C. GASKA / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW