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Return to the Planet of the Apes (1976)
Fiction Review by The Gravedigger

Return to the Planet of the Apes (1976) This is the novelization (by William Arrow) of the first several episodes of the animated series, with three astronauts-Bill Hudson, Jeff Allen and Judy Franklin-catapulted three thousand years in their spacecraft to an earth lorded over by simians. They crash land in a desert lake, escape and start exploring this world. They soon come upon some mirages-and Judy disappears. Soon after Bill and Jeff come upon mute humanoids-and the ape hunting party that's after them. Bill is captured and befriended by scientists Cornelius and Zira. Jeff, in the meantime, follows the woman Nova to her people and helps them escape further away from Ape City. Eventually Bill escapes, with the two chimpanzee's help, but gorilla General Urko wants to hunt and kill him, because he can speak. Zaius, the Orangutan leader of the City agrees the human must be destroyed.Bill and Jeff reunite and flee with the humanoids deeper into the desert. They come across a huge solar panel and more illusions-and find a passageway into a city hidden beneath the earth. This is where all that remains of New York City are-with crumbled buildings, rusted signs. And the realization that they are in their own future. This underground land is where the Underdwellers live-humanoid mutants, dressed in robes, who can shoot these red laser beams out of their eyes. Here they find Judy, who has been hypnotized. The Underdwellers worship her as some kind of God-and they have this ancient bust of her that just says U.S.A underneath it. They think this is her name and refer to her as Oosa.The astronauts try to escape with Judy through the underground city but she's transported back to the mutants-and Jeff and Bill barely make it to the surface. Of course, the Gorilla army is still after them. So, they must flee with the humans for safety.I liked the animated series-and this novel tends to flesh out some of the characters and add some missing detail. For those who are sticklers for continuity and wondering how this fits in with the PLANET OF THE APES movies or television series, here's my explaination: In ESCAPE TO THE PLANET OF THE APES, Cornelius, Zira and their friend Milo find themselves in 1970's Earth, having escaped the destruction of the world at the end of BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES. From this point on they changed their own history. Their son, Caesar, grows up to lead the apes in revolt against the humans. He's not the ape named Aldo, who is said to have been the first ape to speak (as said in the first PLANET OF THE APES movie). Aldo does appear in ESCAPE and BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, though-the violent leader of the gorillas. Skip a few thousands years and Cornelius, Zira and Zaius do exist, but in a slightly different world than in the movies. Here, apes have electronics, tanks and television. Instead of Taylor and his crew landing, it's the three new astronauts. As for the Underdwellers-their powers are different, not the mind-control of the skinless mutants from BENEATH. So that's my explaination, take it or leave it.If you're an APE fan and haven't read these three books (RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES 1-3) you should take a read. Or pick up the books by William T. Quick, which deal with the apeworld of the new Tim Burton remake.

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