22 July 2013

Review: From Aldo to Zira: Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia

Oversized paperback, 303 pages
Published 2010
Borrowed from the library
Read July 2013
From Aldo to Zira: Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia
by Rich Handley
illustrated by Patricio Carbajal

Previously, Rich Handley published Timeline of the Planet of the Apes, one of the more admirably thorough timelines I've ever seen, and he's done it again with From Aldo to Zira (heh), an incredibly comprehensive encyclopedia of all Apes lore. It's all here: every name, every place, every number from Pierre Boulle's novel, from the original film series, from the TV series, from the cartoon, from the many comics, from the Tim Burton remake, from the videogame, from the stage shows, from the unproduced scripts! It's nuts! I've now forgotten more than most people will ever know about Planet of the Apes, I expect.

My main discovery is that timelines make for better reading than encyclopedias: in a timeline, there's a puzzle being solved, but that's not the case here. Just facts, facts, FACTS!  I appreciated the little continuity symbols Handley included at the beginning of each entry: it made it easy for me to skip entries about the Burton film (and its spin-offs), unproduced remakes, and the videogames, none of which I had any interest in. On the other hand, I would really like to read many of the older Planet of the Apes comics now, though they don't seem to be readily available. I am looking forward to reading Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes now.

My only gripe with this book is that information from unpublished sources is often integrated into entries. While it's interesting to read about, does it really make sense to include information gleaned from Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes in the entry on, say, "time travel" if no one ever even approved the outline? What authority does that information have? I like knowing it, but it should have been more clearly indicated as coming from unpublished sources.

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