Death of the Planet of the Apes is an original novel based on the classic Planet of the Apes film pentalogy. Published in November 2018 by Titan Books, Death was written by Andrew E. C. Gaska and concludes the storyline of his 2011 illustrated novel Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes.
"In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Col. George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) disappears into the Forbidden Zone, only to return in the film's climactic scene. For forty-eight years, the question has remained--what happened to Taylor? Finally the truth is revealed. Beneath the irradiated wasteland, the astronaut faces the deadly wonders of a gleaming city and its inhuman citizenry. On the surface the gorillas--led by General Ursus--launch an all-out assault to exterminate the savage animals known as humans."
Picking up where Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes left off, Mungwortt and Zao were thrown into a pit in the Forbidden Zone on the orders of Dr Zaius for the crime of knowing too much about mankind’s past. There, they were attacked by the ‘White Ones’ – lumbering creatures with the bodies of apes but the facial features of humans, with little hair other than a white mane around their faces, and each with a metallic tag in one ear. In the struggle, Zao suffers fatal injuries and his corpse is eaten by the White Ones, though his guiding voice could still be heard by Mungwortt as he learned more about his underground captors. The White Ones are controlled telepathically by giant living brains suspended in glass tanks. Starting as a human genetic experiment, these ‘Inheritors’ had gained control of much of the ruined city in the aftermath of nuclear war, but were later subjugated by the mutant human community based at Grand Central Terminal. They were renamed the ‘Overseers’ and were forced to manage the power and water supply to the mutant city and to amplify the mutants’ telekinetic powers. Against the odds, Mungwortt finds a way to take revenge on his tormentors.
Back in Ape City, Zira and Cornelius were brought to trial for heresy. However, they had unexpectedly asked Dr Zaius to marry them and he had unexpectedly argued for their rehabilitation and promotion. In their absence, Sabian had been appointed High Patriarch and now formed a dangerous alliance with General Ursus. Together they have orchestrated a genocide of the primitive humans across the territory of Simia. The Anti-Vivisection Society steps up their activities and begins freeing humans from their cages in Ape City. Meanwhile, Dr Milo and his team continue to work on Taylor’s waterlogged spaceship in the Forbidden Zone. From their camp they spot a fireball crash from the sky – the Liberty 2 - from which they can salvage vital components for their repairs.
Elsewhere in the Forbidden Zone, Taylor is separated from Nova after a series of terrifying illusions. He finds himself in a gleaming city occupied by just one chimp-human hybrid child and his army of robot sentinels. Messias tells Taylor about the destruction of much of the Earth in a great war, the creation of his race by genetic scientists, and their massacre by monsters from beyond the desert. All the while, Taylor is reminded of the series of events that had brought him to this planet. Taylor continues to suffer weird visions which prevent him from leaving Messias' city, but he eventually finds himself face-to-face with the Fellowship. There, Taylor learns that the mutants had had access to Landon’s thoughts from the time of the crash until his lobotomy.
In Ape City, Zira and Cornelius are taken into the confidence of the anti-vivisectionists, who have become increasingly militant and form a ‘Citizens’ Liberation Front for a Free Simia’. In the absence of Zaius and Ursus, Zira and Cornelius discover yet more secrets about ape history, leading them once again to take refuge in the Forbidden Zone. There, they reunite with Milo just in time for the final showdown between ape and human.
- Colonel George Taylor: The skipper of the Liberty 1. With a pilot service record going back to World War II and the Korean War, Taylor was an early recruit for ANSA’s mysterious ‘Project Liberty’. He underwent years of training in Area 51 before leaving Earth.
- Mungwortt: A gorilla-chimp hybrid, he was raised on a farm by his aunt Arteus who had taught him to read. He was exiled from Ape City after he had witnessed the human Landon speaking. Travelling in the Forbidden Zone, he imagined he was guided by the voice of the deceased orangutan elder Zao, and the advice he imagined was often wise beyond Mungwortt’s own intelligence.
- Doctor Zira: A chimp veterinarian. Despite being accused of heresy, she was promoted by Dr Zaius to the Citizen’s Council and the Office of Animal Affairs to act as a bulwark against the influence of Ursus and Sabian, but after uncovering yet more of apekind’s secrets she was forced to flee Ape City.
- Doctor Cornelius: The husband of Doctor Zira. Like her, he was promoted by Dr Zaius to the Citizen’s Council and to the position of Deputy Minister of Science. Sharing Zira’s beliefs, Cornelius helped her escape into the Forbidden Zone.
- Doctor Milo: A gifted chimp scientist and inventor. Inspired by the talking astronauts, Milo successfully combined elements of the salvaged Liberty 1 and Liberty 2 space-crafts to create a functioning spaceship in the Forbidden Zone.
- Doctor Zaius: Chief Defender of the Faith and Minister of Science in Ape City. Zaius’ main concern was to maintain the status quo and for this reason he sent Zao and Mungwortt into exile. However, he also hoped to rein-in the dangerous excesses of Ursus and Sabian and their plan to invade the Forbidden Zone.
- Sabian: An orangutan elder and the retired predecessor of Zaius as Chief Defender of the Faith. Sabian had very conservative beliefs and had been tasked by the Secret Police with watching over the more liberal elder Zao. Sabian came out of retirement to become the High Patriarch (‘Pontifex Rex’) of Ape City, and formed a powerful alliance with Ursus that aimed to exterminate the human race. As Minister, he offered a blessing on the ape army as they set off for war.
- General Ursus: The leader of the ape military. Ursus had been an orphan and a rebellious youth, but was raised by Kananaios, a preacher and friend of Sabian. His religious zeal fuelled his belief in his destiny as conqueror of the Forbidden Zone.
- Liet: The cousin of Dr Milo, the widow of Dr Galen and the ex-lover of Mungwortt. A former social butterfly, Liet completely changed after an encounter with Landon and became leader of the 'Anti-Vivisection Society', aiming to free caged humans and alter the politics of Ape City.
- Nova: The mute human partner of Taylor. Separated from him, Nova accompanied Brent on his journey from the Forbidden Zone to Ape City and back again.
- Lieutenant John Landon: Navigator with the Liberty 1 mission. He had come under the control of the mutant humans before being lobotomised on the orders of Dr Zaius. He later died as a result, and Zaius decided to have his corpse put on display, like that of Dodge.
- Major John Brent: The only survivor of the Liberty 2 mission. Soon after crashing to Earth, Brent encountered Nova and accompanied her first to Ape City and then into the Forbidden Zone, meeting Zira, Cornelius and Taylor along the way.
- Colonel Donovan Maddox: Skipper of the Liberty 2 rescue mission. ‘Donny’ had been a young airman serving with Taylor in Korea, and later reunited with him during ANSA training.
- Lieutenant Maryann Stewart: Initially a NASA astronaut, Stewart had transferred to the top-secret ANSA organisation and had covertly become the first American woman in space aboard the Probe Six. She had an affair with Taylor and the two hoped to find out more about the classified ‘Churchdoor’ plan. Stewart had been part of the Juno mission before joining the Liberty 1 crew.
- Major Eddie Rowark: A colleague and close friend of Taylor from his Air Force days through to ANSA training. Rowark's death during the Probe Seven test flight in 1967 contributed to Taylor’s decision to leave Earth.
- Major Alan Virdon: An astronaut who trained with ANSA. Though from Texas, Virdon did not express an opinion on the political tension between that state and the US government during his training. He was selected for the ‘Accelerated Future Corps’, a five-year program in agriculture, engineering, medicine and technology that would help start life on a new planet.
- Doctor Otto Hasslein: The head scientist at ANSA. He was behind both the 'Project Liberty' space program and mysterious ‘Churchdoor’ plan.
- General Theodore Lazenbe: A veteran of the Air Force alongside both Taylor and Maddox. Lazenbe lied to Maddox and Brent, suggesting that the Liberty 2 would be able to return to Earth without the significant passage of time.
- Admiral Eugene Taylor: A senior official at the ANSA project and the father of George Taylor. He had divorced George's mother in 1931 and maintained a cold and distant relationship with his son.
- Gillian Taylor: George Taylor’s wife. They had met in a New York bar in 1965 and quickly married and had two daughters. However, George’s frequent absences and affairs caused an unhappy marriage and their break-up was another reason for George’s abandonment of the planet.
- Doctor Seraph: Dr Milo's resourceful female chimp assistant. Seraph located and salvaged parts from the crashed Liberty 2, enabling the completion of a working spaceship. When the research site was attacked by a gorilla squad, Seraph – who was secretly in love with Milo – acted quickly to save his life.
- Major Dangrel: General Ursus' loyal gorilla deputy. He eagerly helped Ursus to exterminate the human race.
- Lieutenant Aurelios: Originally a member of Marcus’ police force, Aurelios went on to serve in the ape army under General Ursus.
- Chief Cerek: The Chief of the Security Police after the death of Marcus. Cerek’s loyalty to General Ursus meant that the Security Police would be absorbed into the army.
- Sub-Chief Xirinius: The second-in-command of the Security Police under Chief Cerek.
- Messias: A human/ape ‘heterogen’ child genetically engineered by Be-Six in the laboratories of the Makers. Through Messias, the mutant Fellowship hoped to extend their psychic control to apes and primitive humans. He lived in a city which was created and populated entirely by force of his imagination.
- Dinge: The alpha leader of the 'White Ones'; a primitive race of apparent ape and human hybrid origin. Mungwortt fought Dinge and earned his respect, leading to a mutiny against the White Ones’ mutant enslavers.
- Albina: One of the senior leaders of the mutant Fellowship. She had empathetic abilities exceeding those of her compatriots, and she conspired with Ongaro to stage a coup.
- Ongaro: The Fellowship’s chief psychic torturer. He forced Taylor to fight against his friends Mungwortt and Brent.
- Adiposo: A complacent leader of the mutant community. He indulged in a drug habit that was strictly forbidden.
- Mendez XXVI: The supreme leader of the mutant Fellowship. He frequently communed with the preserved memories of his predecessors, seeking guidance in an increasingly dangerous situation.
- Verger: The guardian of the former cathedral that housed the Alpha-Omega Bomb. He was the first human kill of Jaffe, in the dying moments of the planet.
- Be-Six: An immense disembodied brain suspended in a glass tank. Be-Six was one of a number of experimental organic computers designated the ‘Inheritors’, but was twice as large as the others. Later indentured to the Fellowship, Be-Six was compelled to undertake genetic experiments on their behalf.
- Be-One: Another of the Inheritors, who had at one time controlled much of the ruined city through their drones and slaves. Be-One was one of the brains that had been moved away from the Fellowship and began to plot the Inheritors’ return to supremacy.
- Jo Taylor and Tammy Taylor: The daughters of George and Gillian Taylor, born in the mid-1960s. Their parents’ marriage disintegrated when the children were still young, and their father abandoned them to set off on a one-way space mission.
- Flight Officer Joseph Tagliante: A World War II pilot and colleague of Taylor and Rowark. He had died in the war and Taylor later named his first daughter in honour of ‘Joe’ Tagliante.
- Doctor Stanton: A senior ANSA scientist. Secretly, Dr Hasslein and others in the organisation questioned Stanton’s contribution to the project.
- Commander William Hudson: A NASA astronaut who became skipper of the ANSA Probe Six experimental space-flight alongside Lieutenants Stewart and Franklin.
- Lieutenant Judy Franklin: A NASA astronaut who transferred to ANSA and, alongside Maryann Stewart, became the first American woman in space as part of the Probe Six mission.
- Lieutenant Jeff Allen: ANSA astronaut and, with Commander Hudson and Major Virdon, part of the five-year ‘Accelerated Future Corps’ training program.
- Doctor Kriegstein and Doctor Freleng: The senior scientists at NASA, but less reknowned than Dr Hasslein of ANSA.
- Jaila: Formerly an assistant of Dr Galen, Jaila changed her opinion of humans after hearing Landon speak and became involved in anti-vivisection action.
- Consus: An oper farmer and a member of the Anti-Vivisection Society.
- Liberus, Quirinus and Tian: Members of the Anti-Vivisection Society who helped free caged humans.
- Camilla: An old orangutan who assisted the anti-vivisectionists. (She may be the Councillor Camila who disagreed with Dr Zaius two decades earlier.)
- Doctor Pinchus and Doctor Lykos: Chimp archaeologists who accompanied Dr Milo and Dr Seraph into the Forbidden Zone to salvage the Liberty 1.
- Julius: A gorilla orderly from the Academy’s Research Complex. He assisted Dr Zaius in identifying the body of Landon.
- Private Jaffe: The eldest son of Malia and the deceased police chief Marcus. Jaffe joined the gorilla army and became a protégé of General Ursus.
- Senia: The daughter of Dr Zaius, the sister of Valentina, the wife of Valentina’s widower Vitus, and the stepmother of Valentina’s and Vitus’ daughter Celia.
- President Gaius: The ineffective president of the ape assembly.
- Zao: A retired orangutan elder. As Minister of Science, Zao had argued constantly with Sabian, Chief Defender of the Faith. He had therefore ensured that Zaius was appointed to both roles. Zao was sent to his death in the Forbidden Zone by Sabian and Zaius.
- Ygli VII: The defence chief of the mutant Fellowship and a descendent of the Inheritors’ mutant drones. It was Ygli who had asserted control over Landon’s mind, but Landon’s lobotomy had psychically damaged Ygli and left him in a prolonged vegetative state before death. He has no successor.
- General Aleron: A predecessor and former superior of General Ursus as head of the ape army. Ursus contemplated the turbulent events Aleron had found himself in.
- This novel was originally planned for publication at the end of 2013. A further four parts of a six-novel arc were also plotted, depending on sales of the first two books.
- Like its predecessor, Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes, this novel made extensive references to other entries in the Planet of the Apes mythos.
- Mungwortt is identified as the ape who fires his machine gun into the apparently empty jail cell where Taylor, Nova and Brent are hiding. The gunfire only appears in an early edit of this scene.
- Sergeant Duignan is the gorilla who stops to examine the blond hair of the deceased Albina, to Dr Zaius’ annoyance. Duignan's superior was Captain Odo, who is mentioned only in the first draft screenplay of the film.
- When Milo, Lykos, and Pinchus restore power to the Liberty 1 its display reads ‘Earth Time: June 16 1973’ and ‘Ship Time: November 25 3978’. Both clocks quickly jump to ‘January 25 3979’ before the display panel explodes and it has to be replaced with that from the Liberty 2. This suggests two months have passed since the crash of the Liberty 1.
- In his lobotomised state, Landon repeats a series of instinctive movements which become key to the fate of Milo, Zira and Cornelius.
- In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Mendez XXVI is noted as being busy ‘communing with his ancestors’. This is explained more fully in Death. The Corridor of Busts contains representations of all of the mutant leaders, each one having a built-in record of their key memories. These can be accessed by the mutant leader for guidance, but it is sacrilege for anyone else to access these memories and to damage them is a form of desecration.
- Taylor accidentally accesses the memories of Mendez I, seeing missiles triggering a fault line at New York City, a cut-off area at Grand Central Terminal placed under martial law by General Mendez, conscripted civilian workers, attempts to purge disobedience and disfigurement from the enclosed community over the following years, and the discovery of other survivors kept secret from the people.
- The preserved memories of Mendez XIV reveal the first contact between the Fellowship, the Inheritors and the Makers in the ruins of 'New Manhattan'.
- Mungwortt discovers the home of the Inheritors in the former Central Park Zoo. Their name originated as ‘1N-HR8-TR’. The Inheritors were abandoned test subjects who had somehow survived and thrived in the aftermath of the nuclear war. Some of them eventually became subject to the rival mutant community of the Fellowship and were re-branded as the 'Overseers'.
- The 'White Ones' – the primitive ape-human hybrid slaves of the Inheritors – are evidently the same race of creatures encountered by Jason and Alexander in Terror on the Planet of the Apes.
- The Makers had been human scientists like those who created the Inheritors but had become unhinged by radiation and performed cybernetic experiments on themselves. They eventually lost their bitter war with the Inheritors, who had then appropriated their laboratories for their own experiments.
- Messias at first appeared to be simply a hybrid product of chimp and human DNA, reminding Taylor of stories about genetic engineering – some of them written by Otto Hasslein’s father and some involving crude attempts at cross-breeding by Soviet authorities in the 1920s. Later, Messias is revealed to be a ‘heterogen’ engineered by the Inheritors/Overseers.
- In Messias' elaborate city, Taylor is taken to the ‘Psychedrome’ - a spheroid auditorium where he meets the many-eyed ‘Keeper of the Light’. Messias later attributes this bizarre encounter to a radiation-induced hallucination, though Jason and Alexander had sharred the same experience.
- In an alternative timeline, America of the 1960s is rent asunder by political conflicts. President Goldwater is succeeded by President Willard Wyndham, and Texas Governor Beauford Trotter embarks on a secessionist war over the issue of civil rights.
- ANSA – the American National Space Administration – was developed as the secretive military equivalent of NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. ANSA was based at Groom Lake, Nevada in an area referred to as ‘Area 51’.
- ANSA astronauts Taylor, Rowark and Virdon took part in a disastrous test flight of the Probe Seven. The earlier Probe Six had orbited Earth for three days, deploying spy satellites and testing equipment.
- Talking to Taylor about the 'Churchdoor' project, which he claims is a fictional program for a super-missile, Dr Hasslein quotes the Biblical 'Book of Revelations': “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
- It is suggested that the Liberty 2 collided with a 2,000-year-old satellite named ‘USA-33’. The Liberty 1, as captained by Taylor, collided with the Liberty 1 piloted by Milo and flying in the opposite direction through a tear in time.
- Effigies of great apes like Kigor, the legendary giant, were placed on the cliffs at the eastern border of the Forbidden Zone to ward off human incursions.
- ‘Forgotten Scrolls’ reveal that there were a number of Lawgivers, rather than just the one individual cited in official dogma. Writers of the scrolls included Haristas, Zeno and Jacob.