Planet Of The Apes, Maurice Evans, 1968 Tm And Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All Rights

‘Tales from the Forbidden Zone’ — Read These ‘Apes’ Stories Before You Die!

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For those who are looking for even more Planet of the Apes, look no further than this anthology of short stories set in that universe. Published by Titan Books, Tales From the Forbidden Zone is officially described as follows: “Sixteen brand-new adventures set in the world of the original Planet of the Apes. The 1968 Planet of the Apes has inspired generations of authors. Now a who’s who of modern writers produces 16 all-new tales, exclusive to this volume, set in the world of the original film and television series. Each explores a different drama within the post-apocalyptic world, treating readers to unique visions and nonstop action.”

Behind the Scenes

Screen Shot 2022 10 17 At 8.48.47 Pm
Screen Shot 2022 10 17 At 8.48.47 Pm

The book’s co-editor, Rich Handley, comments, “Jim Beard and I have both been Planet of the Apes fans going back to our childhoods in the 1970s, so when the opportunity arose to co-edit and co-author an official book for the franchise, we were ecstatic. The idea grew out of an online conversation we’d had back in 2016, in which we lamented the fact that no one had ever published official Apes short fiction other than Brown Watson, which had produced three books in the ’70s containing simplistic short stories and comic strips for children — and that were published only in the United Kingdom, so most fans missed out on them.”

“Having such a strong pool of writers aboard, representing multiple genres and styles, allowed us to ensure that the stories wouldn’t all be cookie-cutter Apes tales,” he continued. “As I wrote in the book’s introduction, ‘We encouraged them to think outside the box, and not to limit themselves to proposing only tales about the most popular characters and settings from the films. After all, while an entire anthology about Zira and Cornelius alternatively bickering and then rubbing their noses together in Ape City could be fun for fans of the chimp couple (titled Zira Loves Cornelius, perhaps), it would provide a rather limited and redundant scope for everyone else.’ We wanted each story to bring something new and different to the franchise, and the authors thankfully delivered — including a few ‘What if?’ tales that were so outside the box they were actually in a separate box entirely.”

Planet Of The Apes, Charlton Heston, 1968, Tm & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All Rights
Planet Of The Apes, Charlton Heston, 1968, Tm & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All Rights (Everett Collection)

Adds Rich, “In the end, we offered a wide variety of tales (horror, romance, comedy, science fiction) set in various parts of the world, not just in Ape City — and we were able to feature not only the usual chimps, gorillas, orangutans, humans, and mutants you’d expect to see in Apes stories, but also baboons, gibbons, bonobos, and even some non-simian characters. We were told we could utilize any concepts from the five classic movies, but not the Tim Burton film (which, really, I don’t think was a problem for anyone) or the recent trilogy (which I would have loved to include, actually), and the resultant stories took place across 2,000 years of history. What really got us excited was that we were able to provide new tales involving the characters and settings from the oft-overlooked television show. As a major fan of Burke, Virdon, Galen, Urko, and Zaius (I consider the TV series as good as, if not better than, several of the films), I found those stories particularly fun to edit.”

Planet Of The Apes, (from Left): Ron Harper, Roddy Mcdowall, 1974. Tm And Copyright © 20th Century
Planet Of The Apes, (from Left): Ron Harper, Roddy Mcdowall, 1974. Tm And Copyright © 20th Century (Everett Collection)

“I know it sounds cocky, but I think we nailed it,” he added. “Since the anthology’s publication in 2017, I’ve never run across any outright negative reviews of Tales from the Forbidden Zone. Sure, there have been some reviewers who have enjoyed specific tales less than others — that’s the nature of the business and you can’t please everyone — but, by and large, the reviews have tended to be quite positive, which has thrilled me and Jim to no end. We’re proud of how Tales turned out, and Jim and I would love to see a second volume produced if Titan were interested. A lot of people have asked us to release a second volume, in fact, so I know there’s a good audience for it.”

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