Max takes a detour into the world of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for a stroll around The Book Of The Green Planet
Sometimes hidden gems litter the internet, waiting for wide-eyed sci-fi fans to find and resurrect. I discovered E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL – The Book of the Green Planet on a whim. On one of the wiki links concerning E.T.’s species. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was one of my favorite non-Star Wars movies growing up. And I was delirious with delight when E.T.’s species made a cameo in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, possibly linking his story to the Galaxy far, far away. Anyway, I looked at a sample of this book on the internet and after confirming it was, indeed an adult novel, I ordered it. What I got was a treat beyond my wildest dreams.
A DIRECT SEQUEL?
This book was written in 1985 (2 years after E.T. debuted in theaters), by an author unknown to me, William Kotzwinkle. Kotwinkle delivered a truly imaginative story, however, as we saw what happened to E.T. after he successfully phoned home and left Earth with his species. The book doesn’t waste time and even cooly depicts human aircraft trying in vain to catch up with the ship. But as it’s 1985 (and there is not even a smidgen close to a single-stage-to-orbit rocket), the Air Force gives up as the ship leaves the atmosphere. E.T. is missing Elliot already and still has the geranium that his younger sister Gertie gave him. Then the novel shifts into a truly alien world that is both engaging to read and mystifying.
THE BOOK OF THE GREEN PLANET
The technology of the E.T. species is truly astronomical. These aliens think on a higher plane of existence and manipulate the environment so effortlessly that it makes Star Wars look even more retro. E.T. is an esteemed botanist on his homeworld of the Green Planet but faces a demotion due to having strayed away from the research team. He is re-assigned to work with younger members of his species (only a few centuries old) and returns to his parent’s house to let them know what happened to him. He also reunites with his “pet/confident”, a strange multi-vertebrated weasel creature called a Flogpopple (or some nonsense word like that).
E.T. is smart and considered one of the best botanist students his teacher ever had. But it is clear that he is in the middle in terms of age and experience. His memories span centuries, but his parent and the more “enlightened” leaders of his world are far older and more advanced still. E.T.’s parent doesn’t even resemble him as it is in the apparent “second-life stage” of this species. The parent is tall and thin, and possibly millennia old. It evoked such an alien feel when I was reading it and I have to give Kotzwinkle major props for pulling this off. The aliens apparently also reproduce asexually (one parent) and this further rides the mystique of this alien species.
EXPANDING THE NARRATIVE
E.T. is never given an official alien name in the book (which is weird) but there are all sorts of wacky cliche names like his teacher Bottanicus, and the MicroTech Micron. E.T. is missing Elliott terribly. His time on Earth has changed how he talks because he uses many Earth idioms and expressions that stump his peers and the robots they employ. It’s very humorous to see E.T. use 80’s slang and view Earth through such an incorrect lens. Especially regarding Reece’s Pieces as primordial elements, bicycles as valuable possessions, and the erroneous belief that children are the true leaders of the world. He also gets things like Halloween wrong. He uses an incorrect name for it that is very reminiscent of someone from a foreign country mispronouncing an American word.
The story also shows Elliot’s tale from millions of light years away. The distances are so vast that time is dilated. Not much time has passed for E.T. but Elliot is in high school already and discovering the opposite sex. E.T. tries to reach out to his friend telepathically. But the “signal” keeps “missing” throughout the tale, and E.T.’s “mind-form” ends up with the wrong individual, such as Elliot’s mother or sister. Elliot’s mother is a train wreck and her desperation for any type of romantic relationship with the opposite sex is disturbing and I feel for her.
So as E.T. struggles to make a connection, he instead decides he must leave his idyllic homeworld and be with his friend Elliot again. He uses his wits and new allies to try and steal a ship from his superiors and flee to Earth. The number of hoops that he must jump through is staggering. I was transfixed with reading how he managed to outwit beings many hundreds of times smarter than him. I won’t say what happens as he tries to leave, (as I want you to read it), but I marvel at this wonderful society that the Brodi Asogians have. There is no war. There is no violence.
Punishments are fair and while they have advanced ships and weapons, they do not use them for violence. It’s a world of gardeners and botanists and I wish I could live there. Traveling vast interstellar distances is but a snap. Many of the beings are only interested in learning. It’s a paradise worthy of Plato’s symposium.
I liked that even though the tech is super advanced, the robot introduced later in the book is somewhat retro-futuristic and clunky. There are a few outdated ideas in it. But honestly, a lot of the other stuff was well ahead of the time this book was written and still far ahead in 2023. While an atomic clock and deuterium pellet are still used by this advanced race, they also have repulsor fields guarding ships. And they use electronic cloud makers to create artificial clouds. You can’t sneeze at tech like that!
I was delighted and immersed throughout the whole book. While it presents a mind so alien to our own, the story was easy to follow and fun to read. It is a forgotten gem that I feel any fan of old sci-fi or E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial should read. A+!
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial – The Book Of The Green Planet is available to order from Amazon now. However, given the rarity of this title, be sure to check eBay and other discount book outlets. Subscribe to our newsletter at the top of our homepage to stay up-to-date with all the latest news and reviews from Future of the Force.
Max Nocerino is a regular Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter where he shares his love of the Force frequently!