E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial arrived in theaters in June of 1982. I was five going on six that summer, my birthday is in July. I remember being lucky enough to see the movie when it was released and I, like many others was instantly in love with the film. I loved everything about the movie but having a backdrop of Halloween really sold it for me. I have always viewed Halloween as a night where anything could happen and E.T. encompassed that feeling of fear, awe, and wonderment the holiday envokes.
I have to admit that the 3rd act of E.T. unnerved me and at five (going on six) it was hard to process what was going on. The graying form of E.T. laying in the creek bed, dying, scared me and the fear of his and Elliott’s incarceration and testing at the hands of the government made my heart beat with a hollow thud in my ears. But for every toy and every photo of him with Michael Jackson that was released, it eased the scarring process the movie could have left on my psyche.
The movie was huge and it still endures today. E.T. is a pop culture staple that has been so woven into the fabric of our life that it has become a “thing”. A thing that bares no explanation or discussion, it is just E.T.. Steven Spielberg created a masterpiece that is an open and shut portrait of childhood magic, discovery, and adventure. Even though the tale of Elliott, Michael, Gertie, and E.T. began and ended with the film, have you ever wanted to know more?
Back in the day, movies would release “Story Books” and novelizations. The story books were more of a kid version of the novelization, packed full of still photos of the movie. If you were lucky some of the story books had pictures of the props or a picture from a deleted scene. These books were nowhere near the caliber of the DK books that usually accompany films nowadays. What you saw was what you got, unlike the DK books that go into detail, giving background information, and even up close looks at props and scenery. So long story short, what we saw in the movie E.T. was all that we knew about the little brown, wrinkly alien.
That was until 1985 when the author of the E.T. novelization, William Kotzwinkle, wrote a follow-up book.Written for “young readers”, E.T. – The Book Of The Green Planet begins only moments after the film ends. The first page describes the spaceship that rescued E.T. speeding away from earthly fighter jets, escaping into space and leaving them behind. We then find E.T. sad and feeling alone without his friends from Earth. From here the book takes a different direction than I expected.
When the book came out I remember purchasing it from my elementary school’s annual book fair. I have to admit I bought it solely because it was E.T. and it had beautiful art work by David Wiesner. I never read it. It sat on shelves or in a box until it was lost in one of the many purges of toys, books, and knickknacks that many a kid suffered through. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I found a copy of the book again. It was a little battered, and a little stained but my heart fluttered just seeing a copy again after a few decades. Since then it has sat on one of the shelves on my side of the laundry room.
Now I’m 40 and in an effort to write more posts about some of the treasures I’ve acquired over the years, I decided to pick up E.T. – The Book Of The Green Planet and give it a try as my first foray into writing about my collection. To be honest I thought I would skim through it enough to find a couple tidbits to write about and be done, boy was I wrong.
E.T.- The Book OF The Green Planet offers a lot of insight into the life and times of E.T. Within the books 80 pages we get a good deal of back story on the people, places, and things in E.T.’s life. It was a very enjoyable read that has on foot in the mythos created by the movie and another in the abstract world of early ’80s Science Fiction. In honesty there is almost too much to write about, so I’ll go over a couple of my favorite things in the book.
1. Who is E.T.?
I have to say I always thought E.T. was a child that was left behind on Earth by his parents. I may have known the truth and it may have been warped by other stories that ran along the same vein, I can’t be sure. But one of the first things the book addresses is that E.T. is around 1,000 years old and a scientist. This is reflected through out the book as everyone refers to E.T. as a celebrated Doctor of Botany. They also never allude to what his real name is, they simply just call him Doctor.
E.T. was a farmer that tended the growing fields of his planet of Brodo Asogi for hundreds of years before becoming a scientist. He was the head of his class and had a reputation for being too curious. Once he returned home, after the Captain of the ship confined him to his quarters, E.T. thought he would be received as a hero for living on Earth for a couple of weeks. Sadly for him he was demoted back to being a farmer and stationed at the village he grew up in. While there, he lives with his Parent and his friend/pet Flopglopples which is a Igigi Geyrum Hadahadeba.
His main motivation throughout the whole book is to return to Earth. His friends believe in his new cause and they themselves are outsiders too, so they too want to go to Earth with him. He references a lot of pop culture items that he picked up while on Earth, which adds humor to the book. There is a part where they talk about The Burger King that had me chuckling out loud. His talk of beer while funny is a little off putting and will have you questioning how they handled kids books in the ’80s. Who am I kidding, it’s awesome !
2. The Asogian People:
The book never goes into it but there is never any talk of gender or reproduction (it is a kid’s book after all). But there is a lot of talk about the races creation and a great celestial egg. Could E.T.’s race be asexual and the young are hatched from eggs? They also say that they are a race that has reached their evolutionary apex. They have suffered through wars, and had millennia’s worth of unrest before they got to where they are.
Now the race lives in harmony with their planet and through science have made the plant life intelligent. They have also used the science they devolved to make the plants hybrid in many different ways. Example, a simple gourd can be enlarged, given a steel like rind, and hollowed out to make a home. Or, some plants are given “life” and taught to play their flowers, roots, or other odd growths like instruments. It’s like a Silly Symphony cartoon crossed with almost any fairy type of movie or cartoon. I found it pretty neat since I’m partial to stuff like that.
This is where the “glowing finger” comes in also. E.T.’s race has gained the glowy finger thing so they can heal and numb plants so they can harvest them with out hurting them. It also allows them to help plants grow from seeds to stalks in an instant. The more wise and adept with plants the Asogian people get, the more fingers they have that glow. Only a few of the Asogians have all 10 of their digits that glow, one of them is Supreme Scientist – Lord of the Fields, Botanicus. Botanicus was E.T.’s teacher and mentor. It is alluded to in the book that he is ten thousand years old. Botanicus is very wise and kind and views E.T. as his number one pupil.
I get the sense the people of Brodo Asogi live a totalitarian existence. They all serve a purpose and that purpose is to serve the planet. The only other races we meet are the Igigi Gyrum Hadahadeba (those of six-Hundred Vertebrae), the Micro Techs, and the Dark Ones. The Igigi Geyrum Hadahadeba are too silly and unpredictable so they were turned into an almost pet like class of people, while the Dark Ones were banished and sealed away in their ancient mines. Pretty F’ed up if ya ask me.
The aim of the Asogian people and traveling the galaxy is to discover new plant life and bring it back to Brodo Asogi. There then can produce more of the plants they have discovered and figure out how they can use them and augment them. After they visited Earth, the ship that E.T. was on went to other planets but E.T. was confined in his quarters for many years so he just slept and dreamed about being back on Earth and while awake he tended the growing beds on the ship.
Also another trait is that the older they get the larger the Asogians get. E.T. is 1,000 years old and is still regarded as an older adolescent. He stands much shorter than his Parent and an elder such as Botanicus.
3. The Planet Of Brodo Asogi.
There are three different races that also call Brodo Asogi home along with the Asogians. The Micro Techs are a small glowing, fairy like race that has hundreds of hair like fingers. They use these fingers to work on delicate technology and plants. As a whole the Micro Techs come across as dicks who are very “by the book”. They are also pilots and are experts at navigating worm holes and time continuums. There is only one that is an outsider to his people. His name is Micron and after visiting a music enhanced planet many years ago, he was so overcome with music and emotions that he changed. Now he plays a 50-string lute in a club and cares nothing for the technology that other Micro Techs desire.
Another of the races are the Dark Ones. I’m a little confused about this race, to be honest. Long ago the Dark Ones ravaged the galaxy looking for metals, jewels, and rare elements. In their conquest they started many wars and were the scourge of the galaxies. Three of them were sealed away in one of the Dark One’s mines on the planet of Brodo Asogi. Now, E.T. and his pals need these beings to pilot a ship they plan to steal so they can get to Earth. They are easily won over with a promise of riches from Earth such as bicycles, football helmets, and pogo sticks. The asteroid miners Occulta, Sinistro, and Electrum offer a lot of comic relief and are really likable characters.
The other alien race that the book has is the Igigi Geyrum Hadahadeba which means six-hundred vertebra. Most of the book only focuses on one Igigi Geyrum Hadahadeba, E.T.’s friend/pet Flopglopples. This intelligent creatures are very long and furry with two upper limbs and three lower limbs at the end of the long frame. They are a impetuous creature that loves to dance, be merry, and cause mischief. Flopglopples is very loyal to E.T. and at times is his only friend. Flopgloppes is a fun and sweet charater and at times reminded me a lot of Tasslehoff Burrfoot from the Dragonlance book series.
There are two other types of beings on Brodo Asogi aside from the alien races.The plants and trees that live on the planet all have different characteristics and are truly alien in design. They talk to E.T. and they all love him because he is a gentle soul. There are also robots. They have created robots for almost any situation and most act the way you would think robots would act with a programed A.I.. They even have robots that patrol around and check on people’s emotional state, these kind interact with E.T. a lot because of his sadness.
Another robot that joins up with our heroes is an out dated model that simply goes by Robot. He is a former pilot that was supposed to be scrapped but has been in hiding. He was deemed malfunctioned long ago because he forsook his programing because he wanted to find…the truth. Robot is another fun character that takes things to literally, especially E.T.’s Earth slang.
4. What About Elliott?
Through out the book E.T. is able to channel his telepathy powers all the way through countless star systems and a time itself to check in on Elliott and his family. Many years have passed and Elliott is older and on the verge of going to High School. He is going through many changes, the biggest of which is girls. E.T. has a hard time communicating with him because as humans get older they lose the their way and their innocence.
E.T. is able to help the family out in different ways with his telepathy. Either it giving Elliott confidence to finally talk to the girl, or communicating to Michael’s body to give him the power to impress football coaches with a field goal during practice.
At first I thought it was lame to go back and forth between E.T. and the family but the more I read the more I became nostalgic of the lives they shared in the movie.
The use of space and aliens in this book truly reminds me of the mind warping Science Fiction from back in the day. While reading you feel a sense of uneasiness because it is the true definition of ALIEN.
Even the method of space travel is really something big to get your head around….and this is a kids book! They talk of shifting into different continuums, time streams, and worm holes. It gives the sense that they are moving through time itself and it adds another layer to hyper speed and other space travel tropes. This paints a great picture that E.T.’s home world is millions of light years away and that the Asogians have harnessed space itself to travel instead of having flashy technology.
The End –
The book ends kinda open, I wonder if there were plans to continue it in some way. I would love to read another book with these characters. I would have never of thought I would think that, especially at 40 years old.
E.T.: The Book Of The Green Planet was a fun, nostalgic drenched tale that I am glad that I got around to reading 30 plus years later. I have to apologize if this is all over the place. I wrote this in multiple sittings and to be honest I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on. This book really took me back and was a joy to read. I never knew I wanted a sequel to cinematic classic E.T. but after reading this I would have loved it. I have a new appreciation for the film and the mythos that Steven Spielberg created.