Imaginary field trip: City of the Apes

Ransom Riggs

Sure, I could blog about some of the actual places I've been recently, and provide some thought-provoking facts about them. Sarasota, Florida, for instance, consistently ranks among the top five most racially segregated cities in the country. (This year, it was also called the US city "least friendly to the homeless." Ouch.) But reality has an annoying tendency to be depressing, so I thought it would be more fun to talk about imaginary places! So begins a series of blogs: the Imaginary Field Trip.

The City of the Apes (unlike the titular simian Planet) was invented by the anonymous author of The Arabian Nights, 14th-16th century AD. The City lies on the coast of the Indian Ocean, where lofty houses overlook the sea. Its name derives from the ape population that lives in the surrounding jungle, which every night invade the city, steal things and kill every human they can find. To avoid being slaughtered by mad apes, the C.O.T.A. residents flee through their back doors at dusk to spend the night in small ships on the sea. (Apes, it would seem, can't swim.)

These same apes, however, also make the city prosperous; when they retreat into the mountains in the daytime, the humans hunt and pelt them with stones; to defend themselves, the apes throw back coconuts, which the clever inhabitants collect and sell for a tidy profit.

Boy, those people must really love them some coconuts.