by Kurt Vonnegut


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“A madcap genealogical adventure . . . Vonnegut is a postmodern Mark Twain.”The New York Times Book Review

Galápagos takes the reader back one million years, to A.D. 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galápagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, and totally different human race. In this inimitable novel, America’ s master satirist looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry–and all that is worth saving.

Praise for Galápagos

“The best Vonnegut novel yet!”—John Irving

“Beautiful . . . provocative, arresting reading.”USA Today

“A satire in the classic tradition . . . a dark vision, a heartfelt warning.”The Detroit Free Press
“Interesting, engaging, sad and yet very funny . . . Vonnegut is still in top form. If he has no prescription for alleviating the pain of the human condition, at least he is a first-rate diagnostician.”—Susan Isaacs, Newsday
“Dark . . . original and funny.”People
“A triumph of style, originality and warped yet consistent logic . . . a condensation, an evolution of Vonnegut’s entire career, including all the issues and questions he has pursued relentlessly for four decades.”The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Wild details, wry humor, outrageous characters . . . Galápagos is a comic lament, a sadly ironic vison.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A work of high comedy, sadness and imagination.”The Denver Post
“Wacky wit and irreverent imagination .  . . and the full range of technical innovations have made [Vonnegut] America’s preeminent experimental novelist.”The Minneapolis Star and Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385333870
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/1999
Series: Delta Fiction
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 83,684
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut’s black humor, satiric voice, and incomparable imagination first captured America’s attention in The Sirens of Titan in 1959 and established him as “a true artist” (The New York Times) with Cat’s Cradle in 1963. He was, as Graham Greene declared, “one of the best living American writers.” Mr. Vonnegut passed away in April 2007.

Date of Birth:

November 11, 1922

Date of Death:

April 11, 2007

Place of Birth:

Indianapolis, Indiana

Place of Death:

New York, New York


Cornell University, 1940-42; Carnegie-Mellon University, 1943; University of Chicago, 1945-47; M.A., 1971

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Thing Was:

One million years ago, back in 1986 A.D., Guayaquil was the chief seaport of the little South American democracy of Ecuador, whose capital was Quito, high in the Andes Mountains. Guayaquil was two degrees south of the equator, the imaginary bellyband of the planet after which the country itself was named. It was always very hot there, and humid, too, for the city was built in the doldrums—on a springy marsh through which the mingled waters of several rivers draining the mountains flowed.

This seaport was several kilometers from the open sea. Rafts of vegetable matter often clogged the soupy waters, engulfing pilings and anchor lines.

. . .

Human beings had much bigger brains back then than they do today, and so they could be beguiled by mysteries. One such mystery in 1986 was how so many creatures which could not swim great distances had reached the Galápagos Islands, an archipelago of volcanic peaks due west of Guayaquil—separated from the mainland by one thousand kilometers of very deep water, very cold water fresh from the Antarctic. When human beings discovered those islands, there were already geckos and iguanas and rice rats and lava lizards and spiders and ants and beetles and grasshoppers and mites and ticks in residence, not to mention enormous land tortoises.

What form of transportation had they used?

Many people were able to satisfy their big brains with this answer: They came on natural rafts.

. . .

Other people argued that such rafts became waterlogged and rotted to pieces so quickly that nobody had ever seen one out of sight of land, and that the current between the islands and the mainland would carry any such rustic vessel northward rather than westward.

Or they asserted that all those landlubberly creatures had walked dry-shod across a natural bridge or had swum short distances between stepping-stones, and that one such formation or another had since disappeared beneath the waves. But scientists using their big brains and cunning instruments had by 1986 made maps of the ocean floor. There wasn't a trace, they said, of an intervening land mass of any kind.

. . .

Other people back in that era of big brains and fancy thinking asserted that the islands had once been part of the mainland, and had been split off by some stupendous catastrophe.

But the islands didn't look as though they had been split off from anything. They were clearly young volcanoes, which had been vomited up right where they were. Many of them were such newborns out there that they could be expected to blow again at any time. Back in 1986, they hadn't even sprouted much coral yet, and so were without blue lagoons and white beaches, amenities many human beings used to regard as foretastes of an ideal afterlife.

A million years later, they do possess white beaches and blue lagoons. But when this story begins, they were still ugly humps and domes and cones and spires of lava, brittle and abrasive, whose cracks and pits and bowls and valleys brimmed over not with rich topsoil of sweet water, but with the finest, driest volcanic ash.

. . .

Another theory back then was that God Almighty had created all those creatures where the explorers found them, so they had had no need for transportation.

. . .

Another theory was that they had been shooed ashore there two by two—down the gangplank of Noah's ark.

If there really was a Noah's ark, and there may have been—I might entitle my story "A Second Noah's Ark."

Chapter Two

There was no mystery a million years ago as to how a thirty-five-year-old American male named James Wait, who could not swim a stroke, intended to get from the South American continent to the Galápagos Islands. He certainly wasn't going to squat on a natural raft of vegetable matter and hope for the best. He had just bought a ticket at his hotel in downtown Guayaquil for a two-week cruise on what was to be the maiden voyage of a new passenger ship called the Bahía de Darwin, Spanish for "Darwin Bay." This first Galápagos trip for the ship, which flew the Ecuadorian flag, had been publicized and advertised all over the world during the past year as "the Nature Cruise of the Century."

Wait was traveling alone. He was prematurely bald and he was pudgy, and his color was bad, like the curst on a pie in a cheap cafeteria, and he was bespectacled, so that he might plausibly claim to be in his fifties, in case he saw some advantage in making such a claim. He wished to seem harmless and shy.

He was the only customer now in the cocktail lounge of the Hotel El Dorado, on the broad Calle Diez de Agosto, where he had taken a room. And the bartender, a twenty-year-old descendant of proud Inca noblemen, named Jesús Ortiz, got the feeling that this drab and friendless man, who claimed to be a Canadian, had had his spirit broken by some terrible injustice or tragedy. Wait wanted everybody who saw him to feel that way.

Jesús Ortiz, who is one of the nicest people in this story of mine, pitied rather than scorned this lonesome tourist. He found it sad, as Wait had hoped he would, that Wait had just spent a lot of money in the hotel boutique—on a straw hat and rope sandals and yellow shorts and a blue-and-white-and-purple cotton shirt, which he was wearing now. Wait had had considerable dignity, Ortiz thought, when he had arrived from the airport in a business suit. But now, at great expense, he had turned himself into a clown, a caricature of a North American tourist in the tropics.

The price tag was still stapled to the hem of Wait's crackling new shirt, and Ortiz, very politely and in good English, told him so.

"Oh?" said Wait. He knew the tag was there, and he wanted it to remain there. But he went through a charade of self-mocking embarrassment, and seemed about to pluck off the tag. But then, as though overwhelmed by some sorrow he was trying to flee from, he appeared to forget all about it.

. . .

Wait was a fisherman, and the price tag was his bait, a way of encouraging strangers to speak to him, to say in one way or another what Ortiz had said: "Excuse me, Senor, but I can't help noticing—"

Wait was registered at the hotel under the name on his bogus Canadian passport, which was Willard Flemming. He was a supremely successful swindler.

Ortiz himself was in no danger from him, but an unescorted woman who looked as though she had a little money, and who was without a husband and past childbearing, surely would have been. Wait had so far courted and married seventeen such persons—and then cleaned out their jewelry boxes and safe-deposit boxes and bank accounts, and disappeared.

He was so successful at what he did that he had become a millionaire, with interest-bearing savings accounts under various aliases in banks all over North America, and he had never been arrested for anything. For all he knew, nobody was even trying to catch him. As far as the police were concerned, he reasoned, he was one of seventeen faithless husbands, each with a different name, instead of a single habitual criminal whose real name was James Wait.

. . .

It is hard to believe nowadays that people could ever have been as brilliantly duplicitous as James Wait—until I remind myself that just about every adult human being back then had a brain weighing about three kilograms! There was no end to the evil schemes that a thought machine that oversized couldn't imagine and execute.

So I raise this question, although there is nobody around to answer it: Can it be doubted that three-kilogram brains were once nearly fatal defects in the evolution of the human race?

A second query: What source was there back then, save for our overelaborate nervous circuitry, for the evils we were seeing or hearing about simply everywhere?

My answer: There was no other source. This was a very innocent planet, except for those great big brains.

Chapter Three

The Hotel El Dorado was a brand-new, five-story tourist accommodation—built of unadorned cement block. It had the proportions and mood of a glass-front bookcase, high and wide and shallow. Each bedroom had a floor-to-ceiling wall of glass looking westward—toward the waterfront for deep-draft vessels dredged in the delta three kilometers away.

In the past, that waterfront had teemed with commerce, and ships from all over the planet had delivered meat and grain and vegetables and fruit and vehicles and clothing and machinery and household appliances, and so on, and carried away, in fair exchange, Ecuadorian coffee and cocoa and sugar and petroleum and gold, and Indian arts and crafts, including "Panama" hats, which had always come from Ecuador and not from Panama.

But there were only two ships out there now, as James Wait sat in the bar, nursing a rum and Coca-Cola. He was not a drinker, actually, since he lived by his wits, and could not afford to have the delicate switches of the big computer in his skull short-circuited by alcohol. His drink was a theatrical prop—like the price tab on his ridiculous shirt.

He was in no position to judge whether the state of affairs at the waterfront was normal or not. Until two days before, he had never even heard of Guayaquil, and this was the first time in his life he had ever been below the equator. As far as he was concerned, the El Dorado was no different from all the other characterless hostelries he had used as hideouts in the past—in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in San Ignacio, Mexico, in Watervliet, New York, and on and on.

He had picked the name of the city where he was now from an arrivals-and-departures board at Kennedy International Airport in New York City. He had just pauperized and deserted his seventeenth wife—a seventy-year-old widow in Skokie, Illinois, right outside Chicago. Guayaquil sounded to him like the last place she would ever think of looking for him.

This woman was so ugly and stupid, she probably never should have been born. And yet Wait was the second person to have married her.

And he wasn't going to stay at the El Dorado very long, either, since he had bought a ticket for "the Nature Cruise of the Century" from the travel agent who had a desk in the lobby. It was late in the afternoon now, and hotter than the hinges of hell outside. There was no breeze outside, but he did not care, since he was inside, and the hotel was air conditioned, and he would soon be away from there anyway. His ship, the Bahía de Darwin, was scheduled to sail at high noon on the very next day, which was Friday 28, 1986—a million years ago.

. . .

The bay for which Wait's means of transportation was named fanned south from the Galápagos Island of Genovesa. Wait had never heard of the Galápagos Islands before. He expected them to be like Hawaii, where he had once honeymooned, or Guam, where he had once hidden out—with broad white beaches and blue lagoons and swaying palms and nut-brown native girls.

The travel agent had given him a brochure which described the cruise, but Wait hadn't looked inside it yet. It was supine on the bar in front of him. The brochure was truthful about how forbidding most of the islands were, and warned prospective passengers, as the hotel travel agent had not warned Wait, that they had better be in reasonably good physical condition and have sturdy boots and rough clothing, since they would often have to wade ashore and scramble up rock faces like amphibious infantry.

. . .

Darwin Bay was named in honor of the great English scientist Charles Darwin, who had visited Genovesa and several of its neighbors for the five weeks back in 1835—when he was a mere stripling of twenty-six, nine years younger than Wait. Darwin was then the unpaid naturalist aboard Her Majesty's Ship Beagle, on a mapping expedition that would take him completely around the world and would last five years.

In the cruise brochure, which was intended to delight nature-lovers rather than pleasure-seekers, Darwin's own description of a typical Galapagos Island was reproduced, and was taken from his first book, The Voyage of the Beagle:

"Nothing could be less inviting than the first appearance. A broken field of black basaltic lava, thrown into the most rugged waves, and crossed by great fissures, is everywhere covered by stunted, sun-burnt brushwood, which shows little signs of life. The dry and parched surface, being heated by the noon-day sun, gave to the air a close and sultry feeling, like that from a stove: we fancied even that the bushes smelt unpleasantly."

Darwin continued: "The entire surface . . . seems to have been permeated, like a sieve, by the subterranean vapours: here and there the lava, whilst soft, had been blown into great bubbles; and in other parts, the tops of caverns similarly formed have fallen in, leaving circular parts with steep sides." He was vividly reminded, he wrote, ". . . . of those parts of Staffordshire, where the great iron foundries are most numerous."

. . .

There was a portrait of Darwin behind the bar at the El Dorado, framed in shelves and bottles—an enlarged reproduction of a steel engraving, depicting him not as a youth in the islands, but as a portly family man back home in England, with a beard as lush as a Christmas wreath. That same portrait was on the bosom of T-shirts for sale in the boutique, and Wait had bought two of those. That was what Darwin looked like when he was finally persuaded by friends and relatives to set down on paper his notions of how life forms everywhere, including himself and his friends and relatives, and even his Queen, had come to be as they were in the nineteenth century. He thereupon penned the most broadly influential scientific volume produced during the entire era of great big brains. It did more to stabilize people's volatile opinions of how to identify success or failure than any other tome. Image that! And the name of his book summed up its pitiless contents: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

. . .

Wait had never read the book, nor did the name Darwin mean anything to him, although he had successfully passed himself off as an educated man from time to time. He was considering claiming, during "the Nature Cruise of the Century," to be a mechanical engineer from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, whose wife had recently died of cancer.

Actually, his formal education had stopped after two years of instruction in automobile repair and maintenance at the vocational high school in his native city of Midland City, Ohio. He was then living in the fifth of a series of foster homes, essentially an orphan, since he was the product of an incestuous relationship between a father and a daughter who had run away from town, forever and together, soon after he was born.

When he himself was old enough to run away, he hitchhiked to the island of Manhattan. A pimp there befriended him and taught him how to be a successful homosexual prostitute, to leave price tags on his clothes, to really enjoy lovers whenever possible, and so on. Wait was once quite beautiful.

When his beauty began to fade, he became an instructor in ballroom dancing at a dance studio. He was a natural dancer, and he had been told back in Midland City that his parents had been very good dancers, too. His sense of rhythm was probably inherited. And it was at the dance studio that he met and courted and married the first of his seventeen wives so far.

. . .

All though his childhood, Wait was severely punished by foster parents for nothing and everything. It was expected by then that, because of his inbred parentage, he would become a moral monster.

So here that monster was now—in the Hotel El Dorado, happy and rich and well, as far as he knew, and keen for the next test of his survival skills.

. . .

Like James Wait, incidentally, I, too, was once a teenage runaway.

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Galápagos 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 95 reviews.
David Wade More than 1 year ago
Galopagas is a wonderful book. The amazing Kurt Vonnegut strikes his style of writing with a little extra pop and tied it together with a bow. This is a must read book. What a wonderful story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. It's written differently than anything I have ever read. Once I started it, I couldn't stop. I read it in one evening.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Galapagos is the story of a bunch of mismatched humans stranded on the island of Santa Rosalia in the archipelago of the Galapagos. After they arrive there, the world¿s economy is destroyed after a financial crisis and all women not on this tiny island become infertile causing all of humanity to die out besides those on the island. These few humans mate with each other for thousands of year until eventually becoming seal like animals with flippers after adapting to the island. The narrator of this story is a ghost who was killed while building the same cruise ship that the humans took to the island. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and tells the story thousands of years later after the evolution. This is an amazing story full of irony and memorable characters. I also praise the plot for being very unique. All in all, this is great read for a science fiction fan, a Kurt Vonnegut fan, or anyone who wants to read
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love that the modern flipper, free loving, fish of a human derived and evolved on an island of the Galapagos(pinnacle of evolutionary thought). The irony and humor of Vonnegut shows more profusely in Galapagos than in most of his other novles. Not my favorite, but nonetheless his veiws of human existence and its role of being nothing in the vastness of time struck me very hard, and I have thought about it constantly since I finished the book a few days ago. It is a book that should be read with an open mind and certain things should be taken in to consideration when reading the first is that this is a Vonnegut novel we are reading, secondly, Vonnegut is an idealist who has had his share of reality and will bluntly say the what everyone has wanted to say, lastly is that he is just really really funny and we should just enjoy his humor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was never into any kind of futuristic, "walk on the wild side" style of writing until I read Galapagos. Now I love that kind of writing and I can't wait to start my next Vonnegut book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Funny and slightly disturbing.... How easily can a race become extinct... The best book I've read so far from this terribly funny writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alera on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't particularly care for Vonnegut's writing, but I find myself continually dragged back to his works. There is something so refreshing and irritating about his style that I just cannot help myself. This novel was no different. In a flash-back, -around, -upside down, and then back to the present, a story is told from an omniscient narrator, who died well over a million years before. He details how the last survivors of the human race, came together in Ecuador, ended up on a boat, and finally landed on an island in the Galapagos. In a very Darwinian fashion, in the very place Darwin pieced together what would later become 'Origin of Species', humankind evolves itself into something that finally lives up to Anne Frank's immortal words in the epigraph, "good at heart."
joririchardson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kurt Vonnegut, author of "Cat's Cradle" and "Breakfast of Champions," among others, is one of my favorite authors.When I picked up this one at my local used book-store, I began reading it immediately. This book is a satire, revolving around themes of evolution and humans. In "Galapagos," a group of varied people are heading to the Galapagos Islands on a vacation cruise, but are stranded there and left as the only remaining humans on earth, due to a natural disaster which exterminates everyone else.Like all of Vonnegut's works, this one jumps from topic to topic, person to person, and setting to setting. It can be a bit confusing, but Vonnegut's concise and clear wording catch up to the story, and keep the reader informed.The plot focuses almost entirely on how people got to the island from which all human life evolved (into seals), not on humans after evolving into another species. The back cover of my edition suggested differently, so this book wasn't exactly what I was expecting.If you would like to be picky, you could say that this book is just a bunch of talking, without actually going anywhere. And this is not entirely false... Any other writer would never have been able to pull this off, but Vonnegut seems to marvelously hover on the edge of utter boredom and destruction of his plot, all the while spinning it around into entertaining, quite enjoyable reading. It is almost baffling. After finishing this book, I had to think for a moment to figure out exactly why I liked it. There wasn't even a plot!But, let this only serve as a testimony to the author's brilliance.This book is very clever, and humorous, and written in a simple, stating-the-obvious, entertaining sort of way.Underneath the light-hearted wording, however, lies a much deeper message. What is humanity? Is the world better off without humans? Do our "big brains," as Vonnegut here calls them, do us more harm than good?Vonnegut has constructed yet another sharply insightful book.
BooksForDinner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
KV at his best. All the world infertile, a fictional island in the Galapagos one million years in the past (1986 of course), and the ghost of the son of Kilgore Trout.
jimnightshade on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i feel like its just a lesser version of Breakfast Of Champions, but i loved B.O.C., so i can still give this one a 3.5
laurenbethy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Awesomely weird and a little creepy and definitely competing with Cat's Cradle for my favorite slot out of Kurt Vonnegut's novels. At this point in time this novel is winning because of its out of this world crazy ideas about humankind and the direction we are going in. I think the reason I like this book so much is because of the seal people, but Vonnegut obviously never thought of test tube babies.
shawnd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a peppy science fiction book of sorts by Vonnegut. His narrator, a ghost, discusses the history, antecedents, trials and travails of the last seven humans to escape dying on earth, as they travel to the Galapagos Islands. As the ghost has been forced to live one million years into the 'future', he tells the tale at the end of this time, with the knowledge of the outcome of the 'end of the world' that wasn't, one million years before.Using a metaphor of humans having much bigger brains than the 1 million year later inhabitants, Vonnegut provides a social critique of everything from alcohol to lying to many other human behaviors causing misery and pain in our contemporary world. The book is a fast read, and while fantastical, doesn't go overboard.
Sean191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vonnegut is well known for his wit and humor. I think I didn't agree with that fame until I read Galapagos. Vonnegut's habit of giving away the story before he actually gets around to telling parts of it actually was brilliant in this case. Overall, very funny and a bit of a trip.
mesalamb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this right after Cat's Cradle, and I think I liked Galapagos better. Vonnegut has a very strange sense of chronology. He tells the end in the beginning and waits until the end to tell the beginning. It was good though for someone like me who is always rushing through to find out what happens in the end. There was no need to rush because I already knew who would die and what would become of the survivors. I could just enjoy the story. I thought the last few pages were kind of odd and the story could have been complete without them. Its like he has to throw a Vietnam reference in every book to prove a point or something, but I thought it took attention away from the story at hand.
booksbooks11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like the best science fiction it has so many interesting ideas explored and tantalised through a compelling story line. I wonder about Vonnegut's mental state while writing this, it is just so black and dark, did he try to take the black view of humanity to such an extreme to show it's folly or it's fact? I'm not sure which. Just so right to see the birthplace of evolutionary theory as the deathplace of humanity by that very action.
nursejane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a fun read. Vonnegut's creativity surprises me over and over again.Galapagos feels more in the vein of Cat's Cradle (sci-fi-y) than Breakfast of Champions, for example, though the usual Midland City suspects definitely make cameos.
weeksj10 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this wondrously funny and enlightening book Vonnegut gives a simple explanation for all the troubles of humanity: our brains are too big to be practical. The solution? Evolve smaller, more "streamline" brains. Read this book; it is one of the best books of one of the best authors that this overcrowded, sick, dying planet has to offer. I would also like to note that although Vonnegut does have a sense of dark humor and his satirical novels often poke fun at the direction of humanity, he also gives us a hopeful message for the future of human kind, although these messages are often delivered in a backhanded, disguised manner.Simply wonderful, thought-provoking, and inspiring.
DirtPriest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy the sarcasm of Vonnegut. Maybe others don't, but If you like it it's the best stuff. In Galapagos, Vonnegut narrates as a ghost recapping events in 1986 AD from the vantage point of one million years in the future. Of course, there is a World War III and the only remnants of humanity are the descendants of a small group of survivors of an ill-fated 'Nature Cruise of the Century' to the Galapagos. Vonnegut cuts to the core of human frailty and that of his institutions as the world finances fall apart, leading to food riots and war. Those damn big brains humans used to have! So easy to be befuddled by mysteries... Evolution theory plays a minor role here as humankind has become more streamlined and smaller brained, the better for catching fish, with nothing for tools but teeth and flippers after a million years on the Galapagos Islands, but the bulk of the story is about 1986 AD, one million years ago, and it is told in the author's classic time-is-irrelevant-to-the-narrative style, doing things like putting an asterisk before names of people who will not survive the day, moving way ahead of the story-time by jumping ahead and inserting lines like, 'She would live to the ripe old age of 85, when she was eaten by a great white shark', while describing a scene when the character is in her 40's. If you've read Vonnegut then you know what I mean.
Atomicmutant on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting, madcap comic take on the hubris of our species. All about the "end of the world" as brought upon ourselves by our "big-brained-ness", and the patient, ever-present forces of evolution inexorably driving our species to a different conclusion than we could ever have anticipated. A great satirical work, and the only one I've read to make a great case for losing that ever-popular opposable thumb as a means to perpetuate the species.Vonnegut has really familiarized himself well with the principles of natural selection and so humbles us in the face of this overpowering principle. Wacky scientific insight, and his usual mordant wit make for a strange ride.......
petrojoh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vonnegut asks us if having such "big brains" is is an evolutionary benefit or a hindrance.
king1133 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just recently read this book and I loved it. I read this as an attack on Darwinism. The story takes place in 1986, but it is being told by a million-year old ghost. I found a lot of religious undertones to the novel, including a pretty obvious reference to Noah's Ark. I liked the book because I am somewhat religious, and the book seemed to say that just because The Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection are legitimate theories, that does not mean it is right and it does not rule out the possibility of God existing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book very much when I first read it about thirty years ago and I still like it. It is written in Vonegut's easy going, not quite linear style, which isn't for everyone. But there is a beauty to its simplicity that many writers attempt but few writers can achieve.
chloeschmunk More than 1 year ago
Kurt Vonnegut’s work of Galapagos, published in 1985, is a true criticism of the human race and where we are headed. The story is narrated by Leon Trotsky Trout, who died while working on construction of the ship Bahía de Darwin. The ship is nicknamed the “Nature Cruise of the Century”, and was to set sail from Ecuador, and travel around the Galápagos Islands. However, due to an “economic turndown”, the majority of the cruises original passengers decide not to go. Only a few passengers still plan on going on the trip. The passengers of the Bahía de Darwin become colonists of the island of Santa Rosalia, and eventually become the last of the human race. This same economic turndown was an event that led to devastating consequences for the entire globe. The extinction of the human race as we know it was also preceded by a bacterium that caused women around the world to become infertile. Therefore, there were no new babies born, save for babies born to the fertile colonists on Santa Rosalia. Leon Trout haunts the Bahía de Darwin, and therefore is able to watch the evolution of the colony on Santa Rosalia for a million years. He also recalls memories from his childhood, and of his mother and father. The criticism that his story continues to come back to is that humans used to have brains that were just too big. These big brains led to the human race being incredibly advanced, more than any other species on the planet. However, having big brains also ended up being the demise of the human race. Leon implies that war, money, famine, and heartbreak were all results of overthinking with these big brains. The colonists of Santa Rosalia have smaller brains, therefore war, famine, money and heartbreak aren't issues. Leon narrates the story in a satirical fashion, the way that Vonnegut writes a majority of his books. The story of Galapagos is an eye-opening, satiric, sometimes sarcastic, interest-indulging work. Truly some of Vonnegut's best work, Galapagos is a tale that needed telling. The message it says is, if we don't try and fix the awful issues that the human race is suffering from, then our end is near. The story made me feel a wide variety of emotions. A majority of those emotions were sympathy for the colonists of Santa Rosalia, especially Mary Hepburn. She went through quite a lot, and pushed through it regardless. Hisako Hiroguchi was another character that I felt a lot of sympathy for, seeing as her story was quite a sad one as well. The original colonists of Santa Rosalia were quite random, so it was interesting to read about their various back stories and experiences. The randomness of the colonists also set up an interesting stage for the “new” human race that would come to be. Overall, Galapagos is a satirical evolutionary journey, and is a wonderful criticism of the human race and our many issues
Harold_McFarland More than 1 year ago
Readers of Vonnegut's "Galapagos" will find an adequate supply of angst, his usual stock in trade. Unfortunately, they will find little else of interest. It begins by introducing us to its narrator, an angst-ridden Viet Nam vet who has become a ghost by the time the story opens. The ghost, in turn, describes each of the other characters, only one of them well enough to really care about. All set off on a nature cruise to the Galapagos Islands in 1986, amidst the Latin American Debt Crisis and the initial scourge of the AIDS epidemic. On the way to the Galagapagos, the world effectively ends as a result of a world-wide economic collapse that leaves most to starve and a plague that leaves every survivor sterile . The narrator attributes this disaster, not to stupidity, tribalism, and other primitive traits, but to humans' excessively large brains. The only fertile humans on earth are those on the cruise, including a half-dozen females and two males. Of these, the one most immersing and intensely described character is almost immediately killed off by a heart attack, leaving just one male as a new Adam. The remainder of the book is a rather tedious Book of De-Genesis, as the single surviving male begets (by artificial insemination) future generations of humans and human-like organisms, who eventually become rather seal-like. These creatures, still confined to one island in the Galapagos one million years later, have evolved flipper-like hands, furry streamlined bodies, and, most approved by the narrator, narrow heads with smaller brains. Here endeth the reading. Recommended for would-be seals.