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Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut

Galápagos (1985)

by Kurt Vonnegut

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Classic Vonnegut. Commentary on Vietnam, the human condition and how we'll eventually destroy ourselves. Satire. Awesome. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Because my brain is too big, I like this novel. Humans one million years from now wouldn't care either way.
  Frenzie | Feb 19, 2014 |
This was my first Vonnegut novel, and I'm not sure what to say about it. Its a quick and sometimes thought-provoking read but lacks character development. It doesn't have me rushing to read Vonnegut again. ( )
  LaraRose | Dec 25, 2013 |
As a writer myself, I am so impressed with just how coherently Kurt Vonnegut can ramble. Vonnegut takes a goofy story about the time when humans still had big brains, chops it up into pieces and reorders into it into an even goofier story. Quite fun, if perhaps not as substantial as Slaughterhouse-Five. ( )
  wethewatched | Sep 24, 2013 |
People still get the hiccups, incidentally. They still have no control over whether they do it or not. I often hear them hiccupping, involuntarily closing their glottises and inhaling spasmodically, as they lie on the broad white beaches or paddle around the blue lagoons. If anything, people hiccup more now than they did a million years ago. This has less to do with evolution, I think, than with the fact that so many of them gulp down raw fish without chewing them up sufficiently.

And people still laugh about as much as they ever did, despite their shrunken brains. If a bunch of them are lying around on a beach, and one of them farts, everybody else laughs and laughs, just as people would have done a million years ago.

The Nature Cruise of the Century is the over-hyped maiden voyage of a new cruse ship to the Galapagos Islands, which has attracted celebrities from Jackie Onassis to Mick Jagger, but a world economic and political crisis means that only six passengers have made it to the port of Guayaquil in Ecuador and they expect the cruise to be cancelled at any moment.

There was still plenty of food and fuel and so on for all the human beings on the planet, as numerous as they had become, but millions upon millions of them were starting to starve to death now. The healthiest of them could go without food for only about forty days, and then death would come.
And this famine was as purely a product of oversize brains as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
It was all in people's heads. People had simply changed their opinions of paper wealth, but, for all practical purposes, the planet might as well have been knocked out of orbit by a meteor the size of Luxembourg.

When a small group of people end up marooned on an uninhabited island in the north of the Galapagos, they expect to be rescued, but humanity is in melt-down, and the islanders end up as the sole fertile representatives of the human race.
Over the next million years, they evolve into creatures rather like seals and their brains shrink to allow their heads to be more stream-lined. According to Leon Trout, the ghost of a ship worker killed during the construction of the cruise ship, all mankind's problems were caused by our big brains. Apparently our descendants are much happier, lying round on the beach, with plenty of fish to eat and sharks to keep their numbers down so the population doesn't outgrow the Galapagos Islands (since the bacteria that causes human infertility is still extant everywhere else). ( )
  isabelx | Sep 23, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kurt Vonnegutprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marsh, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.

Anne Frank (1929-1945)
In memory of Hillis L. Lowie (1903-1982)
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The thing was:
One million years ago, back in A.D. 1986, Guayaquil was the chief seaport of the little South American democracy of Ecuador, whose capital was Quito, high in the Andes Mountains.
Mary had also taught that the human brain was the most admirable survival device yet produced by evolution. But now her own big brain was urging her to take the polyethylene garment bag from around a red evening dress in her closet in Guayaquil, and to wrap it around her head, thus depriving her cells of oxygen.
"I'll tell you what the human soul is, Mary," he whispered, his eyes closed. "Animals don't have one. It's the part of you that knows when your brain isn't working right. I always knew, Mary. There wasn't anything I could do about it, but I always knew."
As for the meaning of the courtship dance of the blue-footed boobies: The birds are huge molecules with bright blue feet and have no choice in the matter. By their very nature, they have to dance exactly like that.
Human beings used to be molecules which could do many, many different sorts of dances, or decline to dance at all - as they pleased. My mother could do the waltz, the tango, the rumba, the Charleston, the Lindy Hop, the jitterbug, the Watusi, and the twist. Father refused to do any dances, as was his privilege.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385333870, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:01 -0400)

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A small group of apocalypse survivors stranded on the Galapagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave new human race. Vonnegut is a post-modern Mark Train. ... Galapagos is a madcap genealogical adventure.

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