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Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) by Kurt…

Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) (original 1985; edition 1999)

by Kurt Vonnegut

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6,25660971 (3.8)102
Title:Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction)
Authors:Kurt Vonnegut
Info:Dial Press Trade Paperback (1999), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

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Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut (1985)



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English (59)  Finnish (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
This was decent, but I felt that Vonnegut really didn't put as much effort-- or style, into this one as his other books. While the quotations were interesting, I felt that he didn't expand enough on them to make them really worthwhile and therefore it made me question the integrity and purpose behind them in the book. Overall, not bad-- but nothing that great. ( )
  DanielSTJ | May 5, 2019 |
It was the all the fault of our very big brains: both the novel and the end of civilization. Glad we figured that out! ( )
  DoctorIntota | Jul 3, 2018 |
This book was sent to me by a relative, not to read, but as a container for an envelope of seeds: my relative wanted to ensure the continuity of one of her grandmother's plants. When I actually read the book, I laughed long and hard about how I got it. I read the book because Martin Amis had written such a complimentary review of it (republished in The War against Cliche) and called it Vonnegut's best work since Slaughterhouse Five. The theme of the book, most briefly, is the outsized brains of humans, brains which make the humans ill adapted to the earth and themselves collectively, and ultimately cause humans to disappear, causing also lots of mischief on the way. The theme is developed within an extended joke, that the last surviving humans end up on the Galapagos Islands, famously studied by Darwin. This gives the narrator of the book's events the chance to play the role of a latter-day Darwin.
1 vote messpots | Apr 29, 2018 |
This riotously funny book is classic Vonnegut. It is satirical, cynical, yet somehow cautiously optimistic in the end, but maybe for a race of people that has evolved more in line with nature. On the Jon Stewart show, Kurt Vonnegut once remarked, “We are terrible animals and our planet’s immune system is trying to rid itself of us and probably should.” Within this novel, Vonnegut rids the world of the human race as we know it and is able to rapidly evolve humans in the Galapagos into creatures that are less terrible and better suited for their environment.

Narrating from 1 million years in the future is Leon Trout, son of Kilgore Trout. His ghost wanders the earth and is able to enter minds of the living. Leon trout takes us back to 1986 when the world is in the midst of economic collapse just as the over-hyped “Nature Cruise of the Century” is scheduled to depart Guayaquil. Additionally, war has broken out between Ecuador and Peru. There is an attempt to transport the few passengers back to the airport to get them safely out of the country, however, the only escape from the violence is via the Bahia de Darwin. This ransacked ship is the very one that was supposed to take them on the nature cruise of the century. The captain, four remaining scheduled passengers, and a handful of Kanka-bono girls embark on this journey. The Kanka-bono girls are natives from a tribe thought not to exist anymore. They had been living in the rain forest until recently. In addition to this group of people, a small computer called Mandarax, makes it’s way onto the ship and island with them. Mandarax speaks in quotes, riddles and peotry spewing information that is useless and often humiliating.

The bungling captain, Adolf von Kleist, who normally has nothing to do with managing the ship finds himself solely responsible for their voyage. After days lost at sea, he intentionally runs ashore on a lava shoal off the fictional island Santa Rosalia. The ships’ occupants find themselves marooned here, isolated from the rest of the world. Here they escape a virus that is destroying women’s ovaries and rendering women infertile throughout the rest of the world. The Captain is the only man on the Island. He never wanted children, knowing that he might be a carrier of Huntington’s Disease. Mary Hepburn, an American widow, shacks up with the bungling captain. Having taught sex education and warned her students on numerous occasions about how easy it is to become pregnant, she decides to put this to the test. Being past childbearing age herself, she uses her finger to transfer the Captain’s sperm to willing Kanka-bono teen-agers. “For some people getting pregnant is as easy as catching a cold.’ And there certainly was an analagy there: Colds and babies were both causes by germs which loved nothing so much as a mucous membrane.” Thus, the captain unwittingly becomes the Adam to a whole new generation of Galapagonian people residing on Santa Rosaria, that speak Kanka-bono. Over the next million years, these people will evolve to have smaller brains, fur, flippers and beaks.

Infused throughout this book, is a rich and detailed look at the Galapagos, it’s various species, history and geology. Having recently visited the Galapagos, I loved reading Vonnegut’s description of this area. I also loved the way his mind twisted this incredible location which is home to so many endemic species to do as he pleased with the human race. Kurt Vonnegut’s writing is full of wit, wisdom and warning. His observations and insights are anti-authoritarian, anti-war and anti-technology. He reiterates within this novel that the sorrows of mankind are due to “the only true villain in this story: the oversized human brain.” Through evolution and natural selection, he is able to eliminate this problem. I read so much Vonnegut in my late teen years and early twenties, that it was such a pleasure to read another novel of his and find just as much to love about his writing, cynicism and humor!

For discussion questions, please see: http://www.book-chatter.com/?p=3276 ( )
  marieatbookchatter | Apr 20, 2018 |
Terrible, mean spirited book lacking even a single likeable character and without a trace of humour. ( )
  amobogio | Apr 7, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kurt Vonnegutprimary authorall editionscalculated
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. Howie (1903-1982),
amateur naturalist -
A good man who
took me and my best friend Ben Hitz
and some other boys
out to the American Wild West
from Indianapolis, Indiana,
in the summer of 1938

Mr Howie introduced us to real Indians
and had us sleep out-of-doors every night
and bury our dung,
and taught us how to ride horses,
and told us the names of many plants and animals,
and what they needed to do
in order to stay alive
and reproduce themselves.

One night Mr Howie scared us half to death
on purpose,
screaming like a wildcat near our camp.
A real wildcat screamed back.
First words
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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ISBN 0385333870 is for Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:37 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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.

(summary from another edition)

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