Richard's Reviews > Galápagos

Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut
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's review
Mar 12, 2012

really liked it

Vonnegut tells a complexly-structured (and thus difficult to discuss without spoiling) story of the end of humanity, and its transformation into something else entirely. Galapagos is narrated on three plot-timelines by a character who is not really an actor in the story, but who manages to tell the tale -- which unfolds largely in 1986, and which he witnesses -- from one million years in the future, the year 1000086. Quite appropriate reading in the twenty-tens, the events center around a much-hyped "Nature Cruise of the Century" to the Galapagos, the famous islands where Charles Darwin observed super-specialized finch species, speciated for niches specific to each island's unique habitat. It's a vacation for celebrities and one percenters (Mick Jagger, Jackie Onassis). But a global financial crisis -- and the beginning of a missile war between Peru and Ecuador -- intercede. The fate of the human species will be decided here.

Among Vonnegut's presciences here is Mandarax, a seemingly all-knowing pocket translator that certainly feels like a smartphone. But the novel's real thematic focus is on the seemingly random events, the chance and happenstance, that are the prime movers in Darwinian evolution.

Really, Galapagos is a creation myth and a flood story for evolution -- a Darwinian Genesis.

Or, perhaps, Re-genesis.

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