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Galapagos

Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
Length: 8 hrs and 1 min
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (59 ratings)

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Summary

Galapagos takes the listener back one million years to AD 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galapagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, totally different human race.

Kurt Vonnegut, America's master satirist, looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry - and all that is worth saving.

As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Kurt Vonnegut's book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Gay Talese about the life and work of Kurt Vonnegut – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.

This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.
©1985 Kurt Vonnegut (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Beautiful...provocative, arresting reading." ( USA Today)
"Vonnegut is a post-modern Mark Train....Galapagos is a madcap genealogical adventure." ( The New York Times Book Review)
"The best Vonnegut novel yet!" (John Irving)
What members say
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

Not as well known as his others, but this is a fantastic Vonnegut audiobook. Had me chuckling away and pondering the meaning of it all...

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Good concept

I remembered seeing this book for sale in print many years ago and was particularly intrigued the cover. However, the concept, whilst still intrigueing just wasn't strong enough to sustain an entire novel, it felt like a short story stretched and stretched out. On the plus side, the narrator was good and the characters were plausible.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

Really enjoyed this- the humour, the gloomy view of people, the ideas.

1 person found this helpful

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  • A Jackson
  • 25-04-12

What can I say...

What other book might you compare Galapagos to and why?

Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land

Any additional comments?

Ghost narrator, fascinating setting and witty dialog...all with that obscure Vonnegut way of making you feel like you're watching the burning of Dresden with the author.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • k/b_c
  • 10-06-15

Daunting and Enlightening

Where does Galapagos rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Number two, right after The Alchemist.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favorite character would have to be The Captain because for all his faults, vanity and ignorance he seemed the most real.

Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No. But I loved his voice and he, like Jeremy Irons, seems to embody each and every character as though they existed inside him.

Who was the most memorable character of Galapagos and why?

Most memorable character...hmmm. Ok, I'd said it is Mary. She is consistent and steadfast in her faith of humanity. Right up to the end she risks it all to save what she believes will improve the minds of future generations...but thanks to Vonnegut's wry sense of humor...I won't be a spoiler.

Any additional comments?

Vonnegut's style is both depressing and playful but more than anything he cuts through to the truth many have not and will not face.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert
  • 27-08-09

Love Vonnegut? Listen to this...

Kurt Vonnegut was obviously born on another planet, his perspective is so deliciously different. I am very sympathetic to his atheistic world view. He almost heroically presents fiction that tickles my fancy. At the same time, he presents scenarios that are totally grounded in possibility, yanking our minds out of the hum-drum daily grind. If there is a God, Vonnegut must be their favorite creation, he sheds so much light upon the human condition...

2 people found this helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 13-12-16

The survival of the human race is a total bore!

"In this era of big brains, anything which can be done will be done -- so hunker down."
-- Kurt Vonnegut, Galápagos

Trying to stay a couple books ahead of my son as I re-read Vonnegut. I haven't read much since those years between 13 and 18 when I seemed to burn through Vonnegut books again and again. He was one of those few writers I ever read twice (Dickens, Shakespeare, and Hugo are a few others). So, now as an adult I am approaching these books again.

God I love this man. I love his hopeful, resigned cynicism about the modern era. He writes as an outsider, but also as a friend -- if that makes any sense. This novel is so brilliant in its simplicity. Kilgore Trout's son Leon Trotsky Trout narrates a tale that covers one million years. He is a ghost, destined to watch humanity crash and be reborn on the Island of Galápagos. That is the basic arc. The almost end of man, and his rebirth. Using evolution as a key, Vonnegut shows that like the Irish Elk, with its large, heavy, awkward, and almost unadaptive giant antlers, man is burdened with a giant brain that seems to cause endless trouble for our species.

“Given a choice between a brain like you and the antlers of an Irish elk,” she told her own central nervous system, “I'd take the antlers of the Irish elk.”.

So, the accidents of genetics and the isolation of some famous islands West of Ecuador allow for our species to be reborn.

“What was it going to do with a bigger brain? Compose Beethoven's Ninth Symphony?”

16 people found this helpful

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  • thomas
  • 23-09-13

The Last Great Vonnegut Novel

What made the experience of listening to Galapagos the most enjoyable?

I think the narrator did a superb job in letting the story unfold.He didn't get in the way of the material and read it without irony; which I think is tough to do given the material. I enjoyed every minute of it.

What other book might you compare Galapagos to and why?

I think Vonnegut is a very unique writer. He doesn't "over write" or get lost in his own exposition.Yet he takes you down roads that don't add up until the very end, making it important to pay attention. The only other book I think you can can compare this to are others he has written, and I would say Breakfast of Champions comes the closest. If you enjoyed that story and approach, you will enjoy Galapagos. Many characters return from that story as well, making it somewhat interlocking like other Vonnegut stories.

Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not but I think he did a great job. I find it such an interesting occupation being a narrator, in many ways the best ones are unnoticed because they let the story be the star. Jonathan does that with this reading, and that is a compliment. Very well done.

Who was the most memorable character of Galapagos and why?

I would say a tie between Kilgore Trout and his son. Trout looms large int eh Vonnegut universe and he takes on even more mythic proportions in this story. Fascinating use of character development.

Any additional comments?

In my opinion this is the last great Vonnegut novel.His later work is very different from his early work in tone and pace.If you are a fan of his early work, I think you will enjoy it very much. I recommend it highly. I would suggest listening to his right after Breakfast of Champions since it occupies a similar section of the Vonnegut universe. A critical book in the legacy of a great American writer. Audible gives it the production value and care it richly deserves.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Tristin McCarthy
  • 05-02-19

Great from start to finish

I'm in college, and had to read this for one of my classes. With the workload from my other classes, I knew I'd struggle a bit reading this, or that it'd take me longer than it should've. So I decided to give the audiobook a try, and I don't regret it. Jonathan Davis was great. I normally am picky about my performers, because I usually like to make it all in my head rather than have someone do the voices for me. But Davis was fantastic. When I found that I actually had time to sit down and read, I didn't want to, unless I was listening to Davis.

As far as the story is concerned, I don't want to say too much, but I will say this: Galapagos follows a unique cast of characters as it chronicles the evolution of the human species over a million years, to a time when the species is free from their "big brains". This was my first Vonnegut, so naturally I got a little confused. But in the end, after the story has woven through countless instances, and millions of years, Vonnegut crafted a masterwork of the tenacity of the human spirit. Written shortly after the Vietnam war, you can tell this acts as an antithesis to all the bad humans can cause, and works as a contemplative work on the greatness we inherently posses. I really loved it, and I'm looking forward to more Vonnegut, and Jonathan Davis, in the future.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rachel
  • 19-12-16

great book, bad interview

would have given 5 stars except for the insulting, insufferable interview at the end.
to old guys saying how they don't understand Vonnegut at all or why the youth like him, and displaying a cursory knowledge of his work.

I mean come on

1 person found this helpful

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  • Reilly
  • 08-10-15

A real mind bender

Vonnegut's style is so unique. Flawless clarity, easy to listen to, sometimes albeit slightly repetitive, but that's what makes it so great and a little cynical. Story keeps you very involved and have to pay attention and keep track of a lot of names. I read this book as a young man and just re-listened to it. I am traveling to the Galápagos Islands next year and now will look at it just every so softly different. A good read, if you want something you have to focus to and are open to crazy stories.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • P. M. Morris
  • 04-07-09

A Timely Experience

In this year of Darwin celebrations, and a severe world economic downturn, this book makes some harrowing echoes. As another commented, you probably need to really like Vonnegut's work or you won't enjoy it. I do, and I did.

He is my all-time favorite modern author, but until now I hadn't read 'Galapagos'. It has been on my shelf for at least 15 years unread. I can't explain why I hadn't gotten around to reading it, but I am certainly glad to have finally caught up.

I must heartily commend the book's reader - his gentle unhurried tone matched Leon's narration flawlessly.

An excellent audio book experience marred only by the absence of a way to present an 'asterisk'. Readers of the dead tree edition will know what I mean...

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Linda
  • 16-06-09

enjoyable satire

There is satire and then there is satire. Vonnegut knows how to write it so that it is enjoyable to read. His characters, for the most part, are likeable. His story is almost believable. I'd forgotten how much I liked his writing and he has redeemed satire for me.

1 person found this helpful