Cloud Atlas

Date

2004

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Hodder & Stoughton

Abstract

Cloud Atlas combines six interconnected stories which take place in different timeframes and geographical contexts. The novel begins with “The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing”, which can be described as the account of a nineteenth-century north American notary who is returning to California after visiting Australia, via the Chantham Islands. There, Ewing is confronted with the genocide of the indigenous Moriori people, as well as with evolutionary theories regarding the supposed superiority of Europeans. Ewing’s journal is found by Robert Frobisher, the protagonist of the next story, entitled “Letters from Zedelghem”, who attempts to find work as an amanuensis to a composer living in Belgium in 1931, while at the same time dealing with his pennilessness and bisexuality. The letters written by Frobisher to his friend and lover, Rufus Sixsmith, are subsequently discovered by Luisa Rey, a journalist and the main character of “Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery”. Set in Buenas Yerbas, California, in 1975, the following section of the novel focuses on Rey as she tries to expose corruption in a nuclear power plant and the mysterious circumstances in which Sixsmith, by then a Nobel Prize winning scientist, died. In “The Ghostly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish”, Cavendish, who is a vanity press publisher who has just received a novel written by Rey, tells the story of how he became trapped in a nursing home in the north of England. The screen adaptation of Cavendish’s story is being watched by the protagonist of the next part of the novel, Sonmi-451, a genetically-engineered fabricant (or clone) server at a futuristic fast-food restaurant living in Nea So Copros, formerly known as Korea – where Rey’s father worked as a journalist during the Korean War. In “An Orison of Sonmi-451”, Sonmi-451 is awaiting her execution, after having rebelled against the society that created and enslaved her, as well as her kind. Finally, in “Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After”, the reader finds Zachry, a tribesman living in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii after most of humanity has died during “the Fall”, an event which seems to be the result of a nuclear disaster. After reaching the final story, the novel regresses in time symmetrically, until it comes full circle, ending where it started. The novel won the British Book Awards Literary Fiction award and it was short-listed for the Booker Prize, among other awards. Additionally, it has been connected to postmodernism, neo-Victorianism, postcolonialism and trauma studies.

Description

Keywords

Victorian Era , The Moriori People , Evolutionism , Cyberpunk , Dystopia

Citation

Print: David, Mitchell. Cloud Atlas. Hodder & Stoughton, 2004.