Cloud Atlas: fantasy book by David Mitchell
Cloud Atlas (Cloud Atlas in Dutch) is a fantasy / science fiction book by David Mitchell. The book is characterized by its unusual structure and the use of six different storytelling and storytelling styles. Cloud Atlas was a commercial success; the book became a bestseller and also won several awards. A film adaptation of the book was released in 2012.
Cloud Atlas consists of six stories where the main character of each story is a reincarnation of the main character of the previous story. The actions of the main characters have consequences for the living environment of the main characters in the following stories. The six stories take place over several centuries, in the years 1849, 1936, 1973, 2012, 2136 and 2311 respectively.
Due to these differences in time, the main characters are also very different from each other; the main characters are, in chronological order, an American lawyer, an English composer, a journalist, a publisher, a cloned slave and a man trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii.
The six stories are not told one by one; the structure is such that for the first five stories only the first half is told at first. Then the complete sixth story follows, after which the book is, as it were, mirrored: after the sixth story follows the second half of the fifth story, then the second half of the fourth story, etc. The book ends after the end of the second part. from the first story.
Each of the six stories has its own unique writing style: the first story contains a lot of shipping jargon and a large number of old words. The second story is structured as a number of letters and the third is divided into a large number of short chapters. The fourth story (which takes place closest to the present) reads like a conventional modern book. In both the fifth and sixth stories, two invented futuristic dialects and nonexistent words are used.
Cloud Atlas was received very positively; critics especially praised the book’s unusual structure and narrative styles and the connection between the six stories. The book has won several awards, including a British Book Award. The book also performed well commercially: it became a bestseller worldwide. 30,000 copies of the book were sold in the Benelux.
Cloud Atlas was made into a film in 2012 by the director duo Andy and Lana Wachowski. The film lasts 172 minutes and has hundreds of scenes. Unique to the film is that the actors in the different stories play different roles. The movie flopped commercially; the budget of one hundred million dollars was barely recouped. Critics were divided: the film received a long standing ovation at the premiere, but several reviewers found the film too long and impossible to follow due to the large number of scenes and characters. Still, the film received several film award nominations, including Best Science Fiction Film at the Saturn Awards.
- Original title: Cloud Atlas
- Dutch title: Cloud Atlas
- Author: David Mitchell
- Genre: Fantasy / Science Fiction
- First edition: 2004
- Publisher: Nieuw Amsterdam
- Number of pages: 432
- ISBN: 9789046818183