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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas (original 2004; edition 2004)

by David Mitchell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,994507216 (4.14)4 / 1176
Title:Cloud Atlas
Authors:David Mitchell
Info:Sceptre (2004), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 544 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:ascention, reincarnation, civilisation, dystopia, past, future, destiny

Work details

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)

  1. 120
    If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (Ludi_Ling)
    Ludi_Ling: Different yet both well-written approaches to meta-fiction.
  2. 112
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell (pgmcc)
    pgmcc: Really enjoyable set of related stories with the author's well deomonstrated skill
  3. 71
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (TomWaitsTables, PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: A theme of reincarnation used to balance Karma flows through the story.
  4. 51
    Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (Rynooo, browner56, pfeldman)
    browner56: Highly imaginative works, particularly the phonetic recreations of the English language
  5. 84
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (jbvm, souloftherose)
    jbvm: Without giving anything away, after you've read both you'll understand my recommendation.
    souloftherose: Both novels are occasionally experimental in style with interconnected short stories. They are also both very good.
  6. 40
    Number9Dream by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  7. 30
    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  8. 30
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (JenMDB, sturlington)
    sturlington: Both have unusual narrative structures and explore the theme of reincarnation.
  9. 30
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (JenMDB)
  10. 20
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (JenMDB)
  11. 31
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (novelcommentary)
  12. 10
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  13. 10
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (suniru)
  14. 32
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (generalkala)
    generalkala: Similar multi-strand, multi-era novel.
  15. 10
    Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (Tinwara)
  16. 10
    The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino (Ludi_Ling)
    Ludi_Ling: For those interested in disparate yet intertwining narratives of a somewhat fantastical nature.
  17. 21
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Anonymous user)
  18. 10
    Girl Reading by Katie Ward (rarm)
    rarm: Girl Reading isn't as intricately constructed as Cloud Atlas, but both books use linked stories to carry a theme through the centuries and into the future.
  19. 00
    Join by Steve Toutonghi (47degreesnorth)
  20. 00
    Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann (JuliaMaria)

(see all 29 recommendations)


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English (494)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Czech (1)  German (1)  All languages (507)
Showing 1-5 of 494 (next | show all)
Six entertaining genre&time-hopping novellas with tenuous, sugar-strand links, the book is like a mix of Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveller - mirrored with endings -, and Inception/with an Oulipo constraint of nested stories. The themes were inconsistent across the genres and the connections superficial - a connection does not make - but they did not detract from the overall story, nor did they contribute to the story beyond being fun little Easter Eggs.

What is consistent though is the author's ability to write any genres, putting together entire worlds and back stories with just a few words and making it look simple. It's also refreshing to have a contemporary writer do something different/subversive, even if the freshness of nested or interlinking gimmick depends on which order you read the author's novels. Recommended story: Sonmi's, I could read an entire novel on Sonmi, followed closely by Frobisher. ( )
  kitzyl | Jul 21, 2016 |
I don't know if I'd call Cloud Atlas a book or a collection of six nested novellas. As a whole, the book cycles from scenes of rebirth and regeneration to destruction and self annihilation. As part of a collection, each novella presents a unique voice and writing style, interlocking across a time span from the mid-nineteenth century to a post-apocalyptic future and back again. This was a hard book to get into but once I did the cyclical pattern pulled me in to go back to the beginning and start over. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
This was a ravishing book. You may be tempted to get bogged-down before the big payoff. Don't. When it all starts fitting together, it is mind-blowing. ( )
  Caitlin70433 | Jun 6, 2016 |
Clever enough to bedazzle less experienced readers, but I claim that the Emperor has no Clothes. ?Pretentious. ?áNo heart, an ugly soul, and very little story. ?áAt least the author does reveal that he knows he's relying on gimmick. ?áI can't tell, however, whether he's sniggering, or whether he really does think this book to be an accomplishment.

That is to say, is Cavendish's commentary or Forbisher's the more relevant to Mitchell's work?

TC: The First Luisa Rey Mystery... would be a better book if Hilary V. Hush weren't so artsily-fartsily Clever. ?áShe had written it in neat little chapteroids, doubtless with one eye on the the Hollywood screenplay."

RF: "Spent the fortnight... reworking my year's fragments into a 'sextet for overlapping soloists'.... In the first set, each solo is interrupted by its successor; in the second, each interruption is recontinued, in order. ?áRevolutionary or gimmicky? ?áShan't know until it's finished...."

What are?áwe to make of the note that RF committed suicide and that TC's story does end on a more optimistic note?

And are any of our 'good' men's efforts worth anything, given the ultimate nature of the human race that means we will always be more driven to cause misery than joy, according to 99% Mitchell's book? ?áOr are we to put all our faith in the last 1% of the book, in which AE says, "A life spent shaping a world I want Jackson to inherit, not one I fear Jackson shall inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living."

I'm glad I read this for the SFF group in GR, and am glad in the sense that it's enlightening to see what my reading friends think of a book like this. ?áI do regret the hours I could have been choosing to read something more joyful or at least more interesting.
" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. Many thanks to the Ziegler clan for encouraging me to read this. I'm glad the movie was coming because it pressured me to finally get it done. David Mitchell is a genius! I can't believe how easily he navigates the many different genres. I never wanted any one section to end and wish he would write six more books filling in the details of each story. Can we please have more? ( )
1 vote ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 494 (next | show all)
Cloud Atlas is powerful and elegant because of Mitchell's understanding of the way we respond to those fundamental and primitive stories we tell about good and evil, love and destruction, beginnings and ends. He isn't afraid to jerk tears or ratchet up suspense - he understands that's what we make stories for.

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Mitchellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guest, Kim MaiNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heyborne, KirbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mijn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Hana and her grandparents.
First words
Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints.
Oh, once you've been initiated into the Elderly, the world doesn't want you back.
Sometimes the fluffy bunny of incredulity zooms around the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left, agog, in the starting cage.
The stationmaster's whistle blew on time, the locomotive strained like a gouty proctor on the pot before heaving itself into motion.
"Are you mad?"
Always a trickier question than it looks. "I doubt it."
Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
The book consists of six nested stories that take us from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or watched) by the main character in the next.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375507256, Paperback)

Now a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer

A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles of genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian lore of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction that reveals how disparate people connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.
“[David] Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel’s every page.”—The New York Times Book Review

“One of those how-the-holy-hell-did-he-do-it? modern classics that no doubt is—and should be—read by any student of contemporary literature.”—Dave Eggers

“Wildly entertaining . . . a head rush, both action-packed and chillingly ruminative.”—People
“The novel as series of nested dolls or Chinese boxes, a puzzle-book, and yet—not just dazzling, amusing, or clever but heartbreaking and passionate, too. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I’m grateful to have lived, for a while, in all its many worlds.”—Michael Chabon

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:11 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Recounts the connected stories of people from the past and the distant future, from a nineteenth-century notary and an investigative journalist in the 1970s to a young man who searches for meaning in a post-apocalyptic world.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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