It was recently brought to my attention, as my book club waded its way through David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, that a second (highly reviewed) book with a similar title was released the same year. (What are the odds?)
I know there's a joke here somewhere....
Two book club members go into a bar. One says, 'hey have you read Cloud Atlas? I loved the premiss of stealth bombing missions as executed from air balloons in the Alaskan frontier, during WWII.' The other says, 'I know it was a complicated book, but when you say "stealth bombing missions," do you mean six short stories? ...by "Alaska" do you mean the South Pacific? And by "WWII" do you mean a post-apacolyptic future? 'cuz yeah, that was interesting.'
So here's the skinny:
CLOUD ATLAS, David Mitchell (UK: Sceptre, 2004; US: Modern Library / Random House, 2004; CA: Vintage / Random House, 2004)
|First edition cover (Sceptre).|
Synopsis: consists of six nested stories that take the reader 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 observed) by the main character in the next. The first five stories are interrupted at a key moment. After the sixth story, the other five stories are returned to and closed, in reverse chronological order, and each ends with the main character reading or observing the chronologically previous work in the chain. Eventually, readers end where they started, with Adam Ewing in the nineteenth century South Pacific. [wikipedia]
Awards: It won the British Book Awards Literary Fiction Award and the Richard & Judy Book of the Year award, and was short-listed for the 2004 Booker Prize, Nebula Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award, and other awards. [wikipedia]
Collectibility: Abebooks lists 20+ f/f copies ranging from $60 (unsigned) to over $1,000 (signed).
The Cloud Atlas, Liam Callanan (Delacorte Press, 2004)
Synopsis: Set against the magnificent backdrop of Alaska in the waning days of World War II, The Cloud Atlas is an enthralling debut novel, a story of adventure and awakening—and of a young soldier who came to Alaska on an extraordinary, top-secret mission…and found a world that would haunt him forever. [Amazon.com]
Reviews: A list of favorable reviews can be found at Liam Callahan's The Cloud Atlas Website.
Collectibility: Abebooks lists several f/f copies of Callanan's debut novel (& Edgar Award nominee), ranging from $18 to $45 (unsigned).
And, for poetry fans, there was apparently a book released two years prior titled Cloud Atlas by Donald Platt (Purdue University Press, 2002) which won the 2002 Verna Emery Poetry Prize. I found one paperback copy at Abebooks, listing for $40.
Labels: Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell, Donald Platt, Liam Callahan