Cloud Atlas 02 - Narrative voice

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Almost all the stories we read in CA are singular first-person narratives, framed as a journal for a future reader, a series of letters to a particular reader, an autobiographical detailing of previous events, responses to an interrogation about an event, and an oral history given by the elderly to the next generations. The Luisa Rey story is an exception, presented as a published genre novel. I wondered about this, but got nowhere. Anyone think there is some (deeper) significance to this, other than authorial decision?

There is also an interlocking piece of music for six intruments (CA Sextet) that is vaguely described to us, which is a counter-point to the novel. Would be interested to hear it some day, even though it doesn't exist. Did anyone else find this desire evoked despite its impossibility? What does that tell us about designing interesting or addictive games?

Last, it made me think about the voice used by GMs and rulebook / module writers vs the voices of PCs and players. I wondered how changing the voice during game play might change outcomes in ways not covered by mechanics, and also how personal conflict might be managed by getting mpeople to change the voice used to describe the problem. Any thoughts?

Comments

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    I'd be very keen to hear that music :) Especially as according to the composer's own (necessarily fictional) assessment it was radical for its time.

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    I think I have heard the music! I think I can hear it in the music of Hovhaness, Macewen, Hanson, Hadley, Sainton, and other early 20th C. composers, at least.

    My guess is that the very different voices was about Mitchell flexing his writerly muscles. How many different ways are there to tell a story? Did he miss any? And the sextet a way to help bring it all together. Was the book originally called Cloud Atlas Sextet, then shortened?

    I think it was all deftly done, but I don’t think it was for any reason that resinated in the story structure. The film made a point of recasting the same actors in very different roles, as if to show there was a continuity between the stories, but I never felt that same continuity from the stories in the book - like each character was a reincarnation. Did you?
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    @Apocryphal said:
    ... The film made a point of recasting the same actors in very different roles, as if to show there was a continuity between the stories, but I never felt that same continuity from the stories in the book - like each character was a reincarnation. Did you?

    The book - no, not in terms of character or situation. But the same birthmark motif was there (though more in the background and not quite identical each time). It also got me wondering if we were supposed to conceive of the same situation, or maybe the same protagonists/adversaries replaying something backwards in time before the 1840s, or whether something about that external ring was a real beginning point?

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    I liked that all the narrators had distinct voices. Well, apart from the central Hawaii section: I just couldn't face the prospect of sounding out the phonetically-spelt thick accent for that chunk, so I skipped it.

    I think the first-person narration was to bring us closer to the theme of oppression and resistance. I think the author was trying to get us to empathise with the characters, giving us an emotional connection to the stories and hence to our own lives. Third person would have allowed us to dismiss the oppression as happening to someone else and therefore something we could ignore.

    Mitchell wrote that the choice of using the same actors reinforced that it was the same story, repeated in different settings. But it also caused some controversy with yellowface, giving white actors some bad makeup to pretend they were Korean.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    My guess is that the very different voices was about Mitchell flexing his writerly muscles. How many different ways are there to tell a story? Did he miss any? And the sextet a way to help bring it all together. Was the book originally called Cloud Atlas Sextet, then shortened?

    I think it was all deftly done, but I don’t think it was for any reason that resinated in the story structure. The film made a point of recasting the same actors in very different roles, as if to show there was a continuity between the stories, but I never felt that same continuity from the stories in the book - like each character was a reincarnation. Did you?

    Agree with you totally here. There were those little happenstances that @RichardAbbott mentioned, but I never got the sense that there was an overarching plot connecting the stories in the book. Instead there was the theme that @NeilNjae mentioned.

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    Talking of invented languages, I found that this one (the central Hawaii section) worked for me very well, especially after the much more in-the-background language changes in the Sonmi section (eg xactly and so on, with just odd letters work away).

    Elsewhere, the future language of Ridley Walker worked for me, but Feersum Endjinn did not, and it remains one of the few Banks books I just couldn't get on with. I really couldn't tell you why some of these worked for me and others didn't - my best guess is that there's a very narrow line between success and failure with this sort of thing.

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    For an overarching plot, see my comments on your other question about the things that connect separate movements of a classical piece of music.

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