Study Guide

Cloud Atlas Setting

By David Mitchell


Six Different Settings

With six different stories come six different settings. Almost all of the settings are real-life locales you can explore yourself. Adam Ewing starts his journey in the Chatham Islands, off the coast of modern-day New Zealand. Robert Frobisher finds himself in Bruges (no, not a Colin Farrell movie). Luisa Rey is looking for the truth in Buenas Yerbas, a fictional city in the real state of California. Timothy Cavendish's road takes him to Hull, a city in England with the official Anglo name of Kingston-upon-Hull. Nea so Copros is a South Korea so far in the future it's known for something other than Psy and "Gangnam Style." Finally, Zachry and Meronym trek all over Hawaii's Big Island, including up to the Mauna Kea observatories.

Whew. That's a lot of globetrotting. So we've covered five continents (sorry, Africa and Antarctica) and a span of, oh, three or four hundred years, give or take a century. That's quite an epic quest. So what did we just rack up all the frequent flyer miles for?

Well, at its heart(s), Cloud Atlas is a story about human connection, and humans… well, we're all over the world. So it's fascinating to see how the actions of one person can affect another person separated by thousands of miles and hundreds of years. It's like the butterfly effect. (No, not the Ashton Kutcher movie.)