I finally finished up David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas the other day. You might know it as the basis for a movie that recently came out. It's fairly interesting and unique as far as non-genre fiction goes. The book tells six stories of six sets of characters in six timelines in a Russian nesting doll fashion. The first tale set in the late 1800's in the South Pacific is interrupted midway through by the second, which is interrupted midway through by the third, and so on, until the middle of the book, where the sixth story is told in its entirety, and then all the others are closed out in reverse order, as well. The stories are linked in various ways, and the idea is that there is one soul consistent in each time period, being reincarnated time and again.
I think my favorite aspect of the book was just how completely different each story section was from the last, in terms of prose style, genre, and setting, especially. The overall themes of each story are consistent, though, and basically boil down to the fact that people are bad and tend to hurt one another. There's a glimmer of hope in each scenario for the future, but by and large the central idea seems to be that life is suffering. I guess that's literature for you.
I'm on to something a little more fun, if not much more hopeful, in Dan Abnett's newest Warhammer 40,000 novel about the Inquisition, which happens to be the first book in the last of a trilogy of trilogies, called Pariah. The main character is known to readers of the Eisenhorn trilogy as Alizabeth Bequin. It opens with her being raised in a special school for a special type of person in a city called Queen Mab. It's intriguing, so far. Abnett is a great writer, and Black Library, the publishing arm of Games Workshop, who makes the Warhammer 40,000 games and curates the license, is lucky to have him enriching their fantasy universes.