Connections: Bat Segundo
Name: Bat Segundo
Affiliation: Night Train 97.8 FM
First appearance: Ghostwritten (1999), Night Train
Bat Segundo is a late-night New York radio DJ who may be partially inspired by Art Bell, the longtime host of Coast to Coast AM. Like Bell, Segundo hosts an overnight call-in show that thrives on the participation of its audience, eccentric night owls with a taste for the bizarre. Or as Segundo calls them, “us night-shifting, taxi-driving, all-night-dinering, security-guarding, eleven-sevening creatures of the night.”
Segundo’s show also bears similarities to Coast to Coast AM in that several of its callers become mini-celebrities in their own right, providing impromptu material for some of the show’s most beloved and classic episodes. Whereas Bell’s show is known for the infamous, frantic Area 51 caller and oddballs like “Terrible Teddy,” Segundo’s most eccentric guests are the Zookeeper, an unshackled artificial intelligence, journalist Luisa Rey, and the Guru, leader of a Japanese doomsday cult who may or may not be inhabited by the noncorpum.
- Luisa Rey, one of the protagonist’s of David Mitchell’s 2004 novel, Cloud Atlas, makes her first appearance in Mitchell’s metatext as a call-in guest on Night Train FM. While admitting the show is usually past her bedtime, the journalist tells Segundo he’s “being a little harsh on [his] more eccentric callers. … Viruses in cashew nuts, visual organs in trees, subversive bus drivers waving secret messages to one another as they pass, impending collisions with celestial bodies. [Those callers] are the dreams and shadows a city forgets when it awakes.”
- Ghostwritten’s epilogue, which returns to the Tokyo sarin subway attacks, contains another reference to Segundo and his show. Quasar, one of the cult members carrying out the sarin attack, spots a man wearing a t-shirt with Night Train FM’s logo — a stylized rendering New York City’s skyline, with a bat circling the buildings against the backdrop of a full moon.
- In a 2001 interview, Mitchell said he decided to render the Night Train chapter in dialog only, because he hadn’t been to New York and was worried his unfamiliarity with the city would reveal itself in a first-person narrated style. Since then, book tours have taken Mitchell to New York City, and several key scenes in Mitchell’s novel The Bone Clocks are set in Manhattan and New York’s Hudson Valley region, including Poughkeepsie and Red Hook.