Connections: Luisa Rey
Name: Luisa Rey
Age: 20s (Cloud Atlas), 60s (Ghostwritten)
Affiliation: Spyglass Magazine, Night Train FM
First appearance: Ghostwritten, “Night Train”; Cloud Atlas, Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (chapters 3 and 9)
Luisa Rey is a journalist for the fictional Spyglass magazine, which has made recurring appearances in the meta-text, with several other characters working for the magazine at different points. In Cloud Atlas she’s described as a gossip columnist; however, in Ghostwritten’s Night Train chapter — which was published before Cloud Atlas, but happens later on in the timeline — Luisa is described as a famous journalist.
Luisa Rey was played by Halle Berry in the 2012 movie adaptation of Cloud Atlas.
Luisa makes a late-night call to Night Train FM, a show hosted by New York DJ Bat Segundo. Bat is pleasantly surprised that she’s a listener and a caller, praising her book The Hermitage as “the greatest true crime psychological expose written since Capote’s In Cold Blood.”
Luisa tells Bat that his show is normally past her bedtime, “but insomnia’s come calling tonight.”
“Your misfortune is the gain of us night-shifting, taxi-driving, all-night-dinering, security-guarding, eleven-sevening creatures of the night,” Bat tells her.
Luisa tells Bat she thinks he’s being too hard on his more eccentric callers after Bat suggests an earlier caller named Howard is crazy.
“You undervalue them. Viruses in cashew nuts, visual organs in trees, subversive bus drivers waving secret messages to each other as they pass, impending collisions with celestial bodies. Citizens like Howard are the dreams and shadows that a city forgets when it awakes.”
In the 1970s, Luisa meets Rufus Sixsmith, a physicist who’s worked on the Manhattan Project. As an old man, Sixsmith works for the Seaboard Corporation, which is pressing ahead with a project that has a major risk of a nuclear accident. After bumping into Luisa in an elevator — and realizing she’s the daughter of respected Vietnam-era journalist Lester Rey — Sixsmith vouchsafe’s documents proving Seaboard’s HYDRA project is unsafe by mailing a safety deposit key to Luisa.
The chapters, written in a pulp detective style, revolve around Luisa’s efforts to expose Seaboard Corporation and its blatant disregard for human life.
The Bone Clocks’ Ed Brubeck is a foreign war correspondent working for Spyglass during the Iraq war, while Freya Timms — a point of view character in Slade House — works for Spyglass circa 2006.
Brubeck’s work strains his relationship with Holly Sykes and their daughter, Aoife. Freya Timms uses her jobs and skills as a journalist to look into the “X-Files Six,” a group of college students belonging to a paranormal club who go missing after searching for Slade House on Halloween night in 1997. One of the missing students, Sally Timms, is Freya’s sister.
Rufus Sixsmith is the lover of Cloud Atlas character Robert Frobisher, and their correspondence leads directly into the next chapter, the Luisa Rey mysteries.