Spoiler Alert:

One of the stories in Cloud Atlas is about a waitress who is a fabricant; an artificially cloned person who is biologically identical to humans. The waitress, Somni-451, is freed from slavery by Hae-Joo Chang, a rebel against the corporate-state and human rights activist who wants to expose how corporations use human clones as slaves. She is caught and interrogated by an "archivist" recording her story after her arrest and trial.

Here is part of the interrogation scene.

One might think the purpose of such an interrogation would be to get information about the rebels so the corporate-government could destroy the rebellion. But the conversation spends more time on themes of love and interconnectedness than "where can we find the rebels" or "who else helped you escape".

Why would corporations or government officials even care about Somni-451's feelings or her version of events? Why would an "archivist" even ask? She is a non-person with no legal standing. A real soulless all-controlling corporate-government would probably have killed her seconds after they captured her. She's too much of a symbol now.

But now that they captured her and brought back from Hawaii to Neo-Seoul, why would they care to go through any legal proceedings at all? They could just send her back to the factory to be destroyed and converted into protein soup for the other fabricants.

  • 2
    At a guess, so they can understand any flaws in their system and better control them. Or she got lucky and found a sympathizer.
    – Radhil
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 2:16

1 Answer 1


In the book by David Mitchel, it sounds like the genomicists pushed for Sonmi's "Archivism" to learn more about Sonmi herself.

ch. 5 - An Orison of Sonmi-451:

    [Sonmi] Archivist, I do not wish to offend you, but is your youth dewdrugged or genuine? I am puzzled. Why has my case been assigned to an apparently inxperienced corpocrat?
    [Archivist] No offense taken, Sonmi. I am an xpedience—and yes, an undewdrugged xpedience, I am still in my twenties. The xecs at the Ministry of Unanimity insisted that you, as a heretic, had nothing to offer corpocracy’s archives but sedition and blasphemy. Genomicists, for whom you are a holy grail, as you know, pulled levers on the Juche to have Rule 54.​iii—the right to archivism—enforced against Unanimity’s wishes, but they hadn’t reckoned on senior archivists watching your trial and judging your case too hazardous to risk their reputations—and pensions—on. Now, I’m only eighth-stratum at my uninfluential ministry, but when I petitioned to orison your testimony, approval was granted before I had the chance to come to my senses. My friends told me I was crazy.
    So you are gambling your career on this interview?
    … That is the truth of the matter, yes.
    Your frankness is refreshing after so much duplicity.
    A duplicitous archivist wouldn’t be much use to future historians, in my view.

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