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Altered Carbon (2002)

by Richard K. Morgan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Takeshi Kovacs (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,9781871,306 (3.99)1 / 218
Four hundred years from now mankind is strung out across a region of interstellar space inherited from an ancient civilization discovered on Mars. The colonies are linked together by the occasional sublight colony ship voyages and hyperspatial data-casting. Human consciousness is digitally freighted between the stars and downloaded into bodies as a matter of course. But some things never change. So when ex-envoy, now-convict Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness and skills downloaded into the body of a nicotine-addicted ex-thug and presented with a catch-22 offer, he really shouldn¿t be surprised. Contracted by a billionaire to discover who murdered his last body, Kovacs is drawn into a terrifying conspiracy that stretches across known space and to the very top of society. For a first-time SF writer to be so surely in command of narrative and technology, so brilliant at world-building, so able to write such readable and enjoyable SF adventure, is simply extraordinary.… (more)
  1. 50
    Kiln People by David Brin (reading_fox)
    reading_fox: Similar idea about transposable conciousness, and the corruption this can endevour in those with the money/power to exploit it.
  2. 30
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (electronicmemory)
  3. 31
    Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both these novels are told in first person by men who are not averse to a bit of violence every now and then, and who have a certain attitude towards the universe. Altered Carbon is SF, while Sandman Slim is more of a Supernatural Urban Fantasy.
  4. 20
    Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh (VictoriaPL)
  5. 31
    Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover (nsblumenfeld)
  6. 10
    Sleepless by Charlie Huston (sturlington)
  7. 10
    Burning Chrome by William Gibson (electronicmemory)
  8. 10
    God's War by Kameron Hurley (bookwormelf)
    bookwormelf: Nyx and Takeshi are quite similar protagonists. Dark sci-fi, crapsack world, specially trained government assassins gone freelance
  9. 10
    Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds (voodoochilli)
    voodoochilli: Very similar.
  10. 10
    Emissaries from the Dead by Adam-Troy Castro (majkia)
    majkia: Another mystery set in a sci fi universe. Altered Carbon is darker in tone, but equally focused on solving a murder (or several)
  11. 00
    Axiomatic by Greg Egan (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Heavily features mind uploading.
  12. 00
    Electronic Echoes of the Mind by Wade A. Kimberlin (PortiaLong)
  13. 00
    Permutation City by Greg Egan (jekier)
    jekier: Heavily features mind uploading.
  14. 00
    Gridlinked by Neal Asher (reading_fox)
    reading_fox: Similar themes
  15. 00
    Existence 2.0/3.0 TP by Nick Spencer (nsblumenfeld)
  16. 00
    The Blackouts by Robert Brockway (TomWaitsTables)
  17. 01
    Dancing with Eternity by John Patrick Lowrie (viking2917)
    viking2917: exploration of personality downloads, immortality
  18. 01
    The Liminal People: A Novel by Ayize Jama-Everett (Valleyguy)
    Valleyguy: Dark and noirish with an anti-hero and a well thought out sci-fi element
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» See also 218 mentions

English (179)  French (2)  Italian (2)  German (1)  Romanian (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (187)
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
I'll be honest here - I almost threw in the towel at about the 25% mark. I'm far from being a prude, but I was just not in the mood for the amount of explicit sex and torture in this book. I felt that it was gratuitious and not essential to the plot; that the author was just showing off. But I stuck with it, and looking back, I realized that the characters' motivations later in the book would've seemed lacking or false if I hadn't experienced it with them.
The other thing that started off negatively for me was the main reason that I put off reading the book as long as I did - the basic premise of downloading your personality to a computer bores me to death. However, the technology behind this as presented in the book was very ... interesting. I almost said "believeable", but that would be a stretch. Instead, I was treated to a view of a world (universe, really) in which there really is a complete disconnect between SELF and BODY. There were many thought-provoking avenues opened up to me from here, and I'll be thinking about the implications for quite a while. ( )
  KrakenTamer | Oct 23, 2021 |
I remember reading this book a few years ago and being massively impressed with it, but overall, just had some flashes of imagery and warm feelings.

This time around, I totally dug into the William Gibson-esque SF world, and then thickly slathered with hard-boiled noir. The characters were well drawn, even considering there were times they were being resleeved (or swapping bodies).

The basic premise is brilliant, with Kovacs being hired by a billionaire to solve his own murder. But, as with all the best crime stories, the deceptions and machinations are slowly and expertly revealed as the plot progresses.

This was just a shitload of fun, and I'm excited to dive into the next couple of Kovacs novels.

...speaking of shitload, there was one thing that really made me smile. There's a point where Kovacs uses a shard gun. I kept slipping over to "shart gun" which would be a completely different type of weapon, more like the bowel gun Spider Jerusalem uses in the Transmetropolitan graphic novels. ( )
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
A science fiction detective story of a immortal man hiring a rough, violent person to solve his alleged suicide. The main story is similar to the TV show, but a lot of the details are different. The writing is good, but focuses a lot on being overly descriptive at times especially during a very long sex scene. The detective piece is great and there are a lot of interesting characters. The best part though is how the author delves into the cyberpunk themes and the ability to transfer consciousness to any body. ( )
  renbedell | Jun 13, 2021 |
I read this as part of my ongoing investigation of science fiction about mind transference and life extension; it's set in a world where people can move their minds into different bodies ("sleeves") as easily as you or I might change our clothes-- at least, if you have the money for it. It's a hardboiled detective story, about someone investigating the murder of a man who didn't die, because his mind was restored from a backup and loaded into a clone.

At first it's fun. Morgan gets the style of hardboiled down very well, and he explores a lot of the different ways, little and big, that this kind of mind transference technology might affect a society. It's 516 pages, though, and I ended up feeling that there was maybe about 400 pages of actual incident and ideas in it; I hit a point where I was just waiting for the end to come because it seemed nothing new was really happening anymore. I kind of lost track of why the protagonist was doing what he was doing.

Still, the book raises some good issues about this kind of technology and has plenty that entertains. I think I will be teaching it my class on sf and life extension, and I definitely will get around to the sequels someday, too.
  Stevil2001 | Jun 4, 2021 |
The Netflix series was better.
  amoderndaybelle | May 27, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
In this rousing first novel, Morgan reimagines Chandler's "Big Sleep" as 25th-century noir, with a Philip Marlowe-esque protagonist trying to avoid "real death" in a world where serial resurrection is a privilege of the rich and ruthless.
 

» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard K. Morganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chong, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kempen, BernhardÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Young, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
This book is for my father and mother: JOHN for his iron endurance and unflagging generosity of spirit in the face of adversity & MARGARET for the white hot rage that dwells in compassion and a refusal to turn away.
First words
Two hours before dawn, I sat in the peeling kitchen and smoked one of Sarah's cigarettes , listening to the maelstrom and waiting (Prologue).
Coming back from the dead can be rough (Chapter One).
Quotations
Pull on the new flesh like borrowed gloves
And burn your fingers once again.
An electronic demon, a malignant spirit that dwelled in altered carbon and emerged only to possess flesh and wreak havoc.
“Credit access will cease in thirty second,’ said the hotel patiently. ‘Please key in your DNA signature now.’
‘Mr. Kovacs won’t be needing his reservation,’ said the man behind me, putting a hand on my shoulder. ‘Come on, Kovacs, we’re going for a ride.’
‘I cannot assume host prerogatives without payment,’ said the woman on the screen.
Something in the tone of that phrase stopped me as I was turning, and on impulse I forced out a sudden, racking cough.
‘What—”
Bending forward with the force of the cough, I raised a hand to my mouth and licked my thumb.
‘The fuck are you playing at, Kovacs?’
I straightened again and snapped my hand out to the keypad beside the screen. Traces of spittle smeared over the matte black receiver. A split second later a calloused palm edge cracked into the left side of my skull and I collapsed to my hands and knees on the floor. A boot lashed into my face and I went the rest of the way down.
‘Thank you sir.’ I heard the voice of the hotel through a roaring in my head. ‘Your account is being processed.’
I tried to get up and got a second boot in the ribs for the trouble. Blood dripped from my nose onto the carpet. The barrel of the gun ground into my neck.
‘That wasn’t smart, Kovacs.’ The voice was marginally less calm. ‘If you think the cops are going to trace us where you’re going, then the stack must have fucked your brain. Now get up!’
He was pulling me to my feet when the thunder cut loose.
Why someone had seen fit to equip the Hendrix’s security systems with twenty-millimetre automatic cannon was beyond me, but they did the job with devastating totality. Out of the corner of one eye I glimpsed the twin-mounted autoturret come snaking down from the ceiling just a moment before it channeled a three-second burst of fire through my primary assailant. Enough firepower to bring down a small aircraft. The noise was deafening.
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Four hundred years from now mankind is strung out across a region of interstellar space inherited from an ancient civilization discovered on Mars. The colonies are linked together by the occasional sublight colony ship voyages and hyperspatial data-casting. Human consciousness is digitally freighted between the stars and downloaded into bodies as a matter of course. But some things never change. So when ex-envoy, now-convict Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness and skills downloaded into the body of a nicotine-addicted ex-thug and presented with a catch-22 offer, he really shouldn¿t be surprised. Contracted by a billionaire to discover who murdered his last body, Kovacs is drawn into a terrifying conspiracy that stretches across known space and to the very top of society. For a first-time SF writer to be so surely in command of narrative and technology, so brilliant at world-building, so able to write such readable and enjoyable SF adventure, is simply extraordinary.

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