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Altered Carbon

(Takeshi Kovacs #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  98,698 ratings  ·  6,537 reviews
Alternate Cover Edition for 9781400101375.

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 downloade
Audio CD, Unabridged, 17 pages
Published 2018 by Tantor Media (first published February 28th 2002)
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Lucius Rippeteau i enjoyed the 1st person. it hardened the Sci-fi-noir feel. hard boiled badass with a history and unresolved personal internal conflicts. as if we are…morei enjoyed the 1st person. it hardened the Sci-fi-noir feel. hard boiled badass with a history and unresolved personal internal conflicts. as if we are hearing this as his friend. and judging as a friend, on a personal level, not on a society level.(less)
Susan It’s pretty well blasphemy to enjoy a show or movie version of a book more than the book itself and I feel kind of ashamed to say it but The TV show o…moreIt’s pretty well blasphemy to enjoy a show or movie version of a book more than the book itself and I feel kind of ashamed to say it but The TV show of Altered Carbon was far superior to the book. The TV show took an average novel and tightened up the story, made changes to some of the problematic elements and was so much more compelling than the book. I had no emotional attachment to anything that happened in the book or to any of the characters. In contrast I was deeply involved in the TV show.(less)
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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
I haven't DNFed a book in a while but I just can't seem to get into this one.

I don't need to know that the character's penis is getting hard while staring at the boobs of the woman he's interviewing about the death of her husband (twice in 3 pages!).

I don't need to know he's half-ass masturbating back in his hotel room.

I don't need to know about the boobs of every female characters, especially if you're going to call them "elusive globes".

I don't need a cringy sex scene and all of this before p
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Folks have been recommending I read Richard Morgan for years. But I've got a to-read stack longer than my arm, and my reading time is rather precious. It's a big risk to try a longish book by an author I've never read before.

In a nutshell. I loved it. About halfway through the book I looked it up online and saw that it won a bunch of awards. It deserves them.

I don't read as much Sci-fi as I used to, but I'm no newbie. The world is unique and fresh. Good characters. Interesting mystery.

Yeah. G
Kevin Kelsey
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
"I walked beside the woman I had killed last week and tried to hold up my end of a conversation about cats."

A solid neo-noir cyberpunk detective story that plays out in a fascinating science fiction universe. If you’re a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. It's pitch-black dark, brutally ultra-violent and fun as hell. I particularly loved the concept of “sleeving” and the method by which characters undergo interstellar travel. This is a cold, difficult reality in which
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Confusing books lead to bullet point reviews. It's the best way for me to gather my thoughts.

3 to 3.5 stars

I liked the book, but I didn't love it. I had been hoping to like it much more than I did. My wife and I are reading it at the same time with plans to follow it up with the Netflix show. After reading, I may not be rushing into watching it.

- Very unique and creative. While it does have some shades of other dark/gritty sci-fi I have read or seen, the concepts were fresh and intrigui
William Kalb
Jul 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-f, cyberpunk
I hate this book. Hate, hate, hate it. I hate the characters, I hate the plot, I hate the cover, I hate the way it smells, and I hate the way it knocked over a lamp when I frisbeed it across the room in a fit of literary angst. It came to me highly recommended by a number of friends, good friends, caring, kind, and well-read friends who share with me a love of speculative fiction. We all love Snow Crash and Neuromancer and Babylon 5, and we all hate football and direct sunlight. We are all scien ...more

A fun and fast-paced thrill ride, almost impossible for me to put down. Picture a hard-boiled noir, the solitary, weary worldly detective, blunted emotional skills, stepping on toes as he investigates. Merge that plot and character with innovative science fiction–digitized personalities that can be downloaded into new bodies with the right reasons or enough cash, and the result is eminently readable.


Full review posted at:


Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hearing that Netflix new series is based off this series made me want to read this even more. Only hope the show is as good as the book is.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gritty neo-noir, post-modern cyberpunk, sexual, violent and more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 introduction to BADASS Takeshi Kovacs was to literature as a triple bacon cheeseburger is to fine cuisine – a guilty but fun throat punch and kick to the groin.

First of all Morgan’s world building is TASTY. Check this out: to get around faster than light travel or generational ship logistics consciousness can be downloaded to a chip and then uploaded to a waiting human shell, ca
May 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, 2010
Takeshi Kovacs is killed on an another world and re-sleeved in Bay City in the body of a disgraced cop. His mission: find out who killed Laurens Bancroft, a Meth (short for Methusaleh) billionaire. Bancroft and is offering Kovacs his freedom as a reward. Only a lot of people don't want anyone to know why Bancroft killed himself. Can Kovacs get to the bottom of things before the demons in Bancroft's private life get him?

I bought this for a buck and it languished on my shelf for a couple years. Wa
I had no idea this was a book until someone here on Goodreads mentioned it to me.


Now, they mentioned it because they were giving an example of a book that had an annoying amount of sex. And I can now attest after reading this one that, yes, I also could have done without all the juicy scenes.


Honestly, this story just didn't work for me. I thought it was far too long, the plot was really convoluted, the characters were kind of wooden, and the sex scenes were unnecessary. <--not being a prude, the
Re-read 2/27/18:

I had to pick this up again and hop on to the second and third books mostly because I was guilted into it by the Netflix production. :) I really enjoyed the show and found myself misremembering some plot points.

It turns out I didn't misremember. The tv show was close to 90% faithful. :) The other bits might be reveals pulled forward from the subsequent books which I haven't read! I honestly don't know. And that's why I'm doing the re-read. :)

So did I enjoy it more the second time
Feb 19, 2018 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2018
I am half way into this and I think I am just going to stop before I get any more annoyed by it.

This is, IMO, a rare case when a TV show is MUCH better than the book. Even though the show is full of nudity and violence, on the whole, it is a more progressive story than this novel, at least it takes care to treat its female characters as people (albeit people who get naked a lot). Altered Carbon, published in 2002, feels incredibly dated and is the kind of man-written book I just don't care to r
May 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Liked these books a lot. Misogynist but whatever, hardboiled sci-fi was fun :)
Peter  Drummond
Feb 05, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
It's weird for me disliking a story so full of things I enjoy. Morgan goes out of his way to tackle compelling notions about life and morality at the intersection of technology. He asks about the nature of what makes us human. He challenges the idea that memory and experience solely define us. The pages are practically bursting with genre favorites like Cyborgs, gun-play, hovering vehicles, and bionically enhanced assassins. Assassins, who by the way, can be needle-cast from colonized world to c ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When i watched the TV show in Netflix i had to read the book, it was like a compulsion, and boy was i rewarded, i haven't felt this greatly about a neo noir cyberpunk since Red Rising. Takeshi is a fascinating central character , the plot is tight and witty , full of action,mystery and betrayals, the background is rich, the technologies are awesome.
I won't be forgetting "sleeving","needlecast" or dozens of other terms anytime soon.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Altered Carbon is one of those sci-fi books that lingered on my to-read list for years. It was the arrival of the Netflix TV adaptation that finally gave me the push to pick it up. I'm glad it did as this exceeded my expectations and turned out to be one of the best noir detective stories I've ever read!

In a future where the human mind has been digitised and can be downloaded into a new body a criminal, Takeshi Kovacs, is pulled from prison (or cold storage as it is in this futuristic sci-fi wo
Kathy Ahn
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
Hmmm...I can't remember why I picked up this book. I think I read about it on a friend's blog. I read most of it today and finished it off. But it was sort of painful at times -- the last 50 pages were sort of agony to read, but by that point, you just have to finish the damn thing.

Not spectacularly written, but hardly unusual for a book in this genre. It was interesting enough for me to plod through it, and at one point I enjoyed it briefly, but I thought it was full of logical flaws and jumps
Milda Page Runner

Less humorous, darker and deeper than I expected - nevertheless I absolutely loved this book. Sci-fi blend with detective noir and inevitably cynical main character – it was my cup of tea from the start. What I loved the most about it is noir atmosphere, good balance between action and philosophy, darkness and intrigue of the investigation.

With explicit sex scenes, torture, and exploration of the darker side of human nature – this is certainly a read for adults. Don’t expect to get out unscathed
Apr 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2008
Wow. It’s no wonder Richard K. Morgan became such a phenomenon in the science fiction world so quickly. His first novel, “Altered Carbon” is so well crafted that it bears no hints of being a first novel. His imagination and story telling is absolutely amazing. Although it is absolutely full of graphic violence and has a few X-rated sex scenes, every part is so well written, it all fits. This book should have completely offended me. I can’t stand gratuitous sex and violence. But, the way Morgan w ...more
Caro the Helmet Lady
Hard-boiled and hard-balled cyberpunk novel, which is also a noir detective story. I really liked all the sci-fi entourage, although I could use less violence and more humour, which could probably happen if it was written by Roger Zelazny. But I also liked the philosophical side, the twisted psychological side and basically limitless possibilities of the Kovacs' world. Who himself was almost a superhero, with a decently human softer side. He reminded me strongly of my favourite cyberpunk heroine ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is legendary among cyberpunk fans, I do not really count myself among them as I have read too little from this sub-genre to qualify. However, it is very frequently recommended in the excellent PrintSF forum I frequent. A few years ago I went through a phase of reading crime fiction almost exclusively because I felt like a change from decades of reading sf/f. One of the best practitioners of crime fiction is Michael Connelly, whose most famous creation is detective Harry Bosch. If Mr. C ...more
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, sci-fi
It took me a while to read this one because I needed to put it down occasionally and read something light during a break. It's dark, bloody, and very deep.

This is a mystery novel set in a very high-tech future where humans are basically downloaded into a hard-copy file, called a stack, from the time they are a year old so that their bodies become "sleeves" that are hosting human consciousness. So, if someone's body is killed, their stack can be put inside another body, or the stack can be access
Altered Carbon: Richard Morgan's Cyber-Punk Future

“The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice.”
― Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon

It takes something special for a book to keep me burning through the pages until 3 a.m. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan is a helluva read.

 photo PhilipKDickAward_zpsdc49fc96.jpg
Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award for Best Novel, 2003

Morgan is a wicked blend of Philip K. Dick and William Gibson. There is even a touch of Gene Rodd
I abandoned it after about 100 or so pages. I liked the future setting and the advances in technology that change the concept of life and death. Unfortunately, it read like a script for an action movie. Some good ideas, but too much senseless action and violence ruined it for me.
Megan Baxter
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's science fiction noir, and Morgan has a nice touch of both noir phrasing and overly-complicated noir plotting. I really didn't see the intricacies of the story until they were laid out, but it never worried me. I enjoyed being plunged into the confusing world that Takeshi Kovacs wakes up in, with little more information than he had.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

 Danielle The Book Huntress
With my sinus allergies kicking my butt, I don't have the energy to write a really long review, so I'll keep it simple. I thought this was an excellent book, though not really a comfortable book. I don't think this book is for everyone. The language is very coarse, to be honest. Liberal use of the worst word for women in written language is employed. It starts with a 'c' and ends with a 't', and I think you can fill in the blanks. I winced just about every time. Despite this, and the fact that t ...more
Richard Derus
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've finished the Netflix series made from the book. I cannot say don't watch it. I can say no one who does should watch the fourth episode, it's torture porn like the Saw franchise, and adds nothing to the value of the show.

Stylish and involving; very deeply disturbing look at human nature's darker, danker basements. As I recall the book, and I've only ever read the first one of the three, this is pretty faithful to the plot and spot-on as to characterization. Strong acting but pretty ~meh~ scr
Excellent stuff. Now I am ready for the Netflix series 😁

SciFi/cyberpunk is not my usual reading turf - but this is a fine story that I would be definitely recommending to others.

Bits that I enjoyed the most:
- general worldbuilding and setting detalisation (scary, dystopic but realistic imagination of the future)
- character richness (very happy with all main actors really)
- Quell's rebellion philosophy and associated myths. A wonderful reimagination of a female ‘Che Guevara meets Spartacus’ char
Michelle F
Altered Carbon feels fresh, fascinating, and engaging. This first book in the series will stick in my mind as an example of accomplished speculative fiction.

Set hundreds of years in the future, Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness 'resleeved' in a new body, and is woken from a cold-storage prison sentence. An incredibly wealthy man on Earth has offered to buy Kovacs' freedom. In return, Kovacs must use his specialized Envoy training to solve this wealthy man's murder, which obviously didn't take
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cyberpunk had never been a genre I really loved. That doesn't mean I don't like it – I do. I just don't read a lot of it. My perfect cyberpunk, which I compare everything to, is... No, it's not Blade Runner, wrong guess. It's Deus Ex: Human Revolution. And I was very, very happy to find out that Altered Carbon is in the same league with Deus Ex.

Sure, there are notable differences, mostly regarding the main characters, Adam Jensen and Takeshi Covacs, as the former is heavily augmented with artifi
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Goodreads Librari...: Altered Carbon Easton Press Signed Leatherbound Edition 2 18 Jul 21, 2022 02:01AM  
The Sword and Laser: AC: TV Show vs Book. 7 85 Jun 12, 2022 03:03PM  
Ending Explained + SPOILERS 31 3008 Jun 06, 2022 09:26AM  
Books2Movies Club: Altered Carbon - book and TV 6 17 Mar 14, 2022 12:48PM  
Ciencia Ficción e...: Lectura enero-febrero 2018: Carbono modificado 55 220 Apr 29, 2021 12:40AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: Altered Carbon on Netflix 35 215 May 01, 2020 12:05PM  

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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Richard K. Morgan (sometimes credited as Richard Morgan) is a science fiction and fantasy writer.

Other books in the series

Takeshi Kovacs (3 books)
  • Broken Angels (Takeshi Kovacs, #2)
  • Woken Furies (Takeshi Kovacs, #3)

Articles featuring this book

Dystopias, alien invasions, regenerated dinosaurs, space operas, multiverses, and more, the realm of science fiction takes readers out of this...
644 likes · 527 comments
“The personal, as everyone’s so fucking fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, take it personally. Get angry. The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here – it is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and soft-. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide from under it with a wink and a grin. If you want justice, you will have to claw it from them. Make it personal. Do as much damage as you can. Get your message across. That way, you stand a better chance of being taken seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous marks the difference - the only difference in their eyes - between players and little people. Players they will make deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it’s just business, it’s politics, it’s the way of the world, it’s a tough life and that it’s nothing personal. Well, fuck them. Make it personal.” 262 likes
“The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice.” 221 likes
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