Collin's Reviews > Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
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's review
Jan 06, 2009

really liked it

This is my favorite Richard Morgan story. It's testosterone-laced Gibsonian cyberpunk with the flair of a summer blockbuster sci-fi movie. If Paul Verhoeven adapted this, awesomeness would ensue. It's the first book in a series about a super-duper high-tech special ops dude named Takeshi Kovacs that's done some "bad things" in his past and is therefore constantly getting dragooned into crappy jobs that he must take "or else". Of course he's been trained in the Art of the Eleven Mortal Wounds and is the Angel of Death personified, but so is every other action movie protagonist.

From a "contribution to cyber sci fi" standpoint, the idea of consciousness being completely digitized and then "decanted" into cloned sleeves is a nice if small next step from what we're used to. We aren't just hacking the internet anymore; we've all become information that can be brokered, exchanged, copied and deleted. Characters that can switch bodies so easily are constantly confronted with identity issues which are dealt with pretty effectively here.

For as much chest-thumping as you typically get in a Morgan book, I think this does the best job of striking a balance between hard boiled and high concept without ever being preachy.

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