Customer Reviews for

Altered Carbon

Average Rating 4.5
( 188 )
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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not original, but superbly executed SF/Noir detective novel

    There is nothing really new in this SF meets noir detective novel. On the noir side, there is the cynical, hard-boiled detective unwillingly drawn in to the machinations of the powerful; there are the beautiful women embroiled in the case in varying degrees, nearly all of whom eventually get bedded; there is the city filled to the brim with drug dealers, whorehouses, and little people being eaten up by the powerful. On the SF side, there are hints of an ancient galactic civilization, now defunct; there are guns and computer programs to do anything anyone could want; there are A.I.s, particularly The Hendrix, which is a fabulous invention; and of course, there is the ubiquitous process of resleeving, by which death has been conquered - for the rich. Even the melding of the two genres is not new: it dates back at least to Isaac Asimov's Elijah Bailey/R. Daneel Olivaw novels.

    What Altered Carbon provides, however, is all of those familiar elements done up in a superb style. It is an extraordinarily visual book - I understood from the first page of the prologue why Joel Silver and Warner Bros. bought the film rights for $1 million. The narrative is fast-paced, the tone is spot-on, and the philosophical musings, while also not ground-breaking in any way, are moments to savor rather than skip over. The mystery is satisfyingly twisty but still fair to the reader, and the final confrontation ratchets up the tension to a screaming pitch then uses the bare minimum of words to choreograph the denoument. Really an impressive first novel, and one I heartily enjoyed.

    I do have one quibble, however: I read the author bio in the back of the book first, and two of the three sentences were about the film rights. I found this a tad tasteless, not very informative, and kind of distracting, as I spent the entire novel trying to imagine how someone would film it.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2006

    Me Like

    Me Like....You like too. What? You don't like? The devil take you!

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

    What happened to kovacs

    I loved the altered carbon series. I just dont understand why mr morgan has abandoned it for his rsther weak sword and sorcery tales. Give the readers what they want.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The cyberpunk genre hit bookshelves in the early 1980s and talen

    The cyberpunk genre hit bookshelves in the early 1980s and talented writers have been crafting amazing stories ever since. British author Richard K. Morgan joins the ranks of these great writers with his 2002 debut novel, Altered Carbon. Morgan’s novel distills the essence from the genre’s most powerful stories and tosses it into a blender with a shot of whiskey, a hit of tetrameth and a hardboiled detective. The resulting novel is smooth, frenetic and full of high-tech science fiction elements that both inspire the imagination and darken the soul.

    The story begins as protagonist Takeshi Kovacs is brutally shot to death by commandos on his home planet of Harlan’s World after what looks like a botched heist. Luckily for Takeshi, his cortical stack – the device set into the base of his skull that holds a digital copy of his mind – is unharmed and placed in “storage,” a prison for cortical stacks. In an unusual move, he is “needlecast” – transmitted back to Earth and inserted into a waiting body, or “sleeve” – at the behest of the rich and powerful Laurens Bancroft.

    Known as a Methuselah – or “Meth” – because he is 357 years old, Bancroft will never die of old age due to his wealth, power and the current technology. Even if his sleeve is killed and his cortical stack destroyed, he has a wireless backup that transmits to a remote storage facility every 48 hours. When Bancroft finds out his last sleeve was destroyed in precisely that manner – and he has no knowledge of the 48 hours leading to his death – he needs a special man to help find the truth. Knowing he is almost universally reviled on Earth for his immense privilege – the police in fact have already marked his death a suicide and moved on – he must recruit help from off world. Another Meth who has worked with Takeshi Kovacs suggests he might be able to help Bancroft.

    Takeshi worked for a special branch of the military called the Envoys. Specialized soldiers with a healthy dose of intelligence operative and shock trooper added in for good measure, Envoys are trained to quickly adapt to any sleeve in any environment. Envoys possess an eidetic memory and can pick up on subtle patterns within seemly random events. They possess a complete understanding of body language, voice modulation and are capable of understanding intentions and manipulating others with little problem. However, one of the most overtly frightening aspects of an Envoy’s training is the complete removal of every violence-limiting instinct a human is born with. The combination of this very specific set of skills set makes an Envoy a very scary individual.

    Once Takeshi awakens in his new sleeve, he finds an offer from Bancroft he cannot refuse and is thrust into what amounts to a high stakes chess game on a planet he is unfamiliar with. Bancroft wants the truth, but Takeshi must investigate the sordid secrets he has accumulated during his unnaturally long life and those who aren’t so eager for these secrets to be revealed. Meeting resistance at every turn, Takeshi must use every ounce of his Envoy training and every trick he knows to find the truth and avoid Real Death.

    Morgan takes the bones of cyberpunk and paints them with a fresh coat of glamour and sleaze. The ideas he presents aren’t new, but are presented very clearly with unique twists. The world of Altered Carbon is clearly envisioned and the story moves at a rapid pace. Even if the terms are unfamiliar, the ideas are readily grasped. His characters are fully realized with their own thoughts and motivations, and readers will find themselves on the edge of their seats anticipating what each character will do next. The story has twists and turns as Takeshi plays private detective and chases down lead after lead getting ever closer to the truth.

    Cyberpunk fans will love this book, and for those new to the genre, Altered Carbon could be just the introduction they need.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2012

    Great sci-fi

    Great book, great writer. Only thing i didnt care for was the excess of detail. The book could have easily fit in 300 pages. It was this that made it a "pick up and read when you could" rather than a "couldnt put it down". Overall, i loved the concept and the book, im glad i happened apon it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    Urban Sci Fi at its best

    A great read. A whole world with its own idioms and lingo. And 100 characters.

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  • Posted August 3, 2012

    a good, enjoyable story.

    a good, enjoyable story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012

    Svi-Fi Noir

    I read this about 5 years abgo, & its still stuck with me. Although a few of the futuristic tropes have been hashed over before, there're plenty of unique speculative ideas. For me, it was the well-drawn characters & rich evocative settings that kept me rivited...not to mention the thrilling plot with the vibe of an oold .....

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  • Posted October 20, 2011

    Blew my mind

    This is hard core science fiction at its finest. Following someone's consciousness and memory rather than a physical person is a very interesting idea and explored very well without getting overly philosophical. Although the second book, "Broken Angels" is my favorite of the series, "Altered Carbon" comes in a very close second and is an excellent introduction into the universe of Takeshi Kovacs.

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  • Posted May 2, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Truly out of this world reading

    Morgan stretches the imagination of a world and time that is possible taken the state of cloning today and the implications for the future. The plot moves forward at a fast pace and I found that I needed to reread sections to make sure that I was understanding what the author was saying. It's not that he is a poor communicator. It is the fact that he has taken cloning to the nth degree and the mental adjustment on the readers part calls for stretching the readers mindset.

    I live in the SF bay area and so I found the placement of the story added an additional touch to my person involvement. I now have read two other of his books and find that he is an author that I will add to my regular following list.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2006

    A disturbing but believable future

    The best thing in Morgan's book is his depiction of a believable future world, with both the technology and descriptive slang that makes the status quo seem ho-hum to the characters, but gee-whiz to us. (Philip K. Dick was a master of that too.) The mystery part of it was very good, but that seemed secondary to the world-building done here. The casual attitudes towards sex and violence throughout the book might shock some readers, but fits the nihilistic society Morgan projects, so it's not just for 'shock value' as some critics charge. (Honestly, I thought of Harlan Ellison's work in some of those scenes, which is the highest compliment I can give Morgan. If you liked Dangerous Visions in particular, you'll love this book.) For a gentler book about a much closer future, read An Audience for Einstein by Mark Wakely.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2003

    Great new author!!!

    A provacative fast paced and discriptive view of a possible future of mankind. You'll find yourself intriqued on how the reluctant hero gets himself out of the proverbial rock and a hard spot. I suggest you sit in a comfortable chair because you won't leave until you turn the last page.

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    Posted March 28, 2011

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