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Altered Carbon
     

Altered Carbon

4.4 195
by Richard K. Morgan
 

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ISBN-10: 0345457692

ISBN-13: 2900345457690

Pub. Date: 02/28/2006

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person's consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and

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Altered Carbon 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 195 reviews.
PhoenixFalls More than 1 year ago
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.
KENH1 More than 1 year ago
This was recommended to me and it did not disappoint. It had everything I was looking for in a gritty SF novel - a complex world where the future is well-defined and unique, great characters and action, and a touch of noir. In a future world where a person's consciousness can be "resleeved" into other bodies, an ex-military soldier is brought out of his century long prison sentence to investigate the apparent suicide of a wealthy immortal, who also happens to be the client. If the opening chapter doesn't hook you, check your pulse.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read everything that Richard Morgan has written, I'm on my millionth read through of Altered Carbon and it's simply amazing. Takeshi Kovacs is a gripping character.
Hellfire6A More than 1 year ago
Lacking in verisimilitude. Lots of great ideas, but they end of being a mish-mash. There doesn't seem to be any sort of framework created by the author to test if his world seems true. Yes it is science fiction. However, if you propose certain changes to physics or the way things are done you need to think about the ultimate consequences for society and for individuals. In the case of this novel there seems to be a lot of hand waving with little or no attention to how technology would change the way people view the world or live in it. Too much sex, too much drugs, too much violence, and very little in the way of sense to go along with it. Avoid this book. I love SciFi and have been reading it in excess of 40 years I can usually draw some logical inferences to fill the gaps that an author may leave, but not this time. The protagonist is from another world, he has served in the UN military on a number of other worlds. Yet at one point the author mentions ships filled with stored egos and embryos being sent into space to colonize other worlds. Are they slow ships? If so how in the world can humanity have spread across the galaxy in just 500 years. Also, the author mentions "Martians" helping humanity at some point or having left behind technology to be discovered. Even the whales remembered the Martians?!? But, we get no description of what they did or how humanity could have spread. We don't understand how sleeves (what the author calls bodies) get improved or have augmentations...more hand wavium that doesn't make much sense. I think the worst part of the whole experience was the fact that I knew whodunnit by about page 100. Do not waste your time or money!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as good as the first book but not bad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would have enjoyed Altered Carbon more as a pubescent kid unaccustomed to quality writing and an awareness of contemporary scientific knowledge. From the outset, the author displays a dim grip on the conflict between an uploadable person and the scientific, brain-bound person. This puts the premise well beyond the suspension of disbelief for anyone with even a moderate interest in neuroscience. The book would be more effective if the author took that challenge head on—but I’m not sure whether the author was even aware of the challenge. But my main problem with the book is the low quality delivery. Perhaps cyberpunk’s just not my thing, but then again, perhaps I prefer writing that doesn’t come across as voiceless and filled with immature fantasies. Genre doesn’t mean cut-and-paste phrase writing, and debauchery should be written by someone who can express a proper connection with it…not someone who comes off as a 14 year old boy fantasizing about things he’s never done. Of course, the book did accomplish one thing that very few books can make me do. Halfway through it, I’ve stopped reading it—without an ounce of feeling that I might be missing out. 
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Guest More than 1 year ago
A genre setting novel that has frightening parallels to todays world. Starring a multilayered lead crashing through a hyperviolent landscape that leaves the reader gasping for breath.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's one of those books that catches your eye when you walk down the asile and makes you wonder what the title has to do with the story. I own all of the Takashi series and honestly believe if I don't get more I will possibly force Morgan to write more. No matter your view you end up loving Takeshi and his attitude towards the world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Re-sleeve me out of here. This was a kind of mish mash of bits of other stories (Spares) and films (any cyberpunk). Not even well written! Ugh. This got picked up for a movie? Spare me, let's hope the rule that most books don't get to film stage applies to this thing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was as 'blow-em-up-I'll-be-back' American as they get! I enjoyed some of the action sequences, but the whole gimmick of the book (people transporting from body to body) was presented about as exciting as stepping on and off a greyhound bus. If you like detective stories, you might weather this one out. Our book group thought a huge section in the middle needed to have landed on the editing room floor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
William Gibson invented cyberpunk with Neuromancer. Neil Stephenson introduced a new generation with Snow Crash. Richard K Morgan completes the cyberpunk holy trinity with Altered Carbon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Morgan is the real deal! "Altered Carbon" is an amazing mix of detective noir, cool SF tropes, and social commentary. Takeshi Kovacs is the prototypical jaded anti-hero who appears to not really care, but he does have his own code and a sense of honor. The story moves along at a good clip, with occasional asides for a little exposition that work very well (and I am -not- a huge fan of expository passages). Definitely a page-turner, definitely worth your time. I bought it in both paper and digital form, and gave copies to the base library, too.
scottjl More than 1 year ago
a good, enjoyable story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MOTG More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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