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 Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan

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PostSubject: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Tue May 08, 2007 4:34 pm

This is the review from Wiki but I am going to edit it a tad to take out the spoilers...

Altered Carbon (2002) is a hardboiled science fiction novel by Richard Morgan (his first) set some five hundred years in the future. It features protagonist Takeshi Kovacs (the final "cs" is pronounced "ch"). Kovacs is a former United Nations Envoy and a native of Harlan's World (settled by the Japanese yakuza with Eastern European labor).

In the novel's quasi-cyberpunk and somewhat dystopian world, human personalities can be stored digitally and downloaded into new "sleeves" (bodies). Most people have "stacks" implanted in their spinal columns that (so to speak) store their memories as they go along. If their body dies, their stack can be stored indefinitely. Catholics have cortical stacks, but most Catholics have arranged that they will not be resleeved as they believe that the soul goes to heaven when they die and so would not pass on to the new sleeve. Ironically, this makes Catholics prize targets for murder since the criminals know they will not return to testify about it afterwards. A U.N. Proposition to alter this legal position forms one strand of the novel's plot.

Most people cannot afford to get "resleeved" more than once per standard lifetime, and as a consequence while most people can live indefinitely only the wealthy are in practice able to acquire replacement bodies to inhabit on an ongoing basis. In what may be a deliberate echo of Robert A. Heinlein's Methuselah's Children and Time Enough for Love, the long-lived wealthy are called "Meths", for "Methuselahs". The very rich are also able to keep copies of their minds in 'remote storage', which they update every so often - this ensures that even if their stack is destroyed, they can be re-sleeved.

One such Methuselah - a rich man named Laurens Bancroft - has apparently committed suicide, having vaporised his head and cortical stack with an energy weapon. He is resleeved from a backup, but as a result has no memories of his actions during his final hours. He believes his "suicide" was actually a murder and hires Takeshi Kovacs to investigate his death.
Kovacs is an Envoy - a member of a military unit formed to cope with the challenge of interstellar warfare. In the novel's universe, faster-than-light travel is only possible by transmitting the digitally stored mind via 'needlecast' across space into a new sleeve. Transmitting normal soldiers in this way will severely inhibit their effectiveness, since they will have to cope with finding themselves in a new body while fighting. To combat this, Envoy training emphasises the mental techniques necessary to survive in different bodies over physical strength (which is useless when the soldier is downloaded into a new body). The effectiveness of the Envoy Corps' mental training is such that Envoys are banned from holding governmental positions on most worlds.

Kovacs - who is killed in the novel's prologue and stored in digital form - is downloaded into a temporary sleeve formerly inhabited by Bay City (formerly San Francisco) policeman Elias Ryker and turned loose on the investigation. The plot unfolds through Kovacs's "hard-boiled" narrative. Kovacs eventually solves the mystery, but only after great personal suffering under which he is able to bear up only because of his Envoy training.

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Tue May 08, 2007 4:40 pm

I think most peeps on here would dig this. Especially the ol' Matrix crew.

As a matter of fact, a USA Today review compared this to The Matrix in a way and that's what caught my attention.

The book was really cool. The sci-fi aspect wasn't too 'out there' as some can get. The premise was simple but Morgan goes into political and religious ramifications of this new technology.

His writing style took a second for me to get used to. Wasn't a problem though.

It's a page turner for sure. It can be funny then brutal in a second. Really graphic but not crude, if that makes sense. Even paced, well-timed, perfectly executed and it left you wanting to know more about the character and the world that was created before your eyes.

Anyway, check it out if you get a chance.

Joel Silver (The Matrix, 24) bought the movie rights as soon as it was published. No word on when/if a movie will be made though.

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Tue May 08, 2007 4:41 pm

This sounds sweet, Heck!!!

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Tue May 08, 2007 4:42 pm

The plot sounds interesting, but I normally shy away from "detective murder mysteries", no matter how they are formatted.

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Tue May 08, 2007 4:46 pm

Whidden wrote:
The plot sounds interesting, but I normally shy away from "detective murder mysteries", no matter how they are formatted.


Really? Why is that?


I just finished rereading, "Conspiracy of Swords" which is a murder mystery book. It's really well written... with a lot of history twisted into it. The author did some deep research on this novel. It deals with the Nazi's, in today's time... people who are extreme right's, assassignating the far left... gay leaders, black leaders, etc... with an FBI agent, and a CIA agent too.

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Tue May 08, 2007 4:50 pm

I just dont' get into the whole "whodunnit" part, and the detective.


I can't think of any detective style story I liked, cept for maybe Blade Runner. But he was more of an assassin than a detective. I hated Minority Report which was a whodunnit.

Maybe I was forced to watch Murder She Wrote one too many times. Neutral

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Tue May 08, 2007 4:59 pm

Well, Conspiracy of Swords was all about assassinations... killing, etc... It was a great book. Though, not one that I think you'd read, since it's got a lesbian couple as a main peeps (well, they become a couple... but there isn't a lot of stuff about it... just a part of it).



Anyway... back to the topic at hand. I think that I might have to check this book out, Heck.

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Tue May 08, 2007 5:17 pm

You should, it rules.

It's not a whodunnit though Whizzle. It may be framed like that but it takes a few lefts then kicks you in the junk.

I wasn't sitting there wondering how he was going to solve the case because it takes so many twists it's hard to really catergorize it.

Trust, it rules.

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Tue May 08, 2007 5:27 pm

Aight, I'll give it a go. I have to go to the mall this weekend to get some lava lamp bulbs, might see if Waldens has it.

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Tue May 08, 2007 5:43 pm

They might. Probably have to order it though. It's about five years old and didn't have a huge original print. I'm sure you can get a used one on Borders' website or something.

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Wed May 09, 2007 2:42 am

HECK! wrote:
Joel Silver (The Matrix, 24) bought the movie rights as soon as it was published. No word on when/if a movie will be made though.
Hard to say. He bought the rights to Jeffrey Deaver's 'The Blue Nowhere', but it's been a good 7 or so years and nothing's come of it.

This book sounds alright, I may give it a go if I can remember the title of it when I'm in a bookstore next.

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PostSubject: Re: Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan   Wed May 09, 2007 11:06 am

Well hopefully someone gets it. No one I know has even heard of this book so I can't talk about it. People go cross eyed when I start yapping about it.

It's a good read. One of the best books I've read in a long time.

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