"Superb blending of a who-done-in inside a vividly descriptive far future galaxy"
In the twenty-fifth century, former military operative of
the Envoy Corps Takeshi Kovacs knows death is part of life
so he is not shocked to find he was killed on Harlan's
World as a century long sentencing for his criminal
activity. However, he admits to a bit of surprise that he
awakens not long afterward on Earth because wealthy
industrialist Laurens Bancroft has hired Takeshi to
investigate the murder of Bancroft. The police claim he
committed suicide, but Bancroft sees inconsistencies in the
official theory that he blew his head off as he questions
why he would do so since he always employs an electronic
backup and has clones available just in case.
Having no choice, Takeshi investigates what happened by
visiting the ratty underbelly and the hedonistic elite
while assimilating and adapting to his new skin. However,
as the danger mounts, Takeshi's past life surfaces changing
the scope of his assignment from determining who would want
the mogul dead to personal survival because the threat of
death this time could prove permanently real.
Though a superb blending of a who-done-in inside a vividly
descriptive far future galaxy, the key to ALTERED CARBON is
the ethics issues cleverly interwoven within the story
line. The plot is action filled, the earth and technology
of the future seem genuine and real, and the lead
protagonist feels like a twenty-fifth century Sam Spade not
Buck Rogers. However, it is the cerebral underpinnings
that propel the audience to think of current questions on
cloning, death, and the widening wealth distribution gap
that makes Richard K. Morgan's novel a one sitting gem for
fans of both genres.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted February 9, 2003
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 easily downloaded into a new body
(or "sleeve") making death nothing more than a minor blip
on a screen.
Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but
his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one
hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a
body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a
rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown
into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy
that is vicious even by the standards of a society that
treats "existence" as something that can be bought and
sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest
was only the beginning. . . .