Monday, 17 October 2011

Thoughts on Altered Carbon

Takeshi Kovacs awakes to find that his personality has been broadcast some 180 light years to Earth. He’s in a body with a history all of its own, railroaded into working for a man some two hundred and fifty years old and given a mystery to solve that is nigh on impossible. Fortunately Takeshi is an ex-Envoy…

Fusing together Cyberpunk and hardboiled detective noir, Richard Morgan mines a rich seam of great ideas: the most fundamental being that humans have their personalities stored digitally and can be ‘decanted’ into new bodies.

Based on this premise and the many options and variables surrounding it, Morgan weaves a sordid tale of a fantastically violent future. Much of the book feels more like a film and fans of Blade Runner or Aliens will feel both at home and exhilarated by the dystopia Morgan has created. At times the author cheekily alludes to things beyond the scope of the book that will have you dying to know more.

The pace of this novel is frankly breathtaking up until the last quarter, when you’ll need to pay attention as the twists and consequences come thick and fast. The story starts out small and personal but quickly becomes more global and political, all underpinned with Morgan’s dark humour. The supporting characters are never flimsy; they’re frequently flawed, broken and just trying to make the best of an uncaring future world.

Told from the first person and with an undeniable swagger, Kovacs is a perfect anti-hero who, despite his occasional gold hearted moment, is not someone you want to get on the wrong side of in any star system. 

An adrenaline-soaked, darkly sexy, super-violent, super-intelligent book that will grip (or strangle) you to the very last page. Buy it now.

This interview originally appeared at TotalSciFi.Com

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