After reading all of the glowing reviews for this audiobook I was excited to listen to it, only to discover in the first few minutes that the narrator has an incredibly annoying lisp. It becomes less pronounced as the book proceeds because you get used to it, but I find this problematic. Moreover, there are some pretty blatant (i.e., audible) splices of audio tracks on this production.
The story is excellent and compelling but I thought listeners should be warned about the narration.
Science fiction has supplanted philosophy as the method by which new ideas are explored. Good science fiction takes a well rounded approach to a concept, forcing the reader to consider the different facet of an idea. Great science fiction takes the philosophical underpinnings one step further?it haunts you. Enter Altered Carbon. It is in this last and greatest category that this masterwork falls. Several other readers have drawn favorable comparisons between this author and William Gibson. I agree with their conclusions except this author writes with greater clarity and a punchier plot line. This author presents a gritty, future forward, cyber punk world where consciousness is supplanted by computer chip implants and the corporeal reality is expendable. The result is a staggering and thoughtful consideration of the nature of a human being: is the essence of who we are our bodies or our minds? To answer that question, the author drafts interesting characters representing conflicted points of view and spills them out with all their faults and foibles. The dialogues are masterfully crafted and sharp. I couldn't put this down. It ranks among the very best sci-fi I've ever read. I don't write the last sentence lightly. If you like a gritty, get down and stay down murder mystery tempered with big hits of sex, violence, and bottles of testosterone, then this is the book for you.
Some reviewers have deemed this book as good as Stephenson, Gibson, or Dick. I have to disagree. If anything, this is Gibson-lite or Stephenson-lite. Personally, I got a lot more out of Snowcrash and The Diamond Age, those were deeper stories for me, with much more involved plots, and were remarkably well-narrated books. In comparison, Altered Carbon was like a Saturday matinee in the cyberpunk genre. Well, a NC-17 type matinee. As for the sex, sure there is some, so if you are offended by a few graphic descriptions, then steer clear. But it all fits in with the story which contains a number of "adult" situations, both in terms of violence and sex. Afterall, this is a gritty detective story of man on the edge of society (albeit 25th century society), hanging out in the not-so-nice parts of town, with the not-so-nice people. So, in that context, the graphic elements worked. The book was a fun read, but not a ground-breaking sci-fi cyberpunk-revived experience. It had VR, AIs, interplanetary travel, blood, guns, sex, some romance, andriods, spaceships, hovercars, exotic drugs, jacking in, etc...-- it was a cornecopia of cyberpunk themes, but nothing radically new. The mystery was cleanly answered in the end, most loose ends all tied up, perhaps a little too neatly. The narrator was fine, his style worked for me, he "sounded" right for a detective-beating-the-street story. For me, it was worth the credit, but then again, I had already read Snowcrash...so if you have one credit and can spend it here, or spend it on Stephenson/Gibson, well sorry Morgan, my money is on the other guys. But after that, when you are looking for a little something between the next Stephenson, well check this out.
This is just another sleazy detective novel. It might be fiction, but it's not science fiction. If you like trashy novels, this is the book for you. I am sorry I wasted a book credit on it.
This book was boring and very confusing. It was difficult to keep up with what was going on. I found myself fighting sleep trying to sift through all the nonsense and the reader did not help.
Set in an imagined universe of interchangeable bodies, downloadable personalities kept in computer storage, high-tech weaponry and Artificial Intelligences capable of owning and running hotels, Altered Carbon picks up the mantle (and the void) left by cyberpunk writer William Gibson. Gibson has departed from his roots and his later novels lack the hard edge of Neuromancer and Count Zero Overide. Richard Morgan develops his protagonist Takashi Kovach and he spins through the narrative like Sam Spade in a Kevlar vest, implanted with neurochem that gives him the physical edge in the bleak world he inhabits. Exceptionally well written, great characterizations, nicely read by Todd McLaren. If you love the cyberpunk genre, this is one of the best authors on the scene. Also recommended is his sequel Broken Angels.
-- Jack --
The noir detective atmosphere of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner combined with tech and violence of The Matrix. People have their memories and personalities stored in memory and move from body to body over centuries. Criminals are placed in storage while time takes everything they know and everyone they love, their bodies sold as "sleeves".
Brutal, not for the sqeamish story. I enjoyed it immensely.
Altered Carbon is hard to put down once you start listening. The premise of the story is creative, the author introduces lots of interesting plot conventions with the DHS (Digitized Huiman Storage) concepts. The story moves quickly and at the end I found that there is a sequel Fallen Angles.
Liked it; didn't love it. It's definitely film noir fodder that should be printed on pulp paper, complete with an "I don't know..." monologue at the end. (Remember the last 10 minutes of Blade Runner?) I thought the world was well constructed, but it was 9 hours of story packed into 17 hours of listening that culminated in a disappointing "OK, spill!" exposition. And, although it clearly tails The Big Sleep, et al., this book packs none of the witty banter that makes Chandler so engaging. Morgan has apparnetly riddled his narrative with similes instead, like bullet holes in a getaway car on the business end of a Tommy gun. Also, the adolescently explicit sexual and gore scenes were self-consciously overdone. The whole thing could have used a sharp blue pencil, but generally enjoyable.
This book is a good example why I like Audible. I would have never picked this book up by looking at the title. The author has combined the 2 genre I love Sci-Fi and a good detective novel. If you like the 2 this is a listen for you. I felt like I couldn't stop listening wanted more and I wanted to solve the mystery .What more could a listener ask for. More of this author please.