Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched 180 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.
©2003 Richard K. Morgan; (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.
"This far-future hard-boiled detective story is a lovely virtual-reality romp." (Booklist)
"Fast-paced, densely textured, impressive....Morgan's 25th-century Earth is convincing, while the questions he poses about how much Self is tied to body chemistry and how the rich believe themselves above the law are especially timely." (Publishers Weekly)
I read this one a few years ago and highly recommend. If you liked Ender's Game or Snowcrash... you'll love this one. I don't want to spoil anything about this book by putting details of this intricate plot in my review, but if you enjoy science fiction or mysteries... then this one is for you. Enjoy!
Husband. Dad. 3D Nerd. Tech Junkie. Saints fan. Part of the Squid clan.
Whoa! Author Richard Morgan has ginned up a massively complex, nuanced future world as well as highly imperfect but incredibly charismatic characters that keep you riveted through this epic story. I have to admit that while I love hard-boiled detective stories as much as anyone, I doubt Altered Carbon could get much more gritty. There is plenty of raw language and imagery (both sex and violence), but I feel it ultimately adds to the story, paints a more vivid picture of characters and isn't provided simply for shock value alone. The only minor complaint I have is that the narrator's voice is SO deep, that it was sometimes hard to understand what he was saying. Not so much as to lose key plot points, but irritating when I was driving and listening. Otherwise, it's s fantastic book and I am looking forward to listening to more from Morgan.
As one who normally only reads reviews, I would feel remise at not rating this one. Having started the book in it's written incarnation, I expected a pretty good listen. What I found instead was a fantastic listen! The story itself of course holds your attention throughout, but listening to the cool,cynical voice of the reader, I could picture myself there in 25th century Bay City. The presentation reminded me of those hard boiled detective novels read over the radio in the 40's. You gotta get this one! Here's hoping that Audible publishes Takeshi Kovacs's newest adventure (Broken Angel)in the very near future.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
This book is a blend of science fiction and a traditional detective story and is very well done. The narrator is fantastic.
The science fiction part of the story is very original, interesting and just plain cool. (Lots of high-tech - and nearly believeable - concepts of a future where we can store our consciousness in a portable database.)
The detective part of the story is engaging, surprising and hard to put down.
It has some swear words that are R rated, is very graphic/gory (detailed blood and guts imagery) and has very (VERY) graphic sex scenes (they are definitely adult only - moderate porn level scenes).
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind sex scenes and swear words but the sex (a.k.a. porn) is not interesting and doesn't advance the plot and - the worst part - some of the scenes last nearly 15 minutes... I don't want to listen to ANY scene for 15 minutes, but I certainly don't need 15 minutes to get the drift of a sex act.
If not for the long and uninteresting sex scenes that I ended up fast forwarding through, I would have given this 5 stars and I have already bought the next audiobook in the series.
I'm actually a day old tart, filled with maple custard. Perhaps, this reads as a rational introduction to others, and you are deliberately misreading it, because, come on, maple custard.
Very gritty hard-boiled film noir sci-fi.
Todd McLaren's voice has a good vocal range for this book. Strong storyline, and creative ideas about the stacks.
A very convincing futuristic world, and the psychology behind each character is believable, and interesting.
Genre: Sci-Fi far future, cyber-punk (anarcho-capitalist themes, mind altering drugs, and artificial consciousness), Murder mystery
Rated: R Violence, torture, heavy language, graphic sex
1st or 3rd Person: 1st person Takeshi Kavacs and 4+ characters
Static or Dynamic: omg dynamic. This story is all over the place and moving there fast
Art or Entertainment: Both. The story can be read strictly on either it's artistic merritts or it's entertainment value alone respectively. The concepts of digital consciousness and existentialism are INTENSE!!! conversely, our main pro is an ex-envoy. a handful of those guys can bring down a whole government with properly executed Con's and violence.
Linear or Non-Linear: Linear. It's a murder mystery really.
Narrator: Todd McLaren is a total bamf. I remember him very well and could listen to the book just because he's reading it.
Plot Outline: Takeshi Kovacs (ko-vaa-tch) is an ex-super black ops envoy who has been contracted by an obscenely wealthy Meth to figure out who killed him in a previous incarnation. In this world, people exist digitally in a stack at the base of their skull which records their experiences and supplies the decision making of the mind within. You can be saved, uploaded, and downloaded light years away and if you have enough money, you can make an insurance policy to ensure that you always have a backup. The story is fast paced and emotionally hyped. Tak is a seriously awesome protagonist. This book is offensive in many ways so if you are particularly sensitive, you shouldn't buy it. if you don't mind getting your mind dirty though, it's a story you won't forget.
As a connoisseur of sci-fi and especially of future stories, I am vastly impressed with Richard K. Morgan's excellent tale of Takeshi Kovacs, ex UN Envoy, hard boiled detective and completely unpredictable character - the story is well crafted and complex. There are many wonderful details in this future of things I've not seen before. A joy and a surprise in any book. Extraordinarily creative. This is one you will listen to a second time.
Richard K Morgan has achieved a near-perfect blend of plausible science, characters devoid of cliches, and a narrative that is tightly woven and intricate--like a hand-made Japanese wall hanging in silk--Altered Carbon is masterful.
Todd McClaren, the sole narrator, surpasses the challenge of this book, one filled with countless major characters who are all quite varied and distinct human beings. He excels with his multiple voice characterizations, and his performance, too, deserves 4 stars or more, if possible.
Richard K Morgan describes his people in details both subtle and broad, and motivates them with a story line generously crafted. The author assembles his players complete with all their necessary history, desires, passions, loves, violence, rage, despair, and human compassion.
Altered Carbon is intricately plotted, which compelled me to follow the narrative very closely; consequently, it necessitated many rewinds.
In addition to hard Sci-Fi, this story is also a first-rate murder mystery and thriller, with clues foreshadowed most believably and, although set in future Earth, with unusual devices, and digital-human relationships that will blow your mind, the narrative is painstakingly tight, and designed to also sate many devotees of the best mysteries and thrillers.
The human civilization which Mr. Morgan paints in his trilogy is an intriguing place. While the concept of moving personalities body to body is not new, the way he approaches the subject matter is interesting, as are the underlying moral issues that are touched around the edges. I found myself thinking of the film noir genre, complete with the world weary detective who has nothing left but the job. The two jarring notes are the narrator, who makes a valiant effort to characterize, but falls short. The second are the graphic, nearly pornographic sex scenes. While the sex is not gratuitous, the graphic detail using the vulgar speech is jarring in the flow of the novel.
Larry & Cheryl. Truck Driver/retired military and Dental Hygenist, respectively. Interests: action, sci-fi, urban fantasy, & historical fict
Altered Carbon (and its 2 sequels Broken Angels and Woken Furies) are SUPERBLY written! They are hands-down the best sci-fi I have ever read/listened to and my absolute second best favorite of any genre (keep reading if you are interested in what my very fav is). I listen to this series at least once a year and this trilogy never gets old or uninteresting.
Altered Carbon is, essentially, a great noir detective story. Then add to that the incredibly original sci-fi setting with well thought out details and back story. Then make it badass, bloody, and violent without being gratuitous and you have not just a genre bending reason to lose sleep, you will have an author you will keep track of. Don't let the "Sci-fi" monniker throw you off; Altered Carbon and its sequels are very character driven stories. Think "Blade Runner on steroids". And I don't think there are many books ever written that have earned the right to be compared to Ridley Scott’s visionary Blade Runner...Altered Carbon deserves that comparison, for both character, atmospheric, and plot reasons.
Here’s the premise: In the not-to-distant future, mankind develops the technology to digitize consciousness and, by law, everyone, when born, has a device implanted at the juncture of spine and brain. This device, known as a stack, can be thought of as a USB drive. Your body has become injured or old and decrepit? Just fork over some money and buy another body and have your consciousness downloaded to its new home. Sounds easy, right? Yes and no. Our anti-hero, Takeshi Kovacs, is an ex-Envoy. Think of an Envoy as the most elite Tier One Special Forces commando in the history of the planet and give him training as the ultimate assassin, infiltrator, and spy: the ultimate boogey man of any planetary government seeking independence from the UN, who now rules mankind. Unfortuately for our anti-hero, there are several laws in place to limit your lawful opportunities if you are an ex-Enoy because, frankly, you are still a badass MF’er who can do untold damage to governments as well as people. So it’s no surprise that, as the story opens, Takeshi has just completed an illegal act. Altered Carbon takes place 400 yrs in the future and, although it starts on another world, we are very soon on Earth. San Francisco, to be precise, and Takeshi is hired to solve a mystery. The mystery element is outstanding and it is a pure joy to experience through Takeshi. There is a very noir feel to the story and the excellent plot execution and character development results in the most immersive sci-fi experience I have ever had the pleasure to read or listen to. And one note on the sci-fi element: it is very plausible, from both a technological and societal point of view. Altered Carbon never “jumped the shark” with the science by going off into “that’s never gonna happen land”. It also, quite poignantly I thought, addressed how society sometimes resists or is slow to adapt to technological advances and the upheavals that sometimes results.
This is book one of a trilogy, with each one being a well-deserved 5 star book in its own right. They are just that damn good! If you read or listen to Altered Carbon, you WILL be looking frantically for the two sequels immediately.
The narration by Todd McLaren was outstanding. He has the perfect voice for Takeshi and an impressive range of voices and accents, both male and female. While I have read all three books, Mr McLaren’s nuanced performance has me recommending with my strongest acclaim the audiobooks. Just a superb performance of a superb book.
This is the second best series of books I have *ever* read (the first being The Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston) and I truly cannot recommend this series highly enough. If you are an audiophile, you will appreciate this masterpiece. If you like mysteries, you will appreciate this masterpiece. If you love science fiction, you will appreciate this masterpiece. If you like action and adventure, you will love the whole series. I have over 500 audiobooks in my library (so far) and it is saying something that, when I can’t decide what I want to listen to next, I always go straight to Altered Carbon.
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