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Altered Carbon Audiobook

Altered Carbon

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Hardwire William Gibson into Dashiell Hammett and you get the unique universe that has earned Richard K. Morgan a legion of Audible fans. Todd McLaren wisely taps into the noir undercurrent for his narration - moving the action forward at a steady clip, letting the characterizations do the work, and treating high concepts like "sleeving" (downloading your personality into a new body) with a dead-pan legitimacy that makes them feel all the more real. —Ed Walloga

Publisher's Summary

In the 25th 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 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.

Altered Carbon is the first Takeshi Kovacs novel. Don't miss the sequels Broken Angels and Woken Furies.

©2003 Richard K. Morgan; (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (4745 )
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  •  
    Ryan CA, United States 06-03-13
    Ryan CA, United States 06-03-13 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sci -fi noir worthy of Blade Runner!"

    If you're a lover of the hard boiled private detective tales widely credited to pulp Dashiell Hammett stories, or if you're a lover of Sci-fi, I highly recommend you listen to this audiobook.

    If you're a lover of both, I'm ticked off you didn't recommend this to me sooner.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beau New Orleans, LA, United States 08-23-12
    Beau New Orleans, LA, United States 08-23-12 Member Since 2016

    Husband. Dad. 3D Nerd. Tech Junkie. Saints fan. Part of the Squid clan.

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    "This Book has the Density of a Black Hole!"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    05-24-05
    05-24-05 Member Since 2001
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    "Couldn't put it down"

    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.

    18 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 06-16-08
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 06-16-08 Member Since 2015

    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)

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    "Very good sci-fi detective story"

    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.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer severna park, MD, United States 10-28-12
    Amazon Customer severna park, MD, United States 10-28-12 Member Since 2014

    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.

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    "Everything to love about gritty sci-fi"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl Buffalo, NY 09-24-12
    Carl Buffalo, NY 09-24-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Gamma-Ray-ed into a Cyber-Punk-Hulk"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Woodland Hills, CA, United States 05-03-08
    Kenneth Woodland Hills, CA, United States 05-03-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Inspired. Brilliant. Endlessly Fascinating."

    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.

    Enjoy.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pope Brownsville, TX, USA 01-21-10
    Pope Brownsville, TX, USA 01-21-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Good story with a few unpleasant suprises."

    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.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry groveport, OH, United States 05-29-16
    Larry groveport, OH, United States 05-29-16 Member Since 2011

    Larry & Cheryl. Truck Driver/retired military and Dental Hygenist, respectively. Interests: action, sci-fi, urban fantasy, & historical fict

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The BEST sci-fi ever! My strongest recommendation"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason 01-02-15
    Jason 01-02-15
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    "Awesome story, great narrator, bad editing"

    My only complaint is with the poor editing stitching together the narration: volume jumps, irregular pauses, occasional entrance mid-word. Otherwise this is a thrilling cyberpunk story in the same flavor as Snow Crash or Neuromancer, expertly narrated and thoroughly enjoyable!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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