Four hundred years from now mankind is strung out across a region of interstellar space inherited from an ancient civilization discovered on Mars. The colonies are linked together by the occasional sublight colony ship voyages and hyperspatial data-casting. Human consciousness is digitally freighted between the stars and downloaded into bodies as a matter of course.
But some things never change. So when ex-envoy, now-convict Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness and skills downloaded into the body of a nicotine-addicted ex-thug and presented with a catch-22 offer, he really shouldn't be surprised. Contracted by a billionaire to discover who murdered his last body, Kovacs is drawn into a terrifying conspiracy that stretches across known space and to the very top of society. Read by Todd McLaren.
©2003 Richard K Morgan (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc
If you are a patient listener, are good at remembering names, and like sci-fi this is a book for you!
Voicing might seem a little dull at times, but actually the choice of voicing gives the book it's own charm.
For me the 3/5 is a good solid score, that is entertaining above average, but still lacks a little in voice acting. The books biggest difficulty are the many characters you are introduces to, after hearing all the book, I got them correct placed, but it confused me a lot in the first 75% of the book.
I don't know whether it was misreading or some typos in the original source material, but the narrator says "yazuka" once, before saying the correct "yakuza" later in the book. Near the end he also says "casual link" where only "causal link" would make sense in the context. I found these mistakes distracting from an otherwise compelling story and voice performance.
The premise and scifi are engaging and entertaining. The blurring between reality, virtual reality and the potential for the human soul to be converted into software is exactly the reason why I am a scifi fan. But this book is too long. Long passages that added little to the story. By the end I did not care how it resolved I struggled to finish. Performance of the actor is very compelling. They capture the tone and voice of each character.
Punchline - good story in need of an editor
Action packed throughout
The overall concept is a fascinating one, - I won't offer any spoilers here, but has an interrsting take on inter-stellar travel and how to get around issues of time dilation
I bought the book when it first came out, following a good recommendation in SFX magazine, and its one heck of a read - on audio, its equally as entertaining
Very difficult to focus in on one scene when the entire book is so packed full or action and activity. One scene which I found unpleasant featured torture (if you're squeamish about eyes, watch out in the final two chapters , but it fit very well into the storyline
Well worth reading or listening to
Constantly introduced ideas about the future that are both believable and possible, I loved it!
Almost a steampunk version of l Ron Hubbard, with a touch of Brandon Sanderson!
An almost laconic laid back narration, that fits the almost reminiscence style of writing
Death is no longer final
"An excellent read"
It was such a relief to come across this book after weeks of listening to boring books and even more boring performers. The narration is excellent. Each character is well and properly portrayed. Todd is awesome. I would recommend it to all scifi fans
"Good sci-fi murder mystery novel."
With the book being a murder mystery, the point of the book is to learn what happens to the victim, unfortunately listening to the book again you would lose that aspect.
The unexpected encounters with characters. And the questions that you start to ask of yourself if you were in a similar position.
A good book overall that takes you on a journey through a short adventure in an investigators life, with hints of his character portrayed throughout. The more you learn of the investigator the more you want to know.
"A great action packed scifi"
I downloaded this book after finding it on someone's must read list. After about 5 minutes I realised that I had read the book already when it first came out in 2002 (doh). The fact that remembered so much detail after 13 years says something about the story (and something about my forgetfulness) . There's a lot of good story telling and some vivid imagery in book. It was well worth a second read. Action packed and great fun. Read it!
"high on tech, low on character"
I could not get on with this, the characters are just not likeable, what's a story without people you can like??
"Fantastically imagined future world"
This is a great SF book. The premise of digitally preserved human consciousness is brilliantly imagined. The author creates a vivid future world full of detail, and the plot is excellent; it will leave you guessing until the last chapter. Anyone who likes hard Sci-Fi will love this. Initially I found the slow drawl of the narrator a little annoying but after a while I really liked it as his tone and delivery suited the story very well.
"Recommend, but requires perseverance"
It's a long book, entirely told from the perspective of the protagonist. The story is well structured with plenty of twists and turns that keeps you guessing until the very end.
"As cyberpunk thrillers go, it ain't bad..."
"If they ask how I died tell them: Still angry."
As the above quote may suggest Altered Carbon is an angry book. A very angry book. We follow Takeshi Kovacs (pronounced Kovach - he's very particular about that) as he attempts to solve the mystery of who killed Laurens Bancroft. The case is further complicated by the fact that Laurens is the prime suspect. And also that Laurens hired him.
At this point a little explaining is probably required. Altered Carbon is a novel with heavy 'cyberpunk' themes - it is set on Earth a few hundred years into the future. In this time technology has advanced greatly; humans can now be 'digitised', a process which allows the sum total of their personal experiences to be stored on a brain chip ('cortical stack'), which can be downloaded into new bodies (or 'sleeves') as and when this is required. Sadly, in spite of these great technological advances society itself has degraded to a mildly dystopic anarcho-capitalist state. Put simply, Richard Morgan's future Earth provides wondrous new opportunities, so long as you are capable of paying.
One of the issues I had with Altered Carbon was that the world building seemed a little inconsistent. Although great bounds had been made in some areas, this sense of progress couldn't be seen across the board. This is perhaps a little unfair, as the book was written in 2002, but reading it now (in 2015) some of the technology in it actually feels a little dated. It seemed at times that the author had put so much effort into focusing on one particular set of technologies, that he had failed to fully consider what general advances would also have been.
This applied not only to the technology on show, but also to certain aspects of human life. One notable example is that a great deal was made in the book about Takeshi's smoking habit! Whilst this in itself is not a make or break feature of the book, it does represent a (very minor) example of the imbalance of the vision presented in the story. When compared with the obvious effort that went into considering impact that digitisation could have on human life, it was disappointing that other areas were neglected. At times it felt like the story was guilty of not dreaming bigger in terms of the World it was trying to paint for you.
As for the story itself, it is a solid whodunit that rattles along at a consistently brisk pace. It is at its best during its more base moments. Sex and violence are abundant, and are described in all their visceral glory. To the authors credit this is generally portrayed honestly, and does not always shine a flattering light upon our hero. Kovacs is intent on doing his job and makes it clear that he doesn't care about anyone who gets in his way.
...Except sometimes he does. For our hero is a conflicted soul. Or perhaps just an inconsistent character. Either way, the book covers just about as much soul-searching as it does body-rending. It's up to the reader how much they take away from these moments - but personally I didn't feel that they represented the strongest parts of this book.
In short: Altered Carbon isn't a bad yarn, and although it hits some genuine highs it does struggle to maintain these levels throughout. A worthy listen, but probably only if you're an existing fan of cyberpunk or detective fiction.
(A brief note on the performance: Todd McLaren does a wonderful job of portraying Takeshi, and a solid job elsewhere. There are a number of odd pauses in the recording, which break the flow of the narrative. These often appear when one character interrupts another, and it would have been nice if these could have been tidied up a little in editing. This is only a small gripe, however.)
Just finished this fantastic book. It's a futuristic cyberpunk-ish/private detective noir style tale. The characters are indepth and the tale deliciously convoluted and full of conspiracy and subterfuge. A great read. I thoroughly recommend it.
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