Review of 'Altered Carbon'

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan

Basically a detective story set a future where people can be “downloaded” into “sleeves” – bodies (either unused human bodies or artificial). Takeshi Kovacs, a member of the elite Envoy Corps, has been “sleeved” to a body on earth where he is hired (having no choice in the matter) to find the killer of a “Meth” (short for Methusula, meaning, one who is extremely long living – switching from body to body as they degrade). In the process Kovacs is drawn deep into the society in which he lives full of violence, raw sexual appetites, drug excess and all other manner of societal detris. Amongs this we have the idea of AI (Artificial Intelligence) self-owned hotels, “freak fights” (to the death for the amusement of the masses) and a number of other fantasms. I found the portrayal of these excesses a bit difficult to take though the ideas expressed and explored are quite fantastic. The writing is fast paced and frenetic requiring the reader to keep up with the terminologies and ideas expressed very quickly in order to be able to understand what follows. What is good about this novel is that it does this – It lets the reader figure out what is going on themselves rather than telling us – Making it somewhat challenging to read. An interesting first novel for Morgan, looking forward to more of the same.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 2002

Other reviewed books by Richard Morgan: