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Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan : A debut for the ages


Imagine a world(or a galaxy rather) where your mind can be downloaded into any body(called a sleeve) you desire at a cost of course. This is the premise that Richard Morgan starts out with in Altered Carbon, his debut novel.
The rich live forever, have backup memories that are synced with data banks. The poor suffer as always. Takeshi Kovacs is dead. He had no intentions of coming back to life. It is at this point that he is brought back from the dead to investigate the murder of Laurens Bancroft, who is of course extremely rich, powerful and has all the latest bells and whistles . Takeshi Kovacs happens to be an envoy(a part of an elite military unit trained specifically to adapt to different body types). It builds in classic noir fashion where a murder turns into a much larger conspiracy.
Its amazing how far Morgan takes the concept of mind and body being separate(he calls them stacks and sleeves). Multiple copies of the same person exist. Takeshi Kovacs calmly talks to someone he had killed just last week. There is an exploration of how security would work. There is tons and tons of action as befitting a hard boiled detective novel. Gender politics come into the picture(A man's stack transferred into a woman's sleeve and some more).  There are also drugs aplenty. Also since your sleeve is in cyberspace all the time hackers get to it and do things with it that you would not wished to be done.
The funny thing is that I read this around an year back and I still remember a lot of the names and there are action sequences still embedded in my head.
A sci fi debut for the ages and an absolute masterclass.

You can buy Altered Carbon here.

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