Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

An ode to Hall 1

This goes out to Hall 1, the hostel where all the 4th year students of IIT Kanpur live. Indeed this hostel serves as a meeting ground between familiar foes some of who go on to become friends. A lot of factors make Hall 1 what it is. It acquires a mythic quality right from the first year when juniors are often threatened with “Aaj raat hall 1 main chal”. The seniors who live in Hall 1 seem to have a totally different existence as compared to the rest of the campus. On a visit to the hostel in the first year all one hears is the constant swearing, and sees everyone in shorts or in suits. Legends surround Hall 1 and in our first year the stories we hear are of Hall 1 and none other. Indeed Hall 1 residents perpetuate this myth as well acting as if they are the scariest beings on the campus. Indeed the fear is such that if a fresher goes to Hall 1 they are not expected to come back. There is something about Hall 1 that separates it from the rest of the Halls. For starters, Hall 1 has

Places to eat in Kanpur

Our real exploration of Kanpur began in our 5th year when we had our stipend to spend so hopefully this article will prove helpful to all the foodies out there. Surprisingly(and I really mean this) there are a number of terrific places to eat in Kanpur. Hopefully this article will prove helpful to many who are looking forward to spend their stipends. By far the best way to reach places to eat in Kanpur is to catch the bus that the institute provides. The bus runs everyday(except Sunday) at 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm. The bus returns at around 10:15 pm. Murgi(Our food and snacks Coordinator, every wing should have one) always takes the phone number of the conductor so that he can stay updated about where the bus is and so that the return is convenient. The bus service is really a life saver and unless you have a bike should be the first option. It is also better to roam during weekdays than weekends simply because there is lesser ruckus everywhere. Going to a restaurant on a weekend is an ab

The best of Paul Graham

Paul Graham is a startup incubator. He also happens to write essays which are really really good. In general I wish I had them read them a lot earlier. I have been reading his essays for a while now. Here are some extracts which I liked and so it begins. Addictive things have to be treated as if they were sentient adversaries—as if there were a little man in your head always cooking up the most plausible arguments for doing whatever you're trying to stop doing. If you leave a path to it, he'll find it. And my main computer is now freed for work. If you try this trick, you'll probably be struck by how different it feels when your computer is disconnected from the Internet. It was alarming to me how foreign it felt to sit in front of a computer that could only be used for work, because that showed how much time I must have been wasting. From Disconnecting Distraction How do you avoid copying the wrong things? Copy only what you genuinely like. That would have sav