Altered Carbon — Richard Morgan

Altered Carbon -- Richard MorganWow!   How does one review something like this book?

To start with, it’s hard, brutal, nasty and cruel.   It’s got rape, torture, snuff, hardcore literary pornography and other unpleasant stuff, even some bestiality thrown in for good measure.   So if any of that kind of stuff bothers you, seriously, don’t open this book.   Instead, you can go and watch, what i presume will be, a tamed down version on Netflix.   I say “presume” because i most certainly am not going to be watching it after reading this book as i don’t want Netflix ruining it for me, plus, i’ve got plenty of really good books to read instead.   After reading this book, i’m very content with the impression the book leaves, any video hack job of this book will only diminish that contentment.

The story is in the first person narrative of our protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, who was a highly trained military asset known as an Envoy.   Envoy being quite the twisted, euphemistic description of what his military role used to be.   And as an Envoy, Kovacs was trained to have no feelings towards anyone or anything.   He’s essentially just a pure, flat affect machine designed to get a job done that normal military assets can’t be used for, for one reason or another.   But now he no longer works for those who trained him and instead uses his training as a free lance criminal with devasting effect.

So, with that in mind, you are taken on a journey from the point of view of a weaponised, mal-adjusted, amoral, machine like mind, and at times it can become quite the uncomfortable ride.

On top of all this, the book is set in the future where human minds can be decanted into software and re-sleeved into new bodies, either real, synthetic, semi-synthetic or virtual and as such some of the characters have been alive for over 300 years.   These older characters are known as meths, short for Methuselahs named after the longest living character in the bible.   It is one of these meths that has employed Kovacs, under duress, to find out who killed him in his last sleeve.   And so we go on a high octane, magical carpet ride on steroids as Kovacs takes on the worst of the future of humanity in his search to find answers.

It’s not an easy read either.   As you are seeing things from the point of view of this highly trained military killing machine you have to pay the attention to the details as he is, and you do find yourself having to re-read a few pages here and there.   But it’s certainly worth that extra effort in what it pays back.

All in all, to sum it up: a fantastic book, but most definitely not for the faint of heart.

I can’t wait to get into book 2 of this series, Broken Angels. 

Richard’s Page

#scifi #richardmorgan