“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.”
“Long Winded and Confusing”
Themes and Concepts
The themes and concepts that are explored in this book are so incredibly interesting and something that I would love to read into further. It’s absolutely insane to think that this kind of technology could exist in a cyberpunk future. I think that the book did do the themes and concepts justice, especially bringing to light questions about the relationships between the mind, body and soul and what makes a human being human when we allow technology to merge with the human body. At the start of the book, there was a scene where the main character Kovac goes on to describe a clone bank which reminded me of the matrix ad the scene where Neo emerges out of his egg in the fetus fields.
“The space was oval, dome-ceilinged, and must have extended through both stories of installation. It was huge, the size of a temple back home. Lighting low, a drowsy orange, and the temperature was bloody warm. The clone sacs were everywhere, veined translucent pods of the same orange as the light, suspended from the ceiling by cables and nutrient tubes. The clones were vaguely discernible within, fetal bundles of arms and legs, but fully grown… They were organic, a toughened analog of womb lining, and they would grow with the fetus within.“
I thought that this concept was very interesting the wonder if this scene was somewhat inspired by the fetus fields scene. The book explored some very unique and intriguing themes and concepts which was the main reason why I kept reading till the very end.
I found Richard Morgans writing style a bit over the top, very confusing and long-winded. His writing style reminded me of Donna Tartt’s in the title ‘The Goldfinch‘ where it just seemed to drag on forever and feel like it would never get anywhere. I found that while reading the narrative become less cohesive which made it very hard to read and confusing most of the time. Every time I thought I knew what was going on in a scene there would be this weird shift that came out of nowhere which would throw me off and ruin the scene in my head.
The violence and sex scenes were a bit random at times and would seem to come out of nowhere and didn’t give much to the plot. The main character would suddenly warp into this sex craved human who would sexualize women as soon as he sees them, whether they were talking to him or just existing around him. It felt like they were in there to make the character seem tough and sought after by the other female characters. It was out of left field, weird and very unnecessary at times.
I want to add that I didn’t like the main character and found being stuck in his head and hearing his monologues and tangents really unappealing. He was just a pain in the ass and so bloody annoying for most of the book.
The only character I really liked in the book was Ortega. Her story seemed a whole lot more interesting and I wish they would have scrapped some of those unnecessary scenes and replaced them with some more information about her backstory and her relationship with the sleeve. It would have given some much-needed depth and interest.
The book started off at a good place, lost its way in the middle but found (some of) itself in the end. I found myself wondering at times what the hell this scene or part was adding to the story and the plot, and reflecting on this I think most of the chapters could have been scrapped or written differently. The main character Kovac loses his way in the middle of the book which made it so frustrating to read and nearly had me putting this book in the DNF pile. Sometimes while I read I forgot I was even reading a mystery genre (which is what it claims to be).
“Rich people do this. They have the power and they see no reason not to use it. Men and Women are just merchandise, like everything. Store them, freight them, decant them. Sign at the bottom, please.”
“Doesn’t mean every Envoy is a commando. No, not exactly, but then what is a soldier anyway? How much special forces training is engraved on the physical body and how much in the mind? And what happens when the two are separated.”
“But remember the weakness of weapons. They are an extension – you are the killer and destroyer. You are whole, with or without them.”
“Reality if flexible these days, it’s hard to tell who’s disconnected from it and who isn’t. You might even say it’s a pointless distinction.”
This is a book that I usually wouldn’t have picked up and read, however, recently I had some interesting discussions about the cyberpunk future and the role of technology and thought that this book would help me delve into the topic more. Overall I will be giving Altered Carbon a ⭐️⭐️ out of 5-star rating. The themes and concepts were the saving grace in this book and were the reason why I ended up finishing it.
Writing: ⭐️⭐️.5 /5