In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person's consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or "sleeve") making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats "existence" as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning. . . .
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
- Philip K. Dick Award
This fast-paced, densely textured, impressive first novel is an intriguing hybrid of William Gibson's Neuromancer and Norman Spinrad's Deus X. In the 25th century, it's difficult to die a final death. Humans are issued a cortical stack, implanted into their bodies, into which consciousness is "digitized" and from which-unless the stack is hopelessly damaged-their consciousness can be downloaded ("resleeved") with its memory intact, into a new body. While the Vatican is trying to make resleeving (at least of Catholics) illegal, centuries-old aristocrat Laurens Bancroft brings Takeshi Kovacs (an Envoy, a specially trained soldier used to being resleeved and trained to soak up clues from new environments) to Earth, where Kovacs is resleeved into a cop's body to investigate Bancroft's first mysterious, stack-damaging death. To solve the case, Kovacs must destroy his former Envoy enemies; outwit Bancroft's seductive, wily wife; dabble in United Nations politics; trust an AI that projects itself in the form of Jimi Hendrix; and deal with his growing physical and emotional attachment to Kristin Ortega, the police lieutenant who used to love the body he's been given. Kovacs rockets from the seediest hellholes on Earth, through virtual reality torture, into several gory firefights, and on to some exotic sexual escapades. Morgan's 25th-century Earth is convincing, while the questions he poses about how much Self is tied to body chemistry and how the rich believe themselves above the law are especially timely. (Mar. 4) Forecast: With film rights optioned by Warner Brothers and Joel Silver (The Matrix), this book could itself achieve a kind of immortal shelf presence. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . A unique vision of the future
Posted November 06, 2009 by Slav B. Shuravesky , East BrunswickThis book is amazing. The author has created a wholly unique vision of the future and has developed a fantastically complex collection of characters. From the moment I read the first sentence I could not set this book down. I highly recommend it.
December 31, 2001
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Excerpt from Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Two hours before dawn I sat in the peeling kitchen and smoked one of Sarah's cigarettes, listening to the maelstrom and waiting. Millsport had long since put itself to bed, but out in the Reach currents were still snagging on the shoals, and the sound came ashore to prowl the empty streets. There was a fine mist drifting in from the whirlpool, falling on the city like sheets of muslin and fogging the kitchen windows.
Chemically alert, I inventoried the hardware on the scarred wooden table for the fiftieth time that night. Sarah's Heckler and Koch shard pistol glinted dully at me in the low light, the butt gaping open for its clip. It was an assassin's weapon, compact and utterly silent. The magazines lay next to it. She had wrapped insulating tape around each one to distinguish the ammunition: green for sleep, black for the spider-venom load. Most of the clips were black-wrapped. Sarah had used up a lot of green on the security guards at Gemini Biosys last night.
My own contributions were less subtle: the big silver Smith & Wesson, and the four remaining hallucinogen grenades. The thin crimson line around each canister seemed to sparkle slightly, as if it was about to detach itself from the metal casing and float up to join the curlicues of smoke ribboning off my cigarette. Shift and slide of altered significants, the side effect of the tetrameth I'd scored that afternoon down at the wharf. I don't usually smoke when I'm straight, but for some reason the tet always triggers the urge.
Against the distant roar of the maelstrom I heard it. The hurrying strop of rotor blades on the fabric of the night.
I stubbed out the cigarette, mildly unimpressed with myself, and went through to the bedroom. Sarah was sleeping, an assembly of low-frequency sine curves beneath the single sheet. A raven sweep of hair covered her face and one long-fingered hand trailed over the side of the bed. As I stood looking at her the night outside split. One of Harlan's World's orbital guardians test-firing into the Reach. Thunder from the concussed sky rolled in to rattle the windows. The woman in the bed stirred and swept the hair out of her eyes. The liquid crystal gaze found me and locked on.
"What're you looking at?" Voice husky with the residue of sleep.