The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Monday, 11 April 2005]

Review: Altered Carbon

Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon is nothing less than the return of jacked-in, mirror-shades-at-night, in-your-face Cyberpunk.

Half a millennia from now, humanity has discovered the remnants of an ancient, vastly technologically superior civilization. Most recovered artifacts from this civilization are vaguely, if at all, understood—among the few things that have been deciphered are star charts leading to other Earth-compatible worlds, which has led to colony ships being sent out. However, due to the lack of faster-than-light technology, the colonies end up being isolated in space apart from the ability to transmit digital information through something called needlecasts.

The most dramatic technological breakthrough invented by humans is the ability to download a digital version of the self into an implanted piece of hardware at the base of the skull called a stack. This way, when a person dies, the self can be downloaded into another body—the only way to die Real Death is if the stack is physically destroyed.

To provide order in far-flung human space, a special elite corps called Envoys has been created. Members of this corps are needlecast to wherever they are needed, downloaded into waiting bodies and then sent on their missions.

The novel’s protagonist, Takeshi Kovachs, is a disgraced former Envoy who is needlecast to Earth to help solve the “murder” of a wealthy industrialist.

Altered Carbon is fast-moving and dense, with the dehumanizing consequences of stack technology providing a hard edge and and a linchpin for the plot to revolve around. Think Neuromancer meets Dashiell Hammett. It is rich in ideas and doesn’t flinch from the darker sides of humanity.

Highly recommended.

« New shininess

 »


Enjoy the ten latest posts!

Often injustice lies in what you aren’t doing, not only in what you are doing

Die in a ditch

After all these years, Nic still can’t understand the American attitude to healthcare.

The big thieves hang the little ones

Book roundup, part 29

A sci-fi and fantasy heavy installment that includes The Valedictorian of Being Dead, The Mastermind, Broadsword Calling Danny Boy, Tiamat’s Wrath, The Raven Tower, The Liberation, The Light Brigade and Cryptonomicon.

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable

Book roundup, part 28

Includes The Incomplete Book of Running, Aching God, The Murderbot Diaries, Lies Sleeping, The Consuming Fire, and Rendezvous with Rama.

Las Vegas trip report

Did you know Las Vegas is kind of nutty?

Book roundup, part 27

Includes Hollywood Dead, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, The Court of Broken Knives, and Port of Shadows.

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle

“Cancel everything. You’re going into emergency surgery today”

Nic has a retinal tear and has his vision is saved by a laser.