pen admission – I saw the Netflix version of this before reading it. Like The Expanse, it was better in some ways and worse in some ways. But Altered Carbon is still a great book, smooth as brandy in a detective noir tale (of which this pretty much is).
In our nasty future, you can cheat death by being installed into another body (re-sleeved). Hey, isn’t that nice? But trust the author of this wonderful gritty tale to bring up the lousy way this could work out. For example, you get put away for a crime? Someone else can use your body. Want to have your departed grandparents at your Bar Mitzva? Just have them popped into a hulking black man and an aging streetwalker (if you are under a budget). You can lose your body, have it sold out from you, have it used as a touring model, have it turn into a utility body. It isn’t yours, not anymore.
So Takeshi Kovacs (a one-time super-agent for the powers that be, and now a criminal terrorist just killed in a shoot out offworld) finds himself beamed to Earth to solve a rich man’s murder. Yes, the man is still alive – he backs himself up. But he wants to know whodunit. Himself? His wife? Access to him was pretty tight, so the list of suspects is limited. But don’t worry – there are still other plotlines working here, unknown individuals commissioning muscle to track him, convince him, even kill him. Nothing is quite what it seems in this strange world of resurrection is a yawn-fest and the dead can be brought back to testify.
Great read but tight read. Like all good noir, the dialog is gritty and sharp, the dames deadly, the chauffeurs hulking brutes, the cops corrupt and disinterested. Pay attention and don’t get too wound up on some parts of it. Eventually it all makes sense.
But this one is worth it.