Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs)

By Richard K. Morgan

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stephen lee
This novel has been critised for being overly complex and slow. It is complex but not slow, givven the numerous threads that are developed. Well worth reading. I'm a Richard Morgan groupie - waiting for the next volume!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ilana
I love this book. I think it's my favorite of 2016. It is an amazing first novel, a tiny bit imperfect in places, but truly amazing throughout.

Reading this book makes you feel like a total badass, and it's full of visceral detail. And, unlike many writers, Morgan doesn't shy away from including sex where sex should be included. It's refreshing.

This book does include graphic violence, some sex, and some torture. That said, it's well-done -- just enough to make you squirm, but not enough to give you nightmares -- and I'm usually too squeamish to watch most movies.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sarah funke
I enjoy many different science fiction genes; however, I did not enjoy this book as it was way to explicit for my taste in reading material. I guess I got caught up in the hype of this book based on the numerous good reviews and it was one which I received at a discounted price via the store’s Whispersync match.

I enjoyed the technology, story concepts, and science fiction aspects of this book. Be aware that this book is very dark and gritty with a large amount of noir style. Think of Bladerunner, The Matrix meets a detective noir movie. It is heavy in its use of vulgar language and has a few scenes of detailed adult sexual content including many areas that involve heavy adult subject matter. This book is not suitable for non-adult readers, and even if you are an adult and are not interested in this type of material, I would not read this book.

The author has created a believable science fiction world with many new technologies. The world contains all the same items as our existing world such as religion (a negative view), watchful government, police control, and many of the seeder aspects of a larger city. There are brothels, homeless, drug usage, etc. It does not seem like a happy place to live or grow up.

Todd McLaren did a decent job of narrating this quite long book. Much of the book is written from the first person perspective, so the narrator did not need to voice many of the other characters, but where there were multiple characters, the narrator did a good job of distinguishing them. Todd has narrated over 148 books on Audible (as of this review posting), all in various categories and genres and from this book I can see why he has been successful.

With regard to the Audiobook version, I will say that were some issues with the chapter sections of the book compared to the chapter markers in the audiobook. The audiobook says there are 15 total chapters, but the book itself has more than double this number of chapters. The majority of the book was very clear and clear. I found the book’s volume to be a bit low compared to other audiobooks I have listened to requiring me to turn the volume almost all the way up for normal levels. There were a few spots near the end of the story where there were a few sound artifacts such as a few clicks or swallows. Nothing that takes away from the book, but I now for some this is very important.
The Journal of James Halldon - Diary of the Displaced :: Little Girl Gone (A Logan Harper Thriller Book 1) :: When All the Girls Have Gone :: A Garden Girls Cozy Mystery (Garden Girls Christian Cozy Mystery Series Book 2) :: The Punch Escrow
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
colette pezley
Really enjoyed first book. Kinda liked the second. Couldn’t finish the third. I stopped reading halfway and went to last two chapters. Still didn’t miss anything. Excruciatingly slow and all the angst. Took a great character and made him a cry baby. Wish I could get my money back.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
david ouillette
This is a review of the Audible version of Woken Furies (not of the book itself, which is a great read, but IMO, not as good as the first two books in the series).

The narrator (William Durfis) and the producer (Tantor Audio) for Woken Furies should be ashamed of themselves for the low level of quality of the audio book. They did not provide nearly the same level of quality as the Audible version of the first two books in the series, Altered Carbon and Broken Angels (both narrated by Todd McLaren — who BTW did a brilliant job).

It’s obvious from very early on in Woken Furies that the narrator hasn’t even bothered to listen to (or even READ) the first two books. If he had, he would not have mispronounced the primary characters name throughout the narration (and the pronunciation of the primary character, Takenshi Kovacs, is actually a specific — albeit relatively minor — part of the earlier books (i.e., his last name is pronounced “Ko-vach” not “Kovacks” — and he’s able, for example, to know whether someone he is having a conversation with is familiar with his history or his home planet if they pronounce it correctly as “Ko-Vach”). But the way the narrator Durfis says it throughout Woken Furies (“Kovacks”) — even when the character is talking to himself) is beyond frustrating given the importance of the pronunciation in the first two novels.... and it’s enough to break the flow of immersion in the book.

On top of the main character’s name being mispronounced, narrator Durfis also mispronounces a bunch of other words and names throughout the book.

Even worse, someone (either Durfis, or more likely Tantor Audio) made the idiotic decision to have certain parts of the book (where the main character is thinking or talking to himself) distorted with a HORRIBLE fake echo, making it sound like he recorded it in an empty kitchen or garage. In fact, the first entire section of the Audible version (the prologue) is inexplicably recorded with that tiny fake echo....and I almost returned the purchase as defective.

Tantor Audio is a substantial sized company, and I assume narrator Durfis has decent amount of experience...but for whoever reason, this particular recording is an embarrassment to the author, and just sounds like an unplanned of very amateur style. If I were the author (Richard Morgan) I would insist that they pull this terrible quality recording, and have it redone by Todd McLaren...or at least someone who can pronounce the name of the primary character correctly. If they can’t do that, it should at least be re-edited to take out the truly ghastly echo effect used.

I highly recommend reading Woken Furies, along with the first two novels about Takeshi Kovacs...and I also highly recommend the Audible versions of those first two books. But I have to give an unqualified, and really big, THUMBS DOWN on the Audible version of Woken Furies (your better off saving your money for any other audiobook).
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
nick donald
Boring writing, themes slapped together from different past sci fi titles, sexual scened added to make it interesting and tons of nonsensical blabber. 300 Years into the past and his characters act as if its 2050, zero imagination. Seriously hated the book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shannon giraffe days
There must be a formula for this kind of book at this point:

1. Thematic technology - check ("altered carbon" refers to storage media implanted in people's brain stem to "store" their memories and psychic being)

2. Noir-ish characters and plot - check (It's Sam Spade meets Ripley meets Johnny Rico in this case, if you can follow that chain of associations)

3. Tech based adjectives piled on thick enough to connote culture shock - check

4. Virtual Reality - check

5. Lots of blood. - check.

Okay, it passes muster for Cyberpunk. Hower, comparing even the seminal books in this ouvre (Gibson, Sterling, etc.) with truly visionary voices in SF, like A.E. Van Gogt or Bradbury, and you begin to realize that Cyberpunk is to really good science fiction what bands like Blink 182 or Sum 41 are to The Clash and The Sex Pistols... a bit of a good thing gone bad.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jsenthil
Let me just say I watched the series first, which I enjoyed and hoped the novel would be even better. This was not the case, at all. This novel reads like bad fan fiction, by the end of the first page I knew I wasn't going to be able to continue. The author employs childish similes every few lines, to add descriptive bulk. Somehow he manages not to actually describe anything, but make things unintentionally hilarious. He also fills the page with self created vocabulary, trying to make his world seem complex, but it comes off confusing and unnecessary. I admit I have not read this genre before, and I doubt I will again. Kudos to the Netflix for turning something like this into a watchable show.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
paulatina myers
Anybody who says they followed this story totally is probably obfuscating. Morgan is a very good writer and turns a few magnificent phrases. His politics seem spot on for the present day turmoil. His characters and universe sizzle. However, the book, in my opinion, is way overwritten and dense in places. The reader might as well take notes to try and keep up. I give Morgan 10 stars for his worlds, writing, his universe, and his originality, but a quiet “ehhhhhh....” for the rest of it. I did look at Book 2 in the series and decided to pass it totally based on the horrendous beginning. I looked at book three and it started off just so-so and then dropped into MOrgan’s “dead zone,” where we don’t know where we are, when it is, who we are, or what’s going on. I think I’ll just stop here with Book 1. Reading anything else for $12 or more doesn’t seem necessary or desirable. I was to remember WhatisName—the hero, whatever his name is—as he was. I won’t read anymore of these.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jill henderson
I haven’t started reading this yet, but binged watched it on Netflix so I can’t say if the stories are identical or not. BUT if you love science fiction this is a really really good! I’ll update my review after I read the books.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
guillaume
The concepts and science fiction were very interesting and captivating, and I loved reading about the world in the future. However, there is way too much lowbrow pandering, including very sexual/pornographic scenes and extreme violence.

There is the good and there is the bad.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
andreea avasiloaiei
Altered Carbon is one of my favorite books from the last 10 years. The world created by Morgan was fascinating, full of potential. However, the second book Broken Angels, was a major let down, and now the third book Woken Furies is worse still. If you liked the first novel, and are looking for more of the same, DO NOT READ WOKEN FURIES. You will be horribly disappointed. The plot is a rambling mess. Kovacs is a mopey character that you can not feel any connection to. Basically, there is nothing engaging about this novel. My interest in these Tokeshi Kovacs novels had been fueled by my admiration for the first novel, but now that is over. No more Kovac novels for me.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
teri massey
To all readers: This is not a tickle-your-ears, politically correct review. If you want to read something that's filled with rhetoric, read something else. If you want the truth, then read this review. First, the misinformation: Takeshi Kovacs suggests that his activities are on the up-and-up. Where the heck did he come up with that? To turn that question around, why is he so compelled to complain about situations over which he has no control? Many people consider that question irrelevant on the grounds that when a mistake is made, the smart thing to do is to admit it and reverse course. That takes real courage. The way that Takeshi stubbornly refuses to own up to his mistakes serves only to convince me that he has never disproved anything I've ever written. Takeshi does, however, often try to discredit me by means of flagrant misquotations, by attributing to me views that I've never expressed. In the end, I once heard a couple people ask him to comment on how his superficial arguments have been establishing beachheads on paper and celluloid and silicon and everywhere else that superficial arguments can appear. Takeshi proceeded to bombard these questioners with insults, calling them chthonic loonies and the like. Sure, Takeshi has a reputation for laying into his corrivals, but this indecent reaction fails to answer the substance of his detractors' points.

Takeshi and his terrorist organization have been hard at work creating a one-world government combining nosism and frotteurism under the same tent, all under their control. Do I mean conspiracy? Yes I do. I am convinced that there is such a plot, international in scope, generations old in planning, and incredibly cocky in intent. If this avaricious scheme is successful, you can wave goodbye to your freedom to say anything publicly about how Takeshi has been known to siphon off scarce international capital intended for underdeveloped countries. That always spurs on his trucklers to replace law and order with anarchy and despotism. That, in turn, encourages Takeshi to let pedigreed, detestable shirkers serve as our overlords. This cycle inevitably, inexorably ratchets upwards and outwards until at last some irascible barrator winds up throwing us into a “heads I win, tails you lose” situation. I have now said everything there is to say. So, to summarize it all, Takeshi Kovacs's hallucinations about the benefits of barbarism are so deep and inveterate that they can be broken, if at all, only if we build a society in which people have a sense of permanence and stability, not chaos and uncertainty.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
stacy lewis
I have to agree with some of the other reviews I’ve read regarding the quality of the Audible version of this book.

The echo of the narrator while taking from the point of view of Kovacs and the mispronunciation of the main character’s name isn’t very distracting and makes it unlistenable. I returned the audio book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
crystal reed
Is there a science fiction writer out there who doesn't have a political ax to grind? Maybe it's the speculation about the future of humanity that forces them to drive some of their personal views miles into left field, but really, do you think that 100's of years from now they will be saying things that could be stripped from the Huffington post op. ed. pages?

Yes we get it already, you hate religion and the religious, and you feel the individual rights are subject to the state (unless of course, it's you/your character's rights). Is it possible to write a book without forcing those hatreds down our throats? Or do all authors feel that we're all 'morons like that, swallowing belief patterns whole', and have to be reminded of their enlightened political view whenever we do some recreational reading?

As mentioned in the review's title, this book is clearly from a skilled writer--nice atmosphere, great pacing, no wasted exposition or slow description. But he preserves his most hostile language of the whole book for the future Catholics of earth, using the main characters to provide some particularly barbed comments, and in the end celebrates the UN deciding to deny them the right to stay dead when they pass away. No, I'm not catholic myself, but the hatred of 'the opiate of the masses' and the reverence of the state is just to aligned with current political viewpoints to be fitting for an earth that's 300+ years away. I guess it's great if you don't get enough vitriol from today's political pundits, but for me, it seemed anachronistic. All of this technology advancement, all of this socio-economic upheaval from the colonization of space, and yet for their political views, they refer to something that could have come from a 20th century issue of "The New Worker"? Call me a pattern-swallowing moron, but I'm getting tired of it.

Is there a sci-fi writer out there that can separate his political views from his stories?
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
canan ya mur
I have a lot of books in my queue and I'm less tolerant of mediocre books than I used to be. This is one of those mediocre books. The writing isn't horrible, but it's certainly not good either. The plot has the potential to be interesting, but after reading a third of the book, I didn't care what happened to any of the characters, not even the protagonist. The sex scenes were so laughably bad the book should have received a nomination for the Bad Sex in Fiction award.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
adel ibrahem
I thought a change of pace was in order... so I wrote this review upside down and backwards.

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★
molly sheridan
I started with the TV series, then read all three novels. It just gets better and better. There are some malcontents who liked the TV series but not the novels, or liked the Altered Carbon novel but not the sequels. I'm just the opposite: novels better than the TV show, each novel better than the last.
The TV adaptation was pretty good, but it had a silly subplot where the villain, Reileen Kawahara or whatever her name is, is also Kovac's long lost sister. Just ridiculous, unconvincing, impossible to care about, despite Dichen Lachman doing a pretty good job with this terrible material. You get these sickeningly sentimental childhood flashbacks about the sister, and then 250 years later, she's this totally evil monster. Maybe something like that COULD work, but it just doesn't.
In the books, btw, TK did have an abusive father who beat his mother, but there's no sister.

There is a tremendous amount of graphic violence; I don't think it's gratuitous at all, it's integral, but there sure is a lot of it.
There is no humor whatsoever. There are two very graphic, explicit, erotic, very well done sex scenes in each novel, which provides some relief.
(Of course some people hate that).

There's some serious, very well done, social/historical commentary about inequality, tyranny, revolution and democracy, which comes to a fairly satisfactory conclusion at the end, though with the help of a deus ex machina.
Anyway, I get that it's not for everyone with all the violence, and some people are also put off by the sex, and even the swearing.
If you don't mind those things, it's not just extremely good, it has real stature. Very worth your time, at least to try the first one.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
rich uchytil
Todd McLaren does not do this novel justice. In fact, I am finding it difficult to keep listening. He is way too stagey -- I don't want a reader to be an actor, especially if they are not a good actor. McLaren does really really bad accents, and high-pitches the female characters. I am super disappointed, especially for my first Audible purchase.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kristen frankie
Lots of talk about the main characters hard-on, how that erection came about, and his addiction to nicotine. Other than that, a worthless and shallow exploration of what should have been an interesting concept.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
michelle jones
Reminds me of the kind of stuff I saw in my junior college creative writing workshops. Really. Sorry to be rough on the guy and God bless him for putting it out there, but I was so bothered by the stilted writing that I had to put it down. Completely unsubtle, boring use of the language. Like a white boy playing the blues: the guy has a couple chops but lacks soul. Who cares?

Read William Gibson again (or for the first time GO NOW!) for chrissakes. How many pages did I get through? About 20 I guess, maybe a couple more. Admittedly, it's not completely fair of me to review a book I hardly started, but I'm suggesting that you not make the same mistake I did and spend money on this. Further, I'd rather re-read Neuromancer a thousand times than take another crack at this brick so this is what you get.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
chitra gopalan
I'm starting to think that the "cyberpunk" genre just isn't for me. I struck out with William Gibson's "Neuromancer" years ago, finding it just too unpleasant and confusing to continue... but I figured I would have better luck with "Altered Carbon," the first in Richard Morgan's "Takeshi Kovacs" series. If nothing else, I owed it to myself to read the book before I checked out the series, right? But despite the rave reviews this book has gotten, I found it merely okay -- many of the concepts and much of the worldbuilding are intriguing, even excellent, but the entire book seems to be just an excuse to wallow in graphic, pointless violence, gore, and sex, and the sociopathic hero doesn't help matters.

"Altered Carbon" follows Takeshi Kovacs, a former elite soldier turned criminal and mercenary who lives in a future where death is nearly obsolete -- humans are given a "stack," a computer core that resides in the back of their skull, where they can upload their personality and "re-sleeve" it into a new body upon death... or if they just fancy a change of pace. Takeshi has been confined to virtual prison -- locked in his stack, bodiless -- but is re-sleeved by a wealthy man who wants him to solve a crime for him. With the only alternative being shuttled back into his stack, Takeshi takes the job... one that will draw him from the slums of Bay City (formerly San Francisco) to the lofty heights of a luxurious brothel in the sky, and will entangle him in a conspiracy that will shake Bay City, and possibly all of Earth, to its foundations...

There's plenty of interesting worldbuilding in this book, both Takeshi's homeworld of Harlan's World (though the vast majority of the book takes place on Earth) and on Earth itself. The heightened technology and the ways both culture and government have adapted to accommodate them were fascinating, and there are elements only alluded to in the text (a lost Martian civilization, the fact that whales are recognized as a sentient species, etc.) that would have made fascinating stories in their own right. And while the dialogue in this book is bland and stilted, the first-person detective-film-noir writing style was witty and interesting, and kept me reading.

Don't expect to root much for the main character, though -- or really, any characters. Almost everyone in this book is a sociopath, or at the very least has glaring flaws. The main character in particular has no qualms about using others to get what he wants or needs, even innocent people, and it's very hard to root for and sympathize with him when he's just as prone to killing, manipulating, and screwing over people as the so-called villains. Even slightly more sympathetic characters, such as Ortega the cop, can come across as unlikable bigots or worse. The few genuinely good characters tend to get used, manipulated, and in general stomped on throughout the book -- which may be the author trying to make a point about how horrible the world of this book is, that you have to be tough and stoop to unethical means to stay alive, but it doesn't make for pleasant reading.

(As a side note regarding characters here, much is made of Sarah, a friend of Takeshi's... but she vanishes after the prologue, has none of her character established, and is pretty much nothing more than a bargaining chip for the rest of the novel. We're obviously supposed to care about what happens to her, but that's very hard to do when we know nothing about her and have no reason to be invested in her fate.)

Also, reader be warned -- this book contains a LOT of graphic violence and torture, and Morgan isn't shy about describing blood and gore in vivid detail. Also, his sex scenes go into way too much graphic detail, coming across as a teenage boy's fanfic at times. I'm not against violence and sex in a book, but there are times when way too much of either, or too much detail regarding them, end up spoiling a book. I have a feeling some of this ends up trimmed down or cut in the series...

While not a terrible book, "Altered Carbon" is definitely a grim and unpleasant read, albeit with some fascinating worldbuilding elements. There are some great concepts here, but it's hard to root for any of the characters when they're such sociopaths and gleefully indulge in violence, torture, and manipulation of others. Perhaps the cyberpunk genre just isn't for me...
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
mojgan ghafari shirvan
I'm glad I'm done with this, I didn't think I was going to make it.

Although the book had plenty of gratuitous violence and sex, it just didn't hold my attention. Part of that might have been that the mystery over why the murder/suicide was committed was pretty contrived. Any idiot, meaning me, could see it -- not the exact details, but the basic reason -- as soon as the question was fully framed. And then there were the long conversations that villians and heroes often have where they explain their motives so that the reader will know. Like, we're fighting to the death, but first let me explain why I hate you.

The characters were okay, as far as that goes. Nothing to write home about.

The social issues were not particularly insightful.

The writing was okay.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
andrada
This story has the basic feel of a film noir detective story. The author has an overall good command of the english language and writes fairly well. People who like post-mortality science fiction may well like this story if they also like hard-boiled detectives.

This story went wrong with me in that the author seems to get a little too sidetracked in some of his basic concepts and has found reasons to hypermagnify brutality without particularly adding to the story. I do not well tolerate authors indulging in torture porn and I put this book down when I saw that this author was setting up to waste my time on more of that. I can tell he keeps telling himself "Well, the world is like this, so the story needs this," but he managed to overdo it.

One of the pivotal ideas the author is working with in this story is the basic notion that souls can be transferred between bodies by an electronic means. Given that the biological substrate of the body produces sapient life as an emergent property from trillions of cells, it isn't actually physically possible to 'rewrite' those cells to contain the personality of another person without completely replacing the biological brain. Since that is true, the author is fundamentally asserting that computer technology is capable of simulating a person. In this, he went out of his way to assert that this person-copying technology only takes a "flash picture" of a mind and that minds can only be rewritten at great difficulty, thus validating the most horrific torture as a means of getting information out of a person. The problem being, of course, that if the technology exists to replace conscious identities in a body, computers must be strong enough to continuously simulate a human mind in that body (since the physical brain is unrewriteable at a global level, a person in a new body is a simulation), which, sadly, requires that a simulated mind be _totally_understood_ in order to validate the quality of the simulation. In order to know your simulation is the person it's supposed to be, you have to be able to know that the processes in the copy are not distinguishable from the processes in the original, which means knowing how those processes work. The requirement for that level of understanding facilitates being able to know a mind for its parts, meaning that tools would exist for navigating those parts.

So, from all this, why torture? By making a mind easily extractable and essentially infinitely portable, the mysteriousness of the mind must be simultaneously jettisoned: the outcomes of extractability and portability require deep understanding. Becoming able to port the mind means that the mind has less chance to be incomprehensible. So, why torture? Why not simply make copies and then have a learning AI extract memories by simulating the mind piecemeal and wringing out its knowledge. In this story, AIs are so common and easy to build that they can be wasted running autonomous hotels! The whole point of AI is having a dedicated creative mind that can handle inhuman workloads, like say decoding the functioning of someone's brain. So why not use it??? The victim would not even know he had talked. Hard for a mind to withhold a secret when an examiner can simply mow through the processing until it learns which part would withhold that information and then write it out of the simulation. The only reason for torture in this story is that the author is freely setting illogical limits on his technology in order to necessitate being horribly hot-poker-up-the-ass brutal, which is utterly stupid in my opinion.

These singularity fiction mind extraction stories always come down to this. They want the mind to be portable to make a human being immortal, but they also want the mind to remain mysterious. Fact is that you can't have the first without losing the second and none of these authors ever seem to realize that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kirei
I liked the concept/story a lot.
I liked the characters a lot.
I liked the "universe" that the author created.

What I DIDN'T like was the wordy, metaphor-riddled prose I had to wrestle with page after page.
Every paragraph was filled with them, to the point of distaction.
Finally, I stopped reading the "text" and only read the dialogue.

No, it's not that I cannot appreciate descriptive story-telling.
The problem was that it was far too much.
It was cute at first, but by the second chapter I had enough of it already. You can tell a good story with plenty of twists without without having to prove that you know a lot of words. Just ask Lee Child or Michael Connelly.

If you have a lot of patience, and want to try something along the lines of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, you'll like this alot.
Otherwise, do it like I did and let your eyes wander forward anytime you get bored with the metaphors...
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
mimi friday
This, by far, the worst audiobook I have ever had the displeasure of listening to. The NEW narrator doesn't know how to pronounce Kovacs' name, (which, in the other books, upset Kovacs to no end) his voices are terrible and do not fit the main character. Another reviewer mentioned "used car salesman". They actually put a TERRIBLE echo chamber effect on flashbacks or voice in the back of your head moments. it sounds horrible. I almost stopped the audiobook before it began. Just read the book and avoid the audiobook if you can. The story is interesting but the narration is off-putting.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
tamkeen
This book has been made into a series, which I watched before I read. I don't know that I would have understood much of the world build if I hadn't already seen the show. The premise is that in the future, people will have memory storage units called stacks implanted in their brainstem. Basically, you never have to die. Because of cloning, your stack can be uploaded to a new body, or sleeve. If you're rich enough, you can have your stack download to a secure storage site. People called Meths - Methuselahs - can effectively live for hundreds of years.

Altered Carbon is a crime novel set in this wildly futuristic setting. Takeshi Kovacs is an envoy, a person turned into the perfect assassin by the military. He went rogue and was imprisoned. Then a Meth killed himself. At least he killed the sleeve he was wearing at the time. With a 48 hour blank spot of memories that never uploaded to storage, he doesn't believe he killed himself and pulls Takeshi out of prison to find the real killer. Twist - Takeshi isn't put into his real sleeve to do the job. He gets put into the body of a police officer doing time for corruption.

And that's the set up. The story really is very good, but there isn't a lot of describing going on, and with the extreme amount of science setup in the world, it could have used a bit more. It pains me to say it, but I like the series better. There are more books to this series. Not sure I'll venture forth.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
simin saifuddin
When a world develops to the point of being able to download human consciousness the types of crimes committed are likely to become more creative, even if they accomplish the same end result. In Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, solving a murder leads the investigation into a greater web of conspiracy.

In a future version of the world where we have flying cars, can travel to different planets fairly easily, and are capable of downloading our consciousness into new bodies, some staples of societal dysfunction remain: crime. When a wealthy man finds himself dead with no recollection of how he became that way he enlists the assistance of a highly skilled and experienced Envoy called Takeshi Kovacs, but he's downloaded him into the body of a police officer with his own set of issues, which includes his partner's determination to clear his tarnished name as she pays his sleeve storage fees. As Kovacs investigates this murder the police classified a suicide he begins to uncover a larger conspiracy permeating throughout the elite of society that might just answer more than who killed the billionaire.

The story plods rather slowly despite all the fascinating possibilities presented through the intrigue of widespread conspiracy and the way it tackles big philosophical questions, yet it's interspersed with sudden leaps in logic or conjecture to move the story forward that felt a bit disjointed. Though there were some characters who had some aspects to them that were interesting, Kovacs didn't really capture my attention, though by all accounts he should have as the narrator and protagonist; his thoughts would typically traverse from either sex or his father while he tried to make sense of the pieces of his investigation, which just made me sigh aloud at the simplicity. There were kernels of promising ideas throughout the story that just needed more development to make them stronger and more compelling.

Overall, I'd give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

P.S. My perception of this novel is undoubtedly impacted by the fact that I watched the Netflix interpretation of it prior to reading the source material (which is something that I try really hard NOT to do).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
declineda
So who's up for another round of lovingly rendered violence, cracklingly tough dialogue that seems to be constantly asking for an excuse to start another fight, a twisty plot that threatens to collapse under the weight of its own convolutions at times and just enough graphically desperate sex to give us a respite from the twists and the bullets (when said sex isn't forwarding the plot or a prelude to violence)? Strangely . . . I am.

I'm not normally a fan of "series" type books because I feel like too often it can devolve into a rut just dispensing the same plot and atmosphere over and over again to a fanbase that isn't super-willing to try anything different as long as they keep getting served up great dollops of the stuff they like. But because I'm apparently a giant hypocrite, I will say I've enjoyed this one. On the plus side, it does seem to be the last one thus far, giving me some chance of escaping here with my integrity intact, such as it is.

One thing I will give Morgan credit for, though, is that throughout these three books (which aren't so much a trilogy as separate adventures featuring the same character, with subtle threads linking each one . . . but frankly you could read them in any order or even only read one) he's done his best to maintain the same weary and downbeat tone and dark atmosphere (it never seems like daytime, maybe because the book covers are so dark) while shifting the underlying focus of every plot. In "Altered Carbon", it was a Chandler riff. In "Broken Angels" it was a weird mash-up of "The Naked and the Dead" and "Indiana Jones". But both books shared the commonality of Takeshi Kovacs' supreme allegiance to the Church of Not Giving a Crap, with many moments of him not so much playing with fire as dousing himself liberally with gasoline and giggling as he lit the match (and then setting off the bombs he placed around the building for the sake of being thorough) while maintaining a stern commitment to insulting almost every person he comes into contact with to the point where even placid Buddhists would be willing to chuck their principles at the door and apply for the heaviest weapons permit they could manage. Or, as Kovacs might put it, just another day at the office.

This time around Morgan appears to be mixing the detective stuff from the first novel with the war action of the second, as Kovacs winds up back home on Harlan's World, a place he's talked a whole lot about in the previous books (mostly how it a) sucks, b) is mostly covered in water and c) has Martian orbitals surrounding it that tend to shoot down everything in the sky without warning . . . leading to the invention of an darkly amusing form of execution) but hasn't been back to until he decided to slaughter every single person in a restrictive religious order for very personal reasons that become clearer as the novel goes on. In the course of taking a breather between murders he winds up saving a woman named Sylvie and before long gets mixed up with her group, a band of deComs that run around on assignments to take out sentient military hardware. This seems like harmless good clean fun until suddenly it seems that Sylvie is manifesting the personality of former revolutionary leader (and oft quoted in the novels) and spellcheck defeating Quellcrist Falconer, who was supposed dead but might have survived somehow inside Sylvie for reasons that don't seem at all possible. However, before Kovacs can do anything with this revelation, such as cash in on her memoirs, she gets kidnapped by forces of the dictators that rule the planet.

Oh, and before I neglect to mention this, Kovacs is also being chased by a younger version of himself, a saved copy that someone resleeved into another body (unfortunately denying us a scene of them fighting and then trying to convince bystanders which one is the evil one . . . of course, on some level they're both kind of the evil one going by how quick they are to shoot people in the face).

If all of this seems like too much plot . . . it almost is. Morgan manages to keep this from devolving into a mess through an almost superhuman effort, mostly by allowing the plot to morph as it goes along and letting his revelations play out slowly so that we're always adjusting to new slants on the ongoing plot. This book seems to have a much larger cast than the previous novels and risk being unwieldy at times, something I thought plagued "Broken Angels" but here he manages to get around that by jettisoning huge chunks of the supporting cast periodically in massacres (mostly offscreen) and then bringing in a whole new cast (such as a group of former criminal associates that also appear to be surfers in what's either an unspoken homage to "Point Break" or the logical consequence of living on a world of mostly water). The only problem that happens is when he starts mixing the two casts together we can often go a hundred pages before seeing someone again and its often difficult to remember all the individual details of what feels like the twenty people involved in the plot at any given time (and that doesn't count the surprise guests from his past we get later).

For the most part, though, he keeps up much of the elements that have made the series darkly endearing in the first place. He does seem to be edging Kovacs away from anti-hero and toward actually unlikable at several points . . . his vengeance toward the religious group is perhaps justified but his reaction is straight up mass murder (which, to be honest, he's shown to be capable previously as recently as, oh, the last book) and he spends most of the book going out of his way to alienate pretty much every one he comes into contact with, either through word or action. Morgan gives him more than a few moments that are crowd-pleasing speeches where he goes off on several people with righteous speeches (including a firecracker of one toward an organized crime member) that would only seem to work if every other character on the planet acknowledges his seeming cloak of invincibility, though I guess you could argue he just doesn't care at that point.

But as much as it felt like Morgan was coasting slightly in the last book with a hyperviolent version of "Starship Troopers", this one brings back more of the world building that marked "Altered Carbon", giving us a Harlan's World that feels as lived in and real as the future San Francisco did the first time around, with its own culture and messed up politics, inside a future where all the world feels interconnected. The little details and scenes that we pass through on the way to the end, as well as the continued exploration of Kovacs' childhood, gives the book a more grounded feel that the distant military conflict couldn't always pull off. The plot at times seems to lurch from revelation to revelation but when its over you can at least draw a line to see how you got there, even if Morgan paints the picture in a somewhat obtuse way.

It makes for an appealing combination of mystery and political thriller, giving Kovacs a dilemma to puzzle through while dodging underworld warfare (or causing it, depending on the time of day) and while the crosses and double crosses run the risk of giving you whiplash, for the most part it doesn't seem like he cheats, but merely deploys information strategically. The sometimes opacity of the plot and the weird disregard for developing the secondary Kovacs (he never seems to figure significantly or become much of a threat and some of the dialogue between the two of them is cringe inducing in how hypermasculine it comes across, though that could be the point) are probably my two biggest quibbles but overall its a step forward from the previous novels, which were pretty good to begin with (the sex and violence are still prominent but if you're still mad about that by the third book I have to wonder if you're perhaps looking for trouble). Its hard to see where Kovacs would go from here when its all over but being Morgan has apparently commented he's not going any further with this, even if he seems aware that he could too easily dilute what he's already managed to accomplish.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
fateme
They changed the narrator....really, the 3rd book in a series and you change the narrator?? Also the narrator and production are bad, really bad. In the first book they make a point of pointing our how the main character’s name is properly pronounced and afterwards everyone pronounces it correctly until the 3rd book where the NARRATOR pronounces it wrong! Very disappointed.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
haylee
I rarely stop reading a book midway through, but I couldn't make it past page 200. The sentence structure is too poor for me to ignore, and the verbiage left me unable to concentrate on the story itself. Admittedly, that may be a good thing, since the character's actions were unexplainable, and the scenarios didn't seem to fit together.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daniel purcell
wow! Everyone here has pretty much nailed it but let me add a few notes. There are mysteries here. His girlfriend that he thought dead with his sister is the creator of the of the stack. That alone is a whole evolution of stories that have not been told. The story pulls from all ends to help us focus on the task but does not deliver on Takeshi special abilities which are on mentioned but not shown in explanation. Takeshi is so very special that he can withstand a tremendous amount of torture and this book delivers that. I honestly believe that the writer is trying to take religion and what God will mean in a High Tech world that lives on many planets as incredible distances, the writer focuses on a minority group that is known for a heavy upbringing of Christianity and closeness, unlike some other cultures. I find the writer very knowledgeable in the human condition and because of this and this alone I give this book 5 stars, Mr. Morgan is a Social Scientist and he really does a fabulous job in bringing out humanities disgusting and sinful natures yet serches the compasion that we all strugle to hold on to and some how slips away in time.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
else fine
I decided to get the book (audible version) in anticipation of watching the Netflix show. Now, it's doubtful that I will spend any more of my life on this thing.

Others have written extensively about the story's details, so I won't repeat them here, but I honestly don't know what all of the positive reviewers saw in it *overall*. There are many interesting ideas put forward -- in fact the book is crammed full of them -- which makes it all the more disappointing that few of those ideas are developed to any real extent, if at all.

Instead, the tantalizing social, political, and moral conflicts are mostly buried beneath an unending avalanche of dead bodies and giggling boobs. The violence is practically pornographic, and what should be actual porn is laugh-out-loud adolescent fantasy. Unfortunately, when you decide to overlook both the violence and the sex in order to experience the world and involve yourself in the 'murder mystery', you're left with an extremely thin story that only starts to come into play in the latter part of the book and the unfulfilled expectations of 'what would have been'.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
makenzie dolnick
Hey don't give me wrong I love David Sedaris. If you're reading about a guy having boyfriend problems in Paris trying to learn French or being a Christmas elf he's your guy. But a hardcore science-fiction thriller about a psychotic body switching ninja, probably not.

This guy, DuFris did a lot of Scalzi's books so I think he has some science-fiction street cred, except that he didn't do any of them very well. He's got a light, high-pitched effeminate voice that sounds kind of like he's mimicking screaming between his hands down a hallway half the time. To me, it's kind of like having to listen to Dick Hill do women's voices for an entire novel. Christopher Price from the Repairman Jack series would have been an interesting and much better option.

As far as the book goes it's an okay watered down wrap-up of the Takashi Kovacs story-line that manages to simultaneously feel rushed and dragging at the same time. I read the first two books in and then listened to the audiobooks. McLaren the guy who did the first two, made that series. Listening to him narrate made the books twice is good. He was not only amazing but he just had the perfect voice for Kovacs.

I don't know why they dug this guy up, I guess maybe McLaren was not available. If you just want to wrap up the story-line go ahead and read the book but don't listen to it and if you're sold on an audiobook, go listen to something else .
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lee ann
In Altered Carbon, set 300-500 years in the future, human minds can be stored digitally and transmitted to other planets or downloaded into new bodies. If their body dies, their mind still exists (unless their cortical stack is destroyed). This makes life incredibly cheap. Even the act of murder is referred to as "organic damage." The very rich (called "Meths" after the Biblical figure Methuselah) can store clones of their body and copies of their mind, and are essentially immortal. They act accordingly, as if they are gods who can do whatever they want (including "snuffing" prostitutes).

Enter Takeshi Kovacs, who is downloaded into a policeman's body to solve the physical (but not mental) death of a prominent Meth, Laurens Bancroft. The local cops have decided his body's death was a suicide. He thinks it's murder, and hires Kovacs to solve the case.

Altered Carbon has done more to revive cyberpunk than any other work I can think of. It weaves a noir detective story into a dystopian (I would say semi-dystopian) future. Morgan's future society is well drawn. The writing is stellar. The book is full of insights about humanity and society. I would have given this book 5 stars except for two things. The protagonist (Kovacs) is not very likable. In fact, he commits mass murder, which eliminated any shreds of sympathy I had for him. He changes into a good guy at the end, but the change was abrupt and unconvincing. And the ending itself was too quick and neat, with all the threads wrapped up satisfactorily. It felt artificial.

Still, this is a great book from a very talented author, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes gritty SF and isn't too put off by graphic sex and violence. The are two sequels, and a Netflix series that I hope to watch ASAP.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
patrick thornton
Great book. Just finished reading through the trilogy after watching the series on Netflix. I've been a long time reader of sci-fi but have tended to avoid the cyberpunk genre as it tends to be a bit cliche and pretentious and the concepts used tend to trigger the "That's not how any of this works" in me. These books mostly steer clear of that (though there are some fairly big holes if you think about it for a little) but the story carries you along. The pacing is excellent with rarely a lull and the plotting, foreshadowing and callbacks are very well done. Some truly memorable and unexpected sideswipes too.

My only real complaint is that, for a trilogy, this doesn't really feel like a final entry. So perhaps that means there's more Kovacs to come? Please?
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
tracy durcan
Author tries to drag traditional detective story plot line 500 years into the future and ends up with a product that is disappointing from a SF or detective story fan perspective. Story is set in a future scenario that includes such fantastic technology as intergalactic space travel, chip based personality transference, etc and yet we're still shooting bullets? Main character is inconsistent and dull. Gratuitous sexual references are clumsy and do little to develop character or plot. Bought the Kindle version of the book based upon favorable reviews of others and will have to be more discriminating in future to avoid such disappointment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nicola smith
Intelligent, creative science fiction-noir, cyber-punk, detective novel, with an immense amount of violence and some graphic sex. It appears that Netflix intends to do a 10-episode mini-series from it; which might work. A 2-hour feature film would flop because Hollywood would ONLY notice the violence and sex and leave out any intelligence, like it does with 95% of SF films.

Morgan creates a future human culture that is built around a technology that makes it hard to die. A person’s self can be copied and saved and if that person dies, the back-up self can be placed into a clone of his body, into a cheap artificial model, or into someone else’s body that isn’t being used (called a new “sleeve” in this story). The more often you can afford to update your backup, the better protected you are. But if you run afoul of the law, your self is placed into a computer prison and your body can be rented out for other people to use. You have a computer implant (called a “stack”) on your upper spine which records all additions to your memories, and so long as it isn’t damaged during your body’s “death”, that can be used to update your backup before it is placed into its next sleeve. (If this sounds familiar, the idea is at least as old as John Varley’s brilliant detective SF 1976 short story, “The Phantom of Kansas”.)

This makes murder a tricky business. You can kill someone, but that doesn’t mean they stay dead. They might get resleeved and find you again – and you might not know what they look like the next time. If their stack is damaged, they won’t know how they were murdered or by whom. Another trick is that the Catholic Church has decreed that dead Catholics cannot be resleeved – one life only; so you might be able to get away with murdering a Catholic.

There are many details like that which Morgan has worked out in consistent detail. And since this is a murder mystery, every detail might contribute to the solution. Very old (300+), very rich Laurens Bancroft has been shot in the head. Recopied into a waiting clone, he still doesn’t know who did it. He hires former soldier and “Envoy” (kind of an “Enforcer”) Takeshi Kovacs, who has been in storage for extreme uncivilized behavior, and chooses a sleeve for him guaranteed to piss off the local police (a tough guy ex-cop who makes me think of Bogart). In trying to figure out what or who killed Bancroft, Kovacs has to learn the local culture, fend off the cops and some killers who obviously don’t want him to solve the mystery, and deal with other old wealthy people with their own agendas. Of course, Bancroft has a hot but bored, 300-year old wife, and one of the female police officers might be willing to go to bed with Kovacs, if she could stop wanting to kill him.

If you can handle the R-rated violence and sex, it is a compulsively readable book, with a lot of characters and enough plot twists to disguise the solution until the end. This was Morgan’s first book and there are two sequels featuring Kovacs.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
brandon noffsinger
What would it mean if we didn't really die? In Altered Carbon, a sci-fi detective novel, that is a reality. When a person dies, their consciousness is downloaded until it can be resleeved, or put into another body. These can be synthetic bodies, clones, or even the bodies of people that have committed crimes and are downloaded out of the body to serve their sentence. While still available, multiple resleevings are typically limited to the wealthy or members of military organizations. Real death can still occur if someone's stack, the device implanted in their spine to record their consciousness, is destroyed.

Takeshi Kovacs has been brought to Earth by Laurens Bancroft to find out who "killed" him. Bancroft's place in society allowed him the luxury of having a backup to his consciousness, as well as the money to hire someone to find his killer. Kovacs must adapt to a new environment and a new body, while wading through a prior police investigation and a following a bread trail that leads him into the underbelly of Bay City, formerly San Francisco. His training with the Envoy Corps, a high level military organization, allows him to adapt quickly to his new circumstances. Despite, or maybe because of, Kovacs' hyper-violent, over-sexed, and drug filled life, he makes for a very engaging narrator.

Running throughout the story is the question of what it really means for people to live in a world where bodies are basically disposable. This is examined through an ethical and religious lens. There is a thoughtfulness to this idea that brings the world to life.

The book harkens back to works like The Big Sleep, but felt too reliant on violence.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
damaduende
Horrible audio production. No one involved was familiar with the books? Apparently the portions recorded in a echoing bathroom were done that way in purpose? The quality of this production is an insult to the material and to the work done for the previous two audio productions.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
reagan dayberry
For an extended review of this book and more, please visit http://fortheloveoftheread.blogspot.com

So this book has one of the best opening scenes I think I've ever read. The reader is immediately thrust in action, experiencing Kovacs' most recent death. These first few pages set a bit of a violent scene for a book that has more of that.

When Kovacs begins a sort of murder investigation (for a man who is technically still alive, thanks to money and resleeving), there is violence and mystery around every corner. One thing I loved about this novel was that every character felt like they had something to hide. Each character was shady in his or her own way, which made solving the murder mystery a bit difficult from the reader standpoint. I always have an appreciation for an ending I can't guess and for characters I can't trust - even if it's the main character. I also just thought Kovacs was cool, investigating and smoking his cigarettes and reflecting on all of the work he had done as an envoy. He was just a cool dude, which I could appreciate.

One thing about this one is that I will have to read it again. There were times in the story when I got a little bogged down in the details. While the major plot points and story line were followable, there were often times when the author included so many details about the way the world works now that I got a little lost in them. This does illustrate the thought and planning that went into the novel, but I think that I would have to read this one again to fully take in the details.

This book was a little different than what I normally read, but it was definitely enjoyable. There is very clear skill on this author's part with characters, storytelling, and world-building. I plan to read this one again, and I'm interested in more of Kovacs' adventures.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
m ns andersson
I recommend this book. I found it interesting and well put together. As do the majority of reviews, so I see no major reason to sing its praises.

So this is mostly in response to some of the negative reviews, some of which did have some valid points:

Warning -- spoilers

1. "It's too violent" My response: Set in a universe where the rich and powerful can survive for thousands of lifetimes, and people can be killed and brought back to life on a whim (for a price)? Yea, boy I sure would expect all the "blood diamond" "poison gas factory sited in town" "crush the little people" problems to just go away. Torture, murder, and intimidation are business tools TODAY. In this book's universe the volume knob is just turned a bit higher. There is also the point that the story takes place in the "bad part of town" and it may well be that the vast majority live nice happy lives. That being said: If you are the type of person who is going to freak out (and / or miss plot points) because folks are being tortured and killed: This is not the story for you. If you are the type just looking for torture, this is probably not the story for you either. Just like in real life: It happens.

2. "It's not William Gibson et al" My response: Thank goodness. I've read many (most) of the books that these folks mention. Some are ok. Sorry folks, not all worship Neuromancer, some of us don't even like it that much. I don't mind if you do.

3. "It's not a good noir/detective/sf/mystery/cyberpunk" My response: This is probably true to some extent. If there is a checklist for each of these, I suspect this misses a few boxes. I don't care.

4. "The writing style is (insert negative here)" My response: This is personal taste. For example: Some people love C.J. Cherryh and talk about all the action in her books, I find even a single page stunningly dull. Since I am (of course) the only valid judge of these things, all disagreeing others are just wrong. (that WAS sarcasm, unlike some folks)

So, bottom line: I say: Good book, read it. Unless violence bothers you, then go read "The Door into Summer".
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
priyal
This is one instance in which the series in Netflix is much better than the book. I was hoping that the book would have more exploration of the identity conflicts that sleeving creates for society. Frankly this is explored much better in Netflix than in the books, that was very surprising. The narrative in this books is much more about proving how the protagonist has no care for anything in the world around him. It just was not what I expected at all. The ideas are interesting, and the world is complex, but there is no exploration. There is just a lot of technobabble that is not explored. A lot of potential, but not enough. I was sorry to have bought the other two parts of the series. I keep trying to listen to them, but they are proving to be boring.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
danielle white
I am glad I watched the show first, as it is a much better story. The main character is much more sympathetic with the different TV backstory, a freedom fighter/mercenary, rather than a former soldier/violent criminal. In the book there is no real reason to care about him and him being an Envoy isn't really all that special. The weapons and technology described also make the book feel very dated, I was actually surprised to learn this book was written in 2002 and not the early 90's. I don't know that I will keep reading the books in this series, but I will definitely continue watching the show.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
greg briggs
As others have already pointed out, this novel does not fit with the tone and characterization of the first two. The Audible version is TERRIBLE. This narrator is AWFUL compared with the masterful narration of the first two. Pronunciation is flawed in several atrocious patterns, and the echo-chamber effects are very annoying. I did not feel like the protagonist was at all related to the one I had come to love in the first two books. No real idea what is going on in the main plot, and few of the characters are even remotely interesting or noteworthy enough to keep track of. I think I will return this Audible book. It IS that bad. Something about a stereotypical Canadian accent in outer space screams B movie to me.

Very disappointed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tyrese patterson
The Hype Rocket Has Lifted Off!!!!

If you a reading this late 2016 you now have the chance to be a smug Book Watcher because.........,yes, I am going to write it despite it being a trite cliche......wait for it......see, I warned you........Netflix is making this a series!!!!! Staring Joel Kinnaman, who was an excellent Alternate Universe In Which Eninem Became a Homicide Detective character in The Killing. Go watch the series now if you have not seen it, he also let his punk flag fly as a hubris dripping nemisis to Frank Underwood in House of Cards.

Read this book. Then forget the tenor, the noir vibe and clear your mind. Then read what I feel is the strongest book in the series, Broken Angels. Now, join me in my nightly prayer to the Many Suited Netflix Gods that they just green light Broken Angels as the second series. They spent the GDP of Bhutan on the Marco Polo budget, hopefully they will invest the resources in this series.

There is so much potential in this series for a visual and character driven mind circus that needs to be filmed. Again, go watch 10 minutes of Polo and try to line item the budget for those scenes. We need to see this series brought to life like HBO did with Thrones. I have wanted Neuromancer to be brought to life (who doesn't want to see Molly Millions?) until I learned about Altered Carbon and saw the commitment to their series that Netflix has proven capable of in the past.

Read the series. Enjoy them. Then ride this Hype Rocket to the stars with me. You know how Hype Rocket rides go, they either take you to a wonderous planet of your dreams or fly you right into the sun and you die a painful death of fiery plasma disappointment.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shruti raghu
This hardboiled science-fiction novel is rich in premise and atmosphere, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the recent Netflix adaptation has done with both. The story is a fairly straightforward noir investigation -- and unfortunately comes with the oversexualization of women that often marks the genre -- but the invention of cloning and uploading consciousness across bodies allows for some interesting wrinkles. I'm not sure yet whether I'll continue with the sequels, but this is a fun what-if twist on usual detective fiction.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
catina
I was extremely interested in reading this book after the Netflix series, but i was so let down by the actual source content. The show did a good job of diversity, but the book is a racist and sexist piece. If you like POC described in racial slurs and your female characters described by the curves and pout this might be the book for you.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
cindell43
First-person tough-guy detective novel set in a futuristic world where nobody with enough money has to die, they can just “re-sleeve” by transferring their mind (stored in discs inserted at the top of the spinal column) into a new body. This sets up a society where poor people get one or two lives, and the rich live for centuries in body after body. Too many characters, everybody is working an angle and the hero is always two steps ahead of the reader so it’s often confusing. The future world is ugly and bleak, with rampant drug use and exploitative pornography/prostitution despite alleged equality advancements by women. The technology is so advanced that it is little different than magic, making it hard to get invested in the story because no matter how dire the situation, there’s always a heretofore unexplained work-around to save the day. Grade: B-
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
becky bonfield
I had mixed feelings about this read, but Richard Morgan's writing is beautiful, where single sentences could stand out as art. This reads like a Phillip Marlowe yarn of the future and Morgan's concept is clever, where people trade sleeves (bodies) like people of today change their iPhone covers. The tradeoff of such a brilliant concept is character development; it's difficult at times to tell who is who, so the read tends to be in the same voice. It was a long read for me; because I read every word and Morgan can pack a lot of description into a short field of view. When writing sci-fi this good, it's easy to get distracted by having to paint a future of your own design, so there were many parts where the scenery wobbled from the plot making it a bit slow moving.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jenifer
This review is strictly of the audio book. No one told William Dufris (Narrator) how to pronounce the main character's name, there are whole scenes set 'in the mind' which sound like someone talking into an echo filled metal garbage can. The whole production sounds amateurish. Like the director said, "ok we have to do this in one day, no redos even if you sneeze or something we ain't doing it again! Also here is my 12yo nephew with his iphone, he will be recording for us, don't worry, his mom says he's great."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ezequiel
This is a rare case of seeing the TV show/movie BEFORE reading the book.So it's hard to honestly review this book based on its own merits.

I suppose there is some Halo Effect at work here because the TV mini-series was so great. In fact the TV series was BETTER than the book because it had a lot more going on in it.

But this book did earn its five stars. The author has original ideas about THE FUTURE, That makes this book unlike any other you have read.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
adam barr
Probably one of the most annoying sci-fi writers alive.

There ARE some good ideas here but the narrative is so cheese-ball in its attempt at trying to be Mickey Spillane-meets-William Gibson that I couldn't get past the first hundred or so pages. You could almost see Morgan pushing to get the cover blurbs he had in mind ("A new, stylish writer and the heir-apparent of Philip K. Dick and Neal Stephenson!!").

If Morgan could turn down the faux over-the-top style and perhaps team up with another writer who could moderate his Bi-polar tendencies we could be looking at some good sci-fi here.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
treyvoni
For me the most distinctive feature of this novel is not the gory storytelling referred to by many reviewers, but the relentless detailed description of every scene, every meal, every person and every piece of clothing. These descriptions seem to serve very little purpose and do not advance the plotline at all. I agree with many of the reviewers that the characters lack motivation for many of their actions moving from one pointless action to another, although this does not seem to bother many fans of violent fiction.

I rarely fail to finish a book but gave up on this after 44% despite a concerted effort to finish a book that was strongly recommended by so many reviewers! Don't waste your money, especially at this price!

Finally I would like to comment on the fact that the earliest reviewers of this book seem to have supplied negative reviews, check the first twenty or so reviews and compare with the later reviews. Odd how it improved as more people read it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
markzane
Am just finishing Altered Carbon for the first time.

Kovacs Tekeshi is the best job of writing about what it means to be a Gentleman I have ever encountered. Remember that it was Winston Churchill who said, when asked to define a Gentleman, "A Gentleman never gives offense unintentionally." I use this definition, because, firstly, it is true, and secondly, If you have any interest in your own Honor, in rebuilding and polishing it clean and bright, in making something of yourself, in our world of regrets and weakness, lust and stupidity, you must follow Churchill's advice. Do not give offense unintentionally.

I point out a hard road. I point out the only true road, the only road with a heart, and the only trustworthy guiding light in this Vale of Tears. God Bless you all.

Kovacs reminds me of Oishi Kuranosuki Yoshio, leader of the 47 Ronin. I say this with some authority, as I, as a ten year old boy in 1956 Japan, burned incense at the graves of the 47 Ronin at the Sengaku-Ji Temple in Tokyo. I am Gaijin, not Nihonjin, but I knew exactly what I was doing, and why. Later in my life I lost my way, but have since reclaimed my Honor. This task took most of my life, as happens to most who seek the True Path.

No matter how tattered, dirty, and worn your Honor is, you can make it clean and bright as the sunrise. What I offer you, reader, is a treasure beyond price. I offer you the core of wisdom.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
t g hanson
I had never heard of this book before watching the show.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. The idea of someone's consciousness being stored in a stack and bodies being transient "sleeves" was awesome.

My problem was that the author is one of those fantasy writing dudes who just CANNOT deal with the fact that women have breasts. He felt the need to discuss exactly how each and every female character's boobs looked, how they ~swayed~ beneath her clothing, sweat "dewing" on cleavage, it was too much.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
schmerguls
I've always been a mystery fan, from Lew Archer to Travis McGee to Hercule Poirot, so mixing a detective story with science fiction doesn't bother me much. But it's only fair to warn prospective readers that `Altered Carbon' (Del Rey, $13.95, 384 pp.) is a lot more hard-boiled detective novel than classical science fiction.

Oh, the underpinning is solid scifi: Personalities can be stored electronically and injected into new bodies (called sleeves), and the very rich have cloned sleeves that they can move into on a moment's notice. They even have automatic remote updates so if they're killed, their memories can be restored. The setup involves a Methuselah (one of the rich folks who lives a long time) who commits suicide between one update and the next, and, reincarnated in a new sleeve, wants to know what happened. The police don't like him, or any Meths, as they're called, so they blow him off. He then resleeves (or re-animates, if you will) the hero into a new body on a new planet, and puts him to work solving the crime.

Our hero is a nasty ultraviolent sort who's had some special training that makes him extra-tough, which comes in really handy during the many bloody episodes that dot the book. He also has some highly charged encounters with beautiful blondes (some things never change, even in the future) as he unravels one mystery and creates his own elaborate revenge.

I confess I was confused by the end, for keeping track of who was in whose body and what had been done to whom was a pretty daunting task, but author Richard K. Morgan had the rhythm and the feel of a Dashiel Hammett novel down pat. If the idea of reading about Sam Spade in a cyberpunk world holds some fascination for you, `Altered Carbon' will be a great ride; if not, though, it won't change your mind about detectives who drink too much and have a taste for snappy repartee while they're getting pistol-whipped.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elliot kukla
A friend and colleague recommended I pick up a copy of Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan. As we talked over drinks, he described the book as a dark detective sci-fi novel, gritty in its dialogue and action. After reading, I have to agree. Altered Carbon ranks up there as one of my favorite sci-fi reads. The settings and use of technology fascinated me, and I missed a number of the twists that took place throughout the story.

The general story revolves around one Takeshi Kovacs who is hired to determine whether a person's death was a murder or a suicide. Who's he hired by? The victim... who is very much alive. In the 25th century, a person's consciousness can be (and most often is) stored in a memory device implanted in the body. When the physical body dies/quits working, a person can be reloaded into a new body in a procedure called "resleeving." That makes for a strange definition of death, with penalties for crimes often set as a number of years where you are "offline."

Kovacs is a trained soldier modified for warfare, but he ran afoul of the law and is doing time offline. He is resleeved for this investigation with the promise that he will be given a new body if he accepts the case and solves the crime. Otherwise, back to the stack. Kovacs quickly finds that far too many people would prefer this case remain closed and ignored, including some people very close to the victim. Of course, all the resistance has the opposite effect on Kovacs, and he's willing to put his own life on the line to uncover the truth... or at least whatever the truth should look like to make everything work out OK for himself.

It was probably a given that I would like this, as I normally enjoy sci-fi stories that have a strong cyber element to them. This book certainly qualifies on that account. There are countless examples of cyber-technology, artificial intelligence entities, body modifications, etc. The story is told in first-person from Kovacs' perspective, and his dark hard-edged personality sets the tone for everything that happens. All the characters are complex and deep, and there are plenty of angles and edges that keeps the story moving.

In short, Altered Carbon was a fascinating read, and an incredible effort for Morgan's first novel. I'm pretty sure this won't be the last book of his that I end up reading...

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
addie ungaretti
I've seen a lot of people endorse this title, so been tempted for a while to read it. When finally my brother recommended it, I gave in.

First off, I don't like first-person storytelling. As long as there is only one viewpoint, the book immediately tells you the narrator will survive until the end. Now, I don't mind the main protagonist surviving 'til the end, but I prefer to remain ignorant.

Also, I don't mind curse-words, sex-scenes, viceral violence and drug-abuse - in my opinion, they tend to add realism to many extraordinary tales. However, when used excessively, I become bored.

Now, over to the story.. SPOILERS BELOW.

The book starts off with the main protagonist watching his lover/girlfriend/wife getting shot and killed right in front of him, then shortly thereafter, he's shot and killed himself. In this universe, you don't necessarily die when your body dies, your mind can be stored digitally. This is often used as punishment for criminals, their minds being suspended - which is also the case for our main protagonist, he's to serve some 120 years for past crimes or some such.

During the book, we're given a couple snippets of information regarding the narrator's past - it seems he's former military, turned super-agent, who also happens to live slightly on the wrong side of the law.

In subjective time, Mr. Kovacs is re-sleeved (given a new body) immediately after having been killed - normally, this is a traumatic experience, requiring several days/weeks (?) of recuperation. However, Mr. Kovacs's provider-of-a-new-body, demands his attention without any delay. It seems Mr. Kovacs has been hired by a very rich and powerful man to investigate a suicide, which must be solved as quickly as possible. In return for his efforts, his past crimes will be erased and he'll be a free man - hell, he'll even be paid handsomely. Oh, and he was also told to do this covertly, not to attract too much attention. With his super-agent training, that shouldn't be too much of a challenge..?

So, he starts investigating, which is where things start to fall apart for me.

Mr. Kovacs heads over to a local cathouse, to pursue certain clues he's attained. The witness he's after, is a prostitute, who, when he meets, is naked and quite attentive. Luckily, our protagonist has the ability to control his body, so he's not tempted by her viles. Later in the book, he uses yet another ability to resist temptation. Seems our Mr. Kovacs is a skilled and highly trained man. Which leads me to the following.

When returning to his hotel room, Mr. Kovacs is surprised to find his employer's wife already there, in his room. They sit down and chat, which fairly quickly leads to several hours of sex (which happens to be described over the next 6-7 pages...). Now all of a sudden our wonder-agent-super-military-ex-con can't resist. He could resist a naked prostitute, but couldn't resist his EMPLOYER's wife.... Right... That sounds so dumb I'm aggravated by it. But I continued reading.

So, after having screwed his employer's wife, which inevitably places him in a very weak spot, giving her power over him (and keep in mind, Mr. Kovacs is supposed to be former-military-turned-super-agent). But anyway, he decides to go shopping for clothes, to better fit in with the locals. He then goes on to spend several pages telling us how shopping is an art-form he learned from a female-colleague in the military.. I HATE shopping. Shopping as an art-form? Jesus H. Christ.

Now, as a super-agent, Mr. Kovacs was taught how to dodge bullets.............. The instructor showed him how to do this, by giving a trained and experienced soldier a rifle, which she instructed said soldier to shoot her with, from a couple meters distance. She (the instructor) dodged the bullet, ran towards the soldier and disarmed him, then knocked him down............................. Dumb shit like that is something I find extremely hard to swallow.

With his super-duper training, Mr. Kovacs decides to go on a rampage (the covert super-agent indeed....), killing some people who tortured him. Not surprisingly, he kills off a whole bunch of people, several of them armed and supposedly trained, without even a damned scratch. As an added bonus, Mr. Kovacs had just been tortured, but even in his weakened state, was able to do it all effortlessly. Immediately after, he easily evades the police, and then sits down to have a cup of tea with his employer.

I was 45% done with the book when I stopped reading. This is some of the dumbest piece of crap I've read in several years, and can not recommend it to anyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gabriel knightley
It's the distant future. Man has spread out among the stars, and defeated death through digitization. Most people have cortical stacks, storage hardwired into their brain which captures their state in real-time, and allows that state to be transferred to and from computers.

Takeshi Kovacs is a former Envoy, a highly-trained agent specializing in assimilating new cultures and 'solving problems.' Kovacs was in mandatory storage as punishment for a crime spree, but his sentence was bought out by Laurens Bancroft, a Meth - a human who has lived so long and become so powerful he is effectively immortal. Bancroft supposedly killed himself, resulting in the loss of two days of memories before he was restored into a new clone. Bancroft doesn't believe it, and so Kovacs job is to figure out what really happened, in the face of a culture he doesn't understand, surrounded by people who don't want him to succeed, and a smattering of old enemies who want him dead.

This was one of the most enjoyable sci-fi reads I've had in ages. The writing is excellent, the characters are interesting, and there's a LOT of different sci-fi concepts melded together, along with a story that shows the up and down side of things which you wouldn't normally have considered, ranging from immortality to interstellar travel. The characters are fairly believable, and the story kept me guessing all the way through.

In short, a great book. I loved it, and am looking forward to reading the next in the series!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jessica harby
Wow. Somehow I managed to miss the insanely talented Richard K. Morgan for all these years. I finally decided to give his novels a try after he joined my discussion group. His posts and opinions were frank and harsh, generally commonsensical and, amazingly, just about about as negative and dark and cynical as my own. Or to quote the author: "Society is, always has been and always will be a structure for the exploitation and oppression of the majority through systems of political force dictated by an élite, enforced by thugs, uniformed or not, and upheld by a willful ignorance and stupidity on the part of the very majority whom the system oppresses."
The main reason I never tried his works before is some very negative feedback from my group's members when we read and discussed his first novel "Altered Carbon". The negative feedback was mainly because of the fact that the novel contains lots of harsh violence and, to a lesser degree, some explicit sex scenes.
Yep, well, that's all true. The novel is dark, gritty, violent, harsh, dark, negative, dystopian, cynical, did I mention dark? It's also utterly excellent. It's got the same noir sensibility as William Gibson's first novels, but it's more extreme.
In the future, it has become possible to store personalities digitally and download them into new bodies. As a result, very rich people can practically live forever, "resleeving" into new bodies as needed. In the absence of faster-than-light travel, it's now also possible to have your personality transmitted to another world to find life in another body. Because the cost is prohibitive for most, this privilege is reserved for the rich and powerful. The novel's fascinating protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, is a former UN Envoy (combination of Navy Seal and uber-spy), who is revived from imprisonment to try and solve the murder of Laurens Bancroft, one of the very rich and powerful on Earth. The resulting story, technically a very complicated whodunnit, is one of the tightest and most exciting SF novels I've read in a while.
Morgan's writing style is an interesting blend of traditional noir and ultra-realistic action movie. His descriptions of violence are somehow both semi-detached and painfully intense, resulting in a strange, harsh clarity that really drives the power of the events home. The world-building is subtle, resulting in some pleasant disorientation at first (similar to being resleeved?), but also hinting at big chunks of history that can still be revealed in later novels. There are two more novels featuring Takeshi Kovacs, both of which are already on my TBR pile. "Altered Carbon" gets 4 stars and a strong recommendation for anyone who enjoyed early William Gibson and dark, dystopian SF in general.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jamie f
I was told to check out Altered Carbon by a friend because I had liked James Knapp's Revivor Series (State of Decay, The Silent Army and Element Zero).

Both Altered Carbon and Knapp's books have a similar "look and feel", although they are not carbon copies of one another. For example, in both books, the main character is a detective (or at least is acting in that capacity). Both books offer a dark Earth future, although in Knapp's books that future seems near while in Altered Carbon the future is thousands of years from now. Both books have high tech enhancements and alterations to human flesh. Both books have lots of violence and some sexual content.

One big difference is that Altered Carbon has explicit sex scenes. The main character Takeshi Kovacs gets down and dirty with two different female partners. I'm not a prude, but I've never read anything like it in a Science Fiction novel. Altered Carbon's sex scenes are something you might expect to find in pornography. And while Knapp's books have some references to prostitution, the main plot of Altered Carbon revolves around it.

I have to say I liked Altered Carbon a lot, just as my friend predicted I would. The main reason I like the book is because Richard K. Morgan takes the time to thoroughly delve into the technological, psychological and social implications in making a copy of a person's consciousness and putting it into a new body. I plan to read more of Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs books. Likewise, anyone who likes Altered Carbon should check out Knapp's books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bella
ALTERED CARBON is a cyberpunk novel that really understands what makes the genre great. It has that neo-noir'ish approach sure, but it doesn't rely on it. It speaks about a future strongly rooted in our present and raises killer questions about humanity through the concept of 'sleeving', where a human consciousness can be downloaded into any available body. It's not the most interesting novel plot wise, I mean it's a standard mystery, but it's a good one and it's the killer setting, the philosophical questions and all the small things Richard K. Morgan does right that makes ALTERED CARBON such an enjoyable read.

I'm sure every cyberpunk fan in existence has read this already, but if you're interested in the genre, it's such a multidimensional novel that it's an amazing gateway.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sergei
Too many things confused me. The author was not clear and direct enough about motivations and actions. For example:
1. There are two guys with different memories. One of them dies. I don’t know which one died and which memories were gone.
2. A wants to kill B. C is helping A. A has the upper hand and is holding a gun on B. All of a sudden C shoots A. Then B discovers that C used low power so A could recover. Now B is angry and shoots C. I was frustrated because I didn’t know why C did that. It just made everything harder for A, and C gets killed anyway.
3. A holds a grenade next to B’s head as it explodes. Why did the grenade kill B and not both of them?
4. Hero realizes something and makes a complicated plan to take down a bad guy. But the reader is in the dark - not knowing what the hero just learned or realized. So I patiently wait to see the plan unfold. After the plan happens, I am still in the dark about part of it.

I’m calling this “weak first person.” Everything is told from Tak’s perspective. The author does not show us other characters’ motivations though dialogue or other ways. That’s the main weakness here. Some stories are good when done in first person, but not this one.

Who might like this? Maybe guys who like tech speak. Here are several sentences said during a 20 minute section of the book. “Maybe you can get her to do the surgery on a retrospective federal basis. She could use the juice at UN level... I stared up at the ceiling waiting for the hypnophone sonocodes to lull me away from reality...What kept you? Neuro chem glitch. The camalla system kept kicking me out of the pipe. And it took us awhile to get compatibility...I take it you’re going to want the format run up to maximum before taking the dip?...Someone was dhf’d out Head in the Clouds two days ago, relayed off the gateway comsat...Covert needlecast to a receiver in Europe every 18 hours. Can’t tell you much more than that without dipping it...”

There is a lot of tech speak which adds color and feel, but also confuses me. On the other hand, I don’t need everything explained.

A long torture scene is shown. Other tortures are described - referred to not shown. But they are hurtful to think about for a sensitive reader.

THE SERIES:
This is the first book in the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy. Tak is a former military guy who is hired as a private investigator by a rich guy. The ending is good for the good guys.

AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
Todd McLaren was good for men and general narration, but his female voices were not good. Some were weird.

DATA:
Narrative mode: 1st person Tak. Unabridged audiobook length: 17 hrs and 10 mins. Swearing language: strong. Sexual language: strong. Number of sex scenes: about 3. Setting: future mostly San Francisco area, California. Book copyright: 2003. Genre: hardboiled sci-fi mystery.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christina root
I've had this book sitting there on my shelves for a few years. And since my latest foray into Richard Morgan territory didn't end up well, I wasn't in any hurry to give him another shot. The more fool me, of course. But everything surrounding my review of The Steal Remains sort of went down the crapper, especially when the Hype Files post went live while I was in Poland.
Still, I should have known better. And since I own everything Morgan has written thus far, I decided to bring Altered Carbon with my as I traveled around Southeast Asia. Let's just say that with all the rave reviews this novel has garnered over the years, my expectations were rather high. Although I didn't think he managed to do it with fantasy, with science fiction Richard Morgan can swing with the best of them. And he packs a powerful KO punch.

Simply put, Altered Carbon is definitely one of the best scifi novels I have read in my life. This seamless blend of science fiction/hard-boiled crime/cyberpunk novel is amazing. The more so when considering that this was Morgan's debut!

Here's the blurb:

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. . .

The noir setting is unforgettable. Morgan's depiction of 25st-century Earth is impeccable, and his eye for detail makes every scene leap off the pages. The many futuristic concepts are thought-provoking and keep the plot moving. The concept of sleeves, whereby an individual's consciousness and personality can be stored inside a brain and downloaded into another body, is just the beginning. Morgan's scifi debut resounds with so much depth, you'll be begging for more. Here's to hoping that the Takeshi Kovacs sequels will unveil more of what we were offered but a few tantalizing glimpses.

And yes, as great as the worldbuilding is, it's the fast pace Morgan maintains throughout Altered Carbon that truly makes this book this good. It reads like the best thrillers out there, and the author will keep you guessing till the very end.

The characterization is "top notch." First person narratives can be tricky sometimes, but it's hard not to like Takeshi Kovacs' no-nonsense style. There is a lot more to this character than meets the eye, and hopefully Morgan reveals more about his backstory and his past as an Envoy in the sequels. Though Kovacs ain't the most likeable of characters, it's all but impossible not to root for him as he tries to crack this case. And yet, as fun as it is to follow the misadventures of Takeshi Kovacs, Morgan came up with an impressive cast of secondary characters. Chief among them Kristin Ortega, but also Laurens and Miriam Bancroft, as well as Reileen Kawahara. And like Robin Hobb, Richard Morgan, at least in this book, somehow managed to give life and personality to minor characters that don't necessarily play great roles in the bigger scheme of things, yet they feel important in the scenes in which they appear.

Altered Carbon features a multilayered plot that will keep you guessing and second-guessing yourself till the epilogue. Then all is revealed and it all makes sense. Richard Morgan is a genius and came up with what I'd describe as a genre masterpiece.

Intelligent, intriguing, inventive, exciting; I could go on and on. I was a complete dumbass to let this book lie there, awaiting my attention. If, like me, you haven't read Altered Carbon, don't be a dumbass. Buy it, read it, love it!

Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon deserves the highest possible recommendation.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
stacey knibloe
Based on other good reviews I saw here on the store, I made an impulse purchase of this book for my Kindle, since I like science fiction.

After reading about 5-6 pages, I realized I had made a mistake in purchasing it.

The characterization is buffoonish and weak and the writing is awkward as well.

Anways, if you have a Kindle, try to read the sample chapter instead of buying it outright. You will likely save yourself some money.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bryluenlush
In one of life's weird coincidences I finally get around to reading this book just in time to discover that its about to be made into a TV series to premiere on a streaming service that I probably can't mention here (and don't use, so someone is going to have to tell me how it is) which sort of continues my amusingly prescient streak of randomly reading books either just before or right after they get popular. This will probably do okay as a series, its got enough style and story to work visually and I don't think people are so fanatically attached to it that they're going to nitpick over every little alteration from the novel. As long as they keep the "hyperviolent Philip Marlowe in dystopian San Francisco" vibe this book has going, I imagine everyone might be satisfied. But if all they get out of the book is the wall to wall violence, then they might not get the audience they want.

I bought this years ago because I had friends who recommended the author around the time when he was first emerging and while my tendency to read things a decade after buying them really isn't intentional, I'm glad I wound up waiting as long as I did because it gave me a chance to read the works of Raymond Chandler first, of which this book acts like one gigantic homage to. And that's just fine with me.

Morgan sets his story in the 25th century, where people have spread through space and have mostly conquered death by storing their consciousnesses in what's called a "cortical stack" that is implanted at the base of the brain (essentially an iPod where the only song is you). Basically, as long as that bit of technology isn't fried you can have your consciousness implanted in a different body and keep doing that over and over again, presumably as long as the warranty lasts and while that probably opens up realms of opportunities in the world of cosplay, its especially useful if you find yourself in a profession where you wind up catching bullets in the face over and over again. On that note: enter Takeshi Kovacs.

Our friend Kovacs is an ex-Envoy, which on some level are kind of like this future's Jedi without the mystical powers and the grand merchandising possibilities. He's capable of adjusting to new bodies very quickly and has all kinds of mental stamina coupled with neurochemicals that give him enhanced stamina and reflexes, which turns out to be useful since he gets into fights an awful lot. Once you mix in the fact that he's kind of cynical smart-aleck at times, he's essentially if Wolverine starred in a very gritty version of "Psych". Written by Raymond Chandler and directed by John Woo. Honestly, that description makes it sound like it could be terribly, self-consciously "hip" but Morgan manages to rise above cross-genre pastiche by giving us a pretty solid story.

After getting killed yet again, Kovacs finds himself hired for a murder investigation in San Francisco, a place very far away from where he's from and looking a little worse for wear lately (those who felt that the moral bankruptcy of Marlowe's 1950s California was its own special dystopia may find themselves on familiar ground here, albeit with slightly different scenery). Since he apparently never has it easy, it turns out the murder he's hired to solve is being paid for by the guy who got killed, a three hundred year old rich guy (the super old are called "Meths" in this future) that was fairly unhappy to discover that his head got blown off. The police are pretty certain its a suicide and aren't investigating further but Kovacs is brought in to prove that wrong. It doesn't take long for him to learn that the case is far more complicated than it seems at first and that everyone has secrets. Oh, and they all want to kill him. Its enough to make you want to re-sleeve into a baby so people can buy you toys and coo at you all day instead of firing guns. But such is his lot.

Morgan brings an amazing sense of atmosphere and detail to what amounts to a twisty noir murder mystery. In the best Chandler style, you're there to untangle the conundrums but you're also along for the scenic ride as well and he doesn't skimp, constructing a gritty future with its own slang and culture, filled with interesting details, some of which may be old hat to anyone who has seen "Blade Runner" (the preponderance of ads, though if that's the only sign of a future gone wrong then we're several steps past hell at this point) but others come across as amusingly novel (the hotel Kovacs stays in, run by super-smart AIs, hackers who steal random data from the air, floating houses for, er, adult recreation). It all feels of a piece, though, and not just random cool things slapped together to impress us, so its clear that Morgan has given some thought to not only how this future would work but how much of it is both evolution and reaction to the technological advances that make Kovacs' eventual situation such an unholy mess.

Probably none of this would work if it wasn't for Kovacs himself though. As both our trailblazer and tour guide here (he's never really been to Earth though all the hippies seem to have gone so I guess he's missed out on the full experience) he gets to do what any good trailblazer should do, which is tick off anyone within reasonable limits and carve a narrow but bloody path of violence through the city. Along the way he comes into conflict (and alliances) with the police and various other groups as he attempts to get to the bottom of a mystery that no one seems to want him to solve. Its that perseverance that probably makes him most like Philip Marlowe and won me over on him . . . during one revealing conversation he pretty much admits to not caring at all about the person who hired him but is sticking it out of a combination of honor and curiosity. He senses it won't end but feels bound to see through to the end anyway.

Throughout Morgan throws wrinkle after wrinkle, whether its the constant revelation of the underbelly of both the city and people's tastes in what it can do, or the reasons for the current body he's in, or how his past intersects with the case in ways he doesn't quite expect. For the most part, Morgan plays fair, giving you all the facts as you go and tweaking our understanding of them later on down the line. Its the kind of mystery where seemingly offhand facts wind up being important later and I had to flip back a few times to refresh myself on stuff they had talked about earlier but not given a lot of emphasis to and its been a while since a book has forced me to retain all the various facts in my head so I can play along with the characters. It helps that he has both a knack for description and dialogue, his prose is razor sharp and sets the mood more than adequately without overwriting and while the dialogue never strays too far from genre convention, everyone gets in good lines here and there and the scenes really crackle with Kovacs start playing with fire and not caring who he makes unhappy.

It is a graphically violent book though and while Morgan doesn't dwell on the violence like its a new sequel to "Saw", the bodycount is decently high and its safe to say that no one in the book really dies quietly so if that kind of things turns you off then this definitely isn't the book for you, as Kovacs is quick with a gun and thorough to the point where even the hired killers are like "Whoa, hoss". There's also a couple of fairly graphic sex scenes as well, which may not be some people's bag either but since they're fewer and don't involve brains splattering on the walls it was okay with me.

The whole thing is just an immersive, entertaining experience. The characters are fun (in a dark humored way), the mystery doesn't cheat, the setting is fascinating and even the parts we only glimpse briefly (Kovac's past as an Envoy for instance) make you wish he explored that in more detail. Its not a groundbreaking book by any means and if you can copyright a mood then Morgan would probably owe William Gibson a check or two, but as a synthesis of elements that I've seen merged poorly elsewhere, pretty much everything works. Maybe its my hankering for more Chandler, maybe I like when lone wolves crack wise, maybe this dark future where the rich get their way all the time and everyone else is screwed but where competency gives you some hope for survival sure looks optimistic compared to what I see sometimes when I turn on the news, maybe its all of that. But it as close to a page turner as I read in a while. Now hopefully the other two books in the series don't suffer from diminishing returns.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
doug allen
After enjoying the first two books of the Takeshi Kovacs Series, I'd gotten started on Richard Morgans next task in Woken Furies. Insert again everyone's favorite anti-hero in Takeshi Kovacs as Kovacs finds himself back on his home world this time after a lengthy and exhausting campaign on Sanction IV.

Kovacs is in bad shape after being on the run after making several attacks on priests of The New Revelation, an extremist religious order semi-responsible for the death of his one love, Sarah. Kovacs has made it his personal mission to kill every member of this New Revelation as a measure of ultimate revenge.

Kovacs meets a very interesting woman in the bar named Sylvie Oshima in the process of protecting her against some trouble-making members of The New Revelation Order. One sudden act of chivalry later, Kovacs begins his journey by taking refuge with her mercenary crew as they head out to decommission living military hardware gone awry on a nearby continent. During one of these mercenary missions, Sylvie collapses and upon recovery her personality appears to have been replaced by that of long dead revolutionary leader Quellcrist Falconer herself. From here Kovacs goes on a thrilling journey which includes battling against government bio mechanical machines gone haywire, searching for three centuries old weapons systems, and battling the yakuza in a bitter blood feud over a member of their family that was killed by Kovacs.

As the journey goes on, Kovac's relationship with Sylvie Oshima/possibly the Quellcrist Falconer earns him a very deadly enemy that is on his trail - a younger, stronger, and straight out of hell version of himself. As Kovacs tries to figure out just who this Sylvie Oshima really is, he must stay one step ahead of his younger sleeved self as he attempts to sort this mess out.

My only qualm with this book was that it was a little hard to follow Morgans descriptions sometimes of all of the weather patterns, places, etc. Then again that could possibly be the ADD kicking in at times :). I found Woken Furies to be a throughouly enjoyable book and towards the end Morgan sets up the story well for a possible second set of books in the Takeshi Kovacs Series.

Kovacs ends up finally figuring himself out towards the end and what all of his adventures have led him to at this point and makes some decisions based on the books ending. There are some intriguing questions towards the end of Woken Furies. Will we ever figure out the Martians and be able to communicate with them/understand their technology? For that matter, why did they ever leave Harlan's World and are they still alive somewhere? Will the cortical stack of Kovac's lost love Sarah be retrievable one day? In addition, some very interesting information is made about the orbitals which ends up tying a lot of ends throughout the series together and ends up being a real eye-opener for the reader. Like others have mentioned here, I definitely hope Morgan decides to write another installment of the Kovacs Series soon. He's left himself plenty to work with based on the end of Woken Furies.

-Travis
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
secola
But this book just didn't hold my attention. About halfway through I skipped to the end to find out what happens.

I loved Altered Carbon, and liked Broken Angels, but couldn't get into this book. I enjoyed Thirteen also, and am half way through Market Forces, which is 'ok'. (A friend of mine is a big fan of Morgan's and loaned me the books) Every character is like a bristling rabid animal. Everyone is over the top, and I guess it just gets tiring. It sometimes feels that people get angry and there is tension... but there isn't much reason for the tension to be there. Or at least, not enough reason for there to be SO much tension and anger in the scene. Not much happens in the first half of the book, maybe it got better in the second half but I just couldn't keep reading.

Compare Kovacs to say... Tony Soprano from the Sopranos. One of the interesting things about the show was that Tony would be happy and smiling and jovial for part of a scene, and then in an instant 'turn gangsta' and you would see his dark side.

Kovacs just broods a lot and is ultra serious in every scene. You would think after a few hundred years of life that people would mellow out a bit, but apparently for some teenage angst just never goes away. For an example, there is the scene where Kovacs is going to rent a boat and is talking to a kid (son of the captain of the boat) and gets angry with him because the kid is apparently more involved in his virtual world/matrix style life than real life. Kovacs is over the top as usual, but again, you would think someone with as much life experience as he has would just smile and shrug and maybe try to give the kid some advice. Getting *emotional* over it seems a bit ... melodramatic. Which is typical of the whole book, and really my main gripe with Morgan's writing overall.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anisa
I originally heard about "Woken Furies" on a "Tech Nation" podcast interview with author Richard K. Morgan. The universe he described sounded intriguing so I picked up the book last December and have been slowly reading it ever since. I don't tend to rush through books I'm enjoying as I like them to last as long as possible.

I originally did not realize that this was the third in a series or I probably would have gone and picked the others up first so that I could grow with the story. As it turned out the book does a very good job of standing on its own.

I won't bother to summarize the plot here, others have done a much more thorough job on the store and elsewhere than I could hope to, what I am expressing rather are my impressions of the book.

It's relatively and graphically violent in portions, which is fitting given the history of the pro-(an?)tagonist. In real life he would not really be someone you'd want to meet... ever. But it is interesting to spend the book inside his head as he recalls past experiences that involve quelling far-flung planetary uprisings with a ruthlessness reserved for those who are trained to kill and are very good at it.

Of greatest interest to me is the culture of a civilization where death is a rarity. By choice or by accident you can "resleeve" and have a brand new body to use to carry on your existence and that body can be tailored to your personal or business needs. Starting with that premise, how do casual folks deal with relationships and their attitudes toward the everyday travails of life?
Mutually agreeable divorce or separation is much more to be expected as it is possible for centuries to pass across which your growth as a person may be expected to diverge from that significant other with whom you shared so much so long ago.

I found this a satisfying read and have added the preceding books to my the store wish list and anticipate that they will be equally satisfying.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
darla
Let me point out right from the start that have read sci-fi most of my life, but I do not closely follow the genre of sci-fi that many people have put this book into, cyberpunk, call it what you will. That said I can not really compare it, nor do I care to. This an entertaining read with some great ideas in it to keep you thinking. Plus, it's not straight up sci-fi, it's a crime drama too.

The idea of storing ones memory and even personality in a microchip is not new, but I love what author Richard Morgan does with it. What if your body is destroyed but you have enough money to buy another body and have your chip, or your `stack' as Morgan calls it, placed in a new body or even a clone of yourself? What if you have enough money to do this indefinitely and find yourself hundreds of years old? What is life like, marriage, your sex drive? Morgan touches on some of these though he really leaves it up to the reader to do any of the deep thought. His characters are too busy carrying out their deceptive plans and trying to find ways to permanently kill each other, referred to as `Real Death', to get too philosophical. And that is just fine as the story moves along at an exciting pace that left me wanting more.

The protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, is a man of experience when it comes to dying and being reborn. He was a professional at it as a member of a highly trained corps of fighters. Which of course begs the question, how do they ever finish a war? But that is another book. For now, Kovacs is forced into the employ of a millennia old man who thinks he was murdered and wants to capture the culprit. Kovacs is compelled to gumshoe it for this wealthy man or face having his stack put back into storage. Apparently used in place of prison, stack storage takes up a lot less space than those prisons we have now and frees up a lot of bodies for use by others. And by others I mean Kovacs and his enemies who shoot, burn and blow up a lot of them throughout the story.

Morgan does a nice job of creating a lot of history behind Kovacs and in turn allows Morgan to create a lot of threads to weave into this story, giving Kovacs depth. The society here on Earth is quite interesting as well and Morgan does take some time to describe in detail his vision of the future. And it ain't pretty being easy. The sex trade reaps the benefits of disposable bodies, clones and custom genetic engineering. Sometimes the scene shifts are a little too abrupt and there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but it all comes together for a flashy and satisfying ending
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ivan goldman
Morgan writes one of the most stunning new SF books in some time, bringing us a noir thriller in an exotic yet frighteningly familiar future. The tone is firmly set not in the halls of Science Fiction, but in the legacy of 1930's hard-boiled crime fiction, full of plots, counterplots, seamy locales, seamier people, and above all, sex, violence, and death.

This is a world where no one dies for good, where bodies are cloned and personalities held in cortical "stacks" sleeved into them. A rich man "died" by apparent suicide, and when revived calls in a renowned offworld criminal to investigate. What Takeshi Kovacs finds are unhelpful cops, people and gangs out to hurt or kill him, bewildering events, lies everywhere, and dead bodies showing up around every corner. Every ally is a potential enemy, with the exception of the hotel he stays in.

After being chased, shot at, beaten, burned, tortured, and nearly killed many times, he slowly realizes that behind it all is another of the ancient power players of the world, one with whom he has an old history. Only then Kovacs tries to get the upper hand, methodically manipulating events to a final showdown.

The perspective is gritty, hardened, and not a little bitter. Kovacs is an antihero more than willing to take whatever measures he feels are necessary, including killing - permanently. He is a seasoned Envoy, a long-time criminal (though just how is hazy), and has been through many bodies and many worlds. No one is particularly likable, but many are somehow sympathetic. The combination of hard crime thriller with many unique SF elements - Science Fiction, and San Fransisco - works well. The author has done a great job here.

There are deeper ideas floating around. What is death? What would revival mean for religion, for law enforcement, and for life in general? How would the elite change? Every member of the upper-class is distasteful or downright evil, seeing people as pawns and playtoys; to the author they have no redeeming social value. The epilogue is a little trite, but that's made up for by all the psychadelic dream sequences, Kovacs' dead buddy Jimmy De Soto giving him advice from time to time.

An engrossing book, with a very satisfying ending leaving more than enough room for sequels. If you don't mind seeing the very worst of humanity, and rather gratuitous sex at times, I highly recommend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
connie tuttle
Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-Envoy now working for his own agenda, has returned to his homeworld of Harlan's World on a personal mission of vengeance. During his task he falls in with a gang of freelance mercs assigned to cleaning out the continent of New Hokkaida, where intelligent robots left behind from an old war are still making the land too unsafe for re-colonisation. A chain of events is set in motion that will transform the face of Harlan's World and bring Kovacs face-to-face with his own past in a very literal way.

Woken Furies is the third and, to date, final book featuring Morgan's protagonist Takeshi Kovacs. This time Kovacs is out for blood on his own terms when he is swept up in a very different and fuzzy chain of events which focuses on his own past. If Altered Carbon was a detective story and Broken Angels was a war story, Woken Furies is more of a political story and offers more of a glimpse into Kovacs' mindset, brought into sharp relief as he encounters old friends and enemies on his home planet. These events also allow Morgan to explore some more of the consequences of his body-swapping, re-sleeving universe, with subtle nods towards its implications for consciousness, sentience and what it precisely means to be human (a slight and barely perceptible nudge compared to Bakker's Neuropath, which yelled it into the reader's face loudly until we got it).

As usual, this is an ultra-violent, bloody, sexually explicit and generally pretty hardcore story of revenge, rebellion and fear, with some exploding robots, surfing and extreme rock-climbing thrown into the mix. Those who've followed Kovacs' adventures before will be at home here, although given that the events of the first two books do impact on the story here I would advise newcomers to start with Altered Carbon first.

Woken Furies (****½) is the last Kovacs novel for the time being, although Morgan has not entirely ruled out a return to him later on. The book is available from Gollancz in the UK and from Del Rey in the USA. Morgan's latest novel, The Steel Remains, is out now in the UK and in February in the USA.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
arpit
Skip a few hundred years and humanity has colonized the stars. Yet, despite our technical prowess and almost magical ability to manipulate nature, violence, hatred and desire for power still exist. Only now it's much worse because the technology devoted to killing, maiming & torturing is much more refined. Enter Kovacs, a trained "Envoy" (special soldier) from another world. He wakes and the last thing he remembers is being killed along with his gal pal. In the future an implant records all brain activity so after death this device is uploaded to a "sleeve" - a body without a mind - and the dead person is once again, alive. Sleeves can be clones or worse, the bodies of those whose minds have been downloaded to a virtual prison.

Earth is run by the United Nations yet behind the scenes the old ones (Meths) determine outcomes. Kovacs is given a new life by a Meth in order to solve an intriguing crime. With the sometimes assistance of a determined female police captain, he explores the seamy side of existence on this dreary planet replete with virual existences and bio-enhanced drugs as ubiquitous as the common cold. Yet love, hope and goodness still exist. The ensuing drama is too convoluted to explain but despite a little murkiness at times, the story concludes successfully - so successful that a sequeal followed.

High points are characterization, imagination, plot and the writing which at times was elegant, even poetic. Low points are the utterly horrifying portraits of a civilization gone bonkers, of technological feats beyond our scope, of a future world in which people (especially women) are simply commodities - a world without a spirit. Perhaps that is the future - I just don't want to see it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laurel borter
Altered Carbon is a SF novel in the American detective story style. It takes places at a time when humanity has spread to a few planets in other solar systems via slowboats. However, humankind also has FTL communications, the ability to store and transfer digitized human personas, and the means to download such personas into sleeves: human, clone, or synthetic bodies.

In this novel, Takeshi Kovacs is a retired Envoy, a super expediter who resolves offworld threats to human polities, often by violence. As an Envoy, Kovacs had extensive experience in downloading into various sleeves. Now he has the experience of resleeving on Earth, where few, if any, Envoys have been. He has been contracted out to Laurens Bancroft, who was found dead in his own office and declared a suicide, but who insists that he would not have done such an act, particularly since he only lost 48 hours of experience. Kovacs is to find the real cause of his death, whereupon he will be paid 100,000 UN dollars and his persona will be transmitted back to his home planet.

Leaving the download facility, Kovacs is intercepted by Lieutenant Ortega of the Bay City police. He learns something about the case, but also discovers that the younger generations do not like the centuries old Meths -- Methuselahs -- such as Bancroft. They have too much power and too much experience; their lives are regulated by different rules than other people.

After meeting Bancroft, and his wife and friends, Kovacs tends to agree with Ortega. However, even Meths have problems, such as Proposition 653, which requires any dead person, even Catholics, to be resleeved as needed, and if possible, to testify in court.

Then Kovacs meets Dimi the Twin in his hotel lobby. He is introduced by the muzzle of Dimi's pistol on his neck and ordered to come along, but Kovacs pulls a fast trick that causes the hotel AI to cut loose at the kidnappers with a twin 20 mm cannon. Although a bit of overkill, it does the job and Kovacs gets to meet Ortega again for another talk.

This novel builds upon several old themes in SF: androids and clones, persona uploads, brain implants, etc., but the details are used in a very contemporary manner to drive a tale of immortality, free will, poverty, power, social degeneration, and corruption. It may well breed sequels, but prior efforts to launch series about such tough detectives in SF settings have not been very successful. The initial story oftens attracts readers with its rich futuristic background, but maybe the subsequent releases begin to feel stale?

This title has generated a fair amount of curiosity. Somebody dining next to me in a restaurant actually interrupted my reading to ask what it meant. Insofar as I can determine, altered carbon is a futuristic substance that provides enormous storage capabilities for digitized data. Otherwise, it has no central importance to the novel.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys American style detective tales in a SF setting.

-Arthur W. Jordin
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nanci
"Woken Furies" is the third in Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, a series that draws strongly on the cyberpunk movement of the late 80s and early 90s, complete with technology and capitalism running out of control, and a hard-bitten, alienated hero struggling to maintain his humanity in an alienating world.

All three books are set in the near to mid future - technology has developed to allow people to upload and download personalities and memories into different bodies, and to transmit those personalities at faster than light to the scattered planets. The rule of law is maintained largely by the "Envoys," a team of UN enforcers trained in combat, intuition, and, most essentially, the ability to manipulate others. Faced with a rebellion on a world that starships couldn't reach for decades, the UN transmits its Envoys, who then download into local bodies and use their human capital to crack and reshape society to the UN's mandates.

Takeshi Kovacs is a former Envoy, putting his skills to use to stay alive in a society that holds less and less interest for him. In the first novel, Altered Carbon, Kovacs was called on to solve a film-noir murder. In the second, Broken Angels, he found himself trapped in the middle of a war that was far too much like the one that caused him to quit the Envoys, desperate to escape.

"Woken Furies" is the most ambitious of the three books, and the most personal. Kovacs is back on his home planet, carrying out a personal mission that he doesn't fully explain until halfway through the book. In the course of that mission, he finds himself caught in the middle of a conflict he can't immediately understand, involving the Yakuza, the planet's elite, several groups of mercenary "decomps," and, just possibly, the reloaded personality of his planet's revolutionary hero/martyr, Quelcrist Falconer.

If that plot sounds complex, I still haven't done "Woken Furies" justice. The plot leaps around, from setting to setting and from flashback to present day. It's a daring attempt to break out of the structure of the first two books, and it gets deeper into Kovacs' character than the first two, but I suspect that most readers will find it to be the least satisfying of the three. The plot, while intricate and thoughtful, is much less linear and much harder to follow than Morgan's earlier works. I'm glad I read Woken Furies, but can't help thinking it could have used a few more editing cycles.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
slwade
The impressive creativity of author Richard Morgan is readily apparent in his intricate fabrication of futuristic society in his sci-fi techno thriller "Altered Carbon".

Set in the 25th century, mankind has colonized parts of the galaxy under the guidance of the U.N. Technology has advanced to the point where death is a vastly different entity than it once was. The essence of humans is stored in the "cortical stack" a receptacle imbedded at the base of the skull. The cortical stack could be stored and then inserted within a wide range of different bodies called sleeves. This represents the ultimate separation of body and soul. Punishment for criminal acts would result in storage for terms according to the severity of the crime.

One such stored individual was Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-U.N. envoy. a chemically enhanced and genetically altered super soldier. Kovacs, a resident of Harlan's World, a planet some 188 light years from Earth was interred there. After about 4 years of his sentence, he was needlecast downloaded (transported) to Bay City, formerly San Francisco at the behest of a Laurens Bancroft. Bancroft was a wealthy CEO of Psycha-sec, a huge genetics based corporation. Bancroft was known as a Meth, short for Methusaleh, or an aged one. He had been resleeved many times and was now in excess of 300 years old. He had officially committed suicide but insisted that he had been murdered. This was essentially a moot point in that his cortical stack had been resleeved into another body he kept in a storage facility. Kovacs was paid for and released by Bancroft to investigate for proof that a murder was actually committed. His reward would result in his freedom and extensive monetary considerations.

Kovacs working in a sleeve of a discredited former hot shot Bay City policeman proceeds to uncover clues to solve the crime while surrounded by an unfriendly and uncooperative environment.

Morgan's prose is extremely thought provoking but at times confusing. He should consider introducing a glossary of terms to avoid have to return to previously read pages for clarification. For an initial offering "Altered Carbon" sets a very lofty standard for Morgan to attain with his subsequent novels.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lindalane
I have been hooked on Richard K. Morgan's hard-boiled science fiction since Altered Carbon. I was quite pleased when I heard that Woken Furies, the third book with Takeshi Kovacs as a main character, was available. These books mix cyberpunk with noir detective novels in a very effective way. They are moody, violent, and have some fascinating world building involved. The basic concept involves personality as embedded in cortical stacks which can be backed up, moved to another body ("sleeve"), or destroyed for real death. The Morgan universe is a host to a whole array of problems around class, militarism, wealth, exploitation and violence. A really interesting and entertaining series.

I have heard folks say that Woken Furies is the weakest of the three books. I would tend to agree with that, even though it also has some of the most interesting elements. The beginning is particularly slow. It took me quite some time to engage with the work. I could not tell you exactly why it felt so slow, but I really had to give it 100 pages before I had warmed up to the text. Again in this book, I really like the thread of Quellism (a political theory) that runs through the work. What I think is great about Woken Furies is that Quellism gets explored more thoroughly.

I actually think that you could read this book without reading the first two. However, I suspect that you would enjoy them more in order. If you don't know Takeshi Kovacs yet, you are in for a treat. If you are already a fan, expect some bumps in this installment but it is still a worthy entry in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
valerie ann ramos
I was the long Labor Day weekend and I was looking for something fun, escapist, and relaxing to read. Richard K. Morgan's "Altered Carbon" was all that plus intellectually interesting and, at moments, philosophically intriguing - questioning the limits and prerogatives of what it is that makes anyone human, one human a human, and one human that particular human. If that all sounds jolting, well then, read on a bit.
It is the 25th century, and our protagonist Takeshi Kovacs is quite a specimen of a Special Ops guy. Having been born 186 light years away on Harlan's World (which was populated by Japanese keiretsu with Eastern European labor in the distant 23rd century) and graduated from street gangs to the armed forces, Takeshi eventually finds his way into the UN Envoys and is now brought to Earth for the first time to solve a very unique murder mystery. There he is trained for the life in which he exists, essentially, as a consciousness (all people have a cortical stack that records their memories up to the moment of death; this is convenient since the stack can then be re-inserted into a body, thus bringing the unfortunate deceased back to life) and can be zipped across the galaxy to do the Protectorate's bidding as need be.
Morgan takes this clever bit of futurist postulating and generates a fully formed world that comes complete with its over-exposed celebrities, clichéd ancient philosophers, world-weary stellar travelers, distant frontiers, great adventures, mind-blowing sex and illicit substances, and, above all, human foibles, follies, and fears.
I can't get specific without ruining plot details, so let me say that injecting one's consciousness into another, inert, human body ("sleeving"_ creates all sorts of self-identity and other-identity issues. Peculiar circumstances abound between lovers, friends, enemies, and spouses, and Morgan deals with his characters sensitively - they evince fear, optimism, and a certain willful know-nothingness about the prospects of coming and going so readily from Death's grasp.
In the first half of the novel, the author is so strong that the work, perhaps unintentionally, levitated above the plain of mere sci-fi or detective novels, and achieves a profound, poignant, sublime exegesis on being human. Towards the second half, he begins to pick up the pace and he slips into a more pedestrian tone and style that is more distinctly of the genres. So while this book is excellent and absolutely recommended, it does not take its place with the eternal classics.
Word-choice and the surprising thought and actions of these characters reveal Morgan as a particularly adept author and story-teller:
The composed woman is not seething with rage inside, rather: "The strain on her face was still there, like weathered rocks under a thin mantle of snow."
The hotel lobby at the Hendrix is not dark and dismal, rather: "The walls and ceiling bore an irregular spacing of illuminum tiles whose half-life was clearly almost up, and their feeble radiance had the sole effect of shoveling the gloom into the center of the room... [populated by] shin-hungry metal-edged tables."
This is enjoyable, thoughtful writing in which the technology, the future, and the plot serve to reveal the human condition, and are not made, awkwardly, to bear the brunt of the story and the entertainment.
As when the protagonist Takeshi is told:
"I'm not sure. He went to Osaka that day, for a meeting.."
"Osaka is where?"
She looked at me in surprise.
This is just delicious, brilliant writing: that the author would remember that our Japanese-Czech protagonist wouldn't know where Osaka is, and that an Earthling would of course assume he would.
The plot moves along quite strongly throughout the book, and there are no exceptionally weak parts. Ultimately, the story is settled, and then unsettled, by a series of unnecessary deus ex machinas, that do distract a bit from the story and remind the reader that this is, after all, a first-time author. Nonetheless, the detective story line is great, intriguing, gripping, and fits hand-in-glove with the technological inventions of the author's mind.
The philosophical touches of the book are what I loved most. Morgan details the implications of a world in which the rich can afford disposable cloned bodies and live for centuries, crime syndicates can produce multiple copies of talented assassins, the working class stiffs are resentful of the immortality beyond the reach of their wallets, death is not permanence but a phase, and one's consciousness is transportable instantaneously across the galaxy. Each of these is deftly, masterfully handled and leaves the reader pondering accidentally deep quandaries.
In sum, I liked this book an awful lot, despite not being a scifi reader for over a decade now. Not only will it be loved by the detective and science fiction crowds, but by a crossover audience that likes to sample the best that other genres have to other. For 2003, Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon is that book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
guihan ko
For 'the-well-read-man' there is nothing new in this book, most of it being derived from Iain M Banks': Use of Weapons, Against a Dark Background, and Look to Windward; a smattering of William Gibson's: Neuromancer; and some of K. W. Jeter's work - probably Noir. A great deal of the book is concerned with scenes of gratuitous violence, containing just enough material to maintain a thread to the overall narrative.
The plot is a basic Raymond Chandleresque romp, which serves to imbue the characters with some motivation...
Richard Morgan's prose is unusually good for a British author, comparable to the better US writers such as K. W. Jeter, and devoid of the flowery and redundant elements that mars many of his contemporaries. It's unfortunate that the logical elements of this book aren't as well considered. The most obvious failing was Reileen Kawahara not figuring on the virus she supplied to Takeshi Kovacs being turned on herself, as it subsequently, and conveniently was.
There was too little background to the history of the cortical-stack, robbing the story of useful technical details, which would have been more insightful than the Catholic church coming in for some stick - yet again. Another failing was any substantial insight as to why being un-sleeved for a length of judicial-time was of consequence, since the impression was given that unless you were being tortured / interrogated in virtual, you were more or less unconscious for the period. The only significant aspect to any punishment being that you would probably end up in someone else's body or a synthetic of dubious quality.
Alternate Carbon is a reasonable book. But is too derivative for 2003. More effort could have been made to make it a more plausibly coherent and interesting read, at least, and with more interesting and convincing nomenclature and associated technology for the twenty-sixth century.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
maria alsamadisi
Here we have a wild and woolly detective yarn spliced into a bizarre cyberpunk future. Richard Morgan has come up with a great gimmick with the shifting technological aspects of human life that he explores within. Here, a person's mind and consciousness can be downloaded into a storage device (stack) and removed from and inserted into different bodies (sleeves). A person can die many times while wearing many sleeves of different races, body types, and even genders. The downtime between sleeves is spent in a virtual reality realm where time is dilated, and which can be constructed as a relaxing paradise or sanity-destroying torture based on who's doing the programming. And of course, these miraculous new technologies have swiftly come under the brutal manipulation of organized crime and the wealthy. How this all affects life and death, as well as what it means to be human, leads to some fascinating insights from Morgan.

However, the meat of this novel revolves around a detective story that is not very focused and gets quite out of hand as it goes along. The detective Kovacs is a very inconsistent lead character, regardless of what body he's wearing, as he's either got a machine-like zen calm or erupts into uncontrolled rage. The crime he is investigating grows into an enormous conspiracy that keeps getting bigger and bigger, and less and less believable, as the novel rumbles ahead, complete with unnecessarily intertwined motives and endlessly piled-on players in the conspiracy. This book is further held back by a lot of masochistic and gratuitous violence, while much of the future cyberpunk society Morgan constructs is second-rate William Gibson. This is surely an action-packed and intriguing debut novel from Morgan, but some focus is needed with the plot and characterizations. [~doomsdayer520~]
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
doris gwaltney
Synopsis:
In the 26th century mankind has spread through the galaxy, taking its religions and racial divisions out into the cold arena of space. While tensions exist and small dirty wars flare up every now and then, the UN Protectorate maintains an iron grasp on the new worlds, aided by its very own elite shock-troops; the Envoy Corps.
Meanwhile, what religion cannot guarantee technology has already delivered; when your consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack and routinely downloaded into a new body even death has become little more than an inconvenience. As long as you can afford a new body...
Ex-UN Envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before; it was a hazard of the job, but his last death was particularly brutal. Needlecast across light years of space, re-sleeved into a body in San Francisco on Old Earth and throw into the centre of a conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that has forgotten how to value life, he soon realises that the shell that blew a hole in his chest on Harlan's World was only the beginning of his problems...

Well it's fairly obvious now why I don't read much Science Fiction......I don't enjoy it! I signed up to a pulp-fiction group on Goodreads site, and Altered Carbon was the February reading choice as voted for by some of the members.
Hopes were raised on reading some of the praise on the back.......hardcore, hard-boiled, astonishing, blown away, adrenaline, slick hard-hitting, brilliant, commanding, exciting, addictive, intriguing and inventive,
If they ever want my contribution for future editions...........snore-fest, dull, grim, tedious, numbing, anaesthetising.............these will do for starters.
My main gripe would have to be that I just couldn't feel a connection or any empathy for Kovacs. Gosh he's in peril, will he survive this latest conflict? Yawn, who cares?
There were some decent bits in the book and to give Morgan his due he can write some decent action scenes and he has a vivid imagination, and he didn't bore me with too much technical jargon where I felt a degree in physics would have been helpful. I'm fairly certain that many, many people really enjoyed this, but sadly I wasn't one of them. I wouldn't say I actively loathed it, but it was a close run thing.
Highlight for me, turning the last page, reading the last paragraph.
2 from 5
I acquired my copy as a book-swap on the readitswapit website.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marlene guy
A very well conceived book, Altered Carbon explores the concept of human memory/personality storage and how the technology would affect the development of society and space colonization as a broad scope topic, while providing a very human adventure/detective narrative for the protagonist. There are many reviews on the store regarding the storyline itself so I won't add to the rhetoric - as a new author to me, Richard K. Morgan hit on many interesting topics and struck home several times with his character Takeshi Kovacs - there are moments that made me laugh, scenes that brought me close to tears, and several that invoked a sense of wonder that I rarely get out of literary works. I would recommend this book to any new adult SF reader, though with a warning on some of the sex and drug scenes, which may be offensive to some - however even those instances were really well written and worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bhaskar
This is Morgan's first novel, as far as I am concerned this could have been his one hundreth novel, it is that well done, professional in every detail, from plot and character development to scenery and background discriptions, and banter between characters, all superb. There are lots of plausible hard science fiction ideas portrayed here, including the storing of people on data disks, cloning, also it is a time for immortality for those who can afford it, with death just an inconvenience as the deceased are simply 're-sleeved' into a new body, natural or artificial. Morgan treats all of these ideas with an original twist, none in and of itself is particularly original (is there anything today truly original?). A person's consciousness is located as a back-up in a cortical stack at the base of the brain. Takeshi Kovaks, the primary character, finds himself re-awakened many light-years and time from the planet he was living on prior, where he was violently killed, and Kovaks very quickly becomes immersed in a mystery to be solved.
To me good science fiction presents to the reader a future that is not only possible, but likely. A good writer can write about a future that has undergone a paradigm shift, and values the majority today consider important are no longer valid, and Richard Morgan does just that here in this novel in fine fashion. At 375 pages it appears to be of moderate length, but this is a 'trade' paperback, lots of words on each page, it takes a bit of time to read. The mystery Morgan spins here will keep you guessing, and includes very realistic settings. A word of caution for those who don't like novels with rough edges, there is plenty of violence and sex here, very earthy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
katie day
The story is set in a future where death is not always the end thanks to technology which allows the user to be "re-sleeved". The plot involves an ex soldier who is pulled out of virtual jail and brought to earth to help a rich man find out why he appears to have committed suicide. The characters and world are well drawn and the main gripe I had was a difficulty with the principle character's reality. It is hard to square the conditioned , almost robotic hired killer with his bouts of conscience. I also did not enjoy the fight scenes which could be a bit drawn out. There are elements too that are a bit too realistically created! Sometimes you prefer not to be that drawn in. On the whole though this is an excellent sci fi novel, a genre I used to enjoy as a child but normally now don't bother with. It usually fails for me as I can't quite get involved enough in the story. Here, however, I had no problem with suspending reality and believing in the new world drawn, therefore this is well done.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
erik mallinson
I had heard of "Altered Carbon" for a while, though I didn't know what it was about. All I knew is that it was an award winner. I listened to the audiobook version and I can say that, in my opinion, it deserves all its accolades. Morgan does an excellent job of setting the scene in a fairly far future earth where consciousness can be stored and moved between bodies. He also explores the various things that could flow from that ability, some of which are quite dark. Plenty of other reviews discuss the plot, so I won't. I will say that the book is not for children or sensitive adults as it contains scenes of graphic sex and violence, including torture. If you've been wondering why there isn't any decent SF for adults anymore, give it a try.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
beebo
Takeshi Kovacs has inherited somebody else's body. This former special UN Envoy--basically a solider without a conscience-- now does business as a private investigator and he's beem hired to find out who killed the super wealthy Laurens Bancroft. Oh and he's been hired by the resurrected Bancroft himself. Bancroft has himself digitally backed up every 48 hours. There's no more true death unless you're Catholic or have the cortical stack that they use to pull digital copies out of destroyed. The police are convinced that Bancroft committed suicide.

Kovacs is from Harlan's Planet and has been sleeved, i.e., temporarily placed in the body of someone who has been convicted of crimes and now the state owns their body and can loan it out any time. He has a limited time in the San Francisco Bay Area (now called Bay City)or he gets put back in the digital store house. When someone comes after Kovacs he's pretty sure that it's related to his investigation but things become complicated as he finds out more about the body he's occupying.

A fascinating combination of mystery/noir crime thriller and science fiction, Richard Morgan's first novel won the Philip K. Dick Award for Best novel in 2003. It deserves it. The themes of identity that were common to Dick's novels and the style seen here isn't unlike Dick's work in novels like Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?--the basis for "Blade Runner"-- (although admittedly the writing style is more Raymond Chandler than Dick). Well written, literate with fascinating characters ALTERED CARBON perfectly combines different pulp styles and Kovacs comes across as a combination of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe with more sex and violence for our 21st century world.

Morgan's done a great job of imagining Earth in the future and the details of the novel are well thought out. Recently purchased by producer Joel Silver ("The Matrix") to be made into a movie, I'm not sure how good a translation to the screen this will make and can only hope that they'll do a credible translation to the screen.

Recommended.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
lucile
Third book is more of the same. Double sleeping is suvh a crime, but it happens in two of his books. That’s weak. Story feels stretched and the graphic sex seemed forced . Fans deserve better than this book. The first was a fish out of water noir take. The next two have jus been sci go stories that crib from other sources
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dionna l hayden
(Really four and a half stars)
I read Altered Carbon about a month ago and I keep fondly thinking back to it. For SF not to disappear after initial digestion is a very good sign for me and sadly is increasingly rare. Altered Carbon has the little "throw away" details that I love in my SF, great action sequences and a moral ambivalence that keeps you guessing at what the characters are going to do next. I hate spoilers, so if you want a plot synopsis or a rough idea of Morgan's imaginary future, please supplement your research with other reviews. Suffice to say it is a hard boiled cyberpunkish mystery.
The title of this review comes from the lack of "info dumping" in the text. You know - when the ideas and technology of the SF world are just dropped into the text by the author like a lead sinker. Morgan has some great ideas, but he doesn't leave first person, so you have to slowly discover "sleeves" from the protagonist's view. Little details are doled out to the reader and come naturally from the plot. The argot of his world will be second nature by the end and I was sad to put down the book. It has great technological imagination, high action, torture and plenty of sex. The book oozes through some sleezy ranks of humanity, both rich and poor, which no hard boiled mystery can do without. His look at human amorality from top to bottom reminded me of Raymond Chandler at times. Like Philip Marlow, Takeshi Kovacs gets wrapped tighter and tighter by circumstance and has to make some ugly choices to get out.
So if it's so great, why not five stars? Well, this is a tremendous book, but I think Morgan will do better. I reserve five stars for something that utterly blows me away, and this one just didn't quite get there. Still a great page turner with equal parts steak and sizzle.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kevin ryan
Takeshi Kovacs, a native of Harlan's World and an ex-member of the thoroughly lethal UN Envoys, has inhabited many bodies in his career, both male and female, both natural and enhanced or even synthetic. That's the way life is lived in the 25th century. This ability to transfer personality and memories from one "sleeve" to another on demand also means it's seldom necessary to experience Real Death -- if you can afford it. It also means that the need for societal punishment usually results in having your cortical stack put on ice for a few decades, or even centuries -- and you might not get your own body back when you're released. Kovacs, though, is not typical, not even for an Envoy, and when he (or his consciousness) is needlecast across 180 light years to Earth by the excessively wealthy Laurens Bancroft to be offered a job investigating Bancroft's murder, he finds he can't refuse. The investigation gets him involved with all levels of Earth's society and with a wide variety of very artfully drawn characters, and he soon finds himself caught up in a vast conspiracy that he has very little chance of surviving. Woven through the story is Quellist philosophy ("Take it personally") and Kovacs's previous history and the ghosts that haunt him. This blend of noir detective thriller and uncommonly inventive cyberpunk is an astonishing piece of work for a first novel, and I expect Morgan to become well known in the sf community in a very short space of time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joy weese moll
Wow. Richard K. Morgan's "Altered Carbon" is probably the best fiction book I've read all year. It is incredibly imaginative, grittily gripping, solid and seamless. Morgan's prose is on par with that of any modern "literary" author and will satisfy serious readers.
The book is cyberpunk, and so includes familiar existential mind-benders and a post-nation-state setting. But this is just the necessary backdrop, and not the focus of the book. Instead, the story is an Agatha Christie whodunit except with excellent character development.
I loved this book because it is an intelligent page-turning thriller. But I also loved the clever devices Morgan employs. For example, the protagonist (his digitized mind) is broadcast to Earth and sleeved in the body of someone else who's mind is in prison. And although we never meet the person who's body the protagonist is wearing, he becomes a central character. It also raises great questions about how closely linked our physical beings are to who we really are. In another part of the book someone makes a copy of his digitized mind and so is able to have a conversation with himself. What would you ask yourself? Is it yourself?
And if this doesn't convince you, the book is also packed with plenty of drugs, explosions, fights, [.....] and pimps, and surprisingly well-written erotic moments. Treat yourself to this noir sci-fi mystery; you won't regret it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lizette
When looking at sci-fi, don't we always wnat to know how technology will effect the immortality of humans? We all search for ways of leaving a legacy, because at a certain time in our lives we begin to feel the weight of the finite life-span. The film BLADE RUNNER explores this issue best with an accelerated construct for the Nexus 6 androids -- and we sympathieze.

ALTERED CARBON comes up with an ingenious method of answer "do you want to live forever?" (my favorite line for the film CONAN) - transfering consciousness directly into digital info -- that can be swapped in and out of bodies like you swap CDs in your laptop.

Morgan's prose is strong, the characters are psychologically interesting, the sci-fi violence is repellent, yet gripping, and the storyline continues to twist and turn until the final pages. It's filled with great little curios for the day-to-day life in the world he creates, but it also has major upgrades (or downgrades) for the far-reaching elments of a future society.

Takashi Kovacs is a mean bastard, but you feel for his plight, his situation, his anger, his passion -- he's real enough in his decisions that you forgive him for some the atroscities he commits to "solve the case."

Highly recommended.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
suz anne seuss
I rarely stop reading books part way through, but I couldn't continue with Altered Carbon. The writing is a dreadful imitation of the noir style, with sentences that clunk and burp, filled with superficial and unsatisfying details. The central character is a juvenile's sketch of an action hero: utterly without personality, banal and psychotic. The minor characters are so unconvincing I wonder how much life experience the author had before putting them to paper. I recommend well-read adults avoid this in favor of all the much better science fiction out there.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kelsey hatley
***** Guaranteed 100% Spoiler Free *****

Click on a sci-fi BB, usergroup, or head to a con and you'll hear all the time arguments about what exactly is sci-fi. Many different writers have thrown out many different definitions with the purpose of being about to give a definitive up-or-down yes-or-no to any particular story. Altered Carbon makes me think about such debates because it is first and foremost a hard-boiled mystery that calls back to Raymond Chandler and the old black and white films of the 30s and 40s. How to breathe life into this old genre? Set the story in the future. Along comes Philip K. Dick and *poof* you've got a new subgenre: future-noir. And now, 40 years later, future-noir is getting a little grey around the edges. With Altered Carbon, Richard Morgan doesn't quite re-invent the genre but he offers a compelling addition to its ranks.

Altered Carbon is roughly 5 parts The Big Sleep, and 1 part Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, with a couple of pinches of over-the-top action thrown in for good measure. If you're looking for a mystery, here you go. If you're looking for science-fiction, well... read on.

The flaw of this book is that the *idea* behind it is at odds with the *story*. The idea that a person's entire identity and all their memories can be downloaded digitally and transferred from body to body goes against everything we know about neurology, but that would be forgivable if it was the centerpiece of a good story. Unfortunately, Morgan is so focused on giving his readers a good Mystery, that the sci-fi aspects falter. There are other needling sci-fi aspects too that could have gotten more play: the role of the central character's conditioning, just how sentient are artificial beings, etc.

Because the action is so focused on the whodunnit, the story only occasionally offers some human ramifications. When you're done, you can't help but think of all the missed opportunities. There's lots of examination of seedy sex and ultra-violence, but there is not a lot of the wonder in gee-whiz technology that gives sci-fi a lot of its charm. Dick was always asking the big questions in his stories (what does it mean to be human, what is reality if not perception, what is the role of technology in our evolution) without letting the stories become brooding meditions. But here, the questions mostly go unasked.

As you might guess, the flaws to the book kept me from fully enjoying it. That's not to say it isn't a good book or that you won't enjoy it. Because it is a good book, especially if you're a fan of those old hard-boiled Philip Marlowe books. Sci-Fi flaws aside, Morgan definitely does breathe new life into the mystery side of things. The plot of the book has twists and turns aplenty and will keep you guessing until the end. And if that's your thing, and you don't mind a little bit of the old ultra-violence, then pick it up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
killeen
I'm not in the habit of reading murder mysteries. Not that there's anything wrong with them, but mystery novels aren't my cup of tea. As someone always on the lookout for a good science fiction novel, however, I found myself suckered into "Altered Carbon," so now I can say that I've read my first high-tech, futuristic detective story.
"Altered Carbon" is set mostly in Bay City (formerly San Francisco) four centuries into the future. People familiar with San Francisco will probably have a little fun with some of the locations (the upscale Potrero neighborhood is now a seedy, crime-ridden dump called Licktown), and all readers will find themselves immersed in a world in the ability to "digitize" human memories and consciousness is both a blessing and a curse. The protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, finds himself sprung from digital storage and put to work solving an increasingly labyrinthine case involving murder, suicide, and some very depraved recreational pursuits. Along the way he gets involved in a couple of VERY [erotic] situations and multiple episodes of graphic violence and torture. Fair warning to any reader who doesn't handle such things well.
What I found most provocative about this tale is the aforementioned ability to digitally record and store human consciousness and memories. Most people are implanted with "cortical stacks" at the base of the skull after birth, and if one is killed or grievously injured, one's very conscious being can be "re-sleeved" in a new body (natural, enhanced, or completely synthetic), provided one has the money. This raises all kinds of interesting questions about the nature of human consciousness, self-awareness, and what is often called the Soul. In this future world, self-proclaimed Catholics can forego such "re-sleeving," since they believe that God takes possession of the Soul once the body has given it up. But this begs the question: If the cortical stack and stored memories of a Catholic are crucial in a murder investigation, whose rights take precedence?
The plot of "Altered Carbon" is pretty (...) complicated, and no matter how close attention readers pay to the clues, the puzzle doesn't quite come together until near the very end, and then one is sorely tempted to read the whole book over again. I found myself leafing back and forth through the book after I was finished, every so often saying to myself, "Oh, so THAT'S what they were talking about!" Still Takeshi Kovacs is a pretty intriguing character, some of the dialogue and narrative is really witty, and overall this is a pretty stunning debut novel for Richard Morgan. I've already snagged a copy of his follow-up, "Broken Angels," again featuring Takeshi Kovacs. I can't wait to start reading it this evening.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
amrita
Richard K. Morgan's first published novel is an effective blend of hardboiled detective story and cyberpunk. Takeshi Kovacs is a highly trained ex-special operations soldier (aka Envoy) whose body has been killed, his personality digitally stored "on stack" for crimes on his home world. When a very wealthy and influential man on Earth dies, he buys the convict's personality, has it downloaded to a body on good ol' terra firma, and sets Kovacs to the task of solving his death: was it suicide or murder?

While this is overall a well-written novel, there are also several of those moments that make you want scream, "What was he THINKING?" For instance, twice in the course of the story, Morgan has characters, one Kovacs, the other a veteran cop, drawing their guns - auto pistols - and dramatically racking the slides to chamber rounds before going into action, or while actually being attacked. Speaking as a 2002 state combat pistol champion who's been making his living evaluating and writing about guns for the past 12 years, let make this really simple for you: no one with two brain cells to rub together carries an auto pistol without a round already in the chamber. Certainly not an experienced special ops soldier or a tough-as-nails police detective. A minor bit of research on guns here would have prevented Morgan making this rookie mistake.

Then he has Kovacs, post-firefight, reloading his gun by popping out the partially spent magazine, then laboriously fishing a spare out of his jacket pocket (of COURSE he didn't carry it easily accessible in a spare magazine pouch, those highly trained killers always have their spare ammo rattling about in the bottom of a pocket, natch), inserting the fresh magazine into the gun, then racking the slide to chamber a cartridge. Uh, no. After you're fired an auto pistol and you've still got a half-loaded mag in the gun, there's ALREADY a round in the chamber. Jeez. Obviously Morgan knows very little about guns but thinks it's really bitchin' and macho to show a character racking an auto pistol's slide. I mean, that's how you know someone's SERIOUS. Right?

Also, I must admit I found it a bit irritating the way Morgan, time after time throughout the book, referred to the detachable box that holds ammunition and inserts into an auto pistol's butt as a "magazine" in one sentence, and a "clip" in the very next. These are not synonyms. In some guns we do have what are called "clips." A clip is a non-mechanical device, i.e. it has no moving parts, it's just a piece of metal, designed to hold cartridges for storage, or so they can go into a magazine. A magazine is a mechanical device, it has moving parts, designed to hold cartridges so they can go into a firing chamber. Imagine you were a computer programmer, and how jarring you'd find it if a writer continually referred to a RAM as a ROM. I mean, who cares, they're almost the same thing. Right?

Then we have the scene where Kovacs is standing on the street, over the body of a friend who's just been tossed from a car. The verbiage goes, "...I lowered myself into a crouch beside Ortega and reached down to her face....warm breath stirred around my fingertips. I felt blindly toward the neck for a pulse and found it, weak but stable."

Why is it the two things most writers get wrong are always guns and first aid? Speaking as a graduate of the EMT course, here's a basic fact for you: as soon as the heart stops beating, a person immediately stops breathing. If a person is breathing, de facto their heart is beating, there's no need to check for a pulse. This is basic first aid. A highly trained, combat experienced spec ops veteran like Kovacs would know that.

Then Kovacs tells Ortega to bug out, and gets in the car so the bad guy, an assassin who's sworn Kovacs' death, can kidnap him to his probable demise. WHY? To protect Ortega? Please. Kovacs had Mr. Bad Guy covered with his gun, he had the upper hand. True, there were two muscleheads in the car, as well, but (a) he didn't know that yet, (b) he'd already demonstrated numerous times throughout the book he could handle such pug uglies without breaking a sweat. So why get in the car? Why risk his life? Why not just shoot the bad guy, deal with the inconsequentialities in the car, then trip merrily on his way? Well, obviously because Morgan wanted to get Kovacs into the death trap to come. The deus ex machina was in full view at this point, the wires moving the character like a puppet not even hidden.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this novel. But I would have enjoyed it more with the addition of some basic research on Morgan's part about firearms and first aid, and a bit less artificiality moving the plot forward at times.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vrinda pendred
When you read this book, you have to pay attention and open your imagination up wide. Very well written, creative and captivating! Well worth my time. I don’t know if it is just me, but I had a little trouble following some places and keeping track. Now I am going to watch the series on Netflix!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeff ropiequet
In the twenty-fifth century, former military operative of the Envoy Corps Takeshi Kovacs knows death is part of life so he is not shocked to find he was killed on Harlan's World as a century long sentencing for his criminal activity. However, he admits to a bit of surprise that he awakens not long afterward on Earth because wealthy industrialist Laurens Bancroft has hired Takeshi to investigate the murder of Bancroft. The police claim he committed suicide, but Bancroft sees inconsistencies in the official theory that he blew his head off as he questions why he would do so since he always employs an electronic backup and has clones available just in case.
Having no choice, Takeshi investigates what happened by visiting the ratty underbelly and the hedonistic elite while assimilating and adapting to his new skin. However, as the danger mounts, Takeshi's past life surfaces changing the scope of his assignment from determining who would want the mogul dead to personal survival because the threat of death this time could prove permanently real.
Though a superb blending of a who-done-in inside a vividly descriptive far future galaxy, the key to ALTERED CARBON is the ethics issues cleverly interwoven within the story line. The plot is action filled, the earth and technology of the future seem genuine and real, and the lead protagonist feels like a twenty-fifth century Sam Spade not Buck Rogers. However, it is the cerebral underpinnings that propel the audience to think of current questions on cloning, death, and the widening wealth distribution gap that makes Richard K. Morgan's novel a one sitting gem for fans of both genres.
Harriet Klausner
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
janet rosfeld
The third Kovacs book is not as good as the other two. It has taken a jump forward in time. He is back on his homeworld. Kovacs has had a relationship, lost a woman, and to pass the time, is going around slaughtering those involved in the crazy cult that led to the actual murder and stack death of the woman he loved.

A little shallow, but soon he gets pulled into something deeper. Investigating very strange AI, and finding out that one of the women he is doing this with just may have a famous revolutionary's consciousness on board.

This has serious political implications, and Kovacs joins the side of the locals, not the Envoys. He is getting a little slower on the uptake in his old age, it seems, but does soon realise that the situation would call for an Envoy presence.

He also gets to take up with the woman we have come to believe is the Modesty Blaise or Wonder Woman of the Envoy corps, Virginia Viadura. We soon realise she is a bit more human and flawed than that.

Kovacs experience does tell in the end, and even a bit of hope at the end amidst all the violence and terror.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rpcnuwm
Imagine a world, where you won't die. You will just get into another body. And, if you are rich, you can even have your own clones, for each day of the week, for example. In such world, what is the point of murder?
Why was one of the richest man on Earth murdered, just to be reborn in another clone?
This is the question Takeshi Kovach is faced with, when he gets to Earth to investigate the case he doesn't want to. He is also faced with assasins, AIs, which gone a bit crazy, and a whole world for us to see and marvel at.
"Altered Carbon" gives us a solid mystery, rooted in an interesting and well-realised future. And there is a lot of action thrown in, if the mystery is not enough for you.
While some readers critisized the book for being too graphic in depicting sex and violence, I didn't have problems with those issues. Maybe I'm more tolerant, or maybe I thought that for the man like Takeshi this was the right way to narrate his story. He is a mercenary, who has been through several horrible wars - do you expect him to be poetic, while describing sex?
Overall, this book is one of the strongest SF thrillers I've read in a long time, may be since "Snowcrash". Buy it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
whitney king
In this inventive fantasy the human body is used as a metaphor, used to hold and play the human personality like a DVD player holds a disc. Life becomes no more than the passing shape of an ocean wave. Human mortality is turned upside down for those who have the big bucks to afford it. ALTERED CARBON must be complimented for attempting a new portrayal of reincarnation. One can be reborn into another body (sleeve) or, if one is rich enough, into one's updated clone. There is no hard science here. There is no discussion of the carbon "stack" technology, no hint of how the data storage was accomplished. Why not design the stack from more sturdy diamond crystals?

To suspend your disbelief of this tale the reader must discard a whole library of thought on the human consciousness and soul. One must discard any notion of God. God is dissolved in this carbon stack. Several writers, for example, Shaw and Silverberg, have dealt with the consequences of a prolonged human life. In ALTERED CARBON the downside of living to be Methuselah's 969 years is barely touched on. Why? Because his characters do not share the essence of being human - mortality.

The shortcomings of this novel is that the paper cut out characters could not be identified with. In such a story it doesn't matter who wins or loses. Who cares? Here the end of one's life meant only getting on to the next screen. No reader is apt to return from the dead with a new body to inhabit. If you enjoy reading of characters used as snuff fodder to satiate bizarre sexual appetites, characters who consider humans as worth no more than cancerous cells, then this may be your best read. For this writer the tale was prolonged unnecessarily for at least 100 pages.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
van pham
Richard Morgan got a hit on his hands with this stunning sf noir thriller set in the 25th century where real death is only a memory to a select few!Technology exists in this future society where a person's consciouness can be stored in a cortical stack and download into another body(sleeve). Ex Un envoy Takeshi Kovacs is killed in a firefight with the authorities and he finds himself in another body on Earth in Bay City which use to be San Francisco. He is hired or threatened by the rich Laurens Bancroft to find out who had him to kill himself! Morgan's sf thriller has it all: scenes of brutal violence as Kovacs uncovers a rather sinister conspiracy that will rock this future society to it's core. Morgan's vision of the future where human life is bought and sold and where death loses it's sting to select few who can afford it.Another thing I love about this novel is wonderful characters both good and evil who inhabit this world: Takeshi Kovacs-a man who finds his conscience as he battles his corrupt enemies. Kristin Ortega-the cop who has ties to Kovacs that makes her distrust him at first. Laurens Bancroft-
centuries year old man who's hires Kovacs to find out who tried to kill him. Miriam Bancroft-Laurens wife who has some dark secrets of her own as she tries to seduce and stop Kovacs.I love the gritty feel of this book with it's scenes of future eroticism
and gory violence and it's theme of in the future technology changes but human nature doesn't!Greed and betrayal figure in this advance world. I can't wait to read the next Kovacs novel!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jenny beans
Takeshi Kovacs is in trouble. That's nothing new as with his Envoy skills, he's put into difficult situations every time he's hired. This time, however, he's being hunted by himself--a younger version that is much more ruthless and will kill him if necessary. Kovacs resleeves after decades in hybernation only to find that he's caught protecting someone with something very valuable in her head that she isn't even aware is there. When he returns to his home planet of Harlan's World, he discovers a radically changed landscape where some of his old friends are no longer friends and he's gained new enemies.

Morgan's third novel with his anti-hero is his best featuring Kovacs to date. Kovacs for those who haven't read Morgan's first novel (which I'd recommend first--ALTERED CARBON is a terrific and fast paced read well written and well plotted)echoes classic noir anti-heroes like Philip Marlowe and Mike Hammer without being a pale imitation of either of these characters. Morgan clearly has thought out and plotted Kovacs' background as he may be in the tradition of these noir heroes but he is a full blown character all his own.

As usual Morgan creates riveting action sequences. Personally I felt that this is probably the best Kovacs novel that Morgan has written although all three are very strong works. Morgan's hardbitten world may recall the cyperpunk world popularized by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling but he brings unique character to his novels with his Chandleresque prose style.

I'd recommend Morgan's two other Kovacs' books first although it shouldn't stop you from picking up this book and enjoying it. Morgan deftly fills in the background on Kovacs and his universe without making it seem like he's giving us a recap of the other two books. This is his second best novel (his best to date is the recently released THIRTEEN which I'll be writing about shortly as well).

I'd highly recommend this book and don't think that fans that enjoyed Morgan's other novels will be disappointed. He continues to grow as a writer and still hasn't lost the desire to entertain his readers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
krista d amato
Altered Carbon is a fast-paced sci-fi thriller with an up-to-date technology perspective and classic sensibilities.

Richard Morgan explores the ramifications of a technology called D.H.F. - Digital Human Format. (The novel's title describes the digital recording medium.) The capability to record and down-load an individual's experiences and personality has broad consequences: manditory implant of individual cortical black-boxes, serial immortality, interstellar colonization by digital transmission, virtual incarceration, and the elimination of ethical boundaries for bioengineering.

Altered Carbon reverberates with the sensibilities and issues of A. E. van Vogt's classic "The World of Null-A" (1949). But in Richard Morgan's future, mankind is able to adapt to the ambiguities of virtual identity.

The plot of Altered Carbon begins with the death of magnate Laurens Bancroft, a death which is labeled as suicide by the police. Believing that he couldn't have killed himself, Bancroft buys a former special agent, Takeshi Kovacs, out of virtual storage and assigns him to find out what really happened. Of course, in a world of D.H.F., suicide may not be what it seems.

By hewing to the essential conventions of the private eye genre, Morgan avoids the post-modern disappointments that infect a lot of cyber-punk. The real world (in all its organic and virtual extensions) really matters, and recognizable moral principles apply. Next time I'm in the mood for an entertaining read, I'll be tempted to try one of the sequels (Broken Angels and Woken Furies).

Parents beware: Altered Carbon is laced with a lot of sex and violence, both depersonalized and intense. These elements are well adapted to the sci-fi assumptions of the novel. But still the story is too coarse for youth.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
dariel
Agree with prior reviewers that this should be redone by a narrator who knows how to pronounce the protagonist's last name. The echo chamber effect is also horrid. No stars, black hole (negative stars).
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lakshmi c
This probably is the first cyberpunk novel that is actually entertaining. In this future world, human conscious is digitized and stored in a small tubular device called a cortical stack, implanted under a brain stem. Thus when one is dead, one's conscious, together with the memory can be downloaded to other available human body called a sleeve. Takeshi Kovacs, the main character of this book, is an ex-Envoy, a trained super soldier, sort of a Jedi with emphasis on the dark side. He is downloaded to the Earth as a private detective to solve a murder case. The client is the victim himself, who has revived by being resleeved to a clone body. The plot itself is not very complicated. In fact, it follows a typical violent B-movie formula; stereotypical characters - an ex-cop turned detective, a bored wife of a rich man, a stereotypical storyline - an ex-cop turned detective falls for a bored wife of a rich man, and an erratic plot with a lot of unnecessary twists. There are bits and pieces of Gibson, "Matrix"and "Ghost in the Shell" Not many original ideas, but no over-detailed bore typical in cyberpunk novels either. How can this be not entertaining!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pinar
One of my all time favorite books. I read this years ago, and I a excited to see that it is coming out on Netflix. This is heavy-duty cyber-punk sci-fi, so it can read slow, some times. But it got be hooked on the author, and it's worth checking out. I have enjoyed all of RKM's books. Read 'em.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
amanda miao
A good fast read.

Richard Morgan takes Kovacs, his protagonist through an amazingly imagined 25th century roller coaster ride planet jumping planets to "earth" where we find him playing detective trying to unravel a case with more layers than an onion. Morgan's creation of the 25th century sounds perfectly believable and it's 20th century references make our world today feel almost quaint and innocent! With few sources of "death" mankind seems poised to live forever, exchanging damaged, older bodies for healthy new ones (re-sleeving), the world becomes increasingly difficult to tell who's who and what one's agendas are.

Morgan takes the classic hardboiled detective novel and spins it on its ear in a world, I'm not certain I want to live long enough to be a part of. But I'm picking out a new sleeve, just in case!

Though very well written, be forewarned there is graphic stuff on every level including violence and sexuality that may put off some readers. For those who can "handle" it - you're in for a great ride - er, I mean read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
augustus
My first Richard Morgan novel.

In the relatively new genre dubbed as cyberpunk, British author Richard K. Morgan's first Takeshi Kovacs novel ALTERED CARBON (2002) leaves an indelible impression. A captivating blend of suspense/mystery, hardcore first-person detective story, and action/adventure in the midst of a science fiction backdrop, ALTERED CARBON is sure to hit you hard with its unique style and flavor. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs is exactly the sort of kick-butt, intelligent hero I love to read about. Although I'm not a huge fan of first-person storytelling, our narrator Kovacs manages to admirably build the science fiction universe of ALTERED CARBON with its futuristic vocab and prose. ALTERED CARBON's settings, including the bureaucracy, economic social hierarchy, the vernacular, and futuristic sights are thorough, if not confounding at times. For a debut novel, Morgan ably sets the scene and builds his universe which support his story. There's plenty of related history too. Again, the prose can be ambiguous at times, but it depends on how you receive it; don't let the futuristic vernacular bog you down, just take it in stride. Richard Morgan doesn't shy away from explicit language, brutal violence and sex to grab your attention either. His science fiction world is very morbid, and these things are a part of its "culture."

In the futuristic ALTERED CARBON, human civilization conquers death itself. "Poor Death, no match for the mighty altered-carbon technologies of data storage and retrieval arrayed against him. Once we lived in terror of [Death's] arrival. Now we flirt outrageously with his somber dignity, and beings like these won't even let him in the tradesman's entrance." Ouch. But these things are a reality for the universe of ALTERED CARBON: cloning, mind data storage/retrieval, resleeving (brand new body or same body but younger). In a macabre observation, the book notes how virtual prostitution is actually more expensive than sex with a real prostitute, since bodies don't have much significance anymore. Many "Meths" (rich, influential people, socially and economically high on the food chain) have stacks on storage, and they transmit their current memory over regular intervals of time to a data center containing hundreds of their cloned bodies. "Meths" are often thousands of centuries old. Other, common people also have "stacks" for storage and retrieval in their spinal core, though they often don't have the monetary means to afford more than one clone, let alone hundreds. As the story begins, Morgan weaves in religion as we learn of religious Catholics demonstrating with placards against any form of data storage and retrieval on Earth, arguing such altered-carbon technology destroys the soul. In fact, many Catholics still live a traditional lifespan and forgo any form of cloning and resleeving in a new body.

Ex-U.N. Envoy (military conditioning and training) and criminal Takeshi Kovacs has just been hired by a Meth, Mr. Laurens Bancroft to investigate Bancroft's apparent suicide. The story begins as police commandos gun down Kovacs and his friend Sarah to death on Harlan's World. Next thing we know, authorities "needlecast" (transmit) Kovacs' "stack" (stored mind) over to Earth to be resleeved in a new body sanctioned and paid for by Bancroft. Bancraft is convinced it was a murder not a suicide, and he maintains he wouldn't try to kill himself when they'd download him to a new cloned body later anyway. Unfortunately, his last "update" to his personal data center was well before the events preceding his apparent suicide and now, he has no memory of his suicide or the time before it. Bancraft hires Kovacs on the strength of a recommendation by Reileen Kawahara, who Kovacs did some work for a few years back. The police and the ranking officer Lt. Kristin Ortega have already closed the case, declaring an open-and-shut suicide.

As Kovacs pursues the investigation, we learn more and more about the various pieces of the puzzle. If you're astute unlike me, you may be able to figure out some links well before the end. Kovacs investigates Bancroft's proclivity for blue-collar prostitution establishments like Jerry's Closed Quarters, he learns more about Bancroft's wife, the drop-dead gorgeous Miriam Bancroft, and even Kovacs' current "sleeve" (body) and its rightful consciousness currently stacked away seems to bear some disturbing connections to the leading police officer who closed Bancroft's case, the austere Lt. Ortega. Everyone except Bancroft himself wants Kovacs to leave well enough alone, and drop the investigation. The wild joy ride seems to intrigue Kovacs and he doggedly continues his investigation.

Morgan intersperses a lot of history and world-building into Kovacs' characterization. Although not as old as a Meth, Kovacs is an ex-Envoy and a few hundreds of years old himself with a rich and dark history. He often recalls gruesome wars, gritty experiences and brutal people he's met.

Here's just a taste of Kovacs' hardcore characterization. The following passages comes relatively early on in the book when there's a cold fury raging through his veins. It's actually a lot of fun. In a book Kovacs often quotes throughout, he notes: "And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous, marks the difference -- the only difference in their eyes -- between players and little people. Players they will make deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it's just business, it's politics, it's the way of the world, it's a tough life, and that it's nothing personal. Well (screw) them. Make it personal."

There's traces of love in the story, but don't hold your breath there, the book's focus rests on the hardcore first-person characterization of Takeshi Kovacs and the mystery he's hired to solve. What I like about the book: the nihilistic Kovacs' motivations behind his actions are very personal, drawn from a caring for the people he values. Nonetheless, Morgan explores some interesting themes here in the midst of his scifi world. In love, is it the body we love or the consciousness behind the body? Can you love a new consciousness in the body of your lover (Ortega/Kovacs/Ryker)? Can you love a new body with the consciousness of your love (Victor & Irene Elliot)? Is any of this cheating? It seems that a true long-term relationship hinges equally on both: the person behind the body and the body itself. And in Morgan's science fiction universe where bodies are interchanged as quickly as shirts, love is tricky.

My main criticism with this novel has to do with the prose. Because of the rich fabric of history and science fiction vernacular Morgan sprinkles into the first-person narrative, the prose takes some patience to follow, and if you don't really care for this brand of hardcore cyberpunk detective story, you're not going to like it. I dropped this novel in favor of others for months before I actually came back to finish this one. Having finished it, I will definitely continue reading other Takeshi Kovacs novels.

It's an interesting ride to say the least.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tianjun shen
Snow Crash (another more famous "cyberpunk" novel) is like a kids cartoon compared to this gritty, sexual and violent novel. R. M. sets the world, the year 25K, alive. Don't look for pandering descriptions of the world of tomorrow though. The future unravels slowly with only the bits necessary for the story shown. The plot on the other hand doesn't unravel as much as bowl you over. This is one of the only books I've read, other than ghost stories, which have the main character die within the first three pages. The gunfight on the first pages sets the pace for the rest of the book and Morgan's descriptions are amazing.

This is not for anyone who is easily offended by violence or sexual situations. But don't let that hinder your enjoyment of the novel, the V and S fit perfectly into the world Morgan has crafted. Look at our tendencies as a society now and you may see our future printed in this book.

If you do decide to read Altered Carbon it would be my advice to remember all of the names referenced early on. My memory is bad to say the least and I wish someone had warned me to pay closer attention.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves great sci-fi with a believable cohesive future and tons of action (oh yeah, the mystery is pretty slick to).

PS. Don't get me wrong, I loved Snow Crash too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sara heddleston
What a wonderful little book this turned out to be! Morgan starts off with the 'mind as information' idea that is so liked by modern SF authors, and spins it into a clever and surprising detective novel that hits all the right buttons.
Yeah, the SF concepts are cool, but what's really nice about this novel is the pulp detective novel it contains. In that regard, SF and Noir perfectly complement each other and prevent the novel from ever devolving into something derivative. The SF concepts are good, but as fuel material for a detective story, they allow Morgan to give a 'classical' detective narrative in an entirely new light, in a world populated by 300 year-old megalomaniacs and where your body is just one form of very expensive suit.
The fact the novel played out like a very classic detective story is one of the reasons I found it so endearing: there were moments, throughout the books, when I just KNEW what was gonna happen, but like seeing a remastered version of your favorite classic, that's a good thing: it was still entirely worthwhile.
Altogether, what truly makes 'Altered Carbon' memorable is not the SF, though it is amazing, and not the detective story, though it is an absolute delight to read: it's the perfect balancing act between the two, a mix of genres I have rarely seen executed so well.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
barbaraspalding
"Coming back from the dead can be rough."

Altered Carbon is Richard K. Morgan's debut novel but you'd never guess if you didn't know. Its a Sci -Fi Thriller set on 25th century earth, and Buck Rogers it is not.

Man has colonized the galaxy under the guidance of the UN Protectorate, and The UN has created the Envoys to deal with special problems. Technology has changed the definition of life itself. Peoples consciousnesses can be downloaded in to a cortical stack, so that a person's body is no more part of their being than their car, or home. Something that they make be attached to, but can be changed, upgraded, or even sold. For those with the means death merely becomes a minor inconvenience.

Takeshi Kovacs is on the stack doing a 120 year sentence, when he is freighted to Earth via needlecast to go to work for Laurens Bancroft. Bancroft is a meth, a Methuselah, one of the privileged who have extended their lives for centuries. Bancroft had his head, and his stack blown off, the police have ruled it a suicide, Bancroft doesn't buy it. That's why he has brought in Kovacs. The investigation throws Kovacs into the middle of a far reaching conspiracy. He must find a way to solve the puzzle, while saving his skin and those of his friends.

Morgan weaves a complex tale of mystery, adventure, and betrayal. His world building isn't extensive, but as the story takes place mostly on the San Francisco, he doesn't need much. He does create a very interesting back story of colonization and the UN Envoys. Characterization is strong. Kovacs is a very memorable complex character, the supporting cast is strong as well.

Fans of sci-fi or detective stories should enjoy this book. It evokes comparisons to the work of Phillip K. Dick. I loved this book and highly recommend it. Broken Angels has moved to near the top of my to be read pile.

9 out of 10
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dawn mottlow
Not long ago, ambitious authors led by William Gibson took concepts such as corporate ninjas, man-machine hybrids and extreme virtual reality crime-lords and set them in the recent future of a darkly plausible world. The result was a gritty and believable science fiction genre called cyberpunk. But unfortunately, when the 21st Century finally arrived, it was conspicuously lacking in cyborgs and high-tech heists (no flying cars, either) And so, with its plausibility stripped, cyberpunk quietly faded away.

Until now.

Richard K. Morgan's "Altered Carbon" brings back the marriage of science fiction and film noir in a story that takes place five hundred years in the future. The story telling is edgy and his hero, Takeshi Kovachs, is morally ambiguous. Graphic sex and violence is skillfully juxtaposed along side cold hard science to create a futuristic hard-boiled detective story.

His top tech-trick is the concept of being "Resleeved". One's consciousness can be stored in "cortical stacks" that can be uploaded into another body. It's not a new idea, having been masterfully explored in Zelazny's "Lord of Light" (and not so well developed in Corey Doctorow's "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom"). Morgan takes the concept further and delves into the economic, sociological and psychological effects of this technology (other reviews will give more detail about how).

There is one thing, however, that absolutely drove me crazy while reading this book. Takeshi Kovachs was a member of the Envoy Corps, an elite Special Forces space-marine type organization. Know how I know? Because Morgan feels the need to constantly remind the reader of this fact! There is at least one reference like "my Envoy training kicked in", "when I was in the Envoy corp.", or "...I looked at him with standard Envoy suspicion" on every other page! Since the story is told from Kovach's first person narrative, the constant reminder of his "Envoy" prowess makes him sound insecure and crying for attention.

But if you can overlook that little detail, you'll find yourself thoroughly immersed in an edgy high-tech cyberpunk detective story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kubra
In this third installment of the Takeshi Kovacs novels we have Kovacs back on his home planet of Harlan's World, where political intrigue and organized crime exist practically side by side. Kovacs has been an ex-Envoy for some time and is now involved in some shady deals at times. The Quellist political movement, after being mostly forgotten for hundreds of years, is now being revived, with their leader possibly out of data storage, but the question being, is she a cheap copy, or the original? The First Family, the Harlan's, will not stop at anything to destroy the Quellist movement and keep their position at the top. Into all of this Kovacs tries to make sense of many different people and their loyalties, which are sometimes vague and misleading. In this novel are many twists and turns that will surprise you. And taking place many hundreds of years in the future things are much different, such as storing minds in cortical data stacks that can be later re-sleeved into a new body, needle-cast minds across vast distances of space, advanced A.I. weaponry, this list can go on and on.

The action and plot always kept my interest, it was fast moving with lots of action, what you would expect from a Takeshi Kovacs novel. There is lots of detail everywhere and you have to keep this all sorted out in your mind or it can become confusing. The descriptions of Harlan's World in it's various aspects were well done by Morgan, at times it was almost like being there. I did find this novel on a par with the two previous Kovacs stories, very enjoyable indeed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amy booth
In the distant future, Takeshi Kovacs heads home to repressive Harlan's World to eerily confront himself when he was an Envoy working for the UN as a super soldier to keep people on the remote planets in check. Since he could afford to leave that body behind, Takeshi downloaded his personality into a new "sleeve" and left for another world to start life anew.

On Harlan's World, Kovacs soon finds himself protecting Sylvie, an apparent reincarnation of a long dead messiah, from the First Families, who need her dead as her message interferes with the power they yield. The First Families send an Envoy to kill Sylvie, but Kovacs believes the killer is a younger healthier him.

This is an action-packed science fiction Noir that starts in hyperspeed before accelerating into faster than light velocity. The suspense laden story line is all action except when Richard K. Morgan chooses to pontificate against any form of religious fundamentalism, which Kovacs believes by its essence means its burden requires either altering carbon structure or breaking the angels of those of other belief systems. Kovacs is at his best when affirming you can't home, at least not safely. Fans of electrifying futuristic thrillers will appreciate the award winning author's latest triumph.

Harriet Klausner
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
riadun adnan
This is Richard K Morgan's third Takeshi Kovacs novel and it's a winner. Sure there are things to criticize in the book, but you have to remember that's it's pulp noir set in the far future - and the similes are frequent like screams in an Envoy interrogation room. The pace is fast, plot holes exist but don't slow the book down, and the characters can be stereotypical but they fill necessary roles and allow Kovacs to grow and it is his book after all.

We get some questions answered:

1. What is Quelism and who is Quelcrist Falconer?

2. Why is everyone scared of the Envoy Corps? What can they do?

3. What would it take to turn Takeshi Kovacs into a priest murdering serial killer?

4. What would happen if you took an earlier backup of Takeshi Kovacs from his days as an envoy and sleeved him with the assignment to track down and kill the Takeshi of Altered Carbon and Broken Angels?

It was such a fun read, Takeshi against religious fundamentalists, Takeshi against himself, Takeshi against the Envoys. The twists come so fast and they throw him on a journey that feels like a planetary tour of his home, Harlan's World, if such a tour had the guide ducking bullets and screaming out, "that streak off to the left of our rocket ship is a town, I think, but it's taking heavy fire."

Keep 'em coming, Mr. Morgan, Keep 'em coming.

- CV Rick
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
carol hunter
Mick Serendipity has a dilemma to deal with--his life. Though it is probably not too unusual to begin to feel a little identity muss when you're seasoned with the ripe old age of two-hundred. Especially for a character who has gone home to find a love dead, a friend corrupt, and a former military commander converted to neo-Quellist hippie worship.

Yet there is more trouble brewing as Serendipity meets a woman with an artificially enhanced brain. A brain that can interface with certain things on a world that is orbited by alien weapons platforms and infested with centuries year old AI that will kill any creature that invades their territory. This woman's brain is a Yin to Serendipity's Yang. A brain that claims an impossible identity. An identity that is revolutionary in the making.

Not to mention that there is someone hunting Serendipity. Someone with all his military sponsored skills.

A friend?

An enemy?

The former Tekashi Kovacs was always his own worst enemy.

This is very possibly my number one scifi novel as it ends the epic that is Takeshi Kovacs, ie Serendipity. Though much of this cyberpunk tale is very noir, it cannot be read like "Altered Carbon." Whereas "Altered Carbon" was a very fast paced detective story, "Woken Furies" tastes more like revelation. This books does have good action, but that is not the focus. The focus gravitates around the imperfect protagonist who is struggling with life back home on Harlan's World. The author, Richard Morgan, once suggested to savor this book like savoring a drink. I can think of no better comparison for "Woken Furies." You have to take it in slow. Use pace to get the full intoxicating effect. If it is thrown back too quickly you might just need another body to resleeve. For my first time ever, I'm giving this book five stars.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
daniel barden
I'd like to start out by saying that this was a fun novel, I could see it making a great movie adaptation or graphic novel. That said, I feel the book was too conventional in some respects and underdeveloped in others.
The story and characters are conventional hardboiled, noire detective fare. It makes for trite, one dimensional characters, predictable plot swerves and at times cheesy dialogue. The rich old murder victim, the younger seductress wife, the hard-edged detective at odds with and being manipulated by different factions, the hooker with the heart of gold...most of the characters are little more than these tired, noire archetypes, going through the motions.
What differentiates this from the typical hardboiled detective mystery is the cyberpunky setting. While it has some interesting additions, too often the sci-fi aspects are underdeveloped, superficial and just seem like a gimmick slapped over a formulaic detective story. The concept of sleeving presents a lot of interesting existential and ethical questions, and occasionally they are brought up, but hardly ever in much depth, and only as filler in between moving the plot along. The world is intriguing, but never fleshed out. We know Kovacs is an Envoy from offworld, but these are more just phrases tossed around, without much explanation or detail.
Characterizations are pretty weak, especially the protagonist. Kovacs never had much of an identity to me beyond that of a badass '80s action movie star, all one-liners and tough guy shtick.
Again, it was a fun read, but light on the sci-fi aspects. As cyberpunk goes, it's pretty light-weight compared to Stephenson or Gibson.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
linda
Let me start out by saying that I read this book in less than twelve hours. I called in sick from work to finish it after staying up all night reading. Then I logged into the store and bought the sequels.

Altered Carbon is without a doubt the best book I've read this year.

Takeshi Kovacs, the protagonist, is a perfect noir antihero. With equal parts self-deprecation and sheer balls, his voice is powerful and true throughout the whole novel. The matter-of-fact first person narration is perfect.

The character development is superb - these people will not just come to life for the reader, they leap off the page and grab you by the throat. The future slang is gritty, descriptive, and 'right' without being incomprehensible. The pacing is fever-pitched; there's not a dull moment to be found. The scenes, the set pieces, are just jaw-droppingly gorgeous in descriptive detail, but are lean and mean at the same time. Every word is precisely crafted, and it shows. Boy, does it show.

In short, there are zero flaws in this novel as far as I'm concerned. My only gripe is that it was too short! Now I have to wait impatiently until I get my hands on the sequels...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john mccreery
Every once in a while a voice with something to say comes along. I love finding such voices, particularly if they're well written. Richard Morgan fits the bill and then some. His prose is smart, sharp and terse. He doesn't pad his work. He asks important questions, some which will make your head hurt. He entertains.

The dystopian future as imagined by Morgan is not necessarily a Nice Place, particularly the parts frequented by our intrepid hero. Hero, I suppose, will do as well as any other descriptor for protagonist Takeshi Kovacs, although he's not the normal cut of that archetype. Still, he sometimes does the right thing (and more often the wrong thing for the right reasons) and he is never uninteresting. His story is one I very much enjoyed being told.

One note - Mr. Morgan expects you to pay attention and keep up. He doesn't write down to the lowest common denominator. Don't expect light, fluffy reading. You will be challenged. In fact, at the beginning of this book, I thought I'd missed another, earlier book, in that a lot of the technology didn't make complete sense. The reader is kind of thrown into the plot and expected to pay attention and all will become clear. It does, but it requires thought and attention to detail. But the ride is so worth the effort.

The first book in the series is, in a nutshell, a future whodunit noir. Kovacs is hired to find the killer of a fantastically rich magnate. Or at least the magnate thinks he was killed, even though the authorities believe it was suicide. This is confusing when it's the magnate himself doing the hiring - it's impossible to have killed himself, he reasons, when he knew he would only be reincarnated later, with his most recent memories then downloaded into a waiting top-of-the-line clone body. He can't kill himself, he reasons, therefore it must have been murder. Enter Mr. Kovacs with all his special military training. Maybe he can get to the bottom of it. Assuming he can keep up with other rogue mercs, crooked cops, the usual suspect dirtbags and a potentially psychotic hotel.

That's right, I said a psychotic hotel. Sometimes Artificial Intelligence may not be all it's cracked up to be. See what I mean?

Morgan also asks uncomfortable questions. What is love? What is it to be human? Conscious? What is the soul, or is there such a thing? Can such concepts survive imminent technology? Is immortality really all that it's cracked up to be?

Just think - with all that thought-provoking material you can perhaps honestly say that you're expanding your mind, wrestling with difficult concepts, all the while being massively entertained. It's a little Phillip K. Dick, some Raymond Chandler, some Sartre and a whole lot of PKD as was imagined via Blade Runner.

My highest recommendation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
samme
I inherited this book from a friend of mine who moved to England, and I must say, I wish I'd read it earlier. At first, the levels of violence were a bit of a turn-off (I'm not keen on massive gun-laden stories), but the society inside this Sci-Fi novel is just so interesting and well-crafted, I forgave the violence to enjoy it.
In this future world, everyone is implanted at birth with a "stack," a chip in the back of neck that keeps your memory and personality on file. If you're murdered, and the stack survives, you're "re-sleeved" into another body (synthetic or not) to testify at your trial. Die of old age? Buy a new sleeve, if you can afford it. The amount of "fallout" in this society due to this technology was astounding, and plausible, and done extremely well by Morgan.
At it's heart, this story is a murder mystery, and a story of revenge: someone kills a centuries old "Meth," (Methuselah), who, dutifully backed up every eight hours, comes back, but with no real idea of what happened in those eight hours to lead to his murder, and quite curious about it, and that Meth hires our hero to figure things out. Our hero of the tale is actually a criminal serving time in a virtual jail (his body is, of course, given to someone who needs it more), and he is beamed to earth from his own colony when the Meth hires him. Wearing someone else's body (which has a fallout of its own), the narrator of the tale tries to figure out who would try to kill a man who'd lived centuries, and why...
Between religious and spiritual reasons, hatreds, rivalries, and plain-old-jealousies, there are no shortages of potential murderers, and the tale spins wonderfully. I highly suggest it.
'Nathan
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ghs library
First, the storytelling is extraordinary. Read the other reviewers for spoilers, descriptions and the assorted lit-crit commentary. In short -- this is phenomenal, and the fact that this is Morgan's first is just shy of unbelievable. I loved it. I bought three copies and gave them to friends and family. This is probably my favorite novel. I can't wait to see it on the big screen.
Second, body swapping via a recording device implanted in the brainstem is just bunk. Not just technologically impossible, but widely and routinely dismissed as not even biologically or physically plausible. Personality, memory, perception, thought, analysis, intuition, emotion -- all are functions embedded in structure. That is, physical structure, not transient electrical activity. "Swapping" one "person" for another would require a complete rewiring of the brain of the host, based on a schematic temporal snapshot of the brain of the downloadee. Snapshots (digital encoding) are static -- the human brain is continually evolving and changing, something universally lost in translation. Assuming that its possible to capture the precise physical structure of a system comprised of billions of elements in a continual state of flux, in recreating that system it now becomes subject to initial conditions fully susceptible to the inherent chaotic behavior of molecular biochemistry. Tiny global errors on the quantum level during rearrangement, and bam, you have a whole different person. Worse, with even smaller local errors, and you end up with "transcription errors" that would randomly produce aphasia, impairment, disease, dysfunction, or complete non-function.
Complicating this is the fact that the new host body is fundamentally different from the body that gave rise to the mind now inhabiting a foreign vessel. All the sensory data is different -- no two noses, eyes, skins, ears, tongues, &c are the same from one person to the next -- or even between twins or clones. Chaos theory holds that complex systems change, sometime radically, as conditions change. A new mind in an alien body must alter to become something different than what it was, with no clear indication if these changes are benign or catastrophic, and completely begs the question that the brain structures of the traveller are capable of adapting to the new inputs at all.
In short, this is ... expensive. Computationally, it looks intractable. As a design, the flaws are probably insoluable. As a business venture, backed by a governmental program and/or funding -- utterly beyond the realm of potential possibility.
Okay, with all that said, this is still a fantastic book. Buy it. Buy it now. The story and storytelling alone is more than worth the price (a bit of impossible science) of admission. But isn't that why it's science fiction, after all?
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
patrick o connell
I have really enjoyed the first 2 books. This 3rd book was a total failure - such that I returned the book.

The narrator mispronounces Takeshi's name... Good lord. The cadence and tone has been changed to be way more intense than the almost laconic style of the prior narrator.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
glynn
Very cool book, started watching the TV series first and has some trouble following it. Read the book, now will go back to the series! I would be happy if even half the stuff he describes would come true.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
calla
This is such a cool book!
In a futuristic world where life is cheap and bodies interchangeable, ex-soldier Takeshi Kovacs must try to solve a crime while evading the physical and psychological demons of his past.
This is neo-cyberpunk or "Information Technology SF" in subgenre, but unlike much of the fiction I've read dealing with downloadable personalities and similar themes, it emphasizes the human cost of advanced technology. The worldview is dark, but not ridiculously so, and the characterization is skillful. The characters have interesting backstories and subtle behaviors. My only quibble regarding the worldbuilding is that this doesn't seem like 25th century; the cultural continuity makes it read more like 100-150 years down the road. Which is not a big fault.
The plot is complex and full of action. I thought Kovacs was a bit slow to realize the obvious memory-wiping function of the putative murder, but mostly the plot works well. Fast-moving and unflinching in its portrayal of brutality, this is not a book for readers who dislike violence. Another thing that Morgan does well: describing weapons, computer systems, and techno-gear in general and making them interesting, not just a list of macho stats. This has all the techno-goodies anyone could want, yet it's character-driven and powerful on an emotional level.
I look forward to the sequel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
melanie rucker
The third book in Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs series ought to be a lot worse than it is. The main character, basically a techno-tough in the Philip Marlowe tradition, returns to his homeworld where much is revealed about his obscure and disturbing past. Kovacs' appeal is, of course, his shadowy and disturbing past, and shedding light on said past would seem to be a foolhardy tactic for an author.

Morgan, however, continues to employ his considerable talents in this novel, and delivers a powerful and surprisingly meaningful story that deftly mixes political intrigue, social commentary, and some inventive motifs regarding the longing for youth. Sure, we dig up lots of the history of Kovacs and his homeworld - but Morgan takes his sweet time getting us there, and in the end the excavation uncovers evidence of even more mysteries.

I found his handling of the Kovacs vs. Kovacs plot very clever - considering one of the central conceits of the novels is a man who only has his identity, and yet hardly knows who he is. It would have been easy to make the contest a match of youth vs. wisdom, but Morgan turns it into a reflection on the amplification of flaws as we grow older.

Fans of the two earlier books, beware - this novel is much more complex and full of substance than its predecessors. If that works for you, dive in.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andrea lee
WOKEN FURIES(2005) is sort of a sequel to BROKEN ANGELS(2003) and ALTERED CARBON(2002). I say "sort of", because most of the characters are able to change bodies over time (re-sleeve), and the stories take place on different planets. These stories are far-future sci-fi action thrillers, with a large amount of violence and political intrigue.

This book is big - coming in at over 450 hardcover pages. It is bigger than previous Richard K. Morgan books I've read (including MARKET FORCES), and I found it to be of higher quality as well.

The bountiful amount of action sequences are what make this book a real success... there is one sequence which I found extremely interesting, which involves the Takeshi Kovacs main character's body able to "hang on" to a cliff-hanging dangling cable, even though the character himself has been knocked out.

I give the book 4.6 stars, round it to 5.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
neema
I tried to like this book, I loved the first two, but this one is so confusing and disjointed I had a hard time following the plot. The most annoying part was the writers underdeveloped sexual fantasy.. Every woman he meets wants to have sex with him, preferably oral sex. The entire book reads like a high school students effort to write a sci-fi book. This warrior is now a wimp who is full of self pity who feels that the only way to make him feel whole is to have a series of sexual conquest. I would suggest passing on this book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
gramarye
I thoroughly enjoyed Altered Carbon and was enthusiastically looking forward to reading his other novels. I thought I had discovered a new genius of Sci-Fi; a vein of gold. I then read both Broken Angels and then Woken Furies. Broken Angels is a slight bit better than Woken Furies, but without giving a detailed literary review, on a scale of 1-10 for Morgan's works, Altered Carbon is a 10 and these aforementioned other two novels are 7's at best. They just don't have the tension, vision, plot arcs and characters of Altered Carbon. In addition, I found the futuristic erotic and sexual imagery of Altered Carbon an excellent ancillary backdrop to the plot. These other two novels didn't come close in that regard. I couldn't put Altered Carbon down, but with these other two, I had to struggle to finish them both. Poor pacing and some very droll extended abstractions of the characters thoughts as well. I was very disappointed. I'm finished with Morgan until I hear he has something as good as Altered Carbon. It's reminds me of a rock group that has one hit song and then builds an entire career off of it. Altered Carbon was It!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shari seitz
One of the best stories in years! Whether you read this great book or see the excellent Netflix series, it is a compelling must read/see that profoundly shines light on the vile corruptions of absolute power of the ultra wealthy and family tyrants, and prompts us to better ask "what is wise technology" before building it. Violent, though fittingly so given the subject matter. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elizabeth harris
Before I read the last 100 pages of this book, I would have given it 3 stars. Woken Furies suffers from a common affliction among many sci-fi series: same-samey-ness. Once you're introduced to the world, the technologies, the aliens, whatever, unless the author can keep the creative curve balls coming (Peter Hamilton often has the ability to keep things fresh), the joy and surprise of discovery quickly fades. And so it goes with Woken Furies. Two thirds of the way through and I thought Harlan's World just wasn't different enough from Venice Beach to keep me riveted. And assembling the deCom team, going into battle, using the cybertech - I might as well have been re-reading Broken Angels, Morgan's best by far.

BUT! Just when I was resigned my disappointment, the last few chapters cranked the book out of its nose dive. Morgan lets loose with some Big Ideas, and the final showdown is spectacular fun. Sci-fi writers often have problems ending their books (Stephenson, Gibson anyone?), but Morgan always ends with a satisfying crunch, and this one wrapped up the nicest of them all.

A word of warning - this is by far the most violent book I have ever read, and that includes Morgan's previous books. If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. And Morgan's graphic sex scenes seem gratuitous and perfunctory to the point of being boring porn.

In Morgan's favor, as usual his prose is taut as a drum and hits hard. Characterization has always been his strong point, and this is perhaps his best: Kovacs's anger seethes off every page. The self-loathing loose cannon may be a cliché, but with Kovacs you can feel it, to the point where character is basically a psychotic serial-killer, and you're right there with him.

I think Morgan was wise to retire Kovacs with this novel. One more and the sameyness would have made the series a bore. (I've given up on Hamilton and Reynolds for that reason - I get it already.) If you're a fan of the Kovacs books, this is definitely worth some tedium (albeit entertaining tedium) to get to the payoff. I'm looking forward to what Morgan will do next.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
yosafbridg
What happens when you can record your mind? Interesting exploration of possible issues amidst a very interesting murder mystery. Some of the conversations and word plays become somewhat tired (get on with the story please!) but all in all a positive read. Looking forward to the next book and hoping for the best.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kirin
Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon (Ballantine, 2002)

Morgan's first novel featuring futuristic crimefighter Takeshi Kovacs is a bit slow getting started, but once it ramps up, it hums along quite nicely. In the 25th century, human consciousness has been quantified and captured, and can be implanted in "sleeves"-- organic bodies either harvested from incarcerated humans or grown artificially. Thus, death is almost a thing of the past. Kovacs is hired to investigate an attempt to bring death back to the present-- the attempted assassination of magnate Laurens Bancroft. (People in this world can be killed by destroying the chip which holds the consciousness.) The first couple of chapters, as with many sci-fi novels, are more interested in getting us up to speed with not only the principal characters, but also the jargon, the physics, and all the other stuff we need to know about Morgan's future alternate Earth, and that sort of thing leaves a footprint-- sometimes invisible, sometimes large and ungainly. Here, it's the latter, and that's the books main flaw. Things pick up roundabout the end of chapter two, though, and the book becomes a viable sci-fi/mystery.

An interesting beginning to a promising series; I'll pick up the second to see where he's going. ***
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
whitney
I'm a long time fan of sci-fi from Asimov, Ellison, Poul Anderson and Greg Benford to Neal Stephenson and China Mieville and Alastair Reynolds and I want to thank the reader out there who introduced me to Richard Morgan. Here, we have a writer who reaches to the essence to the human condition and spares us all the soft talk and excuses and just lays it all out with fury and great prose. In Morgan, I have found a writer who has reached way beyond the mainstream of forceful writing and pay Morgan the highest respect by making the comparison to Harlan Ellison who has never been at a loss for the hard edge.

Many good synopsis' have already been writen but in these books you get to contemplate the concept "I am not my body, I have a body..." Poul Anderson has written on this topic with a number of his books like the "Harvest of Stars" series

I've read both of the Kovacks series books - Altered Carbon and Broken Angels and have ordered the third due out this fall. It's been some time since I've been left so energized after reading a book. Your going to lose all kinds of sleep and that's a price well worth paying.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julie eubank
Let me tell you a story before I tell you about the book. There once lived a man with little direction in life, still little direction. A man who cared not for the pleasures of reading, though he should. A man who never read a single book in college, even though he was an English major. He simple assumed sparknotes and group discussions would suffice to understand these tales. Then he came across a desciption of Altered Carbon while suffering the store. He has yet to put down any book. This person was me.

This book is the future of scifi writing. With it's hard-edged protagonist, Tekashi Kovacs, this novel is the pulp of the next few generations. Where the future is not the progressive ideals of a fantasy land, but a corrupt dysotopia of today with the incorporation of advanced technology. The sheer understandability of the main character is what I enjoy so much, plus the cyber-punk ethics is what gives this novel five stars.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
tarun vaid
Bought and read this entire series when it first came out. One of the better sf/mystery/thriller crossovers and I do recommend it. Liked the miniseries adaptation of this also but, as is usually the case, the book is better.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sonja
I didn't like Woken Furies as much as Altered Carbon or Broken Angels for a few reasons. First, I thought that the content of the first two novels played too large a role; therefore, if you had read them when they were originally published (as I did) you may not recall the significance of Sarah and Innenin. Second, the pace was uneven. The action was crammed into a few chapters, while the rest of the book was exposition and slow buildup. Third, I think that Kovacs is a simple character who thrives on action and revenge. He is the perfect player in a noirish mystery (Altered Carbon) and a military adventure (Broken Angels) but he seems over-his-head in an ideological work like Woken Furies. The novel delves into ideology and politics, and for most of it Kovacs cannot care less as he pursue his various personal vendettas. I think the scope is almost too big; I prefer Kovacs in action and crime-solving modes than in thinking-about-life's-important-issues-mode. Fourth, at times it almost felt like a travelogue as Kovacs traipses all over the bizarre geography of Harlan's World and other locales. Fifth, the supporting characters are almost all cannon fodder, to be introduced and conveniently dispatched so Kovacs has more souls to atone for. Sixth, the conflict between Kovacs and his younger self seems pointless. Not only is their confrontation anticlimactic, it almost makes sense that it would be. Wouldn't Kovacs, with an extra two centuries of experience and guile, easily outthink and outact his youthful clone? The physical differences are nonexistant, since sleeving negates any advantages of youth. Despite my qualms, Woken Furies is still mostly enjoyable. Morgan is a gifted writer, and the action (including the sex scenes, which are full of action) is top notch. I look forward to reading his next, non-Kovacs work. Furthermore, I'm interested in the prospect of a Kovacs film. Sleeving adds a captivating element: More than one actor would have to play Kovacs.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
boredlaura
The world that Morgan has created is so detailed, full and rich, that it felt real, relatable and intriguing at the same time. You dive right in to this new reality without much explanation so you're learning about this place as well as following Kovacs as he moves through the story.

I found the premise of the book interesting and it kept me thinking after I'd finished it. The idea that you could take all of the data from your brain, knowledge, memories, etc and essentially upload it to another body and continue living, potentially forever, really made me think about what it means to be alive, and our perception of self.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
arwena demonia
Plot Summary: Takeshi Kovacs is "killed" but in the future, there is no real death unless your stack is also destroyed. As long as your stack is preserved, you can be downloaded or re-sleeved into any flesh. Kovacs is sleeved in the body of a cop who is currently out of his sleeve as part of a sentence. Laurens Bancroft has paid for Kovacs to be sleeved back on Earth to investigate his (Bancroft's) murder that the locals have already closed as a suicide.

Opinion: I was excited about this book due to its many rave reviews and after 30 pages was keenly interested in Kovacs and the investigation. However, for the next 150 pages it was nothing but action and sex. Several new plot elements were introduced but were lost on me due to the never ending stream of peril that Kovacs finds himself in (and not too miraculously escapes from in various ways). I found myself wishing for time to just regroup and maybe have a conversation or 2 that is not punctuated by dead flesh or sex. Much to my surprise, the story got back on track with much less deadly action. So much so that I found myself thinking that Kovacs was acting out of character. Maybe my heart wasn't entirely in it but I found the disjointed leaps of logic by Kovacs lost me several times. I have read the whole book and am still not sure what exactly the chain of events was and who was involved at each point. The future world built by Morgan is very well realized and I find alot of the technology interesing. The world has a Gibson feel to it but I find it much easier to get into than Gibson. I really enjoyed the way all of the technologies were interconnected and used in the story as well as touching on some of the moral dilemmas involved when you have human personalities that can live on indefinately in various "sleeves". Its a bleak world in Morgan's future.

Recommendation: While the world was very interesting and the story a little strained, I find myself not wanting to read the sequel, Broken Angels. The investigation by Kovacs was jarring and confused and I felt that I cared not a whole lot for any one of the characters. They all seemed slimy to me, and that was probably the point. I would rate this 2.5 out of 5 stars. [As I did not really like Neuromancer either, I would say that this whole cyberpunk style is just not to my taste. If you like William Gibson's works I would bet you will greatly enjoy Morgan's.]
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cerys
Look gang, obviously almost everybody likes the work. Here's why my review might be different: It's literary.

Morgan's newest work in the series brings about a character meltdown for Kovacs and if you think about it, it was about time. The character has his usual action packed kill fest, but the events of his life and the previous 3 books are changing him.

Now if you like character driven books then you will like this, because the Kovacs series (and Morgan for that matter) had a choice to make, either become a one dimensional outlet miliporn or become a real science fiction series. Morgan decided he wanted to be a writer, not a hack.

So here we have a being who has done the lousy evil work for years through multiple bodies, all the while with only a version of super advance analysis to keep him from being a psychotic serial killing sociopath. Remember in the other two books, Envoys are directed sociopaths, but they have their conditioning to keep them from going all the way. Kovacs on the other hand has had to go through more than the average Envoy so it stands to reason he will face a reckoning.

And to be honest who would want to read a constant, silly, innane rehashing where the main character just kills with no thought or regret? A long formulaic series of empty books with no real plot? (Drake, Webber, and Sherman fans aside of course)

So here is Kovacs event and it is a doozy. What will the result be? I'll tell you this: The possibility of a sequal is not a given.

This is a good work, yeah it echoes Flandry of Terra and All My Sins Remembered, in that you have a writer asking, What happens when your despicable acts reshape your soul? I am happy to say that Morgan answers the question in a different and new way than his two excellent predecessors.

Get the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
vjrwatercolor
"Woken Furies" was an interesting novel that packed in a lot of ideas and characters, some of which (the stacks and the Envoys) are carried over from "Altered Carbon," and most of which are new. There's something new on every page, just about. By and large, it is entertaining and holds your attention.

However, "Woken Furies" is badly in need of editing. Where "Altered Carbon" was taut and well-plotted, "Woken Furies" meanders quite a bit. Part of the problem may be Morgan's movie contract. The book jacket indicates that Joel Silver bought the movie rights to both books. As a result, "Woken Furies" at times seems to read like a series of big SF action-adventure movie set pieces written with the movie-to-come in mind.

Nevertheless, this book is at least worth checking out from the library.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ashley gresh
If you have enjoyed Altered Carbon and Broken Angels, then you will enjoy Woken Furies. If you have not read the first two, it is recommended for although this isn't a directly sequential trilogy, the first two books set up Morgan's universe and Woken Furies will read easier and make more sense with the first two books under your belt.

That said, Woken Furies ends the Kovac's books (at least according to Morgan). Morgan ends his small group, military tactical operations novel series by expanding the scope to events with implications throughout the Protectorate. Kovac's has to grapple with his inner demons while dodging an onslaught of yakuza, military and religious opponents. In the end, Kovacs' attempt to become something more than an ex-Envoy criminal, and his struggle against his own pessimism, lifts this novel from what would otherwise be a typical SF adventure novel.

Like the previous books, there's a brain and a heart here. Recommended for readers who enjoyed the previous novels and whose looking for fast-paced SF adventure with more brains than average.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
yianni
This has been recommended to me numerous times and I'm glad I finally got around to it. It's a dense and complex novel, with a brilliantly imagined future. Morgan does a hell of a job fleshing out his world convincingly. I got a bit lost in the plot here and there, but it all pulls together well in the end. Takeshi Kovacs is a great character and I'm sure I'll be reading the next in the series. A sterling achievement for a first novel.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shaun mcalister
As a fan of both hard boiled crime stories and cyberpunk scifi, this book sounded like it would be my ideal. Unfortunately, it mixes those genres but does not succeed in them.
The book's biggest failure is the lack of common sense applied to the premise. In this world, any mind can be put in any body, and in fact the protagonist was born Japanese but inhabits a hispanic body throughout the book. This concept is throught provoking but I felt it was mishandled by Morgan. For instance, prison terms are served by putting a person's mind in storage while the body is given to someone else to use. Since the mind has no consciousness, this amounts to punishment by time travel. Also, characters constantly flip flop as to whether they associate their identity with their bodies or not. At one point someone will say "all bodies are the same" and at another he will lament not having his original body. This cognitive dissonance could have been an interesting concept to explore but it seem the book doesn't take the idea too seriously.
The writing is also workmanlike. Morgan indulges himself is boring, cliched dream sequences throughout the book. His attempts to imitate the classic hard boiled allegories manage to seem out of place primarily because they occur too infrequently. That being said, the pacing is quite good and the book is a page turner. Thought the story was ultimately overblown, I did manage to care enough to finish the book.
I think Morgan shows promise. For his next book, he could use a better editor to reel in some of his sillier ideas. But I will keep an eye on his work in the future.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
claudia breland
Altered Carbon takes the traditional noir detective yarn, packs it into the trunk of the Delorean, hits 88 m.p.h. and jumps a few centuries into the future. The future Morgan describes is one in which the human soul has been identified and digitized. People can be cloned, copied, synthesized and dropped into new bodies (called "sleeves") when they die, as long as their stack isn't destroyed.

Enter Takeshi Kovacs, a sort of super soldier conditioned to excel in any sleeve (though he functions most effectively in ones that have been augmented with extra abilities). He gets pulled out of prison and placed into the service of Bancroft, a man over three centuries old: a Meth[uselah]. Bancroft wants him to investigate his death, which the cops have considered a suicide, because he apparently killed himself just before his data would be remotely updated and doesn't remember the past 48 hours.

It's a great premise, and Kovacs is quickly embroiled in a world where even his own identity is in a state of flux. With strong characters and a plot that hits dead-ends, backs up, takes a shortcut and then is promptly set on fire, Altered Carbon easily holds interest for the length of its 500 pages. When I read books in this same style, I can get easily frustrated if the information is parceled either too often or in one big data dump toward the end. I never hit that point in this book. While there were a few times where Kovacs knew more than I did, I always felt like there was something I was about to find out. Morgan manipulates that anticipation, the constant trickle of insight into the mystery, like a master.

I also really enjoyed the themes the novel hits on. One of the most basic is the question of identity, and in Altered Carbon the question becomes: what makes up the person? The past experience or the current sleeve? Kovacs experiences this kind of separation in the psyche in a romantic context, but it appears in other places throughout the book. Morgan really digs into the idea of immortality (or at least increased lifespan) as well, examining what kind of effect a life that long would have on basic human perception.

Altered Carbon is a great example of detective writing that'll keep your thought process all kinds of tied up in the story until you finish it. You'll want to read while you drive. You'll want to read and drive, get in a car accident and go to the hospital so you can have more time to read while you convalesce.

Don't read and drive.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kashena
Richard Morgan has saved the best for last in what he has described as his final Takeshi Kovacs novel. Woken Furies perfects the noir feel of Altered Carbon but skips the traditional SF elements that he introduced in Broken Angels. This is a brutal, complex look at anti-hero Kovacs and his home planet of Harlans World that we've never seen before. There is some reliance on elements introduced in the earlier books and it may be tough to understand if you are new to Kovac's world. As a reader returning to this series, I found it almost impossible to put this book down.

Woken Furies starts off slowly but quickly ramps up into the hyperkinetic plot twists, sex and violence that Morgan does so well. By the grand finale, justice has been served, the body count is high and the history of Kovacs and the Quellist rebels has been artfully revealed without killing the pace or forcing it down our throats like so many SF novels. Morgan has once again created a lethal mix of complex plot, high concept fiction and compelling characters written in a style that takes no prisoners. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jacalyn roberton
Snow Crash (another more famous "cyberpunk" novel) is like a kids cartoon compared to this gritty, sexual and violent novel. R. M. sets the world, the year 25K, alive. Don't look for pandering descriptions of the world of tomorrow though. The future unravels slowly with only the bits necessary for the story shown. The plot on the other hand doesn't unravel as much as bowl you over. This is one of the only books I've read, other than ghost stories, which have the main character die within the first three pages. The gunfight on the first pages sets the pace for the rest of the book and Morgan's descriptions are amazing.

This is not for anyone who is easily offended by violence or sexual situations. But don't let that hinder your enjoyment of the novel, the V and S fit perfectly into the world Morgan has crafted. Look at our tendencies as a society now and you may see our future printed in this book.

If you do decide to read Altered Carbon it would be my advice to remember all of the names referenced early on. My memory is bad to say the least and I wish someone had warned me to pay closer attention.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves great sci-fi with a believable cohesive future and tons of action (oh yeah, the mystery is pretty slick to).

PS. Don't get me wrong, I loved Snow Crash too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
annie seal
Woken Furies is fast paced romp'n'stomp across Takeshi Kovacs' home, Harlan's World. The author, Richard K. Morgan, has spent probably more time in this book than in his previous on world building. We learn a great deal about Harlan's World, Kovacs' earlier life there, and about the mysterious Martians.

I won't replay the plot or character bits here, they are in the publisher's notes and in other reviews. I agree with some other reviews that the emphasis and content in this book does differ from the previous two incarnations. However - I found it a natural and perfect complement to the other volumes. From the first two books you're left really wanting to know both more about Kovacs and the universe in which he lives. Morgan is one of the absolute best, and perhaps the best of his time, at interlacing world-building detail in his narative in a fluid, almost off-handed manner. The background is rich and multi-dimensional. That tapesty is vividly filled in in this book, while successfully whetting your appetite for more. The path he took in this novel was quite deliberate, as you can find in this interview from before Furies was completed ([...] read down to the bottom). The other reviewers who chafed at Morgan challenging them should stick to Kevin Anderson, Steven King, and whoever is writing Star Trek novels this week.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jess williamson
I won't rehash all the reviews here. AC is a competently written piece of film-noir SF exploring a world where life is cheap because consciousness can be recorded and a "person" can be rebooted into a new body. I don't think that all of the ideas are played out consistently (e.g. multiple copies of people seem rare - there doesn't seem to be any kidnapping of downloads).
What puzzles me is the persistent Catholic bashing that pervades the book. The Vatican is described as the purveyor of every wrong headed, perverse idea, ever. I could not understand if this was the character (who rebels against authority) or the author's idea. It stands out because no other religion is mentioned, IIRC.
Certainly the world of the novel is portrayed as one without transcendence. There's just atoms and your info - no higher authority or justice. And yet the protagonist has visions of a dead comrade, visions that seem to help him. (These could just be hallucinations). I thought the author was going to do something with the religious issue but he never followed up. In the end it just seemed like ranting.
Perhaps the store.com is the wrong place to look for a discussion, but this aspect of the book puzzled me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ceecee
Here's the rub - the author throws so many terms, phrases, abbreviations, ideas and jargon at the reader that at times I found myself asking not what was going on but what the heck he meant. Altered Carbon was one of my top sci-fi books of all time, just incredible. Broken Angels was not quite as good but still a superb read. I like the Kovacs series - very punkish, depressing although the science may be behind the times. I fully expect the stuff he talks about (nanotech, smart matter, brain downloads, imbedded "stuff") to arrive in this century - some of the first inklings are already around.

Once again, Morgan excells at character. When the book ends you can almost believe that he and Sylvie will walk through the door, arguing and then kissing. The whole idea of the "sleeve" was such a good plot device it can be recycled over and over. Still, the pace is challenging, as others have noted. It seems to slide around rather than jump but that only increases the darkness and languidness of the mood.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nancy m
It is always a joy to stumble upon a novel like this - an author new to the reader, who writes well, and has several novels already in release.

Morgan posits a world several hundred years in the future. His conjectured world is some parts cyberpunk, mixed in with a healthy dose of daily living having the same infrastructure and motivations as exist today. His central conceit is that memory and consciousness are stored within a chip/core of some sort that sits just below the skull in the neck. Thus, when someone dies, this core is removed, and uploaded into a mainframe, there to be reinserted into a new sleeve (excellent word - meaning body), or not, depending on the decedent's preparation and wherewithal.

Within this world, the plot centers around Takeshi Kovacs, a descendant of Eastern European serf/colonists on a world originally settled by Japanese. Kovacs is killed at the onset of the novel, waking up to find himself on Earth for the first time, and in the employ/thrall of a 300 odd year old personage, a Meth (Methuselah), as Morgan's imagined future society labels the long lived. The Meth has been recently re-sleeved himself, and has brought Kovacs to Earth to investigate why his previous incarnation committed suicide, the suicide having been done with such competence that Kovac's employer has no memory of the last 48 hours of that incarnation.

From there, we are treated to a police procedural of sorts, with trajectories of plot flowing in many directions, bolstered by a bevy of interesting ideas about the future, and plenty of action. The author has a flair for descriptions and the language he employs brings to life images through metaphors and structure that are compelling, if perhaps a bit florid at times. That being said, his ability to bring about a plausible and realistic future is a major asset of the novel; the vernacular ("Meth," "sleeving," as described above, and much more) he has developed resonates with the reader and lends a strong veracity to the universe he has created.

Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
georg
It's interesting to read the mixed reviews for this novel. As a cyberpunk addict during the 80's, my bookshelves are still groaning under the combined weight of Gibson, Sterling, Shirley, Swanwick et al. Altered Carbon is not a cyberpunk novel in my opinion.

At its heart, this is a great noir style crime/detective story with some original SF and cyberpunk elements. It's brimming with the sex, drugs and violence more typical to the crime genre, and perhaps too much for gentler SF&F readers seeking dragons and/or hobbits. Morgan's 'sleeving' concept of survival after death and his imaginative writing style bring his vision of the 25th century to life and keep the stakes high throughout the novel. The first person perspective of Envoy Kovacs is darkly compelling, and the plot rockets through a grim future dystopia packed with double-twists, genuine surprises and a great ending.

Altered Carbon is one of the best SF novels I have read in years. I'm looking forward to more from this promising author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
louise a
Ever since I saw Blade Runner as a kid, I've been in love with the idea of blending science-fiction with crime, and this is a totally compelling mix of the two. Set about 500 years in the future, the story follows Takeshi Kovacs, a former space marine who has been "resleeved" to investigate a suicide on Earth. You see, in the future, one's mind or consciousness can be digitized and stored in "stacks" implanted in the base of your skull. If you commit a crime, your stack is removed and placed in storage for the duration of your sentence (usually decades or centuries), and then you are "resleeved" in a new body. Of course, resleeving costs, and for many people, a new body is like a new car or new house, with monthly payments to keep up lest your body get repossessed...
The flip side of this is that dying is only a temporary thing-unless your stack has been somehow destroyed and there's no backup, then you're subject to "RD" (real death). And if you've got enough money to get into cloning and data storage, one can live a virtually endless and seamless life. It's one of these "Meths" (after Methuselah, just one example of the excellent creation of slang in the book), who has Takeshi remanded and "needlecast" (digitally freighted) from offworld to investigate his alleged suicide in Bay City (aka San Francisco). Takeshi had been in prison, having been captured as a mercenary in a vibrantly kinetic prologue.
The meth, Bancroft, is one of the future elite, weaving elaborate corporate and political webs with others of his kind. Apparently he committed suicide a few weeks ago, but he's convinced it was murder. He's paid heftily to have Kovacs released and resleeved to investigate his death and what happened in the 48 hours leading up to it-48 hours that elapsed between his last stack backup and his temporary death. This is a great setup, as we have a reluctant protagonist grudgingly working on a case for a sinister Bancroft, quickly getting caught up with Bay City PD, Bancroft's hyper-sexy wife, and all kinds of foes.
It's an extremely convoluted tale, with lots of double-crossing, plot twists, hidden agendas, sexual tension (and outright graphic sex), dry tough guy humor, and excellent action sequences. It's so jam-packed it almost gets overwhelming at times, and one wishes Morgan had been able to trim just a little bit here and there. However, he's built a very intriguing and nasty future earth, where-as one might well imagine-a lot of the technology gets channeled into the sex trade. This is great pulp fiction, with great characters, including my favorite: the AI Hendrix Hotel. It's a hotel that runs itself using artificial intelligence, making for a hilarious, yet plausible, character. This is a great genre-blending debut, let's hope the sequel (Broken Angels) is as good.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
erin s
Morgan does one of the most effective jobs I have yet seen mixing the hard-boiled detective genre with sci-fi/cyberpunk. Kovacs is one mean ex-Corpsman who only gets out of the prison stacks if someone finds a job for him-- and there are precious few jobs for violent, brilliant borderline-psychotics out there...

Morgan combines enough technology details to satisfy most cyberpunk fans, but miraculously enough keeps his eye on the ball for the mystery. The plot would be just as suitable in a Chandler novel or a Travis McGee book if the 26th century detailing was removed. The book unfortunately gets points off for not knowing how to end; the conclusion is not as satisfying as it should be given everything that comes before.

A great read, and I will look forward to the next Kovacs installment. Should appeal to hard-boiled mystery and cyberpunk fans.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
niraj
This is our third encounter with Takeshi Kovacs ex-envoy and ronin from Harlen's Planet (I'm still waiting for an moon named Ellison).

The story itself is one we've heard before, but with the time jumping and resleeving, it's hard sometimes to keep track of who is or was who, what their doing now, and what their involvement was in the past.

Try to keep in mind that anyone named Harlen, who is Yakuza or Haiduci are going to be bad and try to screw you; and anyone who is at one time or the other a deCom or envoy is going to in someway be you friend and help you out at your most inconvenient moment.

Short summary: Tak is busy getting back at a religious group for murdering (practically read death) a woman he loved (and her child), as a side story he gets mixed up with a deCom group who are trying to clean up the mess left on New Hokkaido during the Quellist Uprising (Unsettlement) three hundred years before, her eternity Quellcrist Falconer shows up (though she only here part time, and we still don't know why she picked her full nom de guerre)... and then things really get weird!

Am soo looking forward to the next installment, not to mention the movies, if they are ever produced ... supposedly "Market Forces" is supposed to be filmed late this year or next year.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hamid zemzami
I'd been waiting for quite a while to read this third entry in Richard K. Morgan's series of Takeshi Kovacs novels. It was worth the wait, and in some respects it may be the best of the series so far. Tak travels through some dark, dark territory here.

Don't be fooled (or put off) by the pace. Where _Altered Carbon_ was a rapid series of body blows, _Woken Furies_ is more like being dragged down very slowly by a very large weight. There's a lot going on here, but quite a bit of it is in the background and between the lines. If you don't get into Tak's head pretty early on, the novel may read like a travelogue.

Not that that's necessarily _bad_. Probably a lot of us were curious about Harlan's World, and we get to see quite a bit of it here. We also finally get to put faces (the faces of their current sleeves, anyway) with some familiar names from Tak's past. All of that will probably be interesting enough to entertain the casual reader.

But if that's all you get out of this novel, then you're missing the meat of it.

The surface-level plot opens with Tak on Harlan's World in a synthetic sleeve, trying to get back into his own body. He's also, as we gradually discover, on some sort of mission, the details of which we don't really learn until some 250 pages in. And not too far into the tale, we meet someone who just _might_ turn out to be Quellcrist Falconer . . . or maybe not. Furthermore, Tak is being pursued by a younger version of himself, decanted from a backup copy he didn't know existed. Things build toward a final revelation with implications far, far beyond Quellism and the local politics of Harlan's World.

The pace, though, is generally slow. Oh, things do happen (and people start dying horribly within the first twenty-odd pages), but a lot of the action is off-screen. We spend the bulk of the novel the way we spent most of _Star Trek: The Motion Picture_: Going Somewhere.

The really interesting stuff, and the real, behind-the-narrative content of the novel, is what happens to Tak. I'm not going to give you any more clues about this; I'm just going to warn you to listen with both ears as those titular furies awaken and the possibilities of redemption come and go. There's a lot of internal turmoil going on here, and Tak isn't necessarily going to tell you about it directly. Hell, despite his Envoy training, I'm not sure he's even fully aware of all of it himself.

Readers who keep wanting recycled versions of _Altered Carbon_ will continue to be disappointed, as they were with _Broken Angels_; Morgan clearly isn't going to keep rewriting the same book for us. Now, me, I think that's a good thing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karenv
Richard K Morgan pays homage to all who came before him in this exciting pulp-crime drama set in the far future. Even Takeshi Kovacs himself, the protagonist and hero of the story, is an homage to an anti-authority rebel from The Day of the Jackal.

The science fiction in this story is innovative and the idea of a classed society based on both wealth and longevity works well.

The prose is crisp, strong, with no wasted words, and even if the characters seem too gritty, too stereotyped, too noir, it worked for me because I love those stories, and based on the reviews so do many other people.

Come on, this was a fun read, a great story, and fantastic writing. Richard Morgan is a powerhouse of a writer and will be in the genre for many years, and many novels to come - you may as well join in on the fun ride instead of being a standoffish snob.

CV Rick
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bruce corbett
I have read a lot of science fiction in the last 40 years, and I have a passion for CyberPunk so finding a good book is a joy. Finding a new author is like finding treasure. Morally ambiguous characters, odd technology, post-information society, social despotism, and large caliber handguns! The internal narrative voice-over adds nicely to the neon-splashed visions. The tone and tenor of the writing blends styles across many hundreds of years from Gulliver's Travels to dectetive noir. Many lines can be read as 'homage' rather than text and that adds to the post-information blended quality of the world that is the backdrop. The story line is neither straightforward nor linear, but always moves along the tracks toward some not-so-clear conclusion.

This is a fully-formed world at all scales, from interplanetary politics to virtual porn. Read a book, be a book. This book is a nice place to be and should be considered a CyberPunk standard.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
summer bond
"Altered Carbon: A Takeshi Kovacs Novel," the first novel by Richard K. Morgan, makes a great read for those in an escapist mood on a long winter's weekend. I won't bother recounting the premise except to say that Morgan has created a fictional concept of immortality and consciousness that allows him great latitude to play around with.

Following the ever weaving plot takes some doing at times, but by the time you finish, half a dozen or more images will be seared into your mind, which may or may not be a good thing. His overarching theme----what is it to be human?----remains front and center throughout.

Morgan's writing has a crisp, no-nonsense leanness which is refreshing in a genre that often yields to ponderous overwriting that causes stories to collapse under their own weight. As a whole, his melding of elements from hard-boiled detective stories and sci-fi works better than one might expect.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
beeza
As a lifelong sci-fi fan, I value originality more than anything, because there is so little of it! Everything has been done before, right?

While there are some very 'classic' elements to Morgan's masterpiece they are dwarfed by his innovations. The cortical stack preserves the human mind, allowing 'resleeving' - discarding bodies like clothing. Morgan is gritty, creating a hard and believable world of urban sprawl, with the rich being immortal and the poor struggling to pay the 'rent' on their bodies. Justice is nowhere and vengenace is Kovac's trade. His protaganist is a terrific creation, a dark hero who both impresses and inspires sympathy. Morgan creates a seamless world, exploring the societal ramifications of the cortical stack - including posing the mystery of does it contain the soul? He builds an impressive universe and character backstory without losing track of his main plot, which is action packed.

The sequel, Broken Angels, is even better.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jayne siberry
Richard K. Morgan's fast-paced story, Woken Furies, is the third novel of a series featuring Takeshi Kovacs, and is set in the twenty-fifth century. Kovacs has experienced varied lives: marine, gang member, and as an envoy that doesn't negotiate much of anything. He mostly wrecked havoc.

Kovacs has returned to his home planet, Harlan's World in a pique--to say the least. He's been awakened from an almost-two-hundred-year digital storage and readied for a new mission. But Kovacs has his own idea of what his mission is to be. He protects a woman who may be someone from an earlier century, and he must fight what he believes is a younger version of himself.

Morgan's novel has a little bit of everything: feuds, madness, crazy machines and questions of who can be trusted and who is untrustworthy. This is a wild ride and if you really enjoy science fiction, this is science fiction at its best. Be prepared to force yourself to breathe; it's that exciting.

Armchair Interviews says: You'll be excitedly awaiting the next Morgan outing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
grubiorz
Morgan gets off to an auspicious start with "Altered Carbon." This novel was entertaining enough that I finished it in one cross-country airplane trip. That's no small feat; I'd rather stare at the back of the seat in front of me than finish some of the books I've brough on airplane trips.
If you like cyberpunk, you will probably like this. To the extent that it has problems, it perhaps follows the conventions of the genre a bit too closely. Further, there are one or two too many characters, and the crime investigated by the main character is a bit too convoluted. In fairness, I don't care for mysteries, which typically involve the same kind of over-thought and complicated crimes and investigations; if you like mystery novels and SF, you would likely give this five stars and enjoy it quite a bit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shmuel aryeh
Richard K. Morgan weaves a pretty damn good web of detective/cyberpunk with his first novel in the Kovacs trilogy. The premise of the interplanetary empire is rather simple but intriguing, people are not limited to life by the body they first inhabit, humans are now stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain. Some groups, such as the Catholics, feel that you lose the soul through such a transition. The lead character has changed bodies at least a couple of times to our knowledge, and has experienced violent death.

He is brought to Earth to solve a murder, and who hires him but the man who was murdered? I'm a police officer and that made for an intriguing job, actually having the victim there to talk to is an interesting. I would recommend someone to pick it up if they enjoy cyberpunk, sci fi, and/or detective fiction. This is a book full of sex, lies, and death and Takeshi Kovacs makes it a fun ride.

I actually enjoyed it so much that I have already ordered the rest of the authors work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nabeel rajeh
Maybe the best new author I've read. The whole books reads as fast and tight as the first pages of "Snow Crash" (Neil Stephenson) but has the emotional depth and personal honesty of Elmore Leonard. Like most S.F. if makes you accept a basic impossible premise, then explores the implications of that idea. In this case, Morgan explores ALL the implications of that idea in the course of a riotous run through the future. Morgan stays within the "rules" he's set up, and delivers the hardest hitting book I've read in a long time. Oh, and a bonus, it has a real ending! (not the sort of "everyone drops acid and wierd things happen" kind of ending you get from Gibson).
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nanjan1215
This isn't a bad book. Morgan takes a fairly cool idea and instead of exploring the idea of where it leads you from a society POV or from a possibility POV, he pre-generates the societies and then tells a sci-fi noire story of a new age special ops detective. The idea is good, the writing is ok, and the worlds are great. I personally found the violence in this book brutal, yet fascinating. It started in the prologue and even from the first few pages, the "shock and awe" had me looking forward to the rest of it. And it was there through the rest of the book too. There's some pretty vivid sex in this as well, though, I found it took away from the story as opposed to making it better, for a guy who was special trained for being self-reliant and a hard case, he fell into sex traps a lot. Anyways, just what I thought.

I found this a long book and after 2/3's? the way through, I was getting fairly bored with it. The start had me racing, this was pretty cool, and the violence was "wow, that's harsh" kind of stuff, things you shouldn't enjoy but you do. And the story was interesting as to everything else that was happing, but the base investigation of a suicide was ok (no plot give aways here). After 2/3's I found I thought the events were still interesting, and a good way to clue things up, but the fascination wasn't there anymore.

It was a strong start and an ok end.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
erinsabs
Wow. I wasn't expecting it to be this good. Morgan had better keep writing! His character is durable; good for a series. The images are powerful and striking and the ideas are thought-provoking, which is what we want out of sci-fi. The concept of re-sleeving into body after body is deep; who are we, really? I'd say one flaw is too much preoccupation with torture (I skipped those parts), though it is consistent with the idea that [ending life] has become illegal. Lots of depth to other concepts: what do we become when we are rich enough to live for centuries? How would that distort our thought-processes? This novel was a page-turner. I want him to write more so I can turn some more pages.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
perita
I'll restrict my comments to the audiobook production of this title. The first two audiobooks were well produced and well read, although there were quite a few mispronounciations of words. This audiobook is read by a different narrator, and it suffers for this change. While I can dismiss the mispronounciations of Japanese words as the theoretically normal evolution of any language when transported to another planet and time, i.e., "Hawk-aido" as opposed to "Ho-kkaido," the one inexcusable mispronounciation is that of Takeshi Kovacs' name: Ko-vacks instead of Ko-vatch. The author goes out of his way in Book 1 to specifically state how the name should be pronounced and that it is not as it appears phonetically. However, the narrator mispronounces it from page 1. Whose fault is this? While I would like to blame the narrator, ultimately, it is the responsibility of the producer, who presumably hired the narrator, to provide basic instructions on how to prounouce important words in the book and to provide some minimal quality control.

The "reverb" effect used to separate past discussions or internal thought processes is annoying and distracting. I admit that if I had read the hard-copy book, I would have been annoyed by. the. breaking. up. of. sentences. that I have seen mentioned in other reviews. Thankfully, the narrator does not let this odd punctuation affect his reading.

Still, the story itself is riveting and well-written. While I may not always like his actions, I really like the main character, Takeshi Kovacs. I find myself totally drawn into Kovacs' world and story. Some of the really bad reviews are just a bit too harsh, I think, considering most of the people giving those reviews probably never have and never will write a book of their own. The creativity involved in the process is certainly beyond me.

Believe me, this book doesn't even come close to being one of the worst ever written, and I count the series as one of my favorites.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
enrique ramirez
As with Altered Carbon and Broken Angels, I just couldn't put this exciting, action-packed. surprised-filled book down. And as with those previous two books, Morgan manages to create an exceptionally rich, vivid world for his characters. The plot and action in this novel speed right along, since the reader already knows a bit about its setting, Harlan's World, from the novel Altered Carbon.

In Woken Furies, our anti-hero Kovacs finds himself teamed up with mercenaries hired to decommision autonomous war machines left over from the Quellist uprising on Harlan's World centuries ago. But things get out of hand quickly when the mercenaries' leader begins channelling the long dead Quellcrist Falconer (or something like her). From there, the plot gets much more convoluted.

In fact, I'd like to take away a half-star to give this book four-and-half stars for its convoluted plot. Its certainly lacks the extraordinally tight plot and pacing of Altered Carbon. By the end of the novel, it feels like Morgan is wrapping up too many loose ends. Nevertheless, it's ripping good fun!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary beth wells
It's always a delight to find an author who creates characters in three dimensions instead of the more usual two; Morgan seems to stretch his people to five or six. This is the third novel in the series about Takeshi Kovacs, ex-Envoy, stone killer, freelance renegade, and very dangerous man to be on the wrong side of. It's been three centuries, objective time, and Kovacs is back on Harlan's World, where he originally came from. It's also been a couple of centuries since the Resettlement, the failed Quellist revolution that gave the Harlan family oligarchy a run for its money, and Kovacs -- who only wants to continue killing fundamentalist priests (it's personal) -- finds himself caught up, first, in the attempt to reclaim the nanoware-drenched continent the revolution produced, and, later, in a new revolutionary plot. Because it's part of Quell's teachings, that when things go against you, you retreat and you wait -- for generations, if necessary. But now, just maybe, Quellquist Falconer might be back, in the flesh. But that's just this novel's top-level plot. There's also Kovacs's vendetta against those who let die the only woman who mattered to him -- Real Death, no resleeving. And there's his longstanding relationships with the several criminal cultures of Harlan's World, and with his old Envoy trainer. Not to even mention being hunted by a younger, smart-assed version of himself. And, just out of sight, there are the vanished Martians, about whom we learned a lot in Morgan's second book, Broken Angels. There's military and political philosophy here, all of it cynical, there's imaginative anthropology, there's a certain amount of gruff sex, there are some great quotes, there's considerable death (some deserved, some not), and there are breath-grabbing battle scenes like you haven't read in years. Morgan's second Kovacs novel was twice as good as his first. This one is three times as good as his second. If this one doesn't win both the Hugo and the Nebula, there's no justice. But, hey -- Kovacs already knows that.

PS -- I was astonished a previous reviewer compared this to Bester's _The Stars My Destination_. A great book, don't get me wrong (I even own a First Edition copy of it), but Gully Foyle is pretty and pale and poetic beside the dark and blistering Takeshi Kovacs!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary mahoney
A stunning first novel, Altered Carbon grabs you by the throat and (almost) never lets go. Refer to the other reviews here, for I could not improve upon them. However, I felt that the "solution" to the mystery was just a bit too weak and matter-of-fact. I would give this book a 4-star review for this reason, but the rest of the novel is so incredible it would be unfair to not give it the highest rating possible. Read it so you can tell everyone else how amazing it is! I look forward to Mr. Morgan's next Kovacs novel. Supposedly, this book has been picked up by Hollywood for movie treatment, but I fear they will not do it justice. Hope I'm wrong.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lee montgomery
I have to say, I was really happy with Altered Carbon. For a first time author, Richard Morgan spins a very good sci-fi tale full of action, suspense and cool technology. In fact the latter - technology - was actually believable. Other far-off books look at various gizmos of the future and tend to make the reader really work very hard to suspend reality and believe it all possible. But Morgan combines existing nomenclature with fictional techno babble (like neurochem and needlecast) to create a world that could actually happen under the right circumstances - a bit like the world created in the Matrix movies to be honest. After all, aren't we all just electrical impulses anyway?

Once the reader opens up the mind to accept the possibilities the book then becomes just a really good detective novel - full of twists and turns and a little sex too. Some might be turned off to the strong language and lurid sex scenes, but it's pretty typical for the genre. As for the "film noir" writing style - I could live without it. I've never been a big fan of noir with all of its jump cuts and one and two word sentences. It can be distracting at times and a bit hard to follow. But once you get into sort of a reading rhythm it works fine.

This book is pretty long and has a lot of characters so I found myself having to read backwards a few times if I hadn't picked it up for a couple days. But all in all it was easy to follow and keeps the reader wanting more. In fact, right after I finished Altered Carbon I picked up the second Takeshi Kovacs novel and enjoy that one so far as well.

Considering the fact that I just sort of stumbled on Altered Carbon by accident at the library, I was very glad I did and will continue reading this author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
carletha
Altered Carbon is a masterpiece, a classic that is deserving of the highest praise. Richard K. Morgan has produced an exciting and highly creative book that from the first page immediately engages the reader and leaves you thirsting for the next page. I could NOT put this book down and found all aspects of the novel, particularly characterization and plot, to be highly enjoyable. I found myself laughing and cringing in equal measures but most of all I was compelled to uncover the mystery surrounding Laurens Bancroft's suicide. Takeshi Kovacs is a most memorable protagonist, a character of deep complexity that is both realistic and interesting. The technology of the novel is creative and the concept of stacks and sleeves added greatly to the complexity of the plot and the crime at the centre of it.

As a debut novel it is especially impressive and I highly recommend it to anybody looking for a thrilling, enjoyable read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rom alejandro
OK, this review is a bit of revisionist history. Had I reviewed this book immediately after reading it, I probably would have emphasized it's strengths: the fine writing, the able characterisation, the superb visionary descriptions of his future Earth, and his fun assimilation of film noir into hard SF. I also would have tossed in quite a few complaints about the derivative nature of some of his key plot points. Without going into it with too much detail (and therefor saving the reader from spoilers) Morgan treads ground already covered (and covered better) by fellow UK writers Ken Macleod and Alastair Reynolds. There's also a bit too much Blade Runner and Neuromancer here -- don't get me wrong, I love those seminal works. Nevertheless, we've seen it all done before, and (to be repetitive) done better.
So... fast forward to today, and I firmly believe that this book is a must-read. Why? Because it sets up what is evidently going to become one of the most read and beloved future-universe space opera sagas of the decade. I finished Morgan's sequel, Broken Angels, and let me tell you: it is fantastic. It is as original as Altered Carbon is derivative. The seemingly-throwaway lines in this book that so intrigued me come to glorious fruition in the sequel. And as I know that this is supposed to be a review of Altered Carbon and not its unpublished (in the US) sequel, I'll just add that the new one is firmly well-written military SF, giving rise to the speculation that Morgan intends to mine the various sub-genres of SF, utilizing thier various strengths to advance what is obviously becoming an intensely spiritual story.
If you want to appreciate the masterpiece that is Morgan's new book, Altered Carbon is essential. The author gives no quarter to the new reader unaquainted with the conceipts of his continuing universe, and you will be lost without it. Plus, this is indeed one fine and entertaining read.
Check out Altered Carbon, and watch Richard K. Morgan become one of the bright shining stars in the already luminous UK SF scene.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rachel piper
Not satisfied with dominating my time, conversations, and musings while reading it, it's been 3 months since I finished this book and I'm still thinking about it all the time. WARNING: the hangover from this book is extreme!
A murder mystery set in an age when death is largely optional, this book completely reworked my thinking as it relates to murder and mortality. There is enough information out there on the content of this book so I won't delve any deeper into that. I will say however that this book is my favorite piece of Science Fiction since Snow Crash. I look very forward to the sequel!
Just my opinion. Hope it helps.
Enjoy...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mylilypad
Set on 25th century earth, in a future were humans have the technology to stored all their mind data in cortical stacks implanted in their bodies, and come back after death in other bodies or sleeves as they are called, this book is not your typical detective novel. It's more of a journey trough a fascinating and violent landscape filled with lots of technological surprises, that clearly shows just how disturbing and at the same time attracting and strangely inviting scientific achievements can be. This future is so cool you can't help it but want to be there. Kovacs is a great main character. He's short tempered, he's violent and he goes for what he truly wants. There's lots of action in the story, A SEX SCENE THAT IS TRULLY AMAZING, and enough turns and twists to keep you well interested till the end. Richard K Morgan is definitely a writer to look into. Great Book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bibi raid
Here's what I know about this book: You DO NOT F*** with Takeshi Kovacs!

I thought this book was great - it's like the Matrix on crack. All action (and sex). I can see why it's going to be made into a TV show. The only thing I didn't like was the torture scenes. I'll probably read more in this series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katy hartnett
A debut novel, Altered Carbon is an impressive piece of work. Richard K. Morgan has crafted a fully realized universe and within that rich backdrop, he plunked former Envoy Takeshi Kovacs in the middle of it. With a plot that's akin to a Chinatown-esque conspiracy and set in a Blade Runner-esque universe but still retain its originality and inventiveness, it's both heady and convoluted yet satisfying. Morgan immerses the reader with details, so you can fully grasp the unusual concepts he presents like resleeving, Methuselahs and theme hotels with personality. Such concepts offer philosophical musings despite the comic book/graphic novel-like action tableau, pacing, violence and descriptions (oh how he describe the sex scenes) which makes the book satisfying and profound. In the hands of a lesser talent, this would be a disposable book likely to be forgotten and perhaps regretted buying. But with Morgan's sure-handedness or confidence, this is a work worthy of to be compared to Philip K. Dick's works.

Still, Altered Carbon is not for everybody. Don't buy it if you're expecting a quick read during your commute. Altered Carbon demands your attention with all its intricate details and meticulous world-building. If you do go for those, you will be rewarded and will be looking forward to reading Takeshi Kovacs next adventures.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
becca anne
I'm about halfway through the book, and all through with reading it. I've not encountered such unremitting nihilism since seeing Roman Polanski's "Chinatown." Plenty of action scenes, speculative technology, and a mystery to solve. But the tone is flat. Lifeless. Two-dimensional. Not even the occasional forays into hard-core pornographic prose can raise the interest level, or the energy of this pointless meander.

Jaroslav Pelikan, scholar and historian, wrote, “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen—nothing else matters.”

"Altered Carbon" is a pointless tale, where nothing really seems to matter. And a waste of my time. You can thank me for helping to avoid the waste of yours.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dan wong
There are a large number of commonalities between Woken Furies and Zelazny's novel Lord of Light. I liked the novel a lot, but I noticed the resemblances to the Zelazny novel. It's plot is close, think "Lord of Light" told from Yama's point of view. I cannot say more without spoilers
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daniel friedman
Altered Carbon is a cyber-noir novel set in

the 26th century. You can be brought back from the dead. Your consciousness can be stored and put into a new body, either a sleeve(body of a person that is imprisoned), a clone or an artificial one.Former UN Envoy(Kind of like a government assassin) Takeshi Kovacs is brought back from Storage(prison) andis given a shot at freedom. He has been hired by a Methuselah(The rich that can afford unlimited clones and thus don't die.) to discover how he died.This man's mind is stored every 48 hours. He was brought back, but had no memory of how he died.

This book is very reminiscent of Raymond Chandler, but is very dark and very,very violent. I have no idea what the final body count was, but is well written and doesn't get too bogged down with techno-babble. He used enough technology to create a very unique, rich world in which to tell his tale.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sirenita
Takeshi Kovacs is an ex-secret agent. He drifts. Does that from one planet to another. In this 3rd book, he's found happiness. And love. And it's taken away from him, leaving him adrift, killing priests one after another for revenge. Then suddenly, his big hero, the ueber anarchist, Quel Falconer seems to be back. Well... She could be back. But what if it's not her?

It's a 3rd Takeshi (and there really, really, really should be more). It's the same old Takeshi, but more bitter. More reclusive. More distant. And closer than ever before to solving the riddle of the Martians. But he doesn't know.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rishi joshi
Wow. Excellent book. My first try at this author and I was thoroughly impressed. It's a classic and complex murder mystery but I was more taken with the author's presentation of the future society. Morgan "cheats" with regard to the rules of classic SF convention by including technologies like faster-then-light travel and digitized consciousness without any explanation of technologies involved. Usually I like a little more Science with my Fiction, but if it's well done, as it is in this case, I don't mind taking the futuristic technologies at face value. In fact, half of the fun in reading this novel comes in infering all the events that have led to the current society. Morgan liberally sprinkles the text breadcrumbs leading back into the history of the world he creates. It was a little baffling at times keeping track of the large number of ancillary characters, but that may be a consequence of either the vast number of brain cells I've killed since in the past few years or my current habit of juggling three or four books and magazines at a time.

By the end of the book, I found it hard to care much (or indeed follow) about the resolution of the murder mystery. At first I thought of this as a weakness, but in thinking about it more, I realize that the narrative evolves into a resolution for the twisted psyche of the protagonist [Kovacs]--even he doesn't overly care about the murder anymore, he's more interested in redemption by way of...well, I won't give it away. Anyway, I realize that the diminished importance of the mystery may be intentional on the part of Morgan, and I was no less eager to reach the last sentence.

I'm really taken with Morgan, and pleased to have another hardcore/cyberpunk SF writer to pursue. The Kovacs of Altered Carbon is, quite frankly, a scary badass, and it's exilhirating to ride along with the first-person storytelling. The gunplay is immersive and it even has a few well-written and mature sex scenes. 4/5, with a point taken off for its scientific liberties and because the mystery aspect was a little too complicated.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paola coppola
The basic idea behind these books is you can store the current state of your mind to a computer disk, so that when you die, you can be put into a new body. I think Morgan does a good job of thinking out and addressing all the implications of that kind of society. Things like, where do the new bodies come from? What advantages do the oldest people have? What groups is the technology not available to? What if you download into more than one body?

The plot of the book is basically a conspiracy/murder mystery. I think Morgan could have been more detailed in his explanation of how Kovacs gained the insight to solve the mystery, but that is my only complaint about the book. Very fun sci-fi, and reads quick.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
antoinette
This is one of those rare books I just couldn't put down. I started reading it on a Saturday night, and I hated to stop to sleep... then spent all day Sunday reading until the end. I loved this book.
With all the focus on the "Blade Runner" or "Matrix" parts of the story, I think more emphasis should be placed on the "noir" aspects of this novel. It's a great detective story, and the technology aspects simply add to the atmosphere, but they also add some compelling questions and ruminations on the nature of self.
I can't wait for the next novel from this author. He's got talent.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
seth miller
Get this book! I don't review well. I never know how much of the story to give away to make my point, but I'll try. In the future, people have the ability to download their consciousness into other bodies. Our hero, Kovacs, is downloaded into a body on Earth to solve a murder. What makes this novel so great is the way Kovacs moves through a world that is completely recognisable, though it takes place in the future. Richard Morgan gives us a future that isn't all bright lights and polished chrome; but rather a future where the dark and seamier sides of life have advanced technologically along with everything else. This is an incredible read, whether you're into sci-fi or detective novels, and you will not be disappointed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pamela conners
I have to admit, I'm hooked. I can't get enough of Richard Morgan's distopian future. I was so eager to read Woken Furies that I arranged to get a copy from Great Britain (because it was released months earlier than in the US). I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Like Altered Carbon and Broken Angels, it treats you to a highly-charged whirlwind of a story centered on the activities of Takeshi Kovacs.

In this episode, a Yakuza family have hired an earlier version of himself to track him down. Complicating matters are a personal vendetta against a particularly vicious religious group, and a woman who may (or may not) be a re-embodied revolutionary named Quellcrist Falconer.

I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that you see more of Kovacs' humanity than in previous novels. NOT that Woken Furies is a "group-hug" kind of book. Far from it. In fact, Kovacs seems even more violent and misanthropic than in the first two books. However, we understand "why" a bit more and we see more of the effects 2 centuries of war and crime have had on him.

Kovacs has firmly established himself as my new favorite literary character. As in his other 2 Takeshi Kovacs novels, Richard Morgan gives us a character of suprising depth and humanity that is still capable of incredible savagery; in addition to a perfectly-realized vision of a future in which technology hasn't eliminated war or crime, but has grown with it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jbarba275
The hook of this novel, the ability to transport a neural "stack" that holds your consciousness into a refrigerated human "sleeve", is absolutely brilliant. Takeshi Kovacs, a disgraced special ops warfare officer, is transmitted from his colony world to Earth to solve an apparent murder. In a world where wealthy methusalahs cannot die, what is the point of killing the Bay Area's wealthiest man? From self aware hotels to designer drugs and psionic pop-up ads, the texture of this book kept me engrossed. To discuss more of the plot would ruin it, but this is a great future noir novel, and I do recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura a
This is an excellent cyber punk thriller. In the future your mind can be recorded and loaded into a new body if you can afford it. The story is fast moving and with lots of violence. It makes you wonder if the future could be like this. After finishing this book I rushed to get the other two books in the series. They were both excellent, but each book had nothing to do with the others except for the main character. The second book is more of a hard science fiction book with aliens and spaceships. You can read them in any order, it doesn't matter. Richard K. Morgan is an excellent writer. Now I am reading another one of his books,"Market Forces", and it is also very good. Other authors that I recommend are David Weber, and Peter F. Hamilton.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
bets
I have enjoyed the first 2 books in the series on Audio, but was terribly dissapointed by the performance of the 3rd.

They changed readers, which is a bit shocking, but doesn't have to be all bad, and I am sure in other circumstances the new voice actor is talented. But, it's kind of annoying to get a new voice for the end of a series, not the end of the world, but annoying.

But, the problem is the whole style changed, adding voice effects is just cheap and distracts from the enjoyment of the book, not to mention makes it hard to hear when commuting.

And I know it's a personal pet peave of mind when a reader mispronounces a word or words, but it happens in every book, you;d think the producer or director or editor would notice at some point... Anyhow, the first 2 books mispronounced Maori (saying May-o-ree instead of Maw-ree), and used it a lot... But this new guy, someone should have said something, he mispronounces the name of the main character, when there is whole paragraphs in the first two books where the main character comments on people commonly mispronouncing his name and how it should be pronounced. Yet the new reader, with his voice effects has Kovacs calling himself Kovaks. And also mispronouncing many of the regional names on Harlan's world, that are from Central European places and names, somthing the first reader was careful to pronounce correctly...

It is grating to my nerves to keep hearing Kovaks, when the character himself says in the book that he is Kovacs.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nicole black
The complexities of a distant future realized from body swapping, stealing,mortgaging, copying, duplicating, along with the supplementing of with cheap artificial or enhanced substitutes was an appealing draw to this story. But like the society it produces, the main character has no sole. At times he shows disenchantment with the surrounding conditions of that world but for most of his journey he is subdued by the same circumstances. As for the possibility of containing and distributing a persons memories in a metal cylinder where the spinal column meets the brain--it ignores physiology 101 so this novel to me is more fantasy than sci-fi. The writing is excellent but at its heart it is still just an excellently written detective story with gratuitous sex and violence being short on the suspense that such should invoke.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
raquel fernandez
If this is what you're looking for, you're going to find it in full force in this book. This book is very violent. While some reviewers feel that the violence was unnecessary, I think it achieved the effect the author was looking for. It lends the book an overall dark mood. The sex scenes were detailed graphically, reminding me of some hard-boiled romance novel. The drugs this future world concocts are many and varied. Some let you experience death, incite violence, increase your sex drive, and just get you high.

The plot relies heavily on the concept of sleeving, which is an interesting sci-fi concept. The book does examine several of the more interesting and scary consequences of this new technology, such as repeated virtual torture and Meths, people who are centuries old due to continual resleeving. I found the many small details of the plot confusing to keep track of. There are many minor characters, and if you put the book down for too long you may forget their relevance.

Overall, I thought this book was okay. The author has definite room for improvement. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Hollywood-style action movies, but if you're looking for a more thoughtful sci-fi story, skip this and read some Gibson.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
wandini
This is five stars because it is an incredibly good example of how a book ought not to be written.
- Riiping off the protagonist from other authors. In this case 50/50 Ross MacDonald’s “Lew Archer” and Mickey Spillane’s “Mike Hammer”. Not just the first person tough guy style be even the rich client who lives in a mansion on the California coast.
- Ignored ( or simply ignorant if) Elmore Leonard’s advice that putting stuff in to a story is the easy part while the hard part is editing out all the stuff that the readers don’t want to be bothered with. This book could have been stripped down by 2/3 and told the same story but better.
- Kung Fu, Ninja bullet dodging Hong Kong gangster movie BS. Obscure factoid: in real life Bruce Lee carried a 357 - only Superman is faster than a speeding bullet.
-SciFi can have improbable even impossible premises but they should at least internally consistent. I was pretty sure when reading the book that digitized memory made interrogation by torture ridiculous but didn’t work out the details. If you want a better explanation check out the 1-star reviews - one of lays it out in detail.
- Porn is boring, tedious, off-putting. Sex and torture scenes may well be needed to advance a plot but they work much better if they don’t read a like a DIY manual for replacing your brake pads.

I guess that’s enough except to manage that this is a rare instance where translating a book to a Netflix series results in improvements.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bad penny
There are two competing stories in this book, so you've got to pay attention, or read it a second time.

First, and most obvious, is all the cosmic technology. I won't go into it, because I don't want to spoil the surprises, but let's just say that the song fragments "Oh death where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling?/Oh grave thy victory?" rings really true to these people.

Then there's the detective story, which demands - and repays - a lot of concentration all on its own.

Taken together, they're well done. I really enjoyed this.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
susan sommerfeld
I think the true sign of the quality of this book is that 2 months after reading it, i couldn't remember the title, much less the plot. That being said, it was an okay book. The setting was interesting but not that much different from a million other cyberpunk worlds. The characterization was okay but none of the characters were truly memorable. The tech had one or two novel ideas but nothing mind-blowing. And the mystery at the center of the plot ultimately turned out to be kind of sordid. Yes, the writing was solid, but ultimately you want more out of good sci-fi, no? I'll keep on searching for the next breakout sci-fi author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
electronicus
Richard Morgan's debut novel is a fast-moving, stylish, violent detective thriller set in the distant future. I greatly enjoyed the dry, noir-ish humour and the stack/sleeve technology, which is a pretty slick new package for an existing concept (digitised personalities.) The violence may put off some readers, also the general unpleasantness of Morgan's future society; that world is certainly a cold, hard, ruthless place, ruled by soulless corporations and a monolithic and power-hungry United Nations. However, if you are looking for an action-filled yet thoughtful and well-conceived science fiction novel, look no further. Morgan's newer books are very good too!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
phil brennan
Altered Carbon suffers from ramblitist...it bounces around far more than it has to to tell a tight effective tale. The entire concept of stacks and resleeving is very interesting, but how it affects his creative universe is a bit flawed. A world where death really has little consequence, is a world in utter chaos. I didn't really get that from the novel. Also, crime really doesn't seem to have any real downside. Your stack gets stored for XXX years depending on the crime. I don't think it was mentioned but I'm assuming the criminals are just stored and not living in some virtual environment where they can sense the passage of time (which isn't 1:1 linear in Morgan's virtual reality anyway). I doubt this would keep most criminals from offending. And finally the novel covers the topic of persona backups and copying. This is a concept that seems misrepresented by many science fiction authors. A copy (or backup) is just that. Once the original is gone (dead) they can't come back to life as a copy. That persona copy is an independent persona going forward.

Anyway, I enjoyed it for the most part but it certainly isn't "all that."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karen frank
What an amazing new cyber punk writer! This series (three books so far) is the most imaginative tale of the far future I have ever had the pleasure to read. The characters (not just Takeshi) are well drawn and believable, however dubious their cyborg-like existence and immortality may be, and the plots of all the novels are superbly developed and so fast paced as to leave one breathless. This third venture has less graphic sex than its predecessors, but all the action is intense and gripping. The author's "Market Forces" was a cousin to this series, and I look forward to other wildly imaginative tales in years to come. Guaranteed to banish boredom!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jessica houde
Richard K. Morgan is known for his interesting ideas and creative style of writing. In this science-fiction piece in particular he paints a noir like future in a world where man has colonized other worlds and immortality can be attained. Morgan allows us to experience this world through the eyes of Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-ENVOY corps and former gang member. Kovacs is reserved, intelligent and human. He plays along with high-society but also dips into the lower rungs and he certainly is not afraid to use force. There is a variety of strong characters in the novel from Miriam Bancroft to Kristin Ortega. Morgan sculpts a breath-taking and bleak futuristic world where religion is declining and the inhabitants are offered unlimited life whilst crafting a complex yet understandable plot that will leave you wondering if this future truly is good or bad.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
leticia castillo
Summary: In the the 26th century, the human race has expanded beyond planet Earth. We are now populating planets all over the universe, and the U.N. has become the governing body for law enforcement and conflict resolution. As part of this program, they developed a group of enforcers, known as envoys, who are programmed for violence and war. Takeshi Kovaks is a former U.N. envoy. As such, he was trained to kill ruthlessly and without hesitation.

The most notable scientific advancement in this new world is the development of a program that allows people to download their minds and souls into a device called a cortical stack. This stack can be stored indefinitely and then implanted in any available human or synthetic body (or sleeve.) This process allows people to live forever, as long as they continue to download themselves into new sleeves when needed. However, the process if very expensive, so it is really only the wealthy who can afford this process multiple times.

After being killed on his home planet of Harlan's Way, Kovaks' stack is placed in storage to serve a criminal sentence. Surprisingly, he finds himself released early and implanted in a male body on Old Earth - a planet he has never visited before. He has been brought to this planet by a wealthy man who needs his help to solve his own murder. The task seems simple enough - prove that the man did not commit suicide. But Kovaks is only on the planet for a few hours before someone is already holding a gun to his head, and he soon discovers that the layers of evil run very deep on this planet. His nature won't allow him to quit his assignment, but he could lose his last life in the process.

Review: I really liked the structure of this new futuristic world. The concept of the stacks was intriguing. I especially liked how the author described what happens to people when they have lived hundreds of years. Their humanity, in many ways, is lost over time. They may stick to their customs and activities, but they can no longer feel a connection or identify with people who are living their first lives. The result is an enormous separation between the upper and lower classes, not only because of money, but because of centuries of time and experience.

I wasn't quite as interested in the mystery as I wish I had been. As much as I enjoyed Kovaks, I didn't really care for any of the other characters in the book. They were all morally depraved to some extent, with some being far worse than others. I kept wishing that Kovaks would just give up this investigation. Who cares if this filthy old rich man died of suicide or murder? He had a new body waiting for him and came right back to life. A good portion of the other characters were either trying to kill Kovaks or manipulate him, so there was no need to stick around for them either.

Although I hate to admit this, I had a challenge keeping all of the characters straight after a while. With people changing sleeves and coming back to life, I confused a couple of the characters with each other. Every once in a while, I'd have to backtrack to figure out where a character was originally introduced, and this was definitely a little frustrating.

I am newly experimenting with Science Fiction, so I am by no means an expert in this genre, nor do I have a lot to compare this book to. For that reason, I'm focusing my review only on the basic elements of the book: Great world building with many creative features. The mystery plotline was extremely complicated, but not all that interesting to me due to the unlikable characters involved. Overall, this was just an OK read for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura jelenkovich
Woken Furies (2005) is the third SF novel in the Takeshi Kovacs series, following Broken Angels. In the previous volume, Takeshi Kovacs took down Isaac Carrera on the Martian dreadnaught, giving Tanya Wardani enough time to shut down the gate. Although Tanya stayed behind on Sanctuary IV, Duprez, Sun, Vongsavath and Kovacs departed the system in Angin Chandrea's Virtue -- a Wedge battlewagon -- for Lattimer. There Tak had a half share in twenty million UN dollars to spend and tasks to perform.

In this novel, Kovacs is back on Harlan's World. After a raid on the New Revelation Citadel, he is leaking blood as he returns to the warehouse district to change sleeves. There he finds a stranger talking to his contact, Plex, and his degear/regear equipment missing.

Apparently the local yakuza has preempted the gear to replace some that had incurred seawater damage. Setting the yakuza thug straight on who is top dog, Tak talks to the thug's exec and gets a promise that his gear will be returned within four hours. While waiting, Tak goes to breakfast with Plex at the Tokyo Crow.

There he sees a woman acting weirdly. Then some New Revelation priests enter the bar and harass her for having loose hair. When the priest start to punish her for ignoring them, Tak intervenes and takes out all five priests. Then he quits the bar, leaving behind a hallucinogen grenade to remove any interest that others may have in the fracas.

Outside, Tak joins the woman within the shadow of a loading crane and she invites him to crash in her place. Sylvie Oshima is a command head with deCom, clearing out the military machine intelligences in New Hokkaido. Back at her pad, Tak meets two of her team: Orr and Jadwigo. After the yakuza shove their way into the pad and blast Jadwiga, Tak also meets Kiyoka while removing stacks from the yakuza bodies. Later, Tak meets Lazlo onboard the hoverloader Guns For Guevara on the way to Drava.

In this story, the deCom team works their way inland, taking out karakuri co-ops as they go. Sylvie seems to be doing all right, penetrating mimint software and diverting smart shells with her command dataware. However, she keeps quoting Quellist dogma every now and then. After a close call with a self-propelled scorpion gun, Sylvie falls into a coma and runs a fever for longer than normal. The team decides to cut the search and destroy mission and return to Drava.

While tending the unconscious team leader back at the base, Tak discovers that another persona occupies Sylvie body. The other mind claims to be Nadia Makita, the real name of Quellcrist Falconer. Where the heck did she come from?

Highly recommended for Morgan fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of exchangeable bodies, close combat and tough guys.

-Arthur W. Jordin
Please Rate Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs)
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