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Altered Carbon (GOLLANCZ S.F.) [Hardcover]

Richard Morgan
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Amazon Review

Richard Morgan's debut SF thriller Altered Carbon isn't for the faint-hearted. Its noir private-eye investigation races through extreme violence, hideously imaginative torture and many high-tech firefights.

In 2411, death is not forever. Afterward, they can read your personality from an implanted "cortical stack" and upload you into a new body--at a price. Hero Kovacs has worn many bodies on different worlds as a former member of the UN Envoy Corps, programmed killers to a man. Now the incredibly rich Bancroft brings him to Earth to investigate a killing... of Bancroft himself, restored from his digital backup and rejecting the police theory of suicide.

Half the vice-lords of 25th-century San Francisco are soon chasing Kovacs with futuristic surveillance, drugs and weaponry. Virtual-reality interrogation means they can torture you to death, and then start again. There's a bleak slave trade in rented or confiscated bodies--and Kovacs finds his current borrowed face is all too well known to both police and underworld.

Ultraviolent set-pieces follow, sprinkled with philosophical asides such as this reflection on a stungun: "It was the single forgiving phrase in the syntax of weaponry I had strapped around me. The rest were unequivocal sentences of death."

There are some James-Bondian implausibilities, such as Kovacs's final confrontation with the villain he's sworn to kill: rather than shooting and leaving fast, he discusses the plot for 10 pages until... but that would be telling. This is high-tension SF action, hard to put down--though squeamish readers may shut their eyes rather frequently. --David Langford


The run-up to the publication of the Altered Carbon paperback has been very busy for Richard. With the sale of his novel to Joel Silver, the producer of The Matrix, interest in this book has doubled. During the period that this story was all over the news Richard's book reached number 1 on the Amazon genrechart. TV:Richard appeared on BBC BREAKFAST to talk about the book and film deal. Features/Articles:Front page of THE DAILY MIRROR in Scotland was plastered with Richard and his film deal. A smaller version of the story ran in theEnglish version. Half page news article with extract in THE GUARDIAN. News article on film deal in THE SUN 7 Days feature piece in THE SUNDAY HERALD. Small piece on the film deal ran in september issue of DREAMWATCH and STARBURST.Interviews:A full interview will run in the September issue of STARBURST. The WH Smith website will run an extract and an interview. An interview with Richard should run in THE SUN on publication on the paperback. Events:Richard'swas interviewed by Ken McLeod on Tuesday 15th October at Waterstones Edinbirgh. Apparently the event went spectacularly and both authors sold many copiesof their books. Attendance was good and they are eager to organise a signingfor the new book, Broken Angels. Richard's appearance at Dead on Deansgate went very well. He managed to fend off the cynicism (mainly from Martina Cole)to hold his own on a panel of crimewriters. He even sold some books afterwards having obviously picked up a few fans. Reviews: Writers NewsDorset Echo --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Superb world building, constant action, immensely readable. An amazing SF debut.

About the Author

Richard Morgan lectures in the teaching of English at Strathclyde University. He is in his early 30s.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

There were five men and women in the theatre, and I killed them all while they stared at me. Then I shot the autosurgeon to pieces with the blaster, and raked the beam over the rest of the equipment in the room. Alarms sirened into life from every wall. In the storm of their combined shrieking, I went round and inflicted Real Death on everyone there.

Outside, there were more alarms and two of the medical crew were still alive. Corrault had succeeded in crawling a dozen metres down the corridor in a broad trail of her own blood and one of her colleagues, too weak to escape, was trying to prop himself up against the wall. The floor was slippery under him and he kept sliding back down. I ignored him and went after the woman. She stopped when she heard my footsteps, twisted her head to look round and then began to crawl again, frantically. I stamped a foot down between her shoulders to make her stop and then kicked her onto her back.

We looked at each other for a long moment while I remembered her impassive face as she had put me under the night before. I lifted the blaster for her to see.

“Real Death,” I said, and pulled the trigger.

I walked back to the remaining medic who had seen and was now scrabbling desperately backwards away from me. I crouched down in front of him. The screaming of the alarms rose and fell over our heads like lost souls.

“Jesus Christ,” he moaned as I pointed the blaster at his face. “Jesus Christ. I only work here.”

“Good enough.” I told him.

The blaster was almost inaudible against the alarms.

Working rapidly, I took care of the third medic in a similar fashion, dealt with Miller a little more at length, stripped Jerry’s headless corpse of its jacket and tucked the garment under my arm. Then I scooped up the Philips gun, tucked it into my waistband and left. On my way out along the screaming corridors of the clinic, I killed every person that I met, and melted their stacks to slag.


The police were landing on the roof as I let myself out of the front door and walked unhurriedly down the street. Under my arm, Miller’s severed head was beginning to seep blood through the lining of Jerry’s jacket. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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