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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing accomplishment
I have read The Steel Remains, the same author's foray into fantasy, and enjoyed it so I figured it was high time to test out the genre which he apparently writes his best work in!

Altered Carbon is the first in a series involving Takeshi Kovacs, a former Envoy, which is a futuristic version of an SAS trooper - designed as a combination of shock troop, spy and...
Published on 16 Jun 2010 by A. L. Rutter

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost excellent
Hard-boiled detective genre meets sci-fi.

Though the writer has you hooked in the first few chapters and keeps you entertained throughout, I felt the story lost it's focus slightly in the last third. This isn't to say that the ending was weak, just that the nicely paced neo-noir narrative fades as the resolution of the story goes into solid sci-fi territory...
Published 17 months ago by Julius


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing accomplishment, 16 Jun 2010
By 
A. L. Rutter "Floor to Ceiling Books" (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have read The Steel Remains, the same author's foray into fantasy, and enjoyed it so I figured it was high time to test out the genre which he apparently writes his best work in!

Altered Carbon is the first in a series involving Takeshi Kovacs, a former Envoy, which is a futuristic version of an SAS trooper - designed as a combination of shock troop, spy and assassin. This is a world where people are "resleeved" using their stacks; essentially as long as their stacks are intact at the moment of death, they can be brought back into a free body:

"Poor Death, no match for the mighty altered carbon technologies of data storage and retrieval arrayed against him. Once we lived in terror of his arrival. Now we flirt outrageously with his sombre dignity..."

At the start of the novel Takeshi is resleeved into the body of a former cop and hired by a 'meth' (long-lived humans who retain the same body for centuries through cloning techniques) called Bancroft to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death. From there Takeshi is thrown into a far-reaching mystery that he has to solve before he and those dragged along with him are terminated with Real Death.

One of the reasons I have hesitated in the past about picking up science fiction novels is because I wasn't sure I would find it easy to understand the science element in the book. I am pleased to report that in this book Morgan deals with some extremely interesting scientific concepts, but in every case they are couched in terms that could realistically occur in a near future of our world. Resleeving into new bodies, taking phonecalls in virtual reality, futuristic soldiers that are geared up with neurachem which helps them to respond to combat situations - all of these concepts are written in a manner that is easy to comprehend and very believable.

The story truly grips and does not relinquish that grip until the explosive finale. The pacing is stunning - starting with a bang and only increasing the dizzying speed as each page is turned. And yet this speed of pacing does not detract from the characterisation, which is smooth and very effective. In fact, I was amazed by the skill that Morgan demonstrated in presenting these characters, since their physical attributes were far less important thanks to resleeving - all of his work in developing the characters had to be through dialogue and mannerisms as opposed to merely describing what they looked like (the mark of a lazier author, in my opinion).

When you consider that this was Morgan's first novel, it is truly astonishing what he achieved over the course of five hundred pages. In Takeshi Kovacs we have a genuine anti-hero - a guy who manages to leave a trail of devastation in his wake whatever his good intentions, and who does not mind flouting the law as he does it. The noir thriller within the pages is tautly written and gives great payback. All in all, this was a fantastic accomplishment and a book I most certainly do not regret picking up - in fact, I shall now be seeking out the further adventures of Kovacs in short order. Highly recommended and a great introduction to the sci fi genre.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get to the next screen..., 11 Nov 2003
This review is from: Altered Carbon (Paperback)
This is probably one of the best books I have read in recent years, because it manages to blend a number of my favourite genres into one great tale. As a measure of how well the book has been received, I understand (from an interview with Richard Morgan) that Altered Carbon has been optioned by Hollywood, and has joined the select ranks of books which might make it onto the big screen.
Altered Carbon mixes equal measures of hardcore action, political intrigue and detective story with welcome dashes of wry humour (and even a little porn).
Set in a future where humanity has colonised the galaxy and death is no longer something to be feared, individuals are fitted with ubiquitous 'stacks' which can backup consciousness, allowing that person to be 're-sleeved' (at a cost) in a new body if their own is damaged beyond repair.
The central character, Takeshi Kovacs, is a renegade from the Envoy Corps, an elite branch of troopers who are conditioned to have superior combat skills. Killed while working as a mercenary on the colonised planet of Harlan's World, Kovacs wakes to find that he has been 'needlecast' (digitally freighted) and resleeved by a mysterious 400 year old benefactor called Laurens Bancroft. Kovacs is coerced into investigating Bancrofts recent 'death', which appears to be an open-and-shut suicide, only Bancroft refuses to accept that. We follow Kovacs as his investigations lead him into serious jeopardy, where more is at stake than the superficial death of just one man.
Altered Carbon contains some fantastic sci-fi conventions, most of which have been done before in some form or another, but never quite this slick. Although the book deals with futuristic concepts, it is gritty enough and seemingly 'real' enough, to be very accessible (compared to hardcore space opera 'Revelation Space, for example).
I especially enjoyed reading how the Envoy conditioning and Neurachem worked. You almost get to know these augmentations as well as Kovacs himself, and to me they seemed to be likeable 'characters' in their own right, especially when they are struggling valiantly to keep Kovacs upright and fighting on the 'Panama Rose'....
Although packed with technology, gratuitous sexual references and gore, the story deeply explores what it would be like to be essentially immortal, and to have the benefit of a backed-up existence. Morgan clearly associates immortality with hedonism, and it is interesting to see how the more depraved characters satisfy themsleves, given an unlimited timespan to sate these urges. Religion is also explored - if the mind is so easily transplanted, then what requirement is there for a soul?
These concepts are cleverly juggled in various ways to create some of the storys finest moments and twists.
The author, Richard Morgan, has a knack of creating appealing tidbits of information that, if he was inclined to explore them, could probably fill entire books of their own.
I sincerely hope he continues to explore.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise, 3 Jun 2012
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Unusually, a pleasant surprise to find a new (to me) SF author who is worth reading. Having learned a little sense in my old age, I now download a free taster before paying; often before I've bought on the basis of good reviews and been sadly disappointed.

Richard Morgan has managed a feat unique in my experience: a credible detective story set in an SF future where technology seemingly allows anything to be possible. Attempts I've read before always come to grief because the technology allows rabbits to be pulled from hats at will; here the who-dunnit aspect isn't sacrificed to convenient whizz-bangery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost excellent, 11 Feb 2013
Hard-boiled detective genre meets sci-fi.

Though the writer has you hooked in the first few chapters and keeps you entertained throughout, I felt the story lost it's focus slightly in the last third. This isn't to say that the ending was weak, just that the nicely paced neo-noir narrative fades as the resolution of the story goes into solid sci-fi territory towards the end.

What Richard Morgan has done superbly here is craft a thriller that not just merely 'uses' a futuristic society along with the technology in it that the writer comes up with - the story actually NEEDS these sci-fi elements to work. You don't for one second get the impression that the techno-talk could just as easily have been dispensed with, it is quite simply inherent to the plot.

My only gripe is that the final third feels more like a sci-fi movie than the hard-boiled mystery the first 2 thirds of the story give you - but that's just a matter of taste I suspect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Brillance, 3 April 2012
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I'm going to keep this review sweet and simple and to-the-point. Richard Morgan, in my eyes, has created an epic visionary blockbuster of a trilogy that should scale the heights of James Cameron's - Avatar.

Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Woken Furies are fantastic, they deserve to be topping the "Hall-of-Fame". I don't usually write reviews, so it shows how much I enjoyed Richard Morgans: Takeshi Lev Kovacs Series. Me personally, I gave this trilogy a five-out-of-five, simply because it does what any great novel does, keeps me clinging to my seat the whole time.

I was thrown head first into violence and gritty sex. Heart-pumping, sweat-dripping, fist-punching action. I found myself dumb struck by the scope and detail of the books. Read it and encourage others to do the same. You will not be disappointed.

If you like a bit of ethereal music to accompany the atmospheric scenes and action packed adrenaline soaked fight scenes, it would have to be something by:

- Michael McCann - Icarus (The Clinic Scene) - (Altered Carbon)
- Clint Mansell & Sam Hulick - An End, Once and for All (Martian Dreadnought Scene/End) - (Broken Angels)

Those two scenes really stood out for me, simply because I thought they were just phenomenal bits of writing. I remember having those two songs stuck in my head while reading Altered Carbon and Broken Angels, and for me, they went well together. Happy reading :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gritty vision of the future, 13 Dec 2011
I'll admit to being a fan of Richard Morgan's work, especially the scifi series. He writes with a sense of gritty realism that totally draws the reader in to the world inhabited by Kovacs, the main protagonist. I've rarely felt so engaged by scifi. Even another favorite of mine, Peter Hamilton, though excellent, does not draw me in so deeply.

This novel, and the series it belongs to, follows the adventures of Takashi Kovacs, a cop-cum-mercenary. One of the nice things I like about the series is that each book has a different focus. The first is more of a detective story, enjoyable and fun, introducing us to the future as envisaged by Mr Morgan. The second book in the series takes things to a more military level. There's lots of hardware on offer and plenty of scope for Morgan to expand his universe. The final book goes down the route of alien contact, offering glimpses of the dim past and future. So the series really provides something for pretty much any scifi fan to get their teeth into.

Very favorably impressed with the author. I hope he returns to the scifi universe of Kovacs again in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awsome, 27 Oct 2011
By 
Mr. Russell Scott (Elstead, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The best science fiction book I have read in a long time. Lots of action, great tech, well fleshed out characters, believable plot, constant flow without any long drawn out boring sections (Peter Hamilton take note!), what is not to like ? I shall definitely read his other books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Read, 11 Jun 2011
By 
S. DALY - See all my reviews
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Im a man of few words. If you like Sci-Fi, Investigative Storytelling & Drama, you will love this book.

In fact ill say its one of THE best books ive ever read in over 40 years of enjoying the printed word.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brutal but excellent read, 17 Mar 2011
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Every now and then you get 'one of those' characters come on the scene that just is as close to perfection as you could want, Takeshi Kovacs is that, and then some!

Former Envoy (An Uber soldier that makes our current special forces look like a fluffy kitten producing quilt club) Takeshi Kovacs is dug out of jail and offered a job that is the utter definition of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' which is so far, so formulaic I here you think.

However, once you get within a few pages, pick your jaw up out of your lap, double check you just read what you did, and carry on you'll find yourself in quite possibly one of the freshest, genre defining books of the last decade, this book is astonishing in its unrelenting pace, brilliantly handled writing / plotting and moments of eye watering violence none of which feel contrived or forced in any way shape or form.

I can understand that some readers might be put off by the bouts of incredible violence, but don't apologise for it, they are entirely justified in the context of the character and his background

This and the other two of the trilogy never let up, never compromise, never stop you wanting more and never disappoint which is down to the sheer bleeding genius of the writing, if I could give this book 6 stars I definitely would.

In a previous review I gave Thirteen a bit of a shoeing, maybe it's because this book is just.. more!?! Better, faster, cleaner, more clinical in style and the stylised carnage unleashed by Kovacs that anything else is just lessened. Possibly these books are Richard Morgans absolute peak, I really really hope not though!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, great plot underpinned with incredible Sci-Fi concepts, 18 Oct 2010
By 
Mark Kehoe (Dunmow, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
I've been unable to put this book down for the duration of the read. The plot represents a great who-dunnit with a twist that makes The Sixth Sense look like a draw-by-numbers.

Underpinning what is essentially a detective novel is incredible Sci-Fi concepts. I don't tend to read a huge amount of the genre but this had me complete engrossed with plot and believability.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a complex thriller and imaginative ideas.
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Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs Novels)
Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs Novels) by Richard K. Morgan (Paperback - Mar 2003)
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