4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Noir sci-fi at its very best,
This review is from: Altered Carbon (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Good new science fiction writers are far between, but Richard Morgans debut novel "Altered Carbon" is a piece of work that any seasoned SF novelist could be proud of. From a novice, it's downright amazing.
We're in the 26th. century, and minds can be digitized, virtually negating death. Everybody has their mind constantly backed up to a small almost indestructible "stack" implanted in their spine. If your body gets killed, your mind can be downloaded to a new body, one grown for that purpose or one taken over from somebody less fortunate. Spare bodies are not available to the poor. Go broke, and you could easily find your body being reposessed (giving a whole new meaning to that word).
In this world Takeshi Kovacs is one of the toughest, an envoy, specially trained to have his mind beamed across interstellar space and decanted into a new body wherever trouble is brewing. And this time trouble is on earth, where a really tricky murder case involving some of the most powerful people on the planet needs his particular brand of talent.
The story's structure is classic noir detective, with robots, AI's and some very high-tech weapons thrown in. Great ideas and sudden plot twists burst from the pages as Kovacs tries to make sense of the case in the time-honored PI fashion: Thrust yourself in there, and see who takes a hit at you.
And he certainly manages to stir up some trouble, all the while remaining an interesting, likeable and very understandable human being. You're with him and you feel for him all the way.
A crucial feature of the detective story is of course the dames, and they are magnificently present in this book also. Beautiful, strong and always with their own plans, mostly unknown to Kovacs. One police woman is especially interested in his fate, because he wears the body of her boyfriend.
This book is a tremendous page turner, and I certainly swallowed it whole. I is continued in Morgans second novel "Broken Angels", which also has Kovacs as its main character.