Book Review: Altered Carbon

Wed 06 December 2017 by feld

Title: Altered Carbon

Author: Morgan K. Richard

Takeshi Kovacs is brought to earth in a sleeve he doesn't own. His reputation precedes him, and he has been offered a reward for solving the murder of Laurens Bancroft which local authorities ruled a suicide...

This book explores some provocative aspects of a world where consciousness can be downloaded into a computer for later retrieval:

  • There seems to be an increase in violence when the human body itself has no value.

  • Catholics still exist and appear to be the major religion remaining on Earth, but they don't believe in reincarnation so they do not allow being revived after death. This makes them easy targets as their crimes go unsolved.

  • Nobody spends time in prison, but instead are stored "on the stack" for long periods of time as a punishment. If they or their families cannot afford to pay for storage of their bodies the prison/storage facility can sell the body to someone else for their use. Waking up 200 years in the future is thought to be punishment enough as you are helpless and you don't know anyone anymore; friends and family lost to the sands of time. For-profit prisons, anyone?

  • Rich people can afford to live forever: they just change bodies when convenient and can pay for regular backups.

  • You can travel across the world (and the galaxy) by being send via "needlecast" which is some sort of network transmission of your consciousness into a new sleeve.

  • Videoconference meetings are now worse than ever: it's basically VR.

I could go on, but this book is heavy. It was hard to put down and I cannot wait for the Netflix show. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series.