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Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon, Book 1
Narrated by: Todd McLaren
Series: Takeshi Kovacs Trilogy, Book 1
Length: 17 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,661 ratings)

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Summary

Four hundred years from now mankind is strung out across a region of interstellar space inherited from an ancient civilization discovered on Mars. The colonies are linked together by the occasional sublight colony ship voyages and hyperspatial data-casting. Human consciousness is digitally freighted between the stars and downloaded into bodies as a matter of course.

But some things never change. So when ex-envoy, now-convict Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness and skills downloaded into the body of a nicotine-addicted ex-thug and presented with a catch-22 offer, he really shouldn't be surprised. Contracted by a billionaire to discover who murdered his last body, Kovacs is drawn into a terrifying conspiracy that stretches across known space and to the very top of society. Read by Todd McLaren.

©2003 Richard K Morgan (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc

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Always interesting!

What made the experience of listening to Altered Carbon the most enjoyable?

Constantly introduced ideas about the future that are both believable and possible, I loved it!

What other book might you compare Altered Carbon to, and why?

Almost a steampunk version of l Ron Hubbard, with a touch of Brandon Sanderson!

What does Todd McLaren bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

An almost laconic laid back narration, that fits the almost reminiscence style of writing

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Death is no longer final

16 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastically imagined future world

This is a great SF book. The premise of digitally preserved human consciousness is brilliantly imagined. The author creates a vivid future world full of detail, and the plot is excellent; it will leave you guessing until the last chapter. Anyone who likes hard Sci-Fi will love this. Initially I found the slow drawl of the narrator a little annoying but after a while I really liked it as his tone and delivery suited the story very well.

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

As cyberpunk thrillers go, it ain't bad...

"If they ask how I died tell them: Still angry."

As the above quote may suggest Altered Carbon is an angry book. A very angry book. We follow Takeshi Kovacs (pronounced Kovach - he's very particular about that) as he attempts to solve the mystery of who killed Laurens Bancroft. The case is further complicated by the fact that Laurens is the prime suspect. And also that Laurens hired him.

At this point a little explaining is probably required. Altered Carbon is a novel with heavy 'cyberpunk' themes - it is set on Earth a few hundred years into the future. In this time technology has advanced greatly; humans can now be 'digitised', a process which allows the sum total of their personal experiences to be stored on a brain chip ('cortical stack'), which can be downloaded into new bodies (or 'sleeves') as and when this is required. Sadly, in spite of these great technological advances society itself has degraded to a mildly dystopic anarcho-capitalist state. Put simply, Richard Morgan's future Earth provides wondrous new opportunities, so long as you are capable of paying.

One of the issues I had with Altered Carbon was that the world building seemed a little inconsistent. Although great bounds had been made in some areas, this sense of progress couldn't be seen across the board. This is perhaps a little unfair, as the book was written in 2002, but reading it now (in 2015) some of the technology in it actually feels a little dated. It seemed at times that the author had put so much effort into focusing on one particular set of technologies, that he had failed to fully consider what general advances would also have been.

This applied not only to the technology on show, but also to certain aspects of human life. One notable example is that a great deal was made in the book about Takeshi's smoking habit! Whilst this in itself is not a make or break feature of the book, it does represent a (very minor) example of the imbalance of the vision presented in the story. When compared with the obvious effort that went into considering impact that digitisation could have on human life, it was disappointing that other areas were neglected. At times it felt like the story was guilty of not dreaming bigger in terms of the World it was trying to paint for you.

As for the story itself, it is a solid whodunit that rattles along at a consistently brisk pace. It is at its best during its more base moments. Sex and violence are abundant, and are described in all their visceral glory. To the authors credit this is generally portrayed honestly, and does not always shine a flattering light upon our hero. Kovacs is intent on doing his job and makes it clear that he doesn't care about anyone who gets in his way.

...Except sometimes he does. For our hero is a conflicted soul. Or perhaps just an inconsistent character. Either way, the book covers just about as much soul-searching as it does body-rending. It's up to the reader how much they take away from these moments - but personally I didn't feel that they represented the strongest parts of this book.

In short: Altered Carbon isn't a bad yarn, and although it hits some genuine highs it does struggle to maintain these levels throughout. A worthy listen, but probably only if you're an existing fan of cyberpunk or detective fiction.

(A brief note on the performance: Todd McLaren does a wonderful job of portraying Takeshi, and a solid job elsewhere. There are a number of odd pauses in the recording, which break the flow of the narrative. These often appear when one character interrupts another, and it would have been nice if these could have been tidied up a little in editing. This is only a small gripe, however.)

15 people found this helpful

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Great story!

I love good sci-fi and this was good. Very good. I can see why amazon did a video production. This audio though was not so good - the reader was great - it was the recording itself, it jumps, has dead spots, lonnggg pauses. Really annoying but even so I recommend it.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Altered Carbon

If you could sum up Altered Carbon in three words, what would they be?

Action packed throughout

What did you like best about this story?

The overall concept is a fascinating one, - I won't offer any spoilers here, but has an interrsting take on inter-stellar travel and how to get around issues of time dilation

I bought the book when it first came out, following a good recommendation in SFX magazine, and its one heck of a read - on audio, its equally as entertaining

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Very difficult to focus in on one scene when the entire book is so packed full or action and activity. One scene which I found unpleasant featured torture (if you're squeamish about eyes, watch out in the final two chapters , but it fit very well into the storyline

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

Well worth reading or listening to

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great detective story set in sci-fi universe

I don't normally like sci-fi but I loved this. the tech is interesting and is integral to the plot, but the author doesn't skimp on the story. Cool mystery, great detective-style drama, lots of twists and turns, interesting exploration of the issues that might take place when the essence of a person - the dark behind the eyes - could be stored on a hard drive. If you like joss whedon's Dollhouse and detective stories you'll love this.

3 people found this helpful

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An excellent read

It was such a relief to come across this book after weeks of listening to boring books and even more boring performers. The narration is excellent. Each character is well and properly portrayed. Todd is awesome. I would recommend it to all scifi fans

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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A Disappointing Read

>I’ve only managed to get half way through this book and had to give up. It’s really disappointing because the basic idea of the story is good, imaginative and different with a murder mystery element to it. But, oh dear, it’s so drawn out and tedious.

The book is just much too long, padded out with unnecessary scenes of violence or sex that do nothing to move the story on. None of the characters are very likable either and I found myself not really all that bothered how things would turn out.

So, this is a book that I’ll be returning, a bit of a let down as it looked as if it was going to be good from the summary and other readers reviews, but not one for me I’m afraid.

If you’re looking for a good book, my advice would be to try something else. There are plenty of better books available from Audible.

5 people found this helpful

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Brilliant Narrative

The brilliant narrative was only equaled by the exceptional narration. It brings in Cyberpunk and near godlike immortality in to an interstellar nation that allows your consciousness to travel to far flung worlds by just leaving the body behind.

1 person found this helpful

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Greats SciFi

Great book, must read. One day this will be an awesome movie!
I highly rate and recommend this book to SciFi lovers

1 person found this helpful

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  • Æ Mann
  • 21-01-18

Smooth book - the recording, not so much

Marvelous book - smooth blend of the sci-fi and detective elements which is really cool. Even 400 years out there's still femme fatale, a criminal underbelly hidden in the darkest corners of the city and a corrupt elite preying on the weak.

The performance was all right but the quality of the recording was lackluster. Sometimes you can hear background noise and the push of the record-button.

10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew Skinner
  • 28-02-15

Great audiobook, some distracting mistakes

I don't know whether it was misreading or some typos in the original source material, but the narrator says "yazuka" once, before saying the correct "yakuza" later in the book. Near the end he also says "casual link" where only "causal link" would make sense in the context. I found these mistakes distracting from an otherwise compelling story and voice performance.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Pedro
  • 10-12-18

Fractionally good...

Great story. Great reading. Fractionally good writing... That IS about it, really, in a nutshell...

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jacob
  • 31-10-15

Slow starting book with an action packed ending

If you are a patient listener, are good at remembering names, and like sci-fi this is a book for you!
Voicing might seem a little dull at times, but actually the choice of voicing gives the book it's own charm.
For me the 3/5 is a good solid score, that is entertaining above average, but still lacks a little in voice acting. The books biggest difficulty are the many characters you are introduces to, after hearing all the book, I got them correct placed, but it confused me a lot in the first 75% of the book.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amol Bansode
  • 24-01-20

Wild ride

Watched the TV show prior to listening to the book. Book is probably better but show is great too. Excellent reading by Todd. Would definitely be recommending this to my friends.

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  • David Hughes
  • 08-08-18

Thank God for RK Morgan A CyberPunkFuturist.

I own all five of his books, in print, audio & video.
Thank God for Morgan, the sci-fi/CyberPunk futures he gives you in his works maybe a glimpse of what we have in store in the coming years.
Morgan is one of my favourite writers, he has taken the time to flesh out his characters and Takeshi Kovac is a creation like no other, a one time U.N. Envoy, Merc for hire, general Hard-Man and problem solver.
Morgan writes full fuelled boys own rip your fucking head off stories, in worlds created and as fully populated as you can witness out your own front door.
His works are dense, considered, controlled and as clear as mud but once you get hooked you just go with it
Be warned but he is addictive.

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  • ORB1T4L
  • 15-05-18

Best sci-fi in years !

I got the second book too and will probably need the third very soon !

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Faheem
  • 01-05-18

Rambling about nothing.

Cringe inducing sex scenes. Overly flowery writing. Some chapters ramble about literally nothing. Steer clear.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Tim
  • 11-02-15

Great premise. Too long

The premise and scifi are engaging and entertaining. The blurring between reality, virtual reality and the potential for the human soul to be converted into software is exactly the reason why I am a scifi fan. But this book is too long. Long passages that added little to the story. By the end I did not care how it resolved I struggled to finish. Performance of the actor is very compelling. They capture the tone and voice of each character.

Punchline - good story in need of an editor

1 person found this helpful

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  • DangerGibson83
  • 21-05-17

Spews Translucent Rawness.

Ultra Violentce, Superbly Original Technology & Primal Sex. With every other human emotion & state of mind woven in to a Hurricane paced plot that blows your mind. Leaving you with one last thought, "I Fucking need to download book 2 NOW".... I pity anyone who trys to stop you !