A reading club with a view to the future

596 Richard K. Morgan: Altered Carbon

In a future where consciousness can be transferred between bodies, a former soldier investigates a wealthy man’s murder.



"Altered Carbon" is a gripping science fiction novel set in a future where technology allows for the transfer of consciousness between bodies, effectively achieving immortality. The story follows Takeshi Kovacs, a former soldier and envoy, who is brought back to life in a new body, known as a "sleeve," to investigate the murder of a wealthy and influential man, Laurens Bancroft.


Title: Altered Carbon 

Author: Richard K. Morgan 

Publishing Year: 2002 

Publisher: Gollancz 

Length: 17 hours and 10 minutes 

5 main ideas

  1. Immortality through Technology: The novel introduces a world where human consciousness can be digitized and transferred between bodies, effectively granting virtual immortality.
  2. Investigating a Murder: Takeshi Kovacs, a former soldier, is hired to solve the murder of Laurens Bancroft, a wealthy man who believes he was killed.
  3. The Power of the Ultra-Wealthy: The ultra-rich can afford to back up their consciousness and resleeve into new bodies, making them almost untouchable.
  4. Identity and Existence: The concept of identity is explored as characters grapple with the implications of living in different bodies and the loss of their original form.
  5. Ethical Dilemmas: The novel delves into the ethical consequences of technology that grants virtual immortality, leading to moral complexities and societal challenges.

5 funny quotes

  1. "I was hired to find someone who was dead. I'm having trouble with the 'dead' part of it."
  2. "Never use your own name. It's tacky."
  3. "Anything worth living for is worth dying for."
  4. "I could always break your other arm, if you're feeling neglected."
  5. "I'm like a smart bullet, Vik. I always find the target."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The dead are still dead. We don't come back. Not ever. There's no salvation in punishment."
  2. "They're just bodies. You're not really a person anymore, you're a sleeve."
  3. "Men dream of great things. They aspire to reach the stars. But all men end up bent double, gagging on weeds, choking their last on sand."
  4. "You take away a species' fear of its own extinction, you've got a room full of dead bodies."
  5. "In a world where death is the hunter, my friend, there is no time for regrets or doubts."

5 dilemmas

  1. The Ethics of Resleeving: The ability to transfer consciousness between bodies raises questions about identity, mortality, and the moral implications of virtual immortality.
  2. The Pursuit of Justice: Kovacs faces moral dilemmas as he investigates crimes in a society where the wealthy can escape the consequences of their actions.
  3. The Power of the Ultra-Rich: The influence of the Meths creates a societal imbalance, leading to challenges in holding them accountable for their actions.
  4. The Blurred Lines of Humanity: The novel explores what it means to be human when consciousness can exist outside a physical body.
  5. The Nature of Memory: The manipulation and alteration of memories raise questions about truth, identity, and the impact of our past experiences on our present selves.

5 examples

  1. Laurens Bancroft - A wealthy and powerful Meth (Methuselah), one of the ultra-wealthy individuals with immense influence and resources in the world of "Altered Carbon."
  2. Kemp Industries - A high-tech company known for developing advanced synthetic technology and other cutting-edge innovations.
  3. Bay City Police Department - The law enforcement agency in the city where Takeshi Kovacs operates as a detective.
  4. Sarah - A famous and influential revolutionary leader, whose actions and ideals have a significant impact on the world of "Altered Carbon."
  5. Bancroft's Party - A lavish and extravagant event hosted by Laurens Bancroft, attended by the elite of society.

Referenced books

"Altered Carbon" does not explicitly reference other books within the novel's narrative. However, the themes and concepts explored in the book align with those found in other cyberpunk and speculative fiction works.

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"Anything worth living for is worth dying for."

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