January Books 4) Altered Carbon

4) Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan

I actually finished this several days ago but have been so busy working on Kosovo that I can only now gather my thoughts. And livejournal having been down I tried submitting by email, twice, but it doesn’t seem to have worked. Anyway…

This is great fun. I did a little research on the sfnal pedigree of the key concept of human personalities being stored electronically and then reincarnated a few months ago. Here Richard Morgan takes the idea and puts it into a James Ellroy settling a few centuries into the future. It’s a little reminiscent of David Brin’s Kiln People or going further back Zelazny’s Isle of the Dead, but much better than either.

Lots of nasty violence and a couple of graphic sex scenes which won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I thought it was artistically justified. I have to object to one pedantic point – we are told that our narrator’s surname, Kovacs, is correctly pronounced with a “Slavic tch“. As those of us who deal with the remnants of the Habsburg empire know, the Slavic version of the sound is spelt cz, č or at a stretch ć; cs is clearly not Slavic but Magyar, and Kovacs is Hungarian for Smith. But this is great fun.

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