Monday, April 10, 2006

Altered Carbon - Richard K. Morgan

Coming back from the dead can be rough.

So begins the tale of Takeshi Kovacs, a former member of the elite Envoy Corps. He has been freed from prison to take on a murder investigation that requires his special skills. In the future, a human's brain and personality are backed up to a hard drive in their neck called a stack. This stack can be downloaded into any body.

Thus, Kovacs begins his tale just having woken up in a strange new body, and people are already trying to kill him. He teams up with a female detective to help solve the murder, but the identity of the person killed is the same person who hired him to find out who did the killing. Then he finds out he has been downloaded into the body of his partner's old lover.

Then things really start getting strange.

This gritty science fiction/mystery is reminscent of the best of Blade Runner, so it is quite apropriate that the US version was bestowed the Philip K. Dick Award for best Science Fiction novel of the year originally published in softcover.

Having tasted Takeshi Kovacs once, you'll eagerly seek out the sequels Broken Angels and Woken Furies, and while those books are wonderful in their own right, they never recapture in full the magic that makes this a top flight science fiction novel.

Richard K. Morgan has also written the novel Market Forces and wrote for Marvel Comics Black Widow.

**Collectors note: The first British hardcover edition is incredibly scarce. Copies in mint condition have sold at prices nearing 500 dollars American. If you find one for a reasonable price, be sure to snatch it up. The American trade paperback is in it's eight printing as of this review, but prices of first printings have not yet shown much increase in value.

Personally obtained autograph for authenticity purposes:

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