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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.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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.
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?
Any additional comments?
Well worth reading or listening to
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
"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.)
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
The story works itself into a few corners that don't make much sense, with Kovacs doing things that are just idiotic at points. He's terrible detective, in any case. The sex scenes are abysmal.
The sound design on this one needs work. There's a lot of dead air and pauses that should have been ironed out in editing. It detracts from the experience.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Amazing book and amazing performance! You won't regret reading through this one! This is a SF gem
4 of 5 people found this review helpful