Book Review: Altered Carbon (Superior World Building)

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Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs #1), Richard Morgan

First class world building is what sucked me into this violent, fascinating series. The concept, that people with money can be endlessly down-loaded into new bodies (or kept in storage for hundreds of years) seemed almost too technical for this fantasy reader. Yet, Morgan makes it imminently accessible, interesting and smart throughout. The notion of what constitutes Self in a world where one changes bodies routinely is similar to the concept in Lock-In, except here it is examined far more deeply, and its ramifications are acknowledged and well-utilized within the plot. Our troubled main character may not be the most original, but he’s got all the elements he needs to be a straight-up archetypal “heart-of-gold” sort of character and for the purposes of this series, that’s what we need. The world is fleshed out fully; we understand the reasons why humans arrived in this part of space, the culture is present but not over-thought, and the hows and whys are endlessly fascinating. I read all three right in a row, and it was like watching all of Battlestar Galactica but with a satisfying ending. 4 stars.

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