Monday, October 30, 2017

Weird & Wonderful- Altered Carbon

For the June meeting of City Lit's Weird & Wonderful club, we discussed Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan.

A sex-and-violence-filled cyberpunk noir-ish tale, Altered Carbon is the first of Morgan's books featuring Takeshi Kovacs, P.I.-slash-cybercommando-ninja...guy. In a world where people are outfitted with devices that record their memories, allowing them to be re-implanted in another body, Kovacs is hired to solve a convuluted case involving shady politics, body-swapping, and powerful gerontocrat.

Super-brief notes after the jump:
  •  We were a little troubled by how much violence against women there is here...but then again, there's so much violence against everybody.
  • We noted that the plot is kind of...needlessly convoluted; there are whole twists and side-plots that don't quite seem to make sense.
  • Liked the world-building, and while it's a little over-the-top the voice works.
  • We were fascinated with the whole sleeving phenomena, the difference between "death" and "real" or "perma" death.
  • There's a lot going on here with class, and we would have liked to see more of that.
  • We had a long discussion on how much this pulls from Gibson, and then back to Hammett & Chandler; to what extent "derivative" is actually a bad thing. Mixed opinions. Scalzi's Old Man's War and sequels brought up as an example of something a lot of people enjoy, though it has close to zero original elements. "You're allowed to just like things."
  • Noted that there is apparently a Netflix television adaptation coming out.
  • "All bout the penis & guns!" We noted that the sex scenes and the "gear" scenes are virtually indistinguishable.
  • More talk about reading strategies, how wish-fulfilment is a perfectly valid style of entertainment; the sexism of things like Twilight getting lambasted while lots of stuff like this is getting made.
  • Noted some strong resemblances to Ghost in the Shell.
  • Used Kovacs as an excuse to talk about Zevon's "The Envoy".
  • Long textual moment where we tried to track down what D.H. stood for—"digital human".
  • Bit of a discussion/argument about what constitutes "death" for an individual consciousness; this is really just the transporter-qua-suicide problem, with mindcloning instead of transporters. Personally I thought Altered Carbon is rather more obvious about the death problem (since there are copies, delays, etc.) but weirdly non-squicked-out about it.
  • Kovacs really like that red bandana.
Overall, a very enjoyable (though pretty schlocky) read. Keep up with Weird & Wonderful and many other lovely literary events at City Lit Books.

No comments:

Post a Comment