Learning to live with this sleeve

Learning to live with this sleeve

I just finished reading Altered Carbon, the story of Takeshi Kovacs (Ko-vatch).

From Wikipedia:

Altered Carbon is a 2002 science fiction novel by British writer Richard K. Morgan. Set in a future in which interstellar travel is facilitated by transferring consciousnesses between bodies ("sleeves"), it follows the attempt of Takeshi Kovacs, a former U.N. elite soldier turned private investigator, to investigate a rich man's death.

It was an incredible book, though it took me a while to read it. I became disinterested in it at one point because of the graphic depiction of sex early on in the book. I'm not a prude, but I'm also not fond of the current trend for modern books to have gratuitous sex in them just because that's what sells. If you're really into that sort of thing, why not just access the free stuff on the Internet? Keep it out of the books, it's not necessary.

The Bancroft Residence - high above the clouds

I will say that it was neat that Miriam Bancroft's sleeve (her clone body that her consciousness had been transferred into over and over again for over a century) secreted a chemical that allowed anyone she copulated with to feel what she felt and her to feel what they felt. Neat, I guess, and since it was my imagination, I could picture the scene however I wanted.

The story was very good. The plot was solid and the description of the future technologies was complete enough to be believable.

I loved how it explored the themes of the wealthy controlling mankind because they were the only ones who could effectively live forever. It was a great warning about classism and the wealth disparity we have always known throughout history. I liked that the poor could only afford virtual condominiums or synthetic sleeves when they're current bodies died. Punishment for crimes was to put your consciousness away on ice for hundreds of years at a time, allowing it to spin in darkness the whole time without a body. Sometimes, a person's sleeve would be auctioned to the highest bidder, making a market for beautiful bodies that the rich would wear like the latest fashion trends.

As the story progresses, we learn of Laurens's odd fetishes that he has acquired over his long lifetime and how they factor into his death. The book also has a subplot that allows Kovacs to explore the inner mind of the meths themselves. It seems to imply that all meths are somehow affected by their long lifetimes, almost to a state of boredom that encourages them to act like the laws do not apply to them. They also live long enough to establish entire kingdoms, spanning many worlds, complete with their own servants, palaces, and serfs.

After reading the book, I decided to watch the television series on Netflix. It didn't follow the book too closely, but most of the major themes and storyline were present. They took some liberties with the story that I think were fitting to a teleplay, but I didn't like how they wrote the climax of the story. The ending was not at all how the book was written, but I can see where they had to have a "team" defeat the villain, instead of Kovacs doing it single-handedly (like he did in the book). Of course, he had help in the book, but he was alone at the very end. There also was not a big cinematic explosion to end the action.

If you've seen the television series, I'd highly recommend reading the book. I guess I could recommend seeing the show if you've read the book, too. They were both good entertainment. If you haven't experienced either one, I would recommend the book over the show.

The concept of self was explored in a way that kept my interest. The nature of the soul and the possible belief systems that surround it were unique and realistic. The idea that Catholics would believe that the soul went to heaven and that re-sleeving was like a sin. Catholics were then the target of murder because they could not be brought back to life to testify against their killers. I think that was a great way to introduce how those in power will find a way to break the rules without anyone noticing (or, if they noticed, not being able to do anything about it). It's a warning to us that if we let those with power over us to behave however they want to, we will one day find that it's too late to stop them from completely controlling us and we will be their slaves.

Michael Earls
Montgomery, AL, USA
Michael has been a computer nerd since he was ten years old and he begged his parents to buy him a computer for Christmas. In 1982, he was the proud owner of a TI-99/4A. He's been coding since.