Having read the book, all I can say is: ugh.

Maybe they won't fuck it up, but the trailer does not give me high hopes. Altered Carbon is about a future where bodies are meaningless (they are called "sleeves"). Everyone gets a thumb drive implanted at birth, which backs up your consciousness. If your body dies, or if you just want to upgrade, you can have it moved to a new sleeve. Biotechnology is such that human bodies are grown, cloned, and customized to order. The wealthy can be truly immortal of they want to be: remote backups conducted daily, with multiple bodies on ice just waiting.

But where it gets interesting is in the context. In this universe, we have faster-than-light communications but not travel. The main character, Takashi Kovacs, is a former Envoy. These guys are SEALs mixed with shamans, but in a hard sci-fi setting. There's no magic or anything, but bodies can't be transported across stellar distances. But we can transmit information, and since sleeves can be changed at will, this means you need people who can be dumped into a new body on an alien world and dropped into combat or espionage with immediate effect. Their ability to read and manipulate people is such that they're banned from elected office. They're basically Jason Bourne + a mentat from Dune + Hannibal Lector rolled into one person.

The other thing is that the main character and the books generally are very cynical about power structures. There's a lot of underlying social tensions along familiar lines. Another fun conceit is that the first book takes place on Earth, which is kind of a backwater by this point (the book takes place in the early 31st century).

Here is an excerpt from the book.

Don't get me wrong, faithfulness to source material doesn't per se make something good. But the trailer makes it look way too action-focused, and like they've sacrificed most of what makes that source material interesting. Instead, we have something that looks liks generic sci-fi shooty show #137.

I'll give it a shot, but am not holding out much hope.

P.S. Typing anything remotely long-form on this site remains as big of a pain in the ass as always.


    Typing anything remotely long-form on this site remains as big of a pain in the ass as always.

What's the problem?

posted by johnnyFive: 580 days ago