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Altered Carbon series 1 (and/or the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy)


So, this here is the thread for discussing Altered Carbon, and the novels from which the show is spawned. In the name of courtesy, we would ask that for the first week or so, please specify which episode you’re talking about in posts, as well as use the spoiler tags for plot points. Also, anything specific from the novel after the episode you’re talking about, as well as details about Broken Angels and Woken Furies should be spoiler tagged too, s’il vous plait.


They better not recast RoboCop. :wink:


There’s already two actors playing Kovacs in the show - Kinneman is the resleeved version, but there’s flashbacks to his original body too


Are the sequels worth reading?
I really like Altered Carbon but it was stand alone enough that I can leave it there if they’re not worth it.


I enjoyed them both, but most people seem to think the second is the weakest of the three. They’re each stand alone, so you’ll miss nothing if you skip Broken Angels.


I’m still interested, but some of the liberties they’ve taken that they talk about in the commercials namely having him be ‘the last Envoy’ as well as chatter equating the Envoys with the Quellists make me a little leery. It makes him sound more twee than I found him in the book.

I’m probably still going to watch, but a lot of my initial buzz was blunted by those commercials.


Watched the first 20 minutes on the tram into work, pretty good so far. It does a good job of blending the prologue in the novel into some exposition about how the world works. And the show looks amazing. There’s clearly been a lot of money pumped into this, but so far it seems well-spent, and a lot of it is being put into making this look like the last 15 years worth of post-cyberpunk art, be it from novel covers, fan art, RPGs, or other esoteric corners of SF fandom. There’s paramilitary security forces in full head-to-toe body armour, there’s a clear division between the ultra-rich and the rest of us, swapping a Bladerunner-esque street level mileiu for utopian towers above the clouds, which wouldn’t look out of place as a planet the cre beams to in Star Trek.

Even if the show turns out to be a failure from a storytelling place, that look and feel is a triumph in and of itself.


Yeah this was VERY well produced, holy shit… Movie quality right there.

Also, I just went through Deux Ex Mankind Divided, so it reminded me a bit of that as well…

Anyways, Lots of stuff to take in, I’m not sure I was able to follow all of the exposition, but I guess I got the basics… I haven’t read the books either, so no clue at all. Apparently there are other habited planets and the main guy comes from one of those… Did they say anything about the date though? This seems to be quite far into the future.

One thing I didn’t like, and always rips me away from these settings is the modern clothes… they should’ve spent a bit more for costumes, cause they really popped out in an otherwise incredible setting.

Other than that, I’m totally in… this might not be the next GoT, but it’s certainly another Expanse I can sink my teeth into… And honestly much more interesting (to me) than West World, right off the bat… so at least it’s got that going on for itself =P


If I remember the book correctly, Bancroft was born shortly after the current day - like 2050 or so, and Stack technology was invented late in his natural lifespan, so he backed up, had himself cloned and downloaded into the new body. So it’s about 400 years in the future when the present day of series 1 begins.

Humanity has colonised a number of worlds, this was done by launching sublight robot spacecraft which landed on habitable exoplanets, built an infrastructure, and then downloaded people from backups into new sleeves. All travel between worlds is done by needlecast - you upload your stack, get transmitted to another world (in the book, this happens at light speed so years pass as you’re transmitted but I think I heard someone say minutes in the show), and download into a new sleeve.

In the books, Kovacs is from a planet called Harlan’s World (possible spoilers ahead) where he was a member of a revolutionary group called the Quellists. Harlan’s world is owned by a hereditary corporate clan, and the Quellists - the followers of a Castro-like figure named Quellcrist Falconer - were trying to bring down the Harlans and institute fair rule. At some point Kovacs is arrested and impressed into military service for the UN, who train him to be an Envoy, a type of special forces unit who are conditioned to adapt quickly to resleeving so they can be needlecast to a world and quickly infiltrate or undermine enemy forces. In the show, they’ve apparently merged the Quellists and Envoys together. In the books, Harlan’s World is orbited by a network of alien satellites which shoot down any sufficiently advanced device that flies over 400 metres, which fired at the robot ship but didn’t manage to destroy it before it managed to land


Oh damn, so yeah there’s a lot of backstory there :smile:

Ok thanks, that helps me put a timeline to it a bit better… I was expecting more time to had passed though, but I guess it makes sense it’s only roughly half a millenium.

I did get the whole needlecast thing 'cause they used the same idea in Dark Matter recently (I guess they might’ve stolen it from this book =P), so that at least was not a problem to wrap my brain around.


Uploading and downloaidng to bodies has been around literary SF for quite some time, but I think Altered Carbon was the first time the idea of transmitting your uploaded consciousness over long distances to download into a wholly different body was used. Pretty much every other SF book I’ve read which uses the concept post-dates it, and a couple of them cite the Kovacs trilogy as an influence


oh yeah, true… on Dark Matter it’s just clones, basically… and it’s instantaneous… which wouldn’t be a horrible change to make, specially since it’s a TV show, makes things simpler (you can always explain it with "quantum data transfer or whatever =P)


I’m trying to remember how far I got in the book series. I think I read the second but not the third book. Which book has the weird animal fetishists that download their stacks in animal bodies for sex or to kill people as animals?


I totally forgot that bit, maybe the third? The second is set in a war zone


Hmmm. Maybe it wasn’t one of the Takeshi Kovacs books. I remember the main character in whatever book it was looking for someone and found them in this place with their mind uploaded into a tiger’s body. When Gravity Fails is the only other book I can think of that might have something similar though.


It reminds me a bit of the novella Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds, though in that the characters gradually converted their bodies into robotic canines, including simplifying their thought processes in order to get past traps in a treasure trove.


This is going to bug me now. I’ve tried several Google searches without much luck.


This might help some people going into the show without having previously read any of the books.


Use the Sub-Reddit for finding books you only sorta remember.
It’s helped me out before.


What is this weird millennial thing you speak of?