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Extended Audio Sample Altered Carbon Audiobook, by Richard K. Morgan Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (17,922 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard K. Morgan Narrator: Todd McLaren Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Takeshi Kovacs Series Release Date: January 2005 ISBN: 9781400171378
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In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person's consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or "sleeve") making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen. Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats "existence" as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning. . . . "Morgan's debut novel, the first in a series, combines noir mystery with ultra-high tech science to create a complex sf thriller. Featuring a hard-nosed antihero with his own sense of personal honor and ethics, this is highly recommended for sf collections."-Library Journal Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “If you’ve ever wondered what kind of science fiction Raymond Chandler might have written for a futuristic Philip Marlowe, check out Altered Carbon, by Richard K. Morgan. In this rousing first novel, Morgan has reimagined The Big Sleep as 25th century noir.”

    New York Times

  • “This seamless marriage of hardcore cyberpunk and hard-boiled detective tale is an astonishing first novel.”

    London Times

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tony Gleeson | 2/17/2014

    " Morgan, a member of the Glasgow group of up-and-coming speculative authors, is an interesting writer, absorbing and reflecting lots of contemporary styles (most obviously William Gibson) and classic ones (if you read carefully you'll pick up Chandler among others), and he tells an interesting story with equally interesting characters and ideas. The only problem I had with this, the first tale of Takeshi Kovacs (pronounced "ko-vatch")was a fairly high level of gratuitous cruelty... I could have gotten by without torture sequences being delineated quite so clearly. Morgan tosses out lots of fascinating concepts of a rather dark and dystopian future, so fast and thick you have to stop to absorb many of them, including the social and moral implications of being able to preserve one's consciousness after death and transfer it into a new body-- changing the very meaning of "death" (and introducing the novel concept of "real death" as a particularly nasty taboo). It's dark and ultimately pessimistic science fiction, well done if you find this appealing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Raq | 2/8/2014

    " I loved this book a lot. Morgan blends hardboiled noir mystery with post-cyberpunk science fiction, and creates a compelling and damaged hero in Takeshi Kovacs. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joseph | 2/4/2014

    " great book. raises questions about government and morality. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lacey Savage | 2/2/2014

    " What a wonderful sci-fi debut! I was extremely impressed with Morgan's lean, evocative prose. I adored Kovacs -- his voice and his plight grabbed me from the first page and wouldn't let go. The story had everything I crave in a top notch read: excellent pacing, wonderful world building, three-dimensional characters and a plot that kept me riveted into the wee hours of the night. I'm thrilled to have discovered Richard Morgan. I ordered his entire backlist as soon as I turned the last page of ALTERED CARBON. (A+) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Messdane109 | 1/30/2014

    " SciFi at it's best, i enjoyed this a ton "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Occamsbeard | 1/27/2014

    " I thought I had read the majority of really good cyber punk or near future sci-fi books that deal with the era for a personal perspective. I have read some of Gibson and some of Neal Stephenson and even a lesser author accoladed author Mel Odom who did a great mixture of a noir Crime thriller complete with a sociopath in a cyberpunk setting. I bring that book up because the main character in this book is very much the flawed hero in the three cyber punk books that Richard K Morgan has done. This book is just exactly as billed in that it is a noir styled cyber punk book with our protagonist Takeshi always finding a way to work his way through very complex circumstances where human natures dark and selfish side is melded to powerful biologic, electronic, and mechanical technology. Thus you have a world were every one has their essence shifted away from their physical body and distilled down to what is contained in their Cortical stacks. So in essence the human person is containable in a cylinder about the size of a cigarette butt inserted at birth at the base of their brain. The body whether regular, designer or synthetic is just a sleeve that completes the physical manifestation of the human. And Takeshi Kovacks is further altered in a far less common way because he was a good enough military man with surplus smarts so he was part of a top secret program to create a particularly adaptable and augmented form of human that is free of all of mans natural mammal instincts and is augmented with both nano-electronic tech in his cortical stack and training that allow him to have amazing control over his emotions, perfect and total recall of all he experiences, and the ability to tweak the brain or nervous system he is in for all that it is worth. Further more unlike most humans going to and fro from various bodies is much easier for him and he can adapt far faster than the average person. Being cyberpunk, it goes without saying the future he envisions is not the beginning of the creation of star fleet. In his dystopic future it is leftists who also dislikes leftist solutions, most elaborate night mare of the corruption of societal institutions through acquisitive action of man acting in his own selfish interests in an interplanetary capitalist system. There is a governing body but the power behind the throne is really hierarchical groupings of various business Cartels that have absolutely zero redeeming qualities.And while I would to predict such a bleak future for man kind as these books do, our author is no facile dabbler on the subjects of politics, philosophy or human nature. In fact there are passages that amazingly quotable for their pithy construction and deep insight. In Altered Carbon the main focus is about a very simple crime investigation of a powerful human plutocrat that literally has been around long enough to remember when man did not have the ability to go from body to body to preserve his own life And one of the big themes in this book is how has this technology altered what it means to be human. It is explored by delving into the considerable excess and dysfunction that are both inside the family of his Plutocratic Client Mr Bancroft and his wife as well by delving into all the various forces that would come into play if you had a murder scenario of a very important citizen. I found the book extremely engaging and thought provoking both in the rather beautiful but graphic descriptions of the world and the action that can take place full of technological wonders an horror, as well as by the inner monologue of the protagonist who is constantly trying to figure out how to find a way to go forward in his life in a way that both allows him to survive and benefit but does not make him part of what he so often observes around him as a wide variety of human dysfunction and selfishness. He is only ever modestly successful in this and yet you find yourself pulling for him because in the end Kovacs always takes care of those who deal with him the most honestly and are not already attached to something that he might have to clash with. I once read an interview with Richard Morgan that described Noir as everything that is not disney. I find that a very hard definition of noir that lacks the elements of romance or anti-hero idealism that I believe in other forms of noir both on film and in books but it is certainly the very hardest core interpretation of it. I think that Altered Carbon is a must read book because while very dark, it is very elegantly dark, with a very believable and visceral world for one to sink their teeth into, even if the point of view is almost too cynical and hopeless at time. The prose is extremely readable and at times even beautiful and quotable. And while I would not say that the book has a happy ending the book does have a satisfying resolution. I think I missed out on this book when it first came out because I was very sick at the time, but it won the Phillip K Dick award as was generally praised all around. And the Phillip K. Dick fans are a picky lot. I would have to put this book up there beyond Gibson's and more on par but even more elegantly put together as my favorite cyber punk books, Snow Crash, and Diamond Age. The world is so compelling and the character is so likable even though he is in no way some super hero. Even if you are like me and you get a bit tired of all speculative fiction trying to be creative and impactful by going hopelessly dark, you will still really deeply enjoy these books for three main reasons. One they are simply well written words, and two, the world is just that well described and explained as to evoke a massive amount of pleasant internal imagining, and three that where the book goes dark, it is not a pretense but rather an expression of a very smart mans exasperations with the various problems of mankind on both a personal and political level that show he has read and thought about the subject in the real world quite a bit before choosing to comment on it in his dystopic rendering of a future world for humanity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Simon Cooper | 1/27/2014

    " A compelling link up of possible technologies, realised through a gritty noir setting. Very good for this genre "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tim Famulak | 1/18/2014

    " Excellent read, fast paced, raw with an original look at the future. Takeshi Kovacs is a unique hero, hard, flawed and portable. Look forward to the rest "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wilki24 | 12/8/2013

    " I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It was a quick, easy read. Sci-Fi Mystery Thriller, set in a dystopian future. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Mattie | 12/7/2013

    " Great Book. Definitely hard science fiction and a joy to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Theodore | 11/26/2013

    " Interesting idea ! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sybil | 7/16/2013

    " I found this book via a recommendation by the incomparable librarian Nancy Pearl. It really was a great read -- an intriguing protaganist, interesting premise and lots of good action and insightful social commentary. Very enjoyable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mathew Carruthers | 6/17/2012

    " Excellent story-telling. Action, suspense, moral philosophy, sex, violence...everything a good story needs. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nunya | 5/30/2012

    " Like with many books I finished a long time ago and forget to update so my original thoughts won't be as detailed. So I'm going to keep it simple. GREAT READ!!! A MIND FUCK aaaaaaaand I sincerely hope this world does not come to pass. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rowenna | 4/24/2012

    " Awesome. I've read this upwards of thirty times and never ever get tired of it. Simply the best contemporary sci-fi available "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bennie Minor | 3/31/2012

    " It was his first book written, and to me his best so far. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ghanimatrix | 2/12/2012

    " On occasion, I like a book so well, I devour it as fast as possible. But this book I loved so much, I savored every page. A must read for hard sci-fi lovers. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Blake | 1/21/2012

    " Interesting future. Action packed scenes. But you better create a detailed list to keep track of all the characters and their connections. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vex | 6/7/2011

    " Cyberpunk noir. Interesting, gripping, although I was beginning to get confused with the plot twists toward the end. Will look for more books by this author! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ross | 5/8/2011

    " A great premise and well written book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adam | 5/4/2011

    " So far this has potential to be lots of fun. Way more graphic than I expected, buy hey I'll roll with it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarahlynn | 5/4/2011

    " Incredible violent and profane but fabulous. Hard-boiled detective meets science fiction with a modern twist. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Richard | 5/2/2011

    " This was the first book I read by Richard Morgan and I found the action and grit of the characters and story extremely engaging. I went on to read several more of his books and found all of them to be very satisfying. Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 4/18/2011

    " Pretty good read, cool storyline and interesting characters. Suggested a big back-story that was only partially delivered upon, I suppose that may come in RKM's other Takeshi Kovacs books, which I may be interested in reading now as well. Cool ideas and sci-fi stuff, got me into the genre more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 4/7/2011

    " An excellent look into a Science Fiction future. It combines some of my favorite parts of Detective Stories, Noir, and Transhumanism. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kendar88 | 3/27/2011

    " Barly interesting. Too sci-fi. There is death and then real death. He goes into different "sleves". Just never got into it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 3/27/2011

    " Altered Carbon makes A Clockwork Orange seem like a happy feel-good novel. The protagonist is an amoral murderous bastard, and by no means the worst character in the story. This is a solidly awesome book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bronwyn | 3/26/2011

    " Very fun noirish sci-fi with a bit of the old ultraviolence. Probably accessible to occasional sci-fi readers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ghanimatrix | 3/23/2011

    " On occasion, I like a book so well, I devour it as fast as possible. But this book I loved so much, I savored every page. A must read for hard sci-fi lovers. "

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About the Author
Author Richard K. Morgan

Richard K. Morgan is the acclaimed author of Market Forces, Broken Angels, and Altered Carbon, a New York Times Notable Book that also won the Philip K. Dick Award. He lives in Scotland.

About the Narrator

Todd McLaren was involved in radio for more than twenty years in cities on both coasts, including Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He left broadcasting for a full-time career in voice acting, where he has been heard on more than five thousand television and radio commercials, as well as television promos; narrations for documentaries on such networks as A&E, Discovery, and the History Channel; and films, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit?