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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Re-read: Altered Carbon

I first reviewed Altered Carbon 4 years ago in Munich, and I recently finished reading it again as the other book that I'm trying to finish is dense and I'm in need of light reading where I don't have to think.

4 years ago I thought this book was violent and difficult to stomach. Maybe I've gotten used to the violence of media now, but now it doesn't feel that way. What's great about this book is that even knowing the plot vaguely, I could still appreciate the story and the way Richard Morgan put it together later. In particular, there are scenes where the protagonist is set up to lose, and he does, despite his smart thinking and talking (and instinct for violence).

The plot is crystal clear and wrapped up, though unlike the standard mystery novels, I don't think Morgan plays fair with the reader: there's no easy way to deduce the story from the clues given to you. Hence, the comparison to Chandler in my previous reviews stand. The prose is great, and the world is fun. And it's quite clear that Richard Morgan is conversant with technology and able to work out all the implications of digital human storage and re-sleeving.

All in all, I'm happy to give this novel my highest recommendation: if you haven't read it, you don't know what good modern science fiction can be. And while I thought the ending was bleak on the first reading, on this second reading, it doesn't seem any worse than any of Chandler's novels.

Highly Recommended

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