Richard Morgan: Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Woken Furies

As I’ve watched the almost unheard of Altered Carbon rocket up into the top echelons of Science Fiction novels (by rating), I wondered if that would have occurred at all, if Netflix hadn’t brought the story to the screen.

The above three books, written by Mr Morgan between 2002 and 2005, are all genuine, top draw SF novels. They all feature the beleaguered Takeshi Kovacs, sleeving onto different worlds and trying to keep his stack intact.

When I read these books, soon after publication, I was amazed at Mr Morgan’s ability to create thick, exotic future ‘civilisations, credibly flawed characters, and believable tech – mostly attached to genetically altered humans’ heads and bodies. The writing is extremely sharp. If there was a genre for this trio, I suppose it would be hard SF thriller. But unlike many SF books, the stories are primarily character driven. Kovacs manages to keep the same outlook – via the first person narrative – while being needlecast from one dangerous planet into an even worse predicament. He even manages to cadge together a crew of sorts, to share in his adventures and deaths.

In my opinion, each book is better than the one before. Mr Morgan does not shy away from incredible violence, extremely destructive weapons, or future-plus wire-ups for his, at times, motley characters. There does exist the genre of military SF, but these books do not fit there. His portrayal of short, brutal battles, or long drawn out retreats while being shelled toward oblivion, are unique.

The Netflix Altered Carbon production didn’t really fit with my memories of the book, though I believe it would be almost impossible to truly translate the story onto the screen.

I recommend this trio of books – they gave me a big thrill reading them. If you’re a true SF, you won’t be disappointed. Trust me.