Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs Novels)
Richard K. Morgan
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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. . . .
place, called Cable or something synonymous, where the walls were racked with color-coded conduits out of whose designer-cracked casings wires sprouted like stiff copper hair. At intervals along the bar were hooks draped with thin, lethal-looking cables that ended in gleaming silver minijacks. In the air above the bar, a huge holographic jack and socket fucked spasmodically to the offbeat music that filled the place like water. At times, the components seemed to change into sex organs, but that
all would have meant about the same, because the reality was pain, and right now there was nothing anyone could do to take it away. I said nothing. The dawn gained on us, light strengthening on the closed-up frontages behind us. I glanced at the windows of Elliott’s Data Linkage. “Victor?” I asked. “Sleeping.” She wiped an arm across her face and snorted her tears back under control like badly cut amphetamine. “You say this is going to hurt Bancroft?” “Yeah. In a subtle way, but yeah, it’ll
early evening. I approached hesitantly, hand on the butt of the Nemex. When I was five meters from the rear of the cruiser, a door opened and Ortega’s body was pitched out. She hit the street like a sack and stayed down, crumpled. I cleared the Nemex as she hit and circled warily around toward her, eyes fixed on the car. A door cracked open on the far side and Kadmin climbed out. So soon after seeing him in virtual, it took a moment to click. Tall, dark-skinned, the hawk visage I had last seen
from my breasts. The coppery upper slopes were smooth and unscarred, the nipples intact. Back to start. Beside the bed was a simple wooden chair with a white T-shirt and canvas trousers folded neatly over it. There were rope sandals on the floor. The tiny cabin held nothing else of interest apart from another bunk, the twin of mine, whose covers were thrown carelessly back, and a door. A bit crude, but the message was clear. I slipped into the clothes and walked out onto the sunlit deck of a
come back from. Make it personal. The Nemex was in my right hand like a decision taken. As I walked toward the club, I worked the slide action on it, and the metallic snap was loud in the quiet morning air. A slow, cold fury was beginning to fill me up now. The door robot stirred as I approached, and its arms came up in a warding-off gesture. “We’re closed, friend,” the synth voice said. I leveled the Nemex at the lintel and shot out the robot’s brain dome. The casing might have stopped