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altered carbon

In Richard Morgan’s new ( and first, by the way ) book ” altered carbon”, people can,….

… just like in “collapsium” by Bill MacCarthy (see blog May 05), somehow fax themselves across the universe. So that, despite the small inconvenience of having to quit the body you are accustomed to, and be incorporated in someone else’s body, every human colony is instantaneously accessible to all human beings. All of them, … except the catholics (an old-time religious sect, as one character puts it).

In fact they could, if their main religious center, the Vatican, had not decided that you could not digitise a human being, and fax him, without losing his soul in the process… This makes the catholic faith something of an exotic curiosity, existing only on old Earth, as their belief prevents them, quite ironically, to reach the heavens…

I hate these goddam freaks. They’ve been grinding us down for the best part of two and a half thousand years. They’ve been responsible for more misery than any other organisation in history. You know they won’t even let their adherents practice birth control, for Christ’s sake, and they stood against every significant medical advance of the last centuries. Practically the only thing you can say in their favour is that this digitised human freight thing has stopped them from spreading with the rest of humanity

the rest of the book is a hardboiled roman noir centered around the various issues raised by the “re-sleeving” , meaning:transfering into another body, for transport, re-juvenating, disguise, cloning, sex etc. Far from being optimistic about it, Morgan insists quite justly on the discrepencies of treatment according to the money you can put into your “sleeve”, from buying dead junkies’bodies on the black market to buying freshly grown clones taylored to your requisites. In a post-america destroyed by economic crisis, these discrepencies are accentuated, and leave the poorest to face the inevitability of the “single occurence”…

among these issues, apart from the religious problem quoted above, and the numerous legal intricacies, is the case of a dead man claiming he didn’t commit suicide, but was assassinated. His next copy is commanditating a private invistigation…

One Response to “altered carbon”

  1. pierre_d Says:

    Never heard of Richard Morgan but it seems to be a good idea to use also the religious angle on those trendy subjects : “faxing” or “uploading” your “mind” to another body. Come to think of it, maybe the catholics would be the first to embrace the technology. After all, aren’t they the ones that are convinced that body and immortal soul are two separate things? Well, maybe they would not as it would considerably slow down the process of transcanding your body and sending your soul to a bodyless state (heaven?). Nevertheless, it seems to me the fascination of so many writers for the subject is of very religious origins indeed.