“Based on the classic cyberpunk noir novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is an intriguing story of murder, love, sex, and betrayal, set more than 300 years in the future. Society has been transformed by new technology: consciousness can be digitized; human bodies are interchangeable; death is no longer permanent. Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is the lone surviving soldier in a group of elite interstellar warriors who were defeated in an uprising against the new world order. His mind was imprisoned, “on ice”, for centuries until Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), an impossibly wealthy, long-lived man, offers Kovacs the chance to live again. In exchange, Kovacs has to solve a murder… that of Bancroft himself.”
Firstly, go read Richard Morgan’s novel – it’s an all-timer, one of the best of the post-cyberpunk books that have taken emerging theories about post-humanity and radical technologies and welded them to the cynical, dystopian worldviews codified – if not exactly pioneered – by Bill Gibson and his lot. The rest of the Takeshi Kovacs series are also worth your time, even if they don’t hit the heights of Morgan’s propulsive, brutal debut.
Secondly, appreciate that Netflix have poured serious bank into their upcoming science fiction series – reported between seven and nine million per episode over a season of 10, so it’s going to look the business. The go-to phrase in the lead-up has been “bigger than Game of Thrones” which takes some stones. What will break our hearts is if it’s bigger than Blade Runner, although the lackluster box office of 2049 makes that pretty much a certainty. Still, the new series’ visual debt to the adventures of Rick Deckard is incontestable.
Thirdly, that’s a pretty great cast: Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) as Kovacs, James Purefoy (Rome) as Bancroft, plus Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton), Kristin Lehman (The Killing), Martha Higareda (Street Kings), and Australia’s Dichen Lachman in support.
Hopefully Kinnaman, who was at ground zero for the cinematic war crime that was the Robocop remake, isn’t bad mojo, but even if he is, he probably won’t be back in the second season anyway; our hero swaps bodies between books, and we even get Will Yun Lee (The Wolverine) playing Kovacs in flashbacks to his war service. He’s the ultimate franchisable character in that respect, able to be infinitely recast, with none of that “is James Bond a code name?” nonsense either.
Fourthly? Uh, February 2, 2018. Lock it in.