Oz Blog News Commentary

Altered Carbon

February 23, 2018 - 16:05 -- Admin

I finished my soy binge of Altered Carbon on Netflix this week. Loved it. I loved the book to when I read it over a decade ago, but that was so long that apart from one or two standout scenes (the concealed mini guns in the hotel, for instance) I had pretty much forgotten everything. It wasn't a bad way to go into the series.

I'm not sure how faithful the producers were to a black letter adaptation of Richard Morgan's original text, and frankly I don't think it matters. This was a powerful piece of cinematic storytelling, a rich combination of science-fiction and old school film noir.

The central conceit of the story is the encoding of human memory, a process which allows those who can afford it to live forever. I do seem to recall that the novel did investigate the social and political implications of the technology, the way that the super rich effectively claimed immortality for themselves, becoming ever less human the longer they lived. But I'm pretty sure the makers of the TV show really leaned into the idea with a lot more vigour. Altered Carbon was a much better forensic analysis of the consequences of a super concentration of wealth in a sci-fi setting than, say, Matt Damon's Elysium. It was violent, stylish (with a lot of visial callbacks to the original Blade Runner), thoughtful and, most importantly of all, just great fun.

No sooner had I finished the last episode than I looked up to discover that Amazon had announced they would be doing their own adaptation of Iain M Banks Culture novel, Consider Phlebus. I am almost as excited for that as I am for a second series of Carbon. It feels like we might be living through a new golden age of sci-fi, at least on the small screen.