‘Altered Carbon’ a gritty cyber-punk mystery

When it comes to science-fiction, I’ve always had a fascination with the cyber-punk genre so Netflix’s original series Altered Carbon was right down my alley. While Season 2 has been released, I’ll be focusing on just the first season today.

The series, named after Richard Morgan’s book of the same name, takes place in a futuristic world where human minds are uploaded wholesale to a special chip, with the data being then backed up into an orbiting satelite.

In addition to providing a form of immortality, it also allows a mind to be uploaded into a body that may not necessarily be its original.

This is demonstrated neatly in main character Takeshi Kovacs, a mercenary who is uploaded into a new body (played by Joel Kinnaman) 300 years after his death and tasked with solving the “murder”of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy).

I put scare-quotes around “murder” because thanks to the mind-backup tech, Bancroft is still walking around although his previous body was destroyed, and he is now missing a large chunk of recent memories.

It’s a fascinating premise that raises many equally fascinating questions about personal identity, the mind-body split as well as the more traditional cyber-punk themes of class conflict and the impact of technology on our lives.

While it can look like a budget-bin Blade Runner at times, it’s worth watching for the sheer ambition behind it.


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