Adrian Graham

Man with back to camera facing futuristic megacity

Altered Carbon (Season 1, 2018)

The Neo-Noir science fiction thriller Altered Carbon (Season 1, 2018) weaves a story about memory and identity. In this future people have a new kind of mind-body relationship. This situation has been made possible by technology allowing the storage of the mind and memory using special chips, which can be inserted into different bodies or ‘sleeves’.

The ultra-rich own multiple cloned sleeves of themselves and have their ‘mind’ chip backed up, which effectively gives them everlasting life. But, there’s a downside. These immortals or ‘Meths’ are all-powerful; they dominate business, politics and society and this has led to a dystopia of inequality and corruption.

In enters Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-terrorist who fought against the people developing the new technology, and lost. After a couple of centuries ‘on ice’ he’s brought back to life in a new sleeve to investigate the murder of a ‘Meth’ who’s hoping to find out who killed him. The character who wakes up from a long sleep is a classic fantasy / sci-fi device that takes the protagonist from our world into the future, much like the 1819 story Rip Van Winkle of a character who goes to sleep and wakes up in the future.

Tonally, Altered Carbon is unabashed pulp fiction with a strong dose of Philip K. Dick. Its over-the-top approach feels enjoyably trashy, but the production values, the quality of the writing and acting are anything but that. Altered Carbon is a true Neo Noir, or cyberpunk story, the Raven Hotel, which provides Takeshi’s base, with its AI manager Poe, personifies techno-goth. In the end, the message is clear: no one is meant to live forever.


Journal   About