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Altered Carbonby Richard K. Morgan
Synopses & Reviews
Two hours before dawn I sat in the peeling kitchen and smoked one of Sarah's cigarettes, listening to the maelstrom and waiting. Millsport had long since put itself to bed, but out in the Reach currents were still snagging on the shoals, and the sound came ashore to prowl the empty streets. There was a fine mist drifting in from the whirlpool, falling on the city like sheets of muslin and fogging the kitchen windows.
Chemically alert, I inventoried the hardware on the scarred wooden table
for the fiftieth time that night. Sarah's Heckler and Koch shard pistol
glinted dully at me in the low light, the butt gaping open for its clip.
It was an assassin's weapon, compact and utterly silent. The magazines
lay next to it. She had wrapped insulating tape around each one to
distinguish the ammunition: green for sleep, black for the spider-venom
load. Most of the clips were black-wrapped. Sarah had used up a lot of
green on the security guards at Gemini Biosys last night.
My own contributions were less subtle: the big silver Smith & Wesson,
and the four remaining hallucinogen grenades. The thin crimson line
around each canister seemed to sparkle slightly, as if it was about to
detach itself from the metal casing and float up to join the curlicues
of smoke ribboning off my cigarette. Shift and slide of altered
significants, the side effect of the tetrameth I'd scored that afternoon
down at the wharf. I don't usually smoke when I'm straight, but for some
reason the tet always triggers the urge.
Against the distant roar of the maelstrom I heard it. The hurrying strop
of rotor blades on the fabric of the night.
I stubbed out the cigarette, mildly unimpressed with myself, and went
through to the bedroom. Sarah was sleeping, an assembly of low-frequency
sine curves beneath the single sheet. A raven sweep of hair covered her
face and one long-fingered hand trailed over the side of the bed. As I
stood looking at her the night outside split. One of Harlan's World's
orbital guardians test-firing into the Reach. Thunder from the concussed
sky rolled in to rattle the windows. The woman in the bed stirred and
swept the hair out of her eyes. The liquid crystal gaze found me and
"What're you looking at?" Voice husky with the residue of sleep. I
smiled a little.
"Don't give me that shit. Tell me what you're looking at."
"Just looking. It's time to go."
She lifted her head and picked up the sound of the helicopter. The sleep
slid away from her face, and she sat up in bed.
"Where's the 'ware?"
It was a corps joke. I smiled the way you do when you see an old friend
and pointed to the case in the corner of the room.
"Get my gun for me."
"Yes, ma'am. Black or green?"
"Black. I trust these scumbags about as far as a clingfilm condom." In
the kitchen, I loaded up the shard pistol, cast a glance at my own
weapon and left it lying there. Instead I scooped up one of the H
grenades and took it back in my other hand. I paused in the doorway to
the bedroom and weighed the two pieces of hardware in each palm as if I
was trying to decide which was the heavier.
"A little something with your phallic substitute, ma'am?"
A stunning debut sci-fi/noir thriller reminiscent of Blade Runner — and the beginning of a new series featuring a one-of-a-kind anti-hero: ex-UN envoy Takeshi Kovaks.
In the 25th century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself - a person's consciousness can be easily downloaded into a new body, making death nearly obsolete. Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs...
In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”) making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.
Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning. . . .
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