The post-cyberpunk universe of Altered Carbon

Mythology Entertainment has acquired the feature rights to “Altered Carbon,” a sci-fi/cyberpunk novel penned by Richard Morgan.

Originally published in 2002, the book is set approximately 500 years in the future, in a dystopian universe ruled by the United Nations Protectorate which administers a number of colonized planets across the galaxy.

In the world of Altered Carbon, human personalities are stored digitally in cortical stacks and downloaded into new bodies, dubbed sleeves.

Although most of the populace can afford to get resleeved at the end of their lives, they are unable to “update” their bodies, meaning, most are forced to relive a full aging process each time.

As such, most of the middle-class chooses to undergo the “sleeve” process only a few times, even though they could theoretically live indefinitely – a privilege which is ultimately enjoyed by the wealthy who routinely acquire replacement bodies. The Meths – short for the biblical figure of Methuselah – also keep copies of their minds in remote storage, allowing for an easy resleeve process in the case of disaster. 

Enter Laurens Bancroft, who apparently committed suicide and is resleeved from a backup, albeit with a 48-hour lag. Although Bancroft has no memories of his actions during the previous 48 hours, he insists his suicide was actually a murder and hires the protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, a former United Nations (military) envoy, to investigate the true circumstances of his death.

The big-screen adaption of Altered Carbon will be penned by Laeta Kalogridis (of Shutter Island and Avatar fame), along with David Goodman. 

“Altered Carbon’ is one of the most seminal pieces of post-cyberpunk hard science fiction out there,” said Kalogridis. “[It is] a dark, complex noir story that challenges our ideas of what it means to be human when all information becomes encodable, including the human mind.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time Altered Carbon has been wooed by Hollywood, as a previous adaptation was actually set up with Warner-based Joel Silver. However, the above-mentioned deal also covers the other two books in Morgan’s “Takeshi Kovacs” trilogy: Broken Angels and Woken Furies.

The Kindle edition of Altered Carbon can be purchased here for $8 via Amazon.