History Main / TheTakeshiKovacsSeries

11th Feb '13 6:22:36 PM PaulA
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The ''Takeshi Kovacs'' series (also called the ''Altered Carbon'' series, after the first book) is a {{Cyberpunk}} trilogy by British writer Creator/RichardKMorgan.

The series takes place some 500 years into the future, in the UN Protectorate, a totalitarian government spread over several different planets that enforces its rule with the use of 'Envoys'; mentally-conditioned [[SuperSoldier Shock Troopers]] who specialise in covert deployment and bringing down rebel governments.

In the series Mars has been discovered to have once been part of a galaxy-spanning alien civilisation, which collapsed for reasons unknown millennia ago.

All three books follow the SociopathicHero Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-Envoy turned criminal/ mercenary/ bodyguard/ detective, who uses his talents for problem solving coupled with insane violence to earn a buck. Takeshi is not without his psychological problems, however, many of them received in service with the Envoys and a fair few picked up afterwards.

The first book, ''Altered Carbon'', sees Kovacs brought out of digitised storage (used as punishment for crimes) and sent to Earth to work as a private detective for a super-wealthy 'Meth' (from 'Methuselah'); someone rich and powerful enough to afford to live for several concurrent lifetimes. The Meth; Laurens Bancroft, has recently returned from the dead (thanks to a personality backup) after an apparent suicide, but maintains that he would never kill himself. Due to the backup schedule he is missing the 48 hours prior to his death. He hires Kovacs to find out who killed him and why.

The second book, ''Broken Angels'', is a war story, set on the planet of Sanction IV. Kovacs is now serving in a mercenary unit fighting for the UN against the native rebels of the planet, when he encounters a pilot named Jan Schneider, who is looking for protection for an expedition to exploit a Martian artifact discovered just before the war broke out. Kovacs helps Schneider break out the archeologist who led the initial expedition from a POW camp, and the trio them embark on a mission to find a corporate sponsor the finance their mission.

The third book, ''Woken Furies'', finds Kovacs back on his homeworld of Harlan's World; a largely aquatic planet colonised by Japanese and Slavs. The book begins as a RoaringRampageOfRevenge as Kovacs hunts down members of a Church who sentenced a friend of his to death, but he soon becomes involved in a growing revolutionary plot to overthrow the UN-backed government.

----
!!This series provides examples of:

* ActionBomb: People can be fitted with internal explosives, allowing them to explode at will (Though there is a significant risk of accidental detonation). There are also examples where the explosives are [[DeadManSwitch set to go off upon the user's death]].
* ActionSurvivor: Tanya Wardani of ''Broken Angels''.
* AIIsACrapshoot: Thoroughly averted. Without exception, in all three books, the artificial intelligences we encounter serve their intended functions perfectly, though some are into some disturbingly illegal activities.
* AlienGeometries: Anything the Martians have built tends to have a negative effect on the mental well-being of people exposed to it for long unless they have some sort of appropriate conditioning. It is less a problem of violating the laws of physics and more simply because they are literally ''alien'' geometries, as the Martians were avian and followed a different logic to their construction.
* AndIMustScream: Being tortured in virtuality feels just like the real thing. It's very easy to hook someone into a torture program and leave it running indefinitely. The subject will be killed over and over again in the most painful ways possible. You can even set the time frame to make a few hours plugging into the virtuality feel like days.
* AncientAstronauts: Martians are said to have visited Earth centuries ago, but only spoke to the Whales.
* AntiHero: Kovacs, UnscrupulousHero subtype.
* ArtificialIntelligence: There are many of them around, and some even have rights under UN law.
* {{Badass}}: Kovacs, Trepp, Kadmin, [[ColonelBadass Isaac]] [[SemperFi Carrera]], Virginia Vidaura and of course [[spoiler: Quellcrist Falconer]].
* BadassArmy: The Envoys
* BecomingTheMask: Micky Serendipity.
* BerserkButton: Don't go talking about religious aversion to re-sleeving to Takeshi Kovacs if you value your life. Also, a milder version occurs if you mispronounce his name as "kovaks" instead of the original Hungarian "kovach". If you do that, he won't like you. If he doesn't like you, he'll have much less restraint in doing nasty things to you.
** In general he goes nuts whenever someone abuses or takes advantage of women. Surprise, it's all about [[spoiler:his abusive father]]
* BioAugmentation: Combat and sport sleeves tend to be enhanced in all the ways you'd expect (like the ubiquitous [[BulletTime neurachem]].)
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Kovacs has a tendency to do horrible, horrible things to people who either get in his way or are associated with people who tried to do horrible things to him.
* BloodSport: Due to the ability to swap damaged bodies for new ones, several kinds of blood sport are now common entertainment.
* BodyBackupDrive: Everyone is implanted with a cortical stack that essentially acts as a hard drive for the brain and allows people to be "resleeved" in a new body when they die. However most people can't afford to be resleeved more than once and unless they shell out a lot of cash they have to go through the whole aging process again. Many wealthy "Methuselahs" also have external storage that updates every couple days in case their stack is fried (like in the client from the first book's case).
* BodySurf: Not so impossible in a world with BrainUploading, although in most cases the body in question is already vacant - most probably because its previous owner is "on stack" - in mind prison.
* BrainUploading: The whole concept of the setting.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Common as dirt in all three books. Matthias Hand from Broken Angels is a surprisingly sympathetic example.
* CrapsackWorld: Both Earth and Sanction IV would seem to qualify in different ways. Harlan's World is a crapsack swamp.
* CyberPunk: Its a tossup between this and {{Post Cyberpunk}}.
* DaChief: Isaac Carrera in the second book and Shigeo Kuramaya in ''Woken Furies''.
* DeadPersonConversation: When Kovacs is under severe stress, or lost deep in thought, he tends to hallucinate his long-dead friend Jimmy De Soto. Jimmy usually gives him some useful hunch, or the resolve he needs to break through the current problem.
* DisappearedDad: As alluded to in the earlier books and fully expounded upon in "Woken Furies," most of Kovacs' rage stems from his father abandoning the family and [[spoiler:repeatedly abusing his mother]]
* EarnYourHappyEnding: The world is pretty shitty but there are many people who are trying to better things
** You could argue this is where things stand at the end of "Woken Furies." Sure, Kovacs has killed hundreds or thousands of people [[spoiler:or more, depending on who you blame for the destruction of Sauberville in "Broken Angels"]], [[spoiler:including several of his oldest friends]], and lost the only woman he loved, but he's also [[spoiler:killed several of his mortal enemies]], [[spoiler:found a fleet of Martian (and unknown alien) ships]], [[spoiler:helped resurrect a legendary revolutionary figure]] and through her perhaps [[spoiler:figured out how to communicate with AI systems the Martians left behind (and maybe uploaded Martians themselves]]. So things could be worse.
* EnergyWeapon: Several energy weapons exist, such as the 'Sunjet' rifle (which might be either plasma, or a particle beam, depending on the book).
* {{Expositron 9000}}: Dig 301 helped Kovacs (and the readers) understand a lot about the revolution and [[spoiler:Nadia Makita]] in "Woken Furies" [[spoiler:and also helps Kovacs escape]].
* EyeScream:
** The protagonist has memories about a soldier mate of his who ripped out his eye with his own fingers during a hallucination caused by a mind virus.
** In the first book, a micro-recorder is surgically implanted under an eye. The intended victim of the recording doesn't like the item's presence there, and her idea of surgical removal involves very little finesse and a pair of pliers.
** In "Woken Furies" Kovacs rips out the eyeball of [[spoiler:one of his oldest friends]]
* FantasticSlurs: "Meth," which refers to a very old person, is probably the most notable example.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: Harlan's World = Japan mixed in with several Eastern European cultures (predominantly Slavic ones). Sharya = Islamic culture, particularly in its more militant forms. It's Shariat law enforced planet-wide, essentially.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Now that everyone's consciousness is housed in cortical stacks, one can inflict a variety of virtual hells on someone you have captured, either to gain information or just for kicks. This can lead to an AndIMustScream fate.
** BrainUploading and Virtual Environments can allow you to upload people into torture programs. They'll feel days of torture every hour you leave them in the program, and there's nothing stopping you from just leaving them in there and forgetting about them.
** Can be inflicted without the aid of virtual using a machine called the anatomiser. Co-opted medical equipment keeps you alive whilst slowly dismantling your body a layer at a time. It scans you to ensure it is constantly delivering maximum pain whilst minimisng risk of death. You can't even escape into unconsciousness; if it looks like you're about to pass out the machine pumps you full of stimulants and backs off just enough to keep you awake before continuing. The whole process lasts for days.
** Kovacs has the stacks of some priests used in animal fights. They're basically torn limb from limb on a constant basis, quickly going feral and insane.
** The Rawling virus corrupts digital information - it is shown to brutally annihilate an AI, and it can be used as a way of killing people equipped with stacks (which is only virtually EVERYBODY) through self-destructive insanity.
* FinalDeath: "Real Death" or RD, when your stack is destroyed, erased or irreparably damaged. Less of a fear for those who have a BodyBackupDrive somewhere, but these too can be destroyed with enough effort.
* FullNameBasis: When doing internal monologue, Kovacs tends to refer to most people (aside from those he grew up with, fought with or had sex with) by their full names almost exclusively.
* TheFutureIsNoir: the first book borrows noticeably from noir investigation dramas.
* GenderBender: There is no rule preventing people from downloading their consciousness into bodies of the other sex. People commonly swap sexes in virtual, and it's heavily implied that those who can afford it have fun with this in real life. In the first book Kovacs impersonates a woman by claiming to have been sleeved in a male body. In the second, Kovacs jokingly questions whether [[spoiler:Wardani]] is a man sleeved in a woman's body because of [[spoiler:her actions during sex]].
* GenerationShips: How the Protectorate gets around when Needlecast isn't an option. It's hinted that several are still on route to distant stars, and that a number 'went wrong' on some planets, with [[NightmareFuel messy results]].
* GeneticMemory: Only a very minor plot point, but still present.
** Only in whales though
** The third book explores the viability of '''''weaponizing''''' it.
* GrandTheftMe: Not literally, but if you're "on stack" (which is futurespeak for being mentally jailed), someone might rent out - or buy out - your sleeve while you're not using it. You might have some problems getting it back if it was bought out, as several characters in the first book discover.
** Also, invoked literally in the third book, with the theoretized Personality Bombs which would inject chunks of someone's stored personality into the stack of whoever's affected. [[spoiler: They remain pure conspiracy theories, however, as Nadia Makita did not enter the mind of Sylvie Oshima that way.]]
* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: Elias Ryker. Frequently referenced, Ryker is currently "on stack"- imprisoned in a digital environment- for murder and fraud. [[spoiler: In a unique twist, his ''body'' is actually present the whole time, it being the sleeve into which Kovacs' mind is implanted.]]
* HeroAntagonist: Arguably, Isaac Carrera in the second novel. His motivations are more justifiable than Kovacs', at any rate.
* HumanPopsicle
* InsufficientlyAdvancedAlien: Human development of FTL communications and significant colonization were pretty much all bootstrapped from what the Martians left behind. At least one character openly wonders whether or not humanity should even be out in the galaxy.
* InvisibleAliens: No one knows where the Martians went, or why.
* IWillPunishYourFriendForYourFailure: How [[spoiler:Kawahara]] compels Kovacs to do as [[spoiler:she]] asks, in regards to the Bancroft case.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Kovacs can be a ''serious'' jerk, and he'll beat, kill and torture into insanity anyone who goes against him. But underneath all the cynicism, the bloodthirstiness and the gruff manners he's essentially a good guy - as he so clearly shows in the ending of the first book, when he [[spoiler:gives a family almost the entirety of his reward money, no strings attached, so they can re-sleeve their murdered daughter. "I wanted something clean to come from all of this", he explains to the disbelieving mother.]]
* KillSat: Harlan's World has the Orbitals, large geostationary space platforms left by the aliens before they disappeared. They rain "angelfire" on every hi-tech device that gets above a certain fixed altitude. Nobody knows why they do this, but the only way to elude them is old tech - they won't shoot down centuries-old, gas-powered helicopters and such - though there have been exceptions in both directions.
* KilledOffForReal: Generally averted, as anyone who gets killed can later be resurrected. A few people, however, do end up very old-fashioned dead due to disintegration of the mind-recording chip, viral infection of the same, or a variety of other entertaining methods. Takeshi Kovacs tends to inflict Real Death on anyone who makes him mad enough, by physical destruction of the cortical stacks. He also uses it as a very effective way of showing his [[BadAss badassitude]] to people he needs to rattle into talking.
* KineticWeaponsAreJustBetter: Energy weapons are outnumbered by kinetic weapons. In ''Broken Angels'', Kovacs [[spoiler: uses good old-fashioned bullet-firing guns to defeat hostile nanomachine colonies that had adapted to energy-based and sonic weaponry]].
* KnightInSourArmor: Kovacs, although he masks it behind a SnarkKnight persona. Kristan Ortega and the Organic Damage division of the Bay City Police seem to fulfill this role.
* LongevityTreatment: People are implanted with "cortical stacks" at birth that record one's brain state so that when they die, they can be "resleeved" in a new body.
* MagneticWeapons: Examples are mentioned, such as the Philips Thin Gun in 'Altered Carbon'.
* MasterOfYourDomain: One of the skills that every Envoy possesses.
* MesACrowd: Illegal, but that doesn't stop people from doing it. A bad guy does it because he takes "only trust in yourself" to its extremes, and Kovacs himself does it in the first book to throw off the bad guys' attention. Happens again to Kovacs in the third book, but without his approval. Leads to a rather destructive MirrorMatch.
* TheMetaverse: Virtual environments, some with the option to have time sped up or slowed down relative to the amount of time passing outside.
* MildlyMilitary: The De-Com crews have a somewhat loose command structure. Proven troops have a great deal of operational latitude.
* MilitaryScienceFiction: ''Broken Angels'' and, to a lesser extent, ''Woken Furies''.
* TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody: The first and third books explore how love and other forms of affection are mostly caused by (and therefore restricted to) specific sleeves, not the minds that inhabit them. Re-sleeving ruins (or, due to GrandTheftMe, incites) relationships because some bodies are apparently more compatible than others on a hormonal or pheromonal level. [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] when Kovacs [[spoiler:double-sleeves himself. The Ryker Kovacs is still attracted to Ortega. The Synth Kovacs... not so much.]]
* MultiethnicName: Takeshi Kovacs himself. Almost everyone born on Harlan's World is subject to this to some extent, it being a melting pot of every remotely Oriental culture imaginable, though predominantly Japanese and Slavic.
* NanoMachines: Including some [[NightmareFuel weaponized versions]]
* OhCrap: Almost unnoticeable in the rollercoaster of events towards the second book's finale.
--> [[spoiler:"That other ship was not Martian."]]
* OlderThanTheyLook: Pretty much everyone who has been through a few sleeves.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: What Kovacs tends to do to people who mess with him or anyone he cares about. Essentially the basis for the entire trilogy - in between revenge and plain hatred, Kovacs pays a ''lot'' of evil on ''many'' evil people.
* PeopleJars: Sleeves have to be kept somewhere when no one's using them, right?
* PoliceAreUseless: If you have the right contacts you can get away with just about anything.
* PoweredArmor
-->"Hospital mob suits are designed and programmed to approximate normal human strength and motion while cushioning areas of trauma and ensuring that no part of the body is strained beyond its convalescent limits. In most cases the parameters are hardwired in to stop stupid little fucks from overriding what's good for them. Military custom doesn't work like that."
* {{Precursors}}: The Martians who aren't actually from Mars.
* PrivateDetective: Tak in the first book.
* PrivateEyeMonologue: The entire first book is narrated this way.
* PrivateMilitaryContractors: Carrera's Wedge in the second book. Mercenaries in general are pretty common in-universe.
* PsychicLink:
** There's a drug called "empathin" that creates a PsychicLink between the user anyone in close proximity that also happens to be on the drug. It also leaves the user with a mean hangover.
** One character has her sleeve bioengineered so she secretes an aphrodisiac, psychically-linking drug in her fluids when she's excited. The sexual experience deriving from that is highly addictive and quite mind-blowing - a non-envoy would most likely require many hours just to be able to reason properly after the hangover, let alone be productive.
* PunchClockVillain: Trepp in ''Altered Carbon'' is a pretty decent person who happens to work as an enforcer for a rather awful person. Kovacs acknowledges himself that they are NotSoDifferent.
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: Both Bancrofts and most other "meths" (slang for very old people) are examples of this.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Kovacs goes on at least one per book.
* RobotWar: The first third or so of ''Woken Furies'' is the small-scale mercenary equivalent of this. Sylvie's Slipins and the other De-Com crews are paid very well to keep the self-replicating/self-repairing war machines from escaping old battlefields.
* ScrewYourself: Miriam Bancroft mentions that she'll sometimes downloads copies of her mind into cloned bodies to "play".
* ShopliftAndDie: Automated defense systems protecting business establishments are quite common. Anti-armor cannons used as the same aren't, but that doesn't stop the AI in the Hendrix hotel from using them anyway, with [[LudicrousGibs predictably messy]] results.
* SociopathicSoldier: A subversion. The Envoy corps looks for soldiers who have an almost oxymoronic combination of psychopathic and loyal tenancies. While Kovacs sometimes refers to feeling a joy when killing, it can be inferred that this was brought on Envoy conditioning and training. While Kovacs has no problem killing anyone who gets in his way, he also develops a distaste for war and will sometimes go out of his way to help (or at least not kill) someone.
* SuperSoldier: The Envoy corps are mentally conditioned {{Badass}}es who are trained to destroy rebel governments in relatively small numbers. Ostensibly, anyone with combat training can be a super-soldier in the right sleeve.
* TechnologyMarchesOn: Apparently, doing this in-universe is one of Morgan's favourite tropes. Weapons, viruses and sleeves that were cutting-edge in the first book are outdated by the third.
* TitleDrop: Happens multiple times in common speech in the first and third books, and only a few in the second.
* TrainingFromHell: Physical training is made practically irrelevant by the various chems and synthetic improvements one can have for his sleeve, but mental training is incredibly important for the Envoys. Kovacs' mental training has made him such an ''incredible'' {{badass}} that he shrugs off torture sessions that would leave any normal person scarred for life and/or insane beyond any hope of cure.
* WeakButSkilled:
** Kovacs' fight with Kadmin. While Kovacs' is sleeved in the body of a middle-aged chain-smoking cop, Kadmin has an enormously [[LightningBruiser strong and fast]] Hand of God 'freak fighter' sleeve. Kovacs still loses but gives an excellent accounting of himself.
** Also describes Kovacs in ''Broken Angels'' as his sleeve, which wasn't in particularly good shape at the start of the book, [[spoiler:is slowly dying of radiation poisoning. Because of this, Kovacs becomes up effectively immobile if not for the [[PoweredArmor hospital mob suits]] and drugs, and yet he manages to wipe out Carrera and his army]].
* WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong: Weaponized semisentient nanomachine colony that can basically fight everything that's thrown at it and adapt to what it can't fight. The inventors are actually ''surprised'' that it goes haywire.
* WhatTheHellHero: Kovacs' employers and associates, typically no shrinking violets themselves, often express shock or astonishment at the number of people Kovacs kills or maims in each novel.
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: Examined. Everyone gets fitted with a cortical stack at birth and they're pretty difficult to destroy, so barring severe misfortune or deliberate attack there's the opportunity to live more or less indefinitely. Most people don't, though, either because they can't afford to get a new sleeve, don't want to go through the aging process more than two or three times, or just get bored of life. People that choose to keep going year after year are widely considered to have a screw loose, although since they are wealthy as a rule and have had lifetimes to accumulate power and influence they tend not to care what the little folks think about them.

to:

The ''Takeshi Kovacs'' series (also called the ''Altered Carbon'' series, after the first book) is a {{Cyberpunk}} trilogy by British writer Creator/RichardKMorgan.

The series takes place some 500 years into the future, in the UN Protectorate, a totalitarian government spread over several different planets that enforces its rule with the use of 'Envoys'; mentally-conditioned [[SuperSoldier Shock Troopers]] who specialise in covert deployment and bringing down rebel governments.

In the series Mars has been discovered to have once been part of a galaxy-spanning alien civilisation, which collapsed for reasons unknown millennia ago.

All three books follow the SociopathicHero Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-Envoy turned criminal/ mercenary/ bodyguard/ detective, who uses his talents for problem solving coupled with insane violence to earn a buck. Takeshi is not without his psychological problems, however, many of them received in service with the Envoys and a fair few picked up afterwards.

The first book, ''Altered Carbon'', sees Kovacs brought out of digitised storage (used as punishment for crimes) and sent to Earth to work as a private detective for a super-wealthy 'Meth' (from 'Methuselah'); someone rich and powerful enough to afford to live for several concurrent lifetimes. The Meth; Laurens Bancroft, has recently returned from the dead (thanks to a personality backup) after an apparent suicide, but maintains that he would never kill himself. Due to the backup schedule he is missing the 48 hours prior to his death. He hires Kovacs to find out who killed him and why.

The second book, ''Broken Angels'', is a war story, set on the planet of Sanction IV. Kovacs is now serving in a mercenary unit fighting for the UN against the native rebels of the planet, when he encounters a pilot named Jan Schneider, who is looking for protection for an expedition to exploit a Martian artifact discovered just before the war broke out. Kovacs helps Schneider break out the archeologist who led the initial expedition from a POW camp, and the trio them embark on a mission to find a corporate sponsor the finance their mission.

The third book, ''Woken Furies'', finds Kovacs back on his homeworld of Harlan's World; a largely aquatic planet colonised by Japanese and Slavs. The book begins as a RoaringRampageOfRevenge as Kovacs hunts down members of a Church who sentenced a friend of his to death, but he soon becomes involved in a growing revolutionary plot to overthrow the UN-backed government.

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!!This series provides examples of:

* ActionBomb: People can be fitted with internal explosives, allowing them to explode at will (Though there is a significant risk of accidental detonation). There are also examples where the explosives are [[DeadManSwitch set to go off upon the user's death]].
* ActionSurvivor: Tanya Wardani of ''Broken Angels''.
* AIIsACrapshoot: Thoroughly averted. Without exception, in all three books, the artificial intelligences we encounter serve their intended functions perfectly, though some are into some disturbingly illegal activities.
* AlienGeometries: Anything the Martians have built tends to have a negative effect on the mental well-being of people exposed to it for long unless they have some sort of appropriate conditioning. It is less a problem of violating the laws of physics and more simply because they are literally ''alien'' geometries, as the Martians were avian and followed a different logic to their construction.
* AndIMustScream: Being tortured in virtuality feels just like the real thing. It's very easy to hook someone into a torture program and leave it running indefinitely. The subject will be killed over and over again in the most painful ways possible. You can even set the time frame to make a few hours plugging into the virtuality feel like days.
* AncientAstronauts: Martians are said to have visited Earth centuries ago, but only spoke to the Whales.
* AntiHero: Kovacs, UnscrupulousHero subtype.
* ArtificialIntelligence: There are many of them around, and some even have rights under UN law.
* {{Badass}}: Kovacs, Trepp, Kadmin, [[ColonelBadass Isaac]] [[SemperFi Carrera]], Virginia Vidaura and of course [[spoiler: Quellcrist Falconer]].
* BadassArmy: The Envoys
* BecomingTheMask: Micky Serendipity.
* BerserkButton: Don't go talking about religious aversion to re-sleeving to Takeshi Kovacs if you value your life. Also, a milder version occurs if you mispronounce his name as "kovaks" instead of the original Hungarian "kovach". If you do that, he won't like you. If he doesn't like you, he'll have much less restraint in doing nasty things to you.
** In general he goes nuts whenever someone abuses or takes advantage of women. Surprise, it's all about [[spoiler:his abusive father]]
* BioAugmentation: Combat and sport sleeves tend to be enhanced in all the ways you'd expect (like the ubiquitous [[BulletTime neurachem]].)
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Kovacs has a tendency to do horrible, horrible things to people who either get in his way or are associated with people who tried to do horrible things to him.
* BloodSport: Due to the ability to swap damaged bodies for new ones, several kinds of blood sport are now common entertainment.
* BodyBackupDrive: Everyone is implanted with a cortical stack that essentially acts as a hard drive for the brain and allows people to be "resleeved" in a new body when they die. However most people can't afford to be resleeved more than once and unless they shell out a lot of cash they have to go through the whole aging process again. Many wealthy "Methuselahs" also have external storage that updates every couple days in case their stack is fried (like in the client from the first book's case).
* BodySurf: Not so impossible in a world with BrainUploading, although in most cases the body in question is already vacant - most probably because its previous owner is "on stack" - in mind prison.
* BrainUploading: The whole concept of the setting.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Common as dirt in all three books. Matthias Hand from Broken Angels is a surprisingly sympathetic example.
* CrapsackWorld: Both Earth and Sanction IV would seem to qualify in different ways. Harlan's World is a crapsack swamp.
* CyberPunk: Its a tossup between this and {{Post Cyberpunk}}.
* DaChief: Isaac Carrera in the second book and Shigeo Kuramaya in ''Woken Furies''.
* DeadPersonConversation: When Kovacs is under severe stress, or lost deep in thought, he tends to hallucinate his long-dead friend Jimmy De Soto. Jimmy usually gives him some useful hunch, or the resolve he needs to break through the current problem.
* DisappearedDad: As alluded to in the earlier books and fully expounded upon in "Woken Furies," most of Kovacs' rage stems from his father abandoning the family and [[spoiler:repeatedly abusing his mother]]
* EarnYourHappyEnding: The world is pretty shitty but there are many people who are trying to better things
** You could argue this is where things stand at the end of "Woken Furies." Sure, Kovacs has killed hundreds or thousands of people [[spoiler:or more, depending on who you blame for the destruction of Sauberville in "Broken Angels"]], [[spoiler:including several of his oldest friends]], and lost the only woman he loved, but he's also [[spoiler:killed several of his mortal enemies]], [[spoiler:found a fleet of Martian (and unknown alien) ships]], [[spoiler:helped resurrect a legendary revolutionary figure]] and through her perhaps [[spoiler:figured out how to communicate with AI systems the Martians left behind (and maybe uploaded Martians themselves]]. So things could be worse.
* EnergyWeapon: Several energy weapons exist, such as the 'Sunjet' rifle (which might be either plasma, or a particle beam, depending on the book).
* {{Expositron 9000}}: Dig 301 helped Kovacs (and the readers) understand a lot about the revolution and [[spoiler:Nadia Makita]] in "Woken Furies" [[spoiler:and also helps Kovacs escape]].
* EyeScream:
** The protagonist has memories about a soldier mate of his who ripped out his eye with his own fingers during a hallucination caused by a mind virus.
** In the first book, a micro-recorder is surgically implanted under an eye. The intended victim of the recording doesn't like the item's presence there, and her idea of surgical removal involves very little finesse and a pair of pliers.
** In "Woken Furies" Kovacs rips out the eyeball of [[spoiler:one of his oldest friends]]
* FantasticSlurs: "Meth," which refers to a very old person, is probably the most notable example.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: Harlan's World = Japan mixed in with several Eastern European cultures (predominantly Slavic ones). Sharya = Islamic culture, particularly in its more militant forms. It's Shariat law enforced planet-wide, essentially.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Now that everyone's consciousness is housed in cortical stacks, one can inflict a variety of virtual hells on someone you have captured, either to gain information or just for kicks. This can lead to an AndIMustScream fate.
** BrainUploading and Virtual Environments can allow you to upload people into torture programs. They'll feel days of torture every hour you leave them in the program, and there's nothing stopping you from just leaving them in there and forgetting about them.
** Can be inflicted without the aid of virtual using a machine called the anatomiser. Co-opted medical equipment keeps you alive whilst slowly dismantling your body a layer at a time. It scans you to ensure it is constantly delivering maximum pain whilst minimisng risk of death. You can't even escape into unconsciousness; if it looks like you're about to pass out the machine pumps you full of stimulants and backs off just enough to keep you awake before continuing. The whole process lasts for days.
** Kovacs has the stacks of some priests used in animal fights. They're basically torn limb from limb on a constant basis, quickly going feral and insane.
** The Rawling virus corrupts digital information - it is shown to brutally annihilate an AI, and it can be used as a way of killing people equipped with stacks (which is only virtually EVERYBODY) through self-destructive insanity.
* FinalDeath: "Real Death" or RD, when your stack is destroyed, erased or irreparably damaged. Less of a fear for those who have a BodyBackupDrive somewhere, but these too can be destroyed with enough effort.
* FullNameBasis: When doing internal monologue, Kovacs tends to refer to most people (aside from those he grew up with, fought with or had sex with) by their full names almost exclusively.
* TheFutureIsNoir: the first book borrows noticeably from noir investigation dramas.
* GenderBender: There is no rule preventing people from downloading their consciousness into bodies of the other sex. People commonly swap sexes in virtual, and it's heavily implied that those who can afford it have fun with this in real life. In the first book Kovacs impersonates a woman by claiming to have been sleeved in a male body. In the second, Kovacs jokingly questions whether [[spoiler:Wardani]] is a man sleeved in a woman's body because of [[spoiler:her actions during sex]].
* GenerationShips: How the Protectorate gets around when Needlecast isn't an option. It's hinted that several are still on route to distant stars, and that a number 'went wrong' on some planets, with [[NightmareFuel messy results]].
* GeneticMemory: Only a very minor plot point, but still present.
** Only in whales though
** The third book explores the viability of '''''weaponizing''''' it.
* GrandTheftMe: Not literally, but if you're "on stack" (which is futurespeak for being mentally jailed), someone might rent out - or buy out - your sleeve while you're not using it. You might have some problems getting it back if it was bought out, as several characters in the first book discover.
** Also, invoked literally in the third book, with the theoretized Personality Bombs which would inject chunks of someone's stored personality into the stack of whoever's affected. [[spoiler: They remain pure conspiracy theories, however, as Nadia Makita did not enter the mind of Sylvie Oshima that way.]]
* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: Elias Ryker. Frequently referenced, Ryker is currently "on stack"- imprisoned in a digital environment- for murder and fraud. [[spoiler: In a unique twist, his ''body'' is actually present the whole time, it being the sleeve into which Kovacs' mind is implanted.]]
* HeroAntagonist: Arguably, Isaac Carrera in the second novel. His motivations are more justifiable than Kovacs', at any rate.
* HumanPopsicle
* InsufficientlyAdvancedAlien: Human development of FTL communications and significant colonization were pretty much all bootstrapped from what the Martians left behind. At least one character openly wonders whether or not humanity should even be out in the galaxy.
* InvisibleAliens: No one knows where the Martians went, or why.
* IWillPunishYourFriendForYourFailure: How [[spoiler:Kawahara]] compels Kovacs to do as [[spoiler:she]] asks, in regards to the Bancroft case.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Kovacs can be a ''serious'' jerk, and he'll beat, kill and torture into insanity anyone who goes against him. But underneath all the cynicism, the bloodthirstiness and the gruff manners he's essentially a good guy - as he so clearly shows in the ending of the first book, when he [[spoiler:gives a family almost the entirety of his reward money, no strings attached, so they can re-sleeve their murdered daughter. "I wanted something clean to come from all of this", he explains to the disbelieving mother.]]
* KillSat: Harlan's World has the Orbitals, large geostationary space platforms left by the aliens before they disappeared. They rain "angelfire" on every hi-tech device that gets above a certain fixed altitude. Nobody knows why they do this, but the only way to elude them is old tech - they won't shoot down centuries-old, gas-powered helicopters and such - though there have been exceptions in both directions.
* KilledOffForReal: Generally averted, as anyone who gets killed can later be resurrected. A few people, however, do end up very old-fashioned dead due to disintegration of the mind-recording chip, viral infection of the same, or a variety of other entertaining methods. Takeshi Kovacs tends to inflict Real Death on anyone who makes him mad enough, by physical destruction of the cortical stacks. He also uses it as a very effective way of showing his [[BadAss badassitude]] to people he needs to rattle into talking.
* KineticWeaponsAreJustBetter: Energy weapons are outnumbered by kinetic weapons. In ''Broken Angels'', Kovacs [[spoiler: uses good old-fashioned bullet-firing guns to defeat hostile nanomachine colonies that had adapted to energy-based and sonic weaponry]].
* KnightInSourArmor: Kovacs, although he masks it behind a SnarkKnight persona. Kristan Ortega and the Organic Damage division of the Bay City Police seem to fulfill this role.
* LongevityTreatment: People are implanted with "cortical stacks" at birth that record one's brain state so that when they die, they can be "resleeved" in a new body.
* MagneticWeapons: Examples are mentioned, such as the Philips Thin Gun in 'Altered Carbon'.
* MasterOfYourDomain: One of the skills that every Envoy possesses.
* MesACrowd: Illegal, but that doesn't stop people from doing it. A bad guy does it because he takes "only trust in yourself" to its extremes, and Kovacs himself does it in the first book to throw off the bad guys' attention. Happens again to Kovacs in the third book, but without his approval. Leads to a rather destructive MirrorMatch.
* TheMetaverse: Virtual environments, some with the option to have time sped up or slowed down relative to the amount of time passing outside.
* MildlyMilitary: The De-Com crews have a somewhat loose command structure. Proven troops have a great deal of operational latitude.
* MilitaryScienceFiction: ''Broken Angels'' and, to a lesser extent, ''Woken Furies''.
* TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody: The first and third books explore how love and other forms of affection are mostly caused by (and therefore restricted to) specific sleeves, not the minds that inhabit them. Re-sleeving ruins (or, due to GrandTheftMe, incites) relationships because some bodies are apparently more compatible than others on a hormonal or pheromonal level. [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] when Kovacs [[spoiler:double-sleeves himself. The Ryker Kovacs is still attracted to Ortega. The Synth Kovacs... not so much.]]
* MultiethnicName: Takeshi Kovacs himself. Almost everyone born on Harlan's World is subject to this to some extent, it being a melting pot of every remotely Oriental culture imaginable, though predominantly Japanese and Slavic.
* NanoMachines: Including some [[NightmareFuel weaponized versions]]
* OhCrap: Almost unnoticeable in the rollercoaster of events towards the second book's finale.
--> [[spoiler:"That other ship was not Martian."]]
* OlderThanTheyLook: Pretty much everyone who has been through a few sleeves.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: What Kovacs tends to do to people who mess with him or anyone he cares about. Essentially the basis for the entire trilogy - in between revenge and plain hatred, Kovacs pays a ''lot'' of evil on ''many'' evil people.
* PeopleJars: Sleeves have to be kept somewhere when no one's using them, right?
* PoliceAreUseless: If you have the right contacts you can get away with just about anything.
* PoweredArmor
-->"Hospital mob suits are designed and programmed to approximate normal human strength and motion while cushioning areas of trauma and ensuring that no part of the body is strained beyond its convalescent limits. In most cases the parameters are hardwired in to stop stupid little fucks from overriding what's good for them. Military custom doesn't work like that."
* {{Precursors}}: The Martians who aren't actually from Mars.
* PrivateDetective: Tak in the first book.
* PrivateEyeMonologue: The entire first book is narrated this way.
* PrivateMilitaryContractors: Carrera's Wedge in the second book. Mercenaries in general are pretty common in-universe.
* PsychicLink:
** There's a drug called "empathin" that creates a PsychicLink between the user anyone in close proximity that also happens to be on the drug. It also leaves the user with a mean hangover.
** One character has her sleeve bioengineered so she secretes an aphrodisiac, psychically-linking drug in her fluids when she's excited. The sexual experience deriving from that is highly addictive and quite mind-blowing - a non-envoy would most likely require many hours just to be able to reason properly after the hangover, let alone be productive.
* PunchClockVillain: Trepp in ''Altered Carbon'' is a pretty decent person who happens to work as an enforcer for a rather awful person. Kovacs acknowledges himself that they are NotSoDifferent.
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: Both Bancrofts and most other "meths" (slang for very old people) are examples of this.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Kovacs goes on at least one per book.
* RobotWar: The first third or so of ''Woken Furies'' is the small-scale mercenary equivalent of this. Sylvie's Slipins and the other De-Com crews are paid very well to keep the self-replicating/self-repairing war machines from escaping old battlefields.
* ScrewYourself: Miriam Bancroft mentions that she'll sometimes downloads copies of her mind into cloned bodies to "play".
* ShopliftAndDie: Automated defense systems protecting business establishments are quite common. Anti-armor cannons used as the same aren't, but that doesn't stop the AI in the Hendrix hotel from using them anyway, with [[LudicrousGibs predictably messy]] results.
* SociopathicSoldier: A subversion. The Envoy corps looks for soldiers who have an almost oxymoronic combination of psychopathic and loyal tenancies. While Kovacs sometimes refers to feeling a joy when killing, it can be inferred that this was brought on Envoy conditioning and training. While Kovacs has no problem killing anyone who gets in his way, he also develops a distaste for war and will sometimes go out of his way to help (or at least not kill) someone.
* SuperSoldier: The Envoy corps are mentally conditioned {{Badass}}es who are trained to destroy rebel governments in relatively small numbers. Ostensibly, anyone with combat training can be a super-soldier in the right sleeve.
* TechnologyMarchesOn: Apparently, doing this in-universe is one of Morgan's favourite tropes. Weapons, viruses and sleeves that were cutting-edge in the first book are outdated by the third.
* TitleDrop: Happens multiple times in common speech in the first and third books, and only a few in the second.
* TrainingFromHell: Physical training is made practically irrelevant by the various chems and synthetic improvements one can have for his sleeve, but mental training is incredibly important for the Envoys. Kovacs' mental training has made him such an ''incredible'' {{badass}} that he shrugs off torture sessions that would leave any normal person scarred for life and/or insane beyond any hope of cure.
* WeakButSkilled:
** Kovacs' fight with Kadmin. While Kovacs' is sleeved in the body of a middle-aged chain-smoking cop, Kadmin has an enormously [[LightningBruiser strong and fast]] Hand of God 'freak fighter' sleeve. Kovacs still loses but gives an excellent accounting of himself.
** Also describes Kovacs in ''Broken Angels'' as his sleeve, which wasn't in particularly good shape at the start of the book, [[spoiler:is slowly dying of radiation poisoning. Because of this, Kovacs becomes up effectively immobile if not for the [[PoweredArmor hospital mob suits]] and drugs, and yet he manages to wipe out Carrera and his army]].
* WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong: Weaponized semisentient nanomachine colony that can basically fight everything that's thrown at it and adapt to what it can't fight. The inventors are actually ''surprised'' that it goes haywire.
* WhatTheHellHero: Kovacs' employers and associates, typically no shrinking violets themselves, often express shock or astonishment at the number of people Kovacs kills or maims in each novel.
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: Examined. Everyone gets fitted with a cortical stack at birth and they're pretty difficult to destroy, so barring severe misfortune or deliberate attack there's the opportunity to live more or less indefinitely. Most people don't, though, either because they can't afford to get a new sleeve, don't want to go through the aging process more than two or three times, or just get bored of life. People that choose to keep going year after year are widely considered to have a screw loose, although since they are wealthy as a rule and have had lifetimes to accumulate power and influence they tend not to care what the little folks think about them.
[[redirect:Literature/TakeshiKovacs]]
11th Feb '13 6:19:25 PM PaulA
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''Altered Carbon'' is the first book in a {{Cyberpunk}} trilogy (often called either the ''Altered Carbon series'' or the ''Takeshi Kovacs series'') by British writer Creator/RichardKMorgan.

to:

The ''Takeshi Kovacs'' series (also called the ''Altered Carbon'' is series, after the first book in book) is a {{Cyberpunk}} trilogy (often called either the ''Altered Carbon series'' or the ''Takeshi Kovacs series'') by British writer Creator/RichardKMorgan.
11th Feb '13 6:17:04 PM PaulA
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* AIs: There are many of them around, and some even have rights under UN law.



* AntiHero: Kovacs, big time. Type IV.

to:

* AntiHero: Kovacs, big time. Type IV.UnscrupulousHero subtype.
* ArtificialIntelligence: There are many of them around, and some even have rights under UN law.



* BlackAndGrayMorality: Kovacs has a tendency to do horrible, horrible things to people who either get in his way or are associated with people who tried to do horrible things to him.



* BlackAndGrayMorality: Kovacs has a tendency to do horrible, horrible things to people who either get in his way or are associated with people who tried to do horrible things to him.



* EnergyWeapons: Several energy weapons exist, such as the 'Sunjet' rifle (which might be either plasma, or a particle beam, depending on the book).

to:

* EnergyWeapons: EnergyWeapon: Several energy weapons exist, such as the 'Sunjet' rifle (which might be either plasma, or a particle beam, depending on the book).book).
* {{Expositron 9000}}: Dig 301 helped Kovacs (and the readers) understand a lot about the revolution and [[spoiler:Nadia Makita]] in "Woken Furies" [[spoiler:and also helps Kovacs escape]].



* {{Expositron9000}}: Dig 301 helped Kovacs (and the readers) understand a lot about the revolution and [[spoiler:Nadia Makita]] in "Woken Furies" [[spoiler:and also helps Kovacs escape]].



* TheFutureIsNoir: the first book borrows noticeably from noir investigation dramas.



* KnightInSourArmour: Kovacs, although he masks it behind a SnarkKnight persona. Kristan Ortega and the Organic Damage division of the Bay City Police seem to fulfill this role.

to:

* KnightInSourArmour: KnightInSourArmor: Kovacs, although he masks it behind a SnarkKnight persona. Kristan Ortega and the Organic Damage division of the Bay City Police seem to fulfill this role.



* TheMetaverse: Virtual environments, some with the option to have time sped up or slowed down relative to the amount of time passing outside.



* TheMetaverse: Virtual environments, some with the option to have time sped up or slowed down relative to the amount of time passing outside.



* TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody: The first and third books explore how love and other forms of affection are mostly caused by (and therefore restricted to) specific sleeves, not the minds that inhabit them. Re-sleeving ruins (or, due to GrandTheftMe, incites) relationships because some bodies are apparently more compatible than others on a hormonal or pheromonal level. [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] when Kovacs [[spoiler:double-sleeves himself. The Ryker Kovacs is still attracted to Ortega. The Synth Kovacs... not so much.]]



* SuperSoldiers: The Envoy corps are mentally conditioned {{Badass}}es who are trained to destroy rebel governments in relatively small numbers. Ostensibly, anyone with combat training can be a super-soldier in the right sleeve.

to:

* SuperSoldiers: SuperSoldier: The Envoy corps are mentally conditioned {{Badass}}es who are trained to destroy rebel governments in relatively small numbers. Ostensibly, anyone with combat training can be a super-soldier in the right sleeve.



* TheFutureIsNoir: the first book borrows noticeably from noir investigation dramas.
* TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody: The first and third books explore how love and other forms of affection are mostly caused by (and therefore restricted to) specific sleeves, not the minds that inhabit them. Re-sleeving ruins (or, due to GrandTheftMe, incites) relationships because some bodies are apparently more compatible than others on a hormonal or pheromonal level. [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] when Kovacs [[spoiler:double-sleeves himself. The Ryker Kovacs is still attracted to Ortega. The Synth Kovacs... not so much.]]
11th Feb '13 6:08:12 PM PaulA
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* TheBodyIsAPlaythingOfTheMind: Only in virtualities, however.
11th Feb '13 1:27:14 PM Xtifr
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''Altered Carbon'' is the first book in a {{Cyberpunk}} trilogy (often called either the ''Altered Carbon series'' or the ''Takeshi Kovacs series'') by British writer RichardKMorgan.

to:

''Altered Carbon'' is the first book in a {{Cyberpunk}} trilogy (often called either the ''Altered Carbon series'' or the ''Takeshi Kovacs series'') by British writer RichardKMorgan.
Creator/RichardKMorgan.
31st Jan '13 4:51:32 AM Sportszilla
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Added DiffLines:

** You could argue this is where things stand at the end of "Woken Furies." Sure, Kovacs has killed hundreds or thousands of people [[spoiler:or more, depending on who you blame for the destruction of Sauberville in "Broken Angels"]], [[spoiler:including several of his oldest friends]], and lost the only woman he loved, but he's also [[spoiler:killed several of his mortal enemies]], [[spoiler:found a fleet of Martian (and unknown alien) ships]], [[spoiler:helped resurrect a legendary revolutionary figure]] and through her perhaps [[spoiler:figured out how to communicate with AI systems the Martians left behind (and maybe uploaded Martians themselves]]. So things could be worse.
31st Jan '13 4:45:45 AM Sportszilla
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Added DiffLines:

** In general he goes nuts whenever someone abuses or takes advantage of women. Surprise, it's all about [[spoiler:his abusive father]]


Added DiffLines:

* DisappearedDad: As alluded to in the earlier books and fully expounded upon in "Woken Furies," most of Kovacs' rage stems from his father abandoning the family and [[spoiler:repeatedly abusing his mother]]
31st Jan '13 4:39:49 AM Sportszilla
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Added DiffLines:

** In "Woken Furies" Kovacs rips out the eyeball of [[spoiler:one of his oldest friends]]
28th Oct '12 9:54:40 AM sloth09
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Added DiffLines:

* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Kovacs goes on at least one per book.
14th Oct '12 8:37:08 AM morenohijazo
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Added DiffLines:

* LongevityTreatment: People are implanted with "cortical stacks" at birth that record one's brain state so that when they die, they can be "resleeved" in a new body.
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