Tag: Morgan

First Steps: Cyberpunk

Posted August 17, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in First Steps / 0 Comments

literary stepsFirst Steps is a new segment that was inspired by the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge. Each week or two, we look at books from different themes, genres or maybe authors and suggest some that are worth trying. Not necessarily all easy to read books but the ones that are worth the time and effort. My goal is to have First Steps guide you to some great books in places you don’t normally venture to.

Cyberpunk is a genre I have found many people struggle with, especially in the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge. I’m not sure if this is a lack of recommendations or they just not sure what this genre is all about. Cyberpunk is a futuristic world that focuses on “high tech and low life[s]” (according to What is cyberpunk? From Cyberpunked: Journal of Science, Technology, & Society 2009). Think post-industrial dystopian worlds with advanced technology and cybernetics; science fiction normally with a touch of thriller, mystery or pulp.

Movie examples would include Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, Tron, The Matrix and Surrogates. On TV think Dark Angel or Dollhouse and in video games there are heaps of examples but the best two are; Deus Ex or Watch Dogs. This is a genre that is almost dying out, technology advancement has been accepted by most and often used in science fiction or dystopian novels, but it does leave behind a couple of new sub genres; steampunk and dieselpunk.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

This book is big but lots of fun; it follows two protagonists hunting down a virus in the not so distant future. A world where the United States has yielded most of its power to private organizations and entrepreneurs. Everything has been franchised, from armies, highways to even suburbs.

 
 

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Technology controls almost everything in our modern world, from remote entry on our cars and the flight controls of our airplanes to the movements of the entire world economy. But what if some computer designer has been planting a dormant daemon in everything that he creates that will take full control of everything connected to a computer when he dies.

 

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

In the twenty-fifth century, technology has advanced so much that human personalities can be digitally stored on what is known as a Stack. These stacks can be downloaded into new bodies or sleeves, so when you die your stack can be stored indefinitely and you can be resleeved and continue living. Death is impossible, or is it?

 

Neuromancer by William Gibson

This is a seminal cyberpunk novel by the legend himself; William Gibson. The first novel to ever win the “Triple crown” in science fiction (winning the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award). This follows the story of a low-level hustler, hacker and thief in the dystopian underworld of Chiba City, Japan.

 
 

When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger

A new kind of killer roams the streets of the Arab ghettos of Budayeen, a madman whose bootlegged personality cartridges range from a sinister James Bond to a sadistic disemboweler named Khan. The unique blend of Middle Eastern culture and religion and cyberpunk noir makes this highly recommended.


Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Posted March 27, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Altered Carbon by Richard K. MorganTitle: Altered Carbon (Goodreads)
Author: Richard K. Morgan
Series: Takeshi Kovacs #1
Published: Del Rey, 2002
Pages: 526
Genres: Pulp, Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

In the twenty-fifth century, technology has advanced so much that human personalities can be digitally stored on what is known as a Stack. These stacks can be downloaded into new bodies or sleeves, so when you die your stack can be stored indefinably and you can be resleeved and continue living. Death is virtually impossible, when Laurens Bancroft commits suicide (destroying his stack) he is resleeved from a backup, he has no memory of his actions but believe this was an actual murder attempt. He hires Takeshi Kovacs to investigate his death and find out what happened in those 48 hours between his last back up and suicide.

Altered Carbon is a cyberpunk hard-boiled novel that really reminds me of When Gravity Fails, they have similar genre style and while both of them have a completely different feel to them, both well worth reading. Takeshi Kovacs is a former United Nations Envoy; an elite solider whose last death was a particularly painful one. He finds himself being resleeved one hundred and eighty light years from home back on earth.  Without time to deal with his own issues, he is thrown in to solve this dark and disturbing conspiracy.

In this dystopian like future, death is never something to fear, a resleeving will fix things and if you have the money you can put yourself into a better body at any time. If someone is murdered they are resleeved to testify of the crime. This makes the Catholics a popular target for murder, as they have arranged not to be resleeved if they die so their souls can go to heaven instead. The reason I bring this up is to give you an idea of what the world is like in Altered Carbon. In fact there is a subplot involving the UN altering its legal position to authorise the temporary resleeving of a Catholic murder victim to testify in her murder trial.

I was eager to pick up this book as I’ve heard so many great things about it and I love the idea of a good cyberpunk hardboiled novel; it reminds me of Blade Runner and how much I loved that movie as a kid. Technology has advanced so much in this word but people haven’t, there are still divisions between the classes, races and religions. Mankind has not evolved at all, they have just found a way to cater to their vanity as well as immortality.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan is one hell of a journey; there are all these little plot threads blended together with the real story arch to help build this dark and gritty future. Being the winner of the Philip K Dick award for best novel in 2003  told me that not only was it going to be a great science fiction novel but winning this award meant there will be some interesting ideas that will stick with the reader well after finishing the book. Like Philip K Dick, Morgan has put a lot of thought into his future and came up with a great concept that really works.

I’m so impressed with Altered Carbon I’m thinking about reading the rest of the series; only problem is I’ve heard the other books don’t really work in the same way. So I would love to know of more cyberpunk hardboiled novels worth reading; I think When Gravity Fails is probably the only other one I’ve really read and enjoyed. I know people will probably tell me Snow Crash or even The Diamond Age and yes, I will get to those books eventually. But I’m sure there are plenty of great books in the style out there.

I’m so happy to have finally read Altered Carbon; there is so much in this book we can talk about. I have avoided the main story line in the hopes that I’ve left this review relatively spoiler free. I would love to talk more of the world and the concept of resleeving but  most of my readers may not have read this book yet. For fans of science fiction and even crime novels, don’t be scared of Altered Carbon; it is worth your time and effort.


Monthly Review – February 2013

Posted February 28, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

It’s so great to see just how well the reading challenge is going; over 500 books have been read from the group so far. I’m so happy with the response and pleased to see people still had time to read The Fault in our Stars. Plenty of interesting thoughts have come out of this book from the group and while there was some people that didn’t like the book, I’m so glad to see so much great constructive criticism in the threads; this is what we live for. For those who don’t know about the reading challenge, there is still time to join in the fun, so check out my introductory post here.

I’m really impressed with the book club’s efforts this year and as we move into March, I’m looking forward to seeing what people will say about Lolita for our Russian literature theme. In January, I managed to read twenty books but this month I’ve read fifteen, which is not a bad effort and still a number I can be proud of. Five of those books go towards the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge and you can find my own record of the challenge here.

Highlights this month include the epic cyber punk noir novel Altered Carbon and the recently translated German crime blockbuster Snow White Must Die. Also I got to read a modern masterpiece by an author that is quickly become a favourite of mine; Jeffery Eugenides. The Virgin Suicides was his debut novel and it was wonderfully bleak; I can’t recommend it enough. How was February for you and your reading life? Let me know in the comments below.

Monthly Reading

  • Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
  • Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  • Dirt by David Vann
  • Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
  • Gun Machine by Warren Ellis
  • Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne
  • March Violets by Philip Kerr
  • Occupation Diaries by Raja Shehadeh
  • One for the Books by Joe Queenan
  • Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
  • Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus
  • The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Young Philby by Robert Littell
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler