Altered Carbon - Richard K. Morgan I added this book expecting a straight-up futuristic sci-fi murder mystery, but it turned out to be much more than I bargained for. I'm not sure it was exactly what I wanted, especially since I was unaware of its categorization as hard-boiled cyberpunk-noir until much later, but the audiobook was free (MP3 loan from my library) so I went ahead with my plans to read it.

As I expected, I wasn't crazy for the cyberpunkish side plots even though everything was related to and wrapped up in the main story. The book takes place many centuries into the future, where humans are implanted with a cortical stack which stores their consciousness including memories and personalities digitally. This information can be transmitted and downloaded to new bodies, called sleeves. So if a person dies, their stack can be recovered and resleeved or stored indefinitely, resulting in a kind of artificial immortality.

Thing is, only the very wealthy can afford to acquire replacement bodies on a continual basis. One of these people, Laurens Bancroft, is so rich that he even has remote storage that automatically backs up his stack every two days. When Bancroft dies of an apparent suicide, he was resleeved from the latest backup, which has no memory of what happened in the previous 48 hours. He doesn't buy he killed himself and instead believes he was murdered, and hires our protagonist Takeshi Kovacs to investigate his case.

Obviously, some very interesting tech ideas there, which is actually quite fascinating and was probably my favorite aspect of this book. Thing is, you just can't think too much about the theory and science behind it or try to pick it apart, because then it just leaves you with too many questions. I found it more enjoyable to just go along with the ride.

In the end, I think listening to this one in audio format proved to be a mistake. The overarching mystery plot was much bigger and more significant than I thought, which makes me think this is one of those books you actually have to read traditionally to drink in all the relevant information and clues with your eyes if you want to get the full experience and enjoyment. In my opinion, the narrator for this was also crap. He had a good voice for the character, but the lack of inflection in his tone and reading practically put me to sleep, making it that much harder for me to pay attention to all the details. My lack of interest in some of the subplots was already making it quite difficult for me to focus, and the narration only exacerbated the problem. For the next installment, I'm definitely picking up the ebook version.