is a standalone sequel, to Richard Morgan's debut novel Altered Carbon
--a high-tech, ultra-violent, noir
SF thriller which attracted much attention, including a movie deal.
Thirty years later, our super-soldier hero Takeshi Kovacs is wearing yet another body (swapping is easy in this future), already wounded in a messy war against revolutionary forces on the planet Sanction IV. Very soon he's lured from his duties into a hunt for a fantastic treasure discovered by archaeologists and carefully hushed up. The long-vanished Martians who once colonised the galaxy have left a buried hyperspace gateway leading to a working starship in distant orbit.
Kovacs uses frightening violence to get the attention of corporate sponsors even more ruthless than himself. His hastily assembled exploration team must work in a lethal fallout zone, racing to open the gate before they're stopped by radiation sickness, treacherous sabotage, or the threat of fast-evolving nanoweaponry. And there are repeated hints that if they ever make it through that gateway, worse things are waiting on the far side...
It's all desperately tense and crafted with appalling inventiveness. Life is cheap and death is no release, because the "cortical stack" implanted in everyone's spine constantly records the total personality, ready for "re-sleeving" in a new clone body or storage in virtual reality. So Kovacs goes recruiting at the macabre Soul Market, where thanks to the war there are literal skiploads of hacked-out sections of human spine containing stacks--for sale by the kilogram.
Other ingredients include sex, voodoo, torture, multiple betrayal, cool military technology, incomprehensible alien constructions, age-old cycles of catastrophe, and--above all--extreme violence. The screw is turned further and further, beyond what seems possible. Readers may find themselves forgetting to breathe. This is a rattling good yarn, for the strong of stomach. --David Langford
--This text refers to an alternate
From Publishers Weekly
Despite its slick formulaic structure, Morgan's SFhardboiled hybrid, the sequel to the well-received Altered Carbon, bursts with energy and intelligence. Protagonist Takeshi Kovacs is the product of a brutal future in which corporations and politicians fight for supremacy. Humanity has spread to the stars by deciphering charts left behind by the long-extinct Martians. Since people haven't discovered how the Martians surpassed the speed of light, however, they usually travel through space by broadcasting their digitalized personalities from one planet to another and having them installed in new bodies, a technique that gives virtual immortality to the most unscrupulous individuals. One such is Kovacs, a young sociopath whom the interstellar government transformed into a super warrior before he went freelance. Kovacs resembles a smarter and deadlier Mike Hammer; part of the pleasure is watching him not only use his skills and conditioning but also struggle past his limitations to develop empathy for other humans. The few people Kovacs gets close to are the team that accompanies him on an expedition to claim the ultimate Martian relica functioning FTL starship. Morgan is good at presenting Kovacs's mastery of high-tech weapons and other gadgets, as well as his reactions to disturbing alien artifacts. The mystery aspect of the story is also well handled, always hovering in the background of the violent action as Kovacs gathers clues. It all adds up to a superior, satisfying cyberpunk noir adventure.
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--This text refers to an alternate