Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower

“So dark, you sure you’re not from the DC universe?”

This book was one of the most depressing and horrifying read I ever had. I couldn’t even do a Kite Running to the ending, and had to consciously avoid it during eating; hell, even sandwiching the read with Moore’s Lamb wasn’t helping.
Year is 2024. Earth is pretty much what every gamer wants in a survival horror game, minus the zombies and mutants. People are forced to stick to their imagined or forced communities and fend for themselves with what’s left; or stay alive on their own, protecting what’s left, or survive by stealing and killing. Public services are not openly accessible anymore, and they cost money, like Fire fighters or Police or any of the things we take for granted. Rapes and murders are common, guns are unavoidable means of survival; and if one is equipped enough to commit a crime, he or she is probably well enough to walk out of it as well. Market economy seems to be reversed, though there is very little mention of it; and United States is laden with slavery and inhuman labour to meet the finished goods demands of East. World leaders are campaigning against Science as it’s a luxury in this post-apocalyptic world, and are gaining traction with this rhetoric. And in this mess, into this mess our protagonist attempts deliverance by bringing the unfittable and unthinkable. She starts a new religion, one with an intergalactic dream and a malleable God- Earthseed.


“In the night, a woman and three kids might look like a gift basket of food, money, and sex.”

Butler’s post-apocalyptic America is a ‘dark forest’, where everyone is a predator for survival. The narrative doesn’t leave anything on the ‘how’ part of the plot, but it makes readers go ‘what’ every now and then, with an encore of exclamation marks. In a way, it’s like a social, more expansive version of McCarthy’s The Road, focusing on normal people caught in cross fire, their survival, and search for fabled safe house and ‘nuka cola’ bottle caps. Of the many horrors book postulated, the absence of a modern state or government felt the gravest of all, even more than the drugs and violence. Though the caveat of tax payments are always there; imagine how open one would be to the idea of availing public services if it’s on a real time payment basis. One wouldn’t bother reporting a small burglary or fire, and will resort to self-mitigating measures for saving money. The same scenario translates to higher crimes too, depending on how much victim can afford or how reliable the non-audited services are. Instead of the State having legitimacy and monopoly over violence, in Butler’s universe, people enjoy them, unless otherwise challenged. And this terrible premise made me put the book down, multiple times, in reflexive terror.


In my opinion, Butler covertly incorporates elements of diversity that modern writers like Okorafor overtly advertises and limits as a genre; Butler’s treatment is more plausible, natural, inclusive and refreshing, even with the horrifying premises. Her narrative never suffers from the compulsion to reveal the race or sex or orientation of her characters nor are they conscious of it like it’s their predominant identity. And even if a critique might consider her gradual reveal of the same, rebellious with respect to popular conventions, a reader might not feel so lucid of it. Lauren here or Lilith from Xenogenesis were not textbook heroines, both in physical features and personal traits; former was a teenage sense8 trying to widen her cluster than what you expect of a religious leader and latter was a bereaved mother prone to manipulation than an emissary of humanity. But both were representatives of a diverse non-monochromatic species, progenitors of a world without hope, trying to regain humanity even if its through a proxy God, alien or fictional. Butler’s theology, further, swims against the accepted flow by offering argumentative dialogue on the concept of divinity. She elevates God from “adults’ way of trying to scare you into doing what they want” or permanence to change or personification of an idea, with the reason that people are more likely to remember God than ideas, in despair. Maybe, more than Lauren’s prayer book, Earthseed is author’s own ‘futurism’ after all, one that transcends race and prejudices, an Archemedis Palimpsestfor future generations.

He had asked and asked me what the point of Earthseed is. Why personify change by calling it God? Since change is just an idea, why not call it that? Just say change is important.

“Because after a while, it won’t be important!” I told him. “People forget ideas. They’re more likely to remember God—especially when they’re scared or desperate.”

“God is infinitely malleable, God is change”

Earthseed might be the book of the living, but Butler’s Parable is a book of the dying, with author snapping her Infinity Gauntlet in every chapter. I do want to know how earthseed takes root among the Stars or Earth for that matter, but I really can’t endure one more books of depression.

I don’t blame the Sower, I am just not the right terrain for those seeds.


Dawn by Octavia Butler

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Parable of the Sower is a science fiction novel by American writer Octavia E. Butler, the first in a two-book series. It was published in 1993.[1]

Published by Four Walls Eight Windows in 1993, by Women’s Press Ltd. in 1995, by Warner in 1995 and 2000, and by Seven Stories Press in 2017.[2][4]


The Player of Games by Iain M Banks


Under the arguable utopianism of The Culture and misleading excitement of Azad game, lays a critical commentary on contemporary society, especially the portion that we believe to have left in while embracing modernity. With that outlook Bank’s The Player of Games feels like a revisit on past from future, to cringe upon the parochialism and stupidity that were then passed as norms under the illogical excuse of ‘tradition’.

Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Culture’s best gamer, is almost everything I wanted to grow up to be when I was a kid; maybe even now as if I can replace boring strategies with 60fps computer ones. In Gurgeh’s world, where he lives mostly in the company of drones, work is not demanded of an individual unless he or she wants to do something about the utopian boredom. Bank’s Culture is this egalitarian AI managed (?) interconnected network of worlds devoid of poverty and general sufferings of life. Story starts when our pro gamer gets sent to an outside Empire built completely on a ‘game’, as a player and an emissary. Azadian Empire is pretty much how Oasis in Ready Player One might look like if it was set in medieval times and gunters were board game strategists. With Gurgeh’s outsider pov, book takes us through the strategies and metrics of the game and draws subtle criticism to everything the Empire stands for, and Culture as well. If Culture can be considered as a benign version of Hyperion’s Hegemony, Azadian Empire would be its Maui Covenant and Gurgeh its Fedmahn Kassad.

While we have Culture as this utopian end point in the spectrum, Banks doesn’t place Azadian Empire at the other extreme, rather it stands somewhere in the middle. The game determines Empire’s social hierarchy which, ideally, one can improve by advancing his play. With this political setting that offers a game based nonviolent solution, it isn’t exactly wrong to paint some shades of utopianism on the Empire. But the social ladder of this seemingly glamorous Empire is later revealed to be ill defined and oppressive; laden with xenophobia and sexism. The equality of opportunity is rather limited when it comes to the game, with Azadian women being side-lined from learning the moves. Through Gurgeh’s eyes, readers are slowly taken through the dystopian side of this game obsessed world, devoid of any rule of law, where people has legal and moral right to oppress those who are below their earned status. There are even secret broadcasts that cash on this violence like hottotts from Oryx and Crake.

Game of Dice from Mahabharata

To me, many of these were obvious digs on reduced versions of eastern civilizations in general, in subtlety. The word ‘Azad’ means freedom in eastern languages; an oxymoronic choice for an empire enslaved by the game. The choice of board games or rather gambling in statecraft settlements can trace origins as old as Chess games of Mahabharata, epic of Indian subcontinent. Instances where wisdom prevail over or avoid battles are also a repeating characteristic of many later eastern stories. Further I was tempted to extend the nature of elimination, where the inferiors doesn’t make it to next round, to sub continent’s caste system and aristocracy. Also, the game had an unifying aspect in the Empire; under generalists who shared a common culture that legitimized imperial rule with their sense of achieved merit. Something Chinese Imperial Exam and Indian Civil Services can draw parallels with. Interestingly, Azadians came in three genders — Male, Female, and Apex with the evolved later latter exercising superiority over former indigenous conjugals. My colonial readings made me view them as the Imperial oppressors who were adamant in maintaining a monopoly over civil services and hence administration over their subjects. While we attach these allegorical meanings, it would be worthwhile to notice usage of the word ‘game’ by Empires throughout world history, colonial and otherwise, from ‘The Great Game’ to ‘The New Great Game’.

The Culture series, The Player of Games in #2

Though Banks polarizes the civilizational differences, he leaves them grey for interpretations. More Gurgeh plays the game, more he becomes aware of the perspectives he play for and against, Culture and Empire. Maybe Culture isn’t utopian as it seems, maybe he was only born and raised this way to feel so, maybe the utopia he is part of doesn’t offer free will, or maybe its plain boring. The State of the Art describes these aspects in a greater extend further in the series. Readers are allowed only peripheral views of the Culture in this book, and interestingly, it is the very same for protagonist as well. With a title as Player of Games and a titular character who is an intergalactic Game theorist, book was a bit disappointing on the strategic aspects of brainy boss fights. Instead, most of the story moved like unskippable old cut scenes, with amazing cinematics though.

In a way, Bank’s game empire represents a past that we are glad to have been over with. There is also this suggestion of future retrospection invoking the same sentiment as well. Let’s hope the latter to be more bearable then with Musk’s Just Read the Instructions and Of Course I Still Love You, and the likes.

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones


It might been the cultural differences or my general aversion to stories that suggest eventual ordained endings, I didn’t like the book much. Even had to google to see what a tetherball pole was. Still, I must admit enjoying the writing, at least parts of it.

Mapping the interior is branded as a horror story; and with the opening sentence where a twelve year old boy sees his dead father crossing the kitchen, it definitely felt so at start. But, from there on it moved into realms I didn’t sign up for, through the pov of a Native American kid, like cultural anxiety, loss, insecurity, poverty and much more in symbols and allegories. Story circles around a single mom and her two kids, and them or rather the elder kid making peace with the loss of family’s sole provider, his dad. Book’s running teenage monologue kept a soft horror narrative throughout. The lack of father figure and subaltern life had kept Junior, our protagonist, in an aggravated yet pacifist identity crisis. Like how casted out he felt in a land that once belonged to his ancestors, and how helpless he was in break out of that anxiety. ‘Dirt’ was a repeating element in this theme; the usage of ‘Modular House’ against Trailer was also a fitting allegory to his relationship with the land he has historical right of both blood and soil, yet can’t seem to root in. Author gracefully captured the post-colonial mind set through Junior’s monologue, like how he, being an Indian kid, kept seeing himself as this latent warrior inside, waiting to be unleashed. And usage of unreliability and weirdness felt fitting towards this cause.

“Probably not mine either, but I at least had the idea—mostly from action movies—that I could go wolverine, fight my way out of any dogpile of bodies.

This is something all Indians think, I think: that, yeah, we got colonized, yeah, we got all our lands stolen, yeah yeah yeah, all that usual stuff. But still, inside us, hiding—no, hibernating, waiting, curled up, is some Crazy Horse kind of fighter. Some killer who’s smart and wily and wears a secret medicine shirt that actually works.

Just, if you say this to anybody, you kill that Crazy Horse you’re hiding inside.”

I enjoyed mapping the interior part, Junior’s search diary and inferences, his relationship with his mom and little Dino. And the inner voice that longed for an older version of himself to save his family. I enjoyed how his conscious world was conveyed, especially sentences such as “…like you’re staring America down across the centuries.” But when the story transitioned into horrors of life and its sad acceptance from its unreliable setting, I found myself frustrated. Soon the nonchalance in violence, death and other disturbances started to feel very discomforting. And with the final element of being ones father’s son or being stuck in a plight that is irreversible by default, I had to part ways completely.

Maybe I wasn’t able to transit from the initial setting of the book to its finale. Maybe I shouldn’t have approached this as a weird lit at all. Still, I guess I would always be the wrong kind of Indian for understanding the nuances.

Contact by Carl Sagan

SaganI have two heresies to make with this review.

Though things were presented mildly and in a manner that could be considered cheerful in comparison, I found Sagan‘s cosmic existentialism similar to what I get to feel in Lovecraft‘s works. I admit it’s not Event Horizon, but Contact doesn’t reveal anything in specifics too. It builds up the unknown, suggests even a debatable unreliability in protagonist’s narrative and leaves the conclusion to readers. Sure, it suggests too much in the definitive line of science, but the Machine and the unexplainable experience of cosmonauts all had the same fear of unknown. To me, it translated well, and left this sense of being a nobody or nothing in the vast world we know very little about. To Lovecraft it was frightening, and to Sagan it was fascinating.

tumblr_ndoyjdEMVh1qgx323o1_r1_500I noticed few more similarities of the sort in the book, regarding the societal response to someone who has embraced this vastness of universe. People were eager to brand her delusional for providing explanations for experiences they couldn’t fathom. The Machine and her first contact further felt like an optimistic take on some sorta portal to the other that exists with us. Book even ended with the suggestion of some intelligence that predates humanity, Elder ones style.

“Standing over humans, Gods and Demons, subsuming caretakers and tunnel builders, there is an intelligence that antedates the universe.”

The second heresy is movie being better than the book, or more like an enhancing experience against the usual corollary. I loved the span of dialogue the book entertained. And the kind of balance it maintained in its science vs religion debate by placing skepticism against latter’s received truth and former’s hypothesis against revelation. Book was also very honest and realistic in its depiction of scientific community and academia that’s stuck in the anxiety of publications. Translation of radio astronomy into geopolitics with the discovery, and variegated responses within and outside the system were also really interesting to read through. But, from a dramatic or entertainment point of view, movie had many embellishing aspects.

And the cinematography! Sorry about the dickbutt.

I loved how fleshed Palmer was in movie and how unfleshed Ellie was. Her emotional baggages, though highly complementary for book’s first contact, made me feel like tuning through static for some signal. Also I found movie’s selection of single occupant more narratively appropriate than book’s multipartite crew. It went well with the collinearity of novel’s point of view as opposed to the 11th hour gate-crashing by characters I wasn’t emotionally attached with. The sole source also enhanced drama in my opinion, by adding skepticism to the already suggested unreliability. Further, the limited time made the Voyage more believable and thrilling in its few seconds than the comparable generosity in book. I loved the novel, but it also made me love the movie more; and I don’t mean it as a negative here.

In my severe reduction, Contact can be considered as humanity’s delayed introduction to The Culture; it can also be viewed as the most expensive and elaborate psychedelic experience as well. The scientific slant towards latter is what makes the book different from my overkill of a comparison with cosmic horror. Nevertheless it was a very delightful experience even with spoilers from the movie.

If you are looking for a distilled run on the novel, there is an abridged audiobook read by Jodie Foster herself.


The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima

Picture1The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea is a short novel in two seasons, set in post war Yokohoma; where a Sailor is eager to fall from the ‘grace’ he is almost sick of, for a lady who is past that definition of ‘grace’. And her young boy’s response to it through an adolescent jaden speaking nazi gang. I did not like it and the book probably has fucked me up.

Since my initial impression was a disturbed dislike, I read on Mishima’s life to know more about the context I might be appropriating. I was amused by authors extraordinary life and ‘Mishima Incident’, and indulged myself in knowing more about the man himself than the book. From my utter dislike I found myself in agreement with the popular take of book being on polarized idea of ‘masculinity’ and civilizational anxiety in post World War 11 Japan. The kids in this story are struggling with their idealized ideologies of ‘honour’ and ‘glory’, and are disappointed in its non adherence by the very grown ups who taught them that. Ryuji, the sailor, was an embodiment of the nihilist philosophy they found supremacy in, and in his openness to settle down, Noboru, the young boy, found ultimate betrayal.

From my take, the trifaceted main story line represented the dynamics of then Japanese society Mishima struggled to make sense of. Noboru is the stern yet masked traditionalist who finds meaning in old codes of living. Ryuji represents the transition, by being the detached Sailor who is open to the idea of settling down into the statics of an increasingly westernizing society from his current more heroic turbulent current life in sea. Fusako, on the other hand, is the transition; a widower who is a women of her own and well assimilated into the modern world, and is definitely the character readers can relate the most with.

davidpol_1439936772_cropped-seven-virtues-of-bushido1The prose is beautiful at parts, even lyrical and eerily philosophical in its justification for baggages the characters or authors might carry.

“A father is a reality-concealing machine, a machine for dishing up lies to kids, and that isn’t even the worst of it: secretly he believes that he represents reality.”

Sure, this sounds deep. But considering the 13 year old Ku Klux Klan its coming from and lack of narrative precedence, they appeared embryonic and frankly annoying.

But my issue was, I believe, in finding this image of ‘hero’ or ‘male figure’ unprecedented and the kids’ response unsolicited. There was no suggestive ambivalence with his mother, rather Noboru was shown more apathetic in his relationship with Fusako, or even appreciatory in nature. To me, Noboru‘s transition was more like that of the kid from ‘This is England’ movie, though thematically different. The ‘daddy issues’ like the one quoted and superiority complex were more original to the Chief of the gang than Noboru. His and the gang’s extreme response felt very out of the blue for me; even with Noboru’s fascination towards life on Sea and his diary entries of increasing betrayals by Ryuji, his once ideal Sailor. Of course one can blame the privileged ways in which the kids were raised, but, I couldn’t find anything that warrantable in their extra w(v)is(c)e talks and weird world view. The chief often said meticulously crafted sentences that invoked a sense of false superiority and sneering look down on people around them. But, with the final act or the cat scene, their way out was always violence in ‘secrecy’. I think, I needed some emotional or historical baggage to sustain or even trigger their behaviour, other than the fact that kids were being whatever author wanted them to be.

1 WmghYGzr5s3ilePs78G-bAMaybe Noboru‘s secluded life and gradual descent reflects Mishima‘s closeted childhood and his masculine response over the tagged effeminacy and homosexuality. Maybe by detaching the gang from childlike immaturity and consciously committing them to the final act, Mishima was further stretching on western definitions of ‘adulthood’ and ‘childhood’ like that of Philippe Aries. Maybe Mishima is interventionistic of his fundamentalist response towards modernizing Japanese society and hence have left the nazi goonies clan ideology childish and open for scrutiny. Maybe in Ryuji‘s nonchalant acceptance, Mishima was reflecting his own later ‘Sepukku’ with book’s definitions of honour, valour and glory. Maybe I am trying to make sense of a book I didn’t like but desperate to understand. Maybe I should have dropped the book by that visceral scene in first part that scarred me, and even warned me of what might follow. Maybe I am just not smart enough to fathom nor sophisticated enough to enjoy, but just stupid enough to rant.

I think the last line makes more sense. I might pick another Mishima up, but my feelings are still unchanged; I didn’t like the book.

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (Japanese: 午後の曳航, meaning The Afternoon Towing) is a novel written by Yukio Mishima, published in Japanese in 1963 and translated into English by John Nathan in 1965.

Dawn by Octavia Butler

Lilith and The Wathers.png
According to Jewish apocryphal traditions, Lilith was the first woman whom God had created along side Adam, before Eve. When Lilith was repeatedly persuaded to be subservient to her husband, Adam, she deserted Eden, revolting against God and her husband. This act of defiance has characterized future legends that epitomize her as manifestation of chaos, seduction and everything apostasic. In modern interpretations though, Lilith is an exemplar for feminist movements, for being a woman who stood up against dominance and subjugation. And for Butler’s post civilizational dystopian universe, that doesn’t have a God or any promised progenitors, I found the choice of protagonist’s name or the series renaming- Lilith’s Brood very fitting, allegorically and narrative wise.

tumblr_oqmsqmEkT91r1u2w8o2_500.gifDawn, as the name rightfully implies, opens with a proxy God scenario. Earth has been left uninhabitable by an obscure nuclear war, and what’s left of mankid is under the cryostatic protection of an alien race called the Oankali. The Oankalis are a very alien Alien species with Medusa-ish body hair, Cthulhu tentacles for sensory receptors, Karellen-ish face and strange names(“Kaaltediinjdahya lel Kahguyaht aj Din“) that makes you wonder whether the author had accidentally bumbed her head on keyboard and decided to roll with it, or was being ridiculously imaginative. This Childhood’s End soon escalates into Overlords awakening their Stormgren- Lilith Iyapo in this case, 250 years since the war, with the intention of repopulating Earth with humankind. But there is a disturbingly weird catch. Something far more unsettling than the proposition of Monks from Doctor Who or maybe even that of Clarke’s Overlords.

Karellen from syfy’s Childhood’s End. I can’t even imagine how Oankalis would look in a screen adaptation

The Oankalis are perhaps the strangest species I have ever read, both in biology and psychology. As repulsive as this sounds, they have terrifying sensory tentacles all over their body, three sexes as a species, ability to manipulate genetic biochemistry and an entirely different perception of the outside world to which our sentience is rather handicapped in comparison. Though it is easy to go to generalizations with the what is left of us as and the Oankalis as a species, this book evades the appropriation by presenting grey scenarios; Where it is difficult to assert right and wrong, for characters as well as reader. Dawn is reaction driven than character or plot, right from the very inception where Lilith is recruited as prime emissary for the new world order to her conflicting loyalty towards humanity and its godly captors. The book has captured the moral confusion, acceptance of apocalypse and prospectus of strange future from now captivity, rather beautifully. I loved how subtley, it reminded me of racism and xenophobia, and how futile it looked when another species is in play. And how imaginative, though a bit unsettling, the concept of bioship and biological manipulation was in comparison with our industrial contraptions. In addition to this technological incompatibility, genetic dissimilarities made them all the more alien, with reasons to doubt and fear. And author seemed to have let the events just unfold, in all its messiness, confusion and partisian conflicts, without passing any judgemental remarks or assigning any moral codes. It was hard to objectively blame anyone as the possibility of humankind being like pets or Oods to an Ood looking odd species in itself sounds pretty terrifying. And it took me a while to make peace with it.

Lilith and The Wathers.png
Lilith by John Collier and Watchers as per Noah movie/graphic novel

I couldn’t help but compare the Onakalis with Enochian Watchers from Bible. In Aronofsky’s Noah they were depicted as Rock giants helping the selected ones pursue the ways of God, with minimum possible interference. This obvious appendage to Lilith allegory might be an overkill, but Oankali’s refined yet nonchalant attitude towards humans, even with the weird proposition for co-operation, sounded like something that would eventually become a legend, holy or unholy, once humanity is completely revamped as a civilization. Leaving these far fetched metaphors aside, Dawn felt well written and fast paced, if not completely reassuring. Loved the prose and I was gripped till the end, though it took me some time to decide whether the disturbance I felt were good or bad. Some feministic undertones could be interpreted from the lead being black and female, but, it might beat the purpose if not fun, as humanity itself is reduced to double digits. And just when I thought the book couldn’t get any more stranger, it surprised me by being even weirder. Definitely going to explore the rest of the books.

Lilith and The Wathers
No, I haven’t; still

Anyway, the weeboo in me was amazed by the fact that, Butler’s aliens haven’t permeated into the hentai market yet, to which their sexuality is seemingly begging for. Well, there is still time and resources at the disposal of this really strange place called internet.


Lilith’s Brood is a collection of three works by Octavia E. Butler. The three volumes of this science fiction series (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) were previously collected in the now out of print volume, Xenogenesis. It has been picked up by Ava DuVernay, Charles D. King’s Macro and director-writer Victoria Mahoney for adaption into a television series.

source: wiki

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Altered Carbon.png

Central plot – a technically dead off world mercenary is hired by a murdered millionaire to investigate his own murder.

I couldn’t help but imagine Altered Carbon’s as a spinoff from Hyperion’s Brawne Lamia – Keats storyline or as a salty gritty take on Sheckley’s Mindswap. In Morgan’s futuristic pseudo dystopia, Earth is no longer the centre of human civilization and science has successfully dichotomized human body and consciousness. Physical bodies are more like interchangeable vessels (sleeves) and identity or memories of an individual is stored in a chip based cortical stack that can be downloaded, transmitted, broadcasted and even insured. This stack consciousness can be transferred organically or hyper spatially through ‘needlecast’ and be resleeved into a different body, even interplanetary-ily and at a speed faster than light – very similar to Hegemony’s Farcasting and Webworld if you ask me. This forever changes the concept of mortality, morality and death as we know it, since anyone with enough resources can, technically, extend their life as long as they desire by resleeving themselves into cloned organics. Or an Orwellian government can keep citizen stacks in perpetual storage. Anyway, in this futuristic cyberpunk premise, Altered Carbon surprises by being a hard-boiled detective story, a noir locked room murder mystery.

Altered Carbon.png
I was constantly reminded of these three masterpieces during the read

The politics and philosophy of this world is intriguing in so many ways and also perplexing with our contemporary conventions. Also, the universe of Altered Carbon feels more believable now that than when the book was initially released, thanks to the ever increasing exposure to wireless technologies, cloud computing, wearables and STEM cell research. Novel’s very concept of mind body Cartesian duality and technological metempsychosis of consciousness has serious ramifications on the way we perceive morality. For example the recurring graphic violence gets the philosophical justification of it being replacable organic damage, and death as something that a resleeving can fix. It also raises questions like “Who are you when you are not in your body, to yourself and the people around you?” This also braces religion with multiplicity of souls, spirituality and metaphysics of rebirth or afterlife. In fact, Catholicism is presented as a progress inhibiting adversary in this novel with its negative stance on relseeving and clone storage. I was repeatedly blown away by the immediacy of the technological concepts book had to offer. On the explanation and exposition side, an appreciable balance was kept between the hard and soft extremities of science fiction spectrum. Still the believable futuristics and fast paced cinematic narrative wasn’t enough to take me over the general frustration I kept having with the novel.

Still from Netflix adaptation. Looks like the stage for book’s iconic snuff shootout (could be an iconic moment in TV history, if done properly)

Morgan’s already uptight prose suffered from digressions and plastic dialogues, at least in my eyes. Every time I entered the universe, it offered something impressive and had my attention unaltered for a while. But the moment I put the book down, it looked like an ordeal I don’t want to resume. Plot line was derivative and the murder mystery was off the spotlight less than halfway the book, it was still a good incentive though. Takeshi Kovacs was presented as this hyper masculine antihero to whom everyone in the story is somehow drawn into, no matter how much of a dick he is. The backstory of Ryker’s body or Quell excerpts or Envoy flashbacks or even the first person narrative did little to make me cut any leeway for his actions. Bancroft, on the other hand, was a complacent Meth(book’s term for people who resleeve extensively, after Biblical Methuselah) with a femme-fatale wife and disparaging view on women in general. Everything was overly sexualized in this world, and even with the blurred philosophy I wasn’t able to digest the snuff brothels, unaccounted brutality on bystanders and sexual violence. Author’s efforts to justify them with the premise made it all the more infuriating. His angry dig on religion and neurachem induced Envoy combats made me look back to Hyperion again, to Dure and Kassad, and Forever War.


It was really weird to be repeatedly impressed by a book and be frustrated over it time and again. Maybe Kovac’s Westworld would have found better audience in my younger self.


Altered Carbon is the first book in Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, followed by Broken Angels and Woken Furies. It is getting a live series adaptation from Netflix and is scheduled for 2018.