Friday, January 12, 2018

Altered Carbon trailer

As a fan of William Gibson and all things cyberpunky, it's exciting to see Netflix is coming out with a 10-part series based on Richard K. Morgan's 2002 hard-boiled thriller, "Altered Carbon."

Not least because, and pay attention here Japanese movie theaters/distributors, it's available in Japan starting February 2, THE SAME DAY AS EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET, NOT SIX FREAKING MONTHS LATER, LIKE BLADE RUNNER 2049 OR EVERY OTHER MOVIE THAT ISN'T STAR WARS. Gotta love the power of Disney. (Also, pay attention Hulu: I know it's HBO and all, but there's a reason Game of Thrones is the most-pirated TV show of this generation).

Can't tell you folks in the English-speaking world how nice it is to experience pop culture at more or less the same time as the rest of the world, rather than half a year later or in five-minute clips posted on YouTube.

Well anyway, the production values don't look quite there--everything a bit too smooth and plasticky, not used, lived-in and grungy like all good dystopias--and I don't think there's two connected lines of dialogue in the whole trailer making it hard to say anything about the acting, so this could go either way. I'll give it a shot, at any rate.

It's been ages since I read the book, so I don't really remember much of the plot or writing, save that there was a vague anti-corporate, anti-establishment tone running throughout it, and everyone in the book tries a bit too hard to be a badass, but that's all par for the course for stock cyberpunk, I suppose. I vaguely recall enjoying the other two books in the series more, though they're each quite different in tone.

Side note: Absolutely hated the social Darwinism of Morgan's 2007 book, "Th1rte3n" (yes, with the 1337 spelling, dear god).

My only quibble with the book was that the central premise--that people's personalities and memories can be digitally saved into a surgically-implanted "cortical stack" and then downloaded into new bodies--makes zero sense. To be more precise, the technology itself is not the issue, but a copy is a copy, not the original, so it wouldn't matter either way to you if you were backed up, you'd still be just as dead.

Your soul or spirit or whatever isn't being magically transferred to a new body, and its clear that people in the fiction still have meat brains that store meat thoughts, and that's not going anywhere. Any comfort you'd get from backing yourself up would be purely theoretical--you'd never know if it worked or not, on account of being, you know, dead.

On that topic, although it falls into exactly the same logic trap as "Altered Carbon," my favourite take on digital afterlives would be Iain M Banks's "Surface Detail." But then I love everything by Banks, so.

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