Netflix Will Stream Human Consciousness In ALTERED CARBON

Richard Morgan’s cyberpunk novel comes to the variable-size screen.

Netflix is hot, hot, hot on this original programming stuff. It’s brought us new shows from the Wachowskis and David Fincher, entries in franchises like Star Wars and Marvel, rebooted culty properties like Wet Hot American Summer and Pee-Wee, and shows from new creators like Bojack Horseman. The company just keeps announcing these things, making it more and more difficult to keep up with the binge-watching as time goes on.

The newest Netflix original - so new it hasn’t even been officially announced yet - is a ten-episode adaptation of the Richard K. Morgan sci-fi novel Altered Carbon.

I read Altered Carbon a few years back, and it’s a fun read! In a nutshell, it's a hard-as-nails cyberpunk detective story (Blade Runner, but not!) set in a 25th century where consciousness can be downloaded into new upon death. The book pokes at its central conceit from a ton of different angles - the super-rich keep constantly updating self-backups and more or less live forever, Catholics are frequent murder targets because the Vatican won’t allow them to be downloaded, travel and torture are possible via consciousness download - and weaves a fairly compelling mystery amongst it all. It also sports extraordinariy nasty levels of violence: when a new body is just a download away, existing ones become somewhat more disposable.

All in all, it’s a solid choice for a series (though in truth it’d actually be an even better as a video game). It’s full of cool imagery and outlandish action setpieces, and even manages to squeeze in some novel science fiction ideas about what it means to be human. Morgan sold the adaptation rights for a cool million back in 2002, and went on to write two more books about its impossibly hard-boiled (and to be honest, kind of outdated) protagonist. Even if they didn’t sell at all, he could probably still have a little money left over today if he saved and invested wisely.

According to Variety, the show will be written and executive produced by Laeta Kalogridis, who wrote Shutter Island and co-wrote Terminator: Genisys. Hopefully, the conventional spelling of Altered Carbon is a sign its quality will be closer to the former than the latter. We'd be happy if Jai Courtney showed up, though - possibly as a cheap, vat-grown consciousness receptacle.