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No body lives forever: All the updates, trailers, and commentary for Netflix’s Altered Carbon

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Altered Carbon is based on the 2002 novel by Richard K. Morgan. Set in the distant future, where a person’s consciousness can be transferred to another body, it follows a dead soldier named Takeshi Kovacs, who is resurrected and brought to Earth. There, he’s hired by Earth’s wealthiest man, Laurens Bancroft, who wants Kovacs to investigate his murder.

Netflix has adapted the cyberpunk novel, and will begin airing its 10-episode season on February 2nd, 2018. Follow along for all of the updates, trailers, and commentary.

  • Jul 27, 2018

    Andrew Liptak

    Netflix has renewed Altered Carbon for a second season

    Image: Netflix

    Netflix’s adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s cyberpunk novel Altered Carbon is getting an eight-episode second season. But when it returns, it’ll have a new actor playing the lead role of Takeshi Kovacs — Joel Kinnaman will be replaced by Anthony Mackie, currently best known for playing Falcon in the Captain America and Avengers Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

    Altered Carbon is set centuries in the future, in a world where humanity has overcome mortality via a technology that allows human consciousness to be transferred from one body (or “sleeve,” in slang parlance) to another, assuming the client can afford it. The show’s first season is a grim neo-noir thriller that follows a former soldier named Takeshi Kovacs as he’s hired to solve the murder of a prominent Earth billionaire, Laurens Bancroft, who apparently committed suicide. The season, a bloody and violent affair, completely wrapped up the events of Morgan’s 2002 novel.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Feb 12, 2018

    Adi Robertson

    Altered Carbon’s Blade Runner rehash misses the point of cyberpunk

    Altered Carbon still
    Image: Netflix

    Netflix’s new science fiction TV series Altered Carbon ticks all the boxes for a modern-day cyberpunk series. Based on a 2002 novel by Richard K. Morgan, it’s about a hardboiled investigator named Takeshi Kovacs who lives in a world where human consciousness can be stored on a chip called a “stack,” and transferred between bodies (now known as “sleeves.”) The rich have effectively become immortal, sequestering themselves far above the gritty streets of futuristic San Francisco. The masses use flashing holograms to sell copious sex, drugs, and violence, beneath a perpetually dark and rainy sky. The series offers a Blade Runner-tinged aesthetic that many people adore, me included.

    But that aesthetic, paradoxically, is why Altered Carbon fails, as both good television and good cyberpunk.

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  • Feb 3, 2018

    Andrew Liptak

    How Altered Carbon’s costume designer created the fashions for its futuristic world

    Image: Netflix

    The first season of Netflix’s Altered Carbon began streaming on February 2nd. It’s the company’s answer to some of its competitors’ big-budget science fiction shows like The Expanse or Westworld. But in this case, it’s a civilization coping with a technology that allows them to escape death, downloading people’s minds from one body to the next.

    While the show has its roots in Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 dark cyberpunk novel, and certainly carries some of the aesthetics of stories like Blade Runner, the show’s designers worked to make sure that it had its own unique look and feel. That includes the show’s costumes, which costume designer Ann Foley says helps tell the story in their own way. I recently spoke with Foley about her work on the show, in designing costumes both for far-future action and for specific storytelling.

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  • Feb 2, 2018

    Andrew Liptak

    Immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in Altered Carbon’s violent cyberpunk future


    Ever since HBO launched its widely successful fantasy drama Game of Thrones, other networks have been on the hunt for the next big genre show. Amazon has Man in the High Castle. Starz has American Gods. Syfy has The Expanse. These shows demonstrated that science fiction and fantasy could be a form of astute commentary on society embraced by mainstream audiences, instead of just escapism. While Netflix has fielded its own prestigious shows, like House of Cards and The Crown, it has lagged behind when it comes to science fiction. Its new science fiction thriller Altered Carbon, which launches on February 2nd, finally delivers the goods: it’s a hard-hitting genre story that doesn’t shy away from complexity and ugly truths about humanity.

    Altered Carbon is based on the 2002 novel by Richard K. Morgan, a grim cyberpunk future where technology allows people to transfer their consciousness from one body to the next — if they can afford it. It’s a groundbreaking achievement. Murder victims can testify against their killers, and explorers can travel to distant planets. But there’s a downside: those who can afford to effectively live forever, jumping from cloned body to cloned body, consolidate their power for centuries and use it in disturbing ways.

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  • Jan 11, 2018

    Andrew Liptak

    Netflix goes big with a new trailer for cyberpunk murder mystery Altered Carbon

    Netflix has released a new, full-length trailer for its upcoming show Altered Carbon, a tech noir mystery about solving a murder in a world where death has lost all meaning.

    Based off of Richard K. Morgan’s novel by the same name, Altered Carbon is set three centuries in the future, where people can transfer their consciousness from one body to another — if they can afford it. The trailer likens it to a person shedding their skin like a snake, allowing them to potentially live forever. Takeshi Kovacs (played by both Joel Kinnaman and Will Yun Lee) is a body-hopping soldier called an Envoy who is killed on a distant planet, but wakes up again 250 years later on Earth. He’s been resurrected by a wealthy man named Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) to investigate Bancroft’s own death.

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  • Jan 10, 2018

    Vlad Savov

    Netflix is goofing off with lab-grown bodies at CES

    Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge

    Among the deluge of CES news releases this week, one stood out to me because it made little sense: Netflix was bringing its upcoming Altered Carbon series to the big Las Vegas exhibition. How do you bring a drama series to a hardware show?

    It turns out, Netflix’s idea was to construct an elaborate faux-serious campaign, including a partnership with the drama’s fictional company Psychasec, and the collaborative booth they’re presenting at CES is a pretend exhibition area for Psychasec’s “sleeve” products. A sleeve, in the Altered Carbon universe, is a spare body you can transfer your consciousness into — because, as the tagline smugly proclaims, “no body lives forever.”

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  • Dec 23, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    Cyberpunk novel Altered Carbon is headed for Netflix with its razor-sharp indictment of the 1 percent

    Photo by Andrew Liptak / The Verge

    In February, Netflix will begin streaming an ambitious adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s debut science fiction novel Altered Carbon. The novel is a cyberpunk mystery that delves into issues about wealth and power, and it’s the perfect source material for a prestige television series.

    Set in a future where people can trade bodies on a whim, Altered Carbon is the first of Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs trilogy (it’s followed by 2003’s Broken Angels and 2005’s Woken Furies). Its cynical take on human behavior puts a cyberpunk face on the idle excesses of the super wealthy, a theme that feels more relevant than ever in 2017.

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  • Dec 10, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    A new trailer for Netflix’s Altered Carbon introduces an improbable murder

    Netflix debuted a new trailer for its upcoming cyberpunk show, Altered Carbon, introducing the main story for the show: after he’s murdered, Earth’s richest man hires an ex-soldier to track down his killer.

    The streaming service released an announcement trailer last week that introduced the show’s main McGuffin: humans have developed a technology that allows for someone to transfer their consciousness from one body to another. The rich and powerful can now afford to become effectively immortal, jumping from body to body, while murder victims can be brought back to life to testify against their killers.

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  • Dec 4, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    Watch the first trailer for Netflix’s new science fiction show Altered Carbon

    Netflix has unveiled the first look at its upcoming cyberpunk show Altered Carbon. In a world inspired by Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 noir science fiction novel, a soldier is brought back to life to investigate a rich man’s murder. The show will begin streaming on February 2nd, 2018.

    The trailer introduces the novel’s central McGuffin: in Morgan’s version of the future, people can digitally copy their memories and personalities into a “cortical stack” and implant them in a new body, called a sleeve. The process allows people (usually the rich and famous) to avoid death by jumping from body to body. Last week, Netflix began teasing the show with a couple of in-universe teasers for Psychasec, the company responsible for “sleeving” people.

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  • Jacob Kastrenakes

    Jan 20, 2016

    Jacob Kastrenakes

    Netflix is making a cyberpunk detective series

    Netflix is working on a new TV series about a gruff detective, a troubling femme-fatale, and a mysterious murder — a pretty stock noir setup, if it weren't also set 500 years in the future. The series is based on Altered Carbon, a cyberpunk detective novel from author Richard K. Morgan. It's set in a world where human consciousness is regularly transferred from one body to the next; this particular story focuses on a former soldier whose newest body gets him wrapped up in big conspiracy and someone else's love life.

    An initial 10-episode season is planned based off a script by showrunner Laeta Kalogridis, who wrote the screenplay for Shutter Island and co-wrote Terminator Genisys. Netflix intends to produce an additional 150 hours of programming this year — 600 hours in total, up from last year's 450 hours — so you can expect to see it picking up new shows and ordering new seasons of existing shows at a rapid pace. Altered Carbon's main character is the star of several other novels by Morgan, so if the show succeeds, it'll have plenty of additional material work from in season two.

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