Dystopian Connections: Deckard to Kovacs via Banks & Halo
Over the past couple of months I’ve been reading the first two Takeshi Kovacs novels by Richard Morgan. Altered Carbon and Broken Angles are a stunning combination of genres: cyberpunk, science fiction and noir detective to name a few.
The scope of the work is breathtaking. Set in a dystopian Twenty Sixth Century, the human race has finally reached the stars and is colonising everywhere and fighting everything it comes across. Human consciousness can be digitised and downloaded into cortical stacks in clones (known as sleeving). This helps with interstellar travel where needlecasts send information at the speed of light. It also helps when and if you get killed. As long as your head and neck remain intact, the cortical stack can be removed, placed into data storage facility and the conciousness downloaded once again. At one point Takeshi Kovacs admits he’s been resleeved at least 10 times.
Kovacs is basically a mercenary who benefits from military level upgraded functions including total recall, chemically enhanced physical reactions and cognitive abilities, making him a very difficult adversary to overcome. Interestingly, when I read the first novel, which is set on earth, the images I had in mind were very much based on Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner, with its overcast and rainy weather, knackered cities, and rampant advertising: a place where virtual reality and AI’s are as everyday as drinking coffee.
Like Takeshi San, Master Chief is a cybernetically enhanced human super soldier who, along with Cortana (an AI) spends his time fighting anything and everything that threatens him, which mainly seems to be The Covenant, an alliance of alien races.
I never really got into games. I’ve always liked the idea of them, but the reality of sitting in front of a monitor for six hours at a time, doesn’t do it for me. So knowing nothing about Halo, I looked it up on’t web, and other than being intrigued by the si-fi ness of it all and the very impressive graphics, I’ve found another reason why I like it. Apparently the name Halo refers to huge off-world habitable ringed megastructures, similar in nature to the Orbitals in Iain M Banks’ SF Culture novels. A reference that I appreciate very much having been a fan of his novels for many years now, with Consider Phlebas being one of my all time favourite novels.
So in terms of “connective chronology” it would have to be: Bladerunner – Iain M Banks – Halo – Richard Morgan. Excellent, I like connections very much, it gives me stuff to research in my spare time…..