Does Netflix’s Altered Carbon Fix the Book’s Issues?

Netflix’s Altered Carbon is fascinated with the idea of bodies — we see them as weapons, as commodities and, ultimately, as disposable. This is encapsulated in Takeshi Kovacs, a former military operative turned rebel, who wakes up 250 years after his “death” in a body that isn’t his own in order to solve the murder of one of the world’s richest men, Laurens Bancroft. The twist here — well, one of them — is that Takeshi, who was born an Asian man, is put into a white body. In the new Netflix series, this new body — called a “sleeve” — is played by Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman.

He enters a world full of debauchery, where the rich — called “Meths” — can live forever and spend the centuries engaging in violent, sadistic and often fatal sex acts. They make their money through the torture industry, and there’s a brothel in the clouds that allows them to live out their sickest fantasies, most of which include killing sex workers, because their sleeves are believed to be as replaceable as condoms.

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