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- Society is, always has been and always will be a structure for the exploitation and oppression of the majority through systems of political force dictated by an élite, enforced by thugs, uniformed or not, and upheld by a wilful ignorance and stupidity on the part of the very majority whom the system oppresses.
- Richard Morgan (2002) in: "Never Mind the Cyberpunks: An Interview with Richard Morgan" at SaxonBullock.com, published by SlateMagazine.co.uk, 2002
- Morgan discussing his "take away" of his novel Altered Carbon
Altered Carbon (2002)
- All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Del Rey, ISBN# 0-345-45769-2
- All italics as in the book
- “Bay City public prosecutor’s office wants to subpoena a Catholic who’s in storage. Pivotal witness. The Vatican says she’s already dead, and in the hands of God. They’re calling it blasphemy.”
“I see. So your loyalties are pretty undivided here.”
She stopped and turned to face me.
“Kovacs, I hate these goddamn freaks. They’ve been grinding us down for the best part of two and a half thousand years. They’ve been responsible for more misery than any other organization in history. You know they won’t even let their adherents practice birth control, for Christ’s sake, and they’ve stood against every significant medical advance of the last five centuries.”
- Chapter 2 (pp. 24-25)
- When I was younger I used to go out looking for squalid brawls in the streets of Newpest. This got a couple of people stabbed, neither of them me, and led in turn to my apprenticeship in one of the Harlan’s World gangs, Newpest chapter. Later on I upgraded this kind of retreat by joining the military: brawling with a purpose, and with more extensive weaponry, but as it turned out, just as squalid. I don’t suppose I should have been as surprised as I was—the only thing the Marine Corps recruiter had really wanted to know was how many fights I had won.
- Chapter 11 (pp. 136-137)
- Anyone who bar-codes their employees isn’t likely to be the forgiving type, and the reflex of long-held obedience through hierarchy is usually enough to overcome fear of a combat death. That’s how you fight wars, after all—with soldiers who are more afraid of stepping out of line than they are of dying on the battlefield.
- Chapter 14 (p. 182)
- The personal, as everyone’s so fucking fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, take it personally. Get angry. The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here—it is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and soft-. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide out from under with a wink and a grin. If you want justice, you will have to claw it from them. Make it personal. Do as much damage as you can. Get your message across. That way you stand a far better chance of being taken seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous, marks the difference—the only difference in their eyes—between players and little people. Players they will make deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it’s just business, it’s politics, it’s the way of the world, it’s a tough life, and that it’s nothing personal. Well, fuck them. Make it personal.
- Chapter 15 (pp. 184-185, quoting the fictional work Things I Should Have Learned by Now, Volume II, written by story character Quellcrist Falconer)
- “You smoke?”
“Smoke? Do I look like a fucking idiot?”
- Chapter 15 (p. 193)
- Culture is like a smog. To live within it, you must breathe some of it in and, inevitably, be contaminated.
- Chapter 16 (p. 215)
- Like Bancroft, MacIntyre had been a man of power, and like all men of power, when he talked of prices worth paying, you could be sure of one thing.
Someone else was paying.
- Chapter 16 (p. 217)
- We are, after all, evolved to relate to the physical world.
- Chapter 17 (p. 227)
- They were cold, professionally polished, and well on their way up a career ladder that would ensure that despite the uniforms they wore, they would never have to come within a thousand kilometers of a genuine firefight. The only problem they had, as they cruised sharkishly back and forth across the cool marble floor of the court, was in drawing the fine differences between war—mass murder of people wearing a uniform not your own; justifiable loss—mass murder of your own troops, but with substantial gains; and criminal negligence—mass murder of your own troops, without appreciable benefit.
- Chapter 18 (p. 236)
- The past is relevant only as data.
- Chapter 18 (p. 242)
- Money doesn’t automatically mean taste.
- Chapter 21 (p. 276)
- Bancroft wants privacy, he spends half a million on discretion systems. Me, I just go talk where no one’s listening.
- Chapter 21 (pp. 280-281)
- She held her discarded shoulder holster dangling in one hand, and her breasts moved beneath the thin cotton of a white T-shirt that bore the legend YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT—WHY DON’T YOU TRY IT FOR A WHILE?
- Chapter 22 (p. 287)
- I’m stacked, backed up and I’m fifth dan
And I’m not afraid of the Patchwork Man
- Chapter 23 (p. 295)
- “The human eye is a wonderful device,” I quoted from Poems and Other Prevarications absently. “With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice.”
- Chapter 23 (p. 300)
- The essence of control is to remain hidden from view, is it not?
- Chapter 25 (p. 318)
- “I’d rather you didn’t smoke in here.”
“Kawahara, I’d rather you died of an internal hemorrhage, but I don’t suppose you’ll oblige me.”
- Chapter 25 (p. 319)
- “You’re being a lot less courteous than befits a man in your situation.” I thought that underneath the cool I could detect a ragged edge in her voice. Despite her much vaunted self-control, Reileen Kawahara wasn’t much better at coping with disrespect that Bancroft, General MacIntyre, or any other creature of power I’d had dealings with. “Your life is in danger, and I am in a position to safeguard it.”
“My life’s been in danger before,” I told her. “Usually as a result of some piece of shit like you making large-scale decisions about how reality ought to be run.”
- Chapter 25 (p. 319)
- “Petty tyrant a long time back. He built this place.”
“Trepp said it belonged to the Catholics.”
Kawahara shrugged. “Petty tyrant with delusions of religion. Catholics get on well with tyranny. It’s in the culture.”
- Chapter 25 (p. 321)
- Just as a primitive sextant functions on the illusion that the sun and stars rotate around the planet we are standing on, our senses give us the illusion of stability in the universe, and we accept it, because without that acceptance, nothing can be done.
Virginia Vidaura, pacing the seminar room, lost in lecture mode.
But the fact that a sextant will let you navigate accurately across an ocean does not mean that the suns and stars do rotate are us. For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying, and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulse and precariously stacked carbon code memory. This is reality, this is self-knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.
- Chapter 28 (pp. 354-355)
- Naturally these penalties were applicable only to private citizens, not military commanders or government executives. The powerful are jealous of their toys.
- Chapter 29 (p. 371)
- “You’re not corporate,” she said definitely. “Corporates don’t do this stuff. Not like this.”
“The corporates do whatever turns a profit. Don’t let your prejudices blind you. Sure, they’ll burn down entire villages if it pays. But if having a human face is what cuts it, they’ll whip out a human face and put it on.”
- Chapter 30 (p. 377)
- “I tried for the Envoys once,” Trepp said suddenly.
I glanced sideways at her, curious. “Yeah?”
“Yeah, long time ago. They rejected me on profile. No capacity for allegiance, they said.”
I grunted. “Figures. You were never in the military were you?”
“What do you think? She was looking at me as if I’d just suggested she might have a history of child-molesting. I chuckled tiredly.
“Thought not. See, the thing is, they’re looking for borderline psychopathic tendencies. That’s why they do most of their recruiting from the military in the first place.”
Trepp looked put out. “I’ve got borderline psychopathic tendencies.”
“Yeah, I don’t doubt it, but the point is, the number of civilians with those tendencies and a sense of team spirit is pretty limited. They’re opposing values. The chances of them both arising naturally in the same person are almost nil. Military training takes the natural order and fucks with it. It breaks down any resistance to psychopathic behavior at the same time as it builds fanatical loyalties to the group. Package deal. Soldiers are perfect Envoy material.”
- Chapter 30 (p. 386)
- I paused and set down my glass, searching for the fine edge of deceit that always lies right up against the truth.
- Chapter 32 (p. 394)
- “Whatever. If Carnegie wakes up not knowing, he might make some private inquiries, but he ain’t going to be in too much of a hurry to let the police department in on it. And if he wakes up knowing—” He spread his hands. “—he’ll make less noise than a Catholic orgasm.”
- Chapter 37 (p. 439)
- “You’re an Envoy, Kovacs. You live by manipulation. We all do. We all live in the great manipulation matrix, and it’s just one big struggle to stay on top.”
I shook my head. “I didn’t ask to be dealt in.”
“Kovacs, Kovacs.” Kawahara’s expression was suddenly almost tender. “None of us ask to be dealt in. You think I asked to be born in Fission City, with a web-fingered dwarf for a father and a psychotic whore for a mother? You think I asked for that? We’re not dealt in, we’re thrown in, and after that it’s just about keeping your head above water.”
- Chapter 41 (p. 484)
- This was no time for thinking. Thought in combat was a luxury about as appropriate as a hot bath and massage.
- Chapter 41 (p. 493)
- Whatever world it is, whatever you’ve done there for better or worse, you always leave the same way.
- Epilogue (p. 523)
- “Kristin, nothing ever does change.” I jerked a thumb back at the crowd outside. “You’ll always have morons like that, swallowing belief patterns whole so they don’t have to think for themselves. You’ll always have people like Kawahara and the Bancrofts to push their buttons and cash in on the program. People like you to make sure the game runs smoothly and the rules don’t get broken too often. And when the Meths want to break the rules themselves, they’ll send people like Trepp and me to do it. That’s the truth, Kristin. It’s been the truth since I was born a hundred and fifty years ago, and from what I read in the history books, it’s never been any different. Better get used to it.”
- Epilogue (p. 524)