Altered Carbon: What Is Netflix's New Big-Budget Sci-Fi Show?

AC5
Based on the classic cyberpunk noir novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is an intriguing story of murder, love, sex, and betrayal, set more than 300 years in the future. Katie Yu/Netflix

Today, Netflix released the first trailer for Altered Carbon. This 10-episode Netflix original series is based on an award-winning 2002 novel by Richard Margon. According to Netflix, this is Altered Carbon’s premise:

Altered Carbon is an intriguing story of murder, love, sex, and betrayal, set more than 300 years in the future. Society has been transformed by new technology: consciousness can be digitized; human bodies are interchangeable; death is no longer permanent. Takeshi Kovacs is the lone surviving soldier in a group of elite interstellar warriors who were defeated in an uprising against the new world order. His mind was imprisoned, ‘on ice,’ for centuries until Laurens Bancroft, an impossibly wealthy, long-lived man, offers Kovacs the chance to live again. In exchange, Kovacs has to solve a murder ... that of Bancroft himself.”

Hollywood’s remake of Ghost in the Shell tackled a little bit of the same ground -- who are you when you live in a body that is no longer your own -- but Margon’s sci-fi novel brings a noir sensibility to the cyberpunk aesthetic. In the novel, Kovacs is a biracial man of Japanese descent who winds up in a white man’s body, so here’s hoping Altered Carbon is more capable of exploring that dynamic than Ghost in the Shell was. There’s clear influence from Blade Runner, The Matrix, Black Mirror and more as well.

You can check out some gifs that floated around on reddit a while back to explore Altered Carbon ’s environment for yourself:

According to Canadian outlet The Province, the show will be filmed in a brand-new, state-of-the-art “five sound stage studio that can accommodate a production staff of up to 400 people,” located in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Much like The Get Down, reports indicate this may be one of Netflix’s most expensive shows ever. Written and produced by Avatar co-writer Laeta Kalogridis, the show is said to cost $6 to $7 million per episode. Miguel Sapochnik (Game of Thrones’ “Battle of the Bastards”) directed the first episode.

“They’re really going to be able to create a world that’s got a bigger budget than the first three seasons of Game of Thrones,” star Joel Kinnaman (The Killing, Suicide Squad, House of Cards) said in an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment. “It’s going to be something special. It’s something that’s never been done before, and I’m a big fan of intelligent sci-fi. To see a sci-fi show that’s a hard R-rated sci-fi show with a big budget, so they’re really going to be able to create this entire world … I just started drooling at that possibility.”

Altered Carbon debuts on Netflix on Feb. 2 of next year. Will Altered Carbon fill the sci-fi shaped hole left in our hearts after the cancellation of Sense8? Will Altered Carbon be another pricey, cancelled flop, or will this cyberpunk noir tale find its audience? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Join the Discussion