How Netflix's Altered Carbon Compares To The Book, According To One Star

Reileen and Takeshi in Altered Carbon

It's no secret that Netflix has forever changed the world of television. The streaming service produces a staggering amount of original programing, and has made way for its competitors like Hulu and Amazon. The newest release from the house of Netflix is the highly anticipated sci-fi series Altered Carbon. Based off Richard K. Morgan's novel of the same name, the new show is set in a futuristic dystopian world where the rich have everlasting life, thanks to a stack that keeps their consciousness and can be transferred to a new body after death. And while the central themes of the Altered Carbon TV show are the same, there are quite a few changes being made in the adaptation. Actress Dichen Lachman (Joss Whedon's Dollhouse) recently spoke to those alterations from the source material, saying:

Our characters are actually not as present in the book as they are in the show. And one of the things that is different from the book is that. That's because Laeta wanted to know more about our characters as women. I think she did an incredible job. And her and Richard (Morgan) collaborated on the scripts too. But just the strength in the women, and the intention, the clarity of what they want and what they're driving and fighting for is so clear. It's just incredible.

Well, she definitely makes a great point. Considering that the novel almost completely focuses on the journey of protagonist Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman in the show), the supporting and tertiary characters got less of a focus. But Altered Carbon is an ensemble piece, and therefore characters like Dichen Lachman's Reileen are able to become more significant roles in the new TV series.

Dichen Lachman's comments come from my conversation with her at Netflix's junket in New York City, and will no doubt excite the literary fans out there. Because the Altered Carbon novel is told through the first person perspective of Takeshi, the other characters don't necessarily get a chance to shine. In particular, his sordid history as a mercenary couldn't really be explored the way it is in the show. Lachman's character Reileen, she functions mostly in Takeshi's past. So rather than simply referencing his history, fans can watch it play out. This also applied to his relationship with Hamilton alum Renee Elise Golsberry's badass character Quellcrist.

Transforming Altered Carbon into an ensemble piece will no doubt benefit the new series, as Netflix subscribers will be able to slowly peel away the layers of Takeshi's history and psyche. Rather than simply focusing on Joel Kinnaman and his general badassery, we have way more players to get to know. And these re-writes have particularly served female characters, allowing for more inclusion and representation in the new series.

Altered Carbon is currently streaming its first season over on Netflix. In the meantime, check out our midseason premiere list to plan your next binge watch, and our cancellation list to see if your favorite show got the chop last year.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.