Altered Carbon has arrived on Netflix, introducing an expansive new sci-fi world where bodies are disposable and immortality is achievable. Joel Kinnaman plays Takeshi Kovacs, a rebel fighter who was imprisoned for his role in an uprising against the Protectorate, and whose stack is transferred into a new sleeve by a Meth who came close to real death, and who wants Takeshi to find his would-be killer.
Confused by that terminology? You’re probably not the only one. Altered Carbon has plenty of sci-fi terms specific to its futuristic world, delivered in quick succession and used frequently throughout the show. If you’re not caught up on what these words mean, you may find yourself confused or left behind by the plot. With that in mind, here’s a handy guide to the key phrases in Altered Carbon, and what they mean.
653 – A proposition that would allow murder victims to be spun up so they can testify against their killers, even if they have Neo-C coding.
Aerium – A city in the sky, where Meths live.
Construct – A virtual environment.
CTAC – Colonial Tactical Assault Corp. A Protectorate force who needlecast into many different sleeves on many different worlds.
DHF – Digital Human Freight. The code that makes up a person’s consciousness – usually stored on a stack.
Dipper – A hacker, specializing in hacking DHF code and stealing memories.
Elders – An extinct alien race.
Envoy – An elite rebel soldier with heightened intuition, senses and reflexes.
Grounders – People who live on the ground, as opposed to the Meths who inhabit Aerium.
Meth – Someone who has achieved immortality by amassing clones and back-ups of their mind. Named after the Biblical figure Methusaleh, who was said to have lived for 969 years.
Multi-sleeve – To have one’s DHF in multiple bodies at once. This is illegal.
Needlecast – To transfer DHF code remotely from one body to another.
Neo-C – Neo-Catholicism. A religion that holds the belief that humans should not be brought back to life after death.
Neo-C coding – Religious coding in a person’s DHF that indicates they do not consent to be placed in a new body upon death. Effectively a “Do Not Resuscitate” order.
Organic damage – Damage to a sleeve, which is viewed more like property damage than real harm.
Portable 3D Bio Organic Printer – A machine for printing clones.
Protectorate – The military force of the UN, which maintains order across all the Settled Worlds.
Psychosurgery – A method of repairing DHF that has been damaged by emotional trauma.
Real death – The destruction of a stack, resulting in the obliteration of a person’s consciousness.
Reaper – A drug that can be used in small doses to lower body temperature and dampen emotion, or in high doses to kill.
Resleeving – Putting a stack in a new sleeve.
Settled Worlds – Human-inhabited planets
Simulspace – Virtual reality.
Sleeve – A body.
Sleeve death – When a body is killed, but the stack survives.
Songspire – An alien tree with hanging blue ornaments – a relic of the Elders. No one really knows what they are, but they’re pretty and they make nice sounds.
Spin up – Temporarily put a stack into a new sleeve – for the purposes of questioning, or just to spend time with the person.
Stack – A disk upon which a person’s consciousness is stored. Implanted in everyone when they are a year old.
Stronghold – The home base of the Envoys.
Synthetic sleeve – A silicone-based body that looks perfectly human, but can be enhanced with different abilities.
Altered Carbon season 1 is available now on Netflix.
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