“There is only one god and his name is Death, and there is only one thing we say to Death. Not today.” This quote is from season one of Game of Thrones— while it is a completely different genre and even flavor of show— it can also be aptly applied to Netflix’s Altered Carbon.
From the first moments humans became capable of considering existential matters, like the future and the afterlife, we have wondered about how to circumvent death; with creams, chemicals, surgeries, or shamans we try and delay the inevitable march to the grave. In the Netflix series, Altered Carbon, a hypothetical earth is set several centuries in the future from our own, fantasy has become reality.
In this future earth (and the many worlds we have colonized), humans have achieved a measure of immortality, though with some caveats and twists. The entire essence of a person, the memories, personality, the very consciousness, can be copied onto a durable metal disk. At the age of one, these disks are inserted into every human’s body at the base of the neck. Physical bodies, what we think of as defining our identities, are in fact almost disposable and called “sleeves”. The durable stack can live on even if your body dies from old age or physical trauma, and you can continue living on in a new body. Being able to upgrade to a new form after each life has its perks, as might conversing with ancestors from generations past. Better yet, if you were extremely wealthy, you could keep uploading yourself into perfectly cloned bodies of your original self, achieving something closer to true immortality.