Why is the Netflix Series Altered Carbon, named so? Its main concepts are immortality, "sleeves" and "stacks".
In one episode, a character was saying that "we are just Altered Carbon". Why did they chose this name?
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It's a little vague...even the original novel doesn't use the term Altered Carbon very often..and it certainly doesn't explain it in any detail.
However, I think we can make some interpretations.
Humans are generally described as "carbon-based" lifeforms...
Almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus.
As such, stack-enhanced humans could be described as "altered carbon".
Marooned in the glow on benches of old wood, a scattering of humanity waited in silence for friends or family to ride in from their altered carbon exiles.
Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
Equally, it seems that the term "altered carbon" may refer to the alien technology itself of stored bodies awaiting re-sleeving.
We tramped through basement rooms cooled to the seven to eleven degrees Celsius recommended by the makers of altered carbon, peered at racks of the big thirty-centimeter expanded-format disks, and admired the retrieval robots that ran on wide-gauge rails along the storage walls.
Altered carbon is the type of material that the stacks are made out of. It's the elder civilization's invention. The material itself is made from carbon, but as the name suggests it's altered. Also the stacks or songspire trees are altered carbon, it doesn't degrade over time like norm carbon. Hence why the trees can grow forever and reach several km high.