Takeshi Lev Kovacs (pronounced [ˈkoˌvaːtʃ], KOH-vahch, Hungarian and Bulgarian for "Smith"; also similar in many Slavic languages) is the protagonist of the books Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and Woken Furies by Richard K. Morgan, which take place in or around the 26th century.
A native of the planet Harlan's World, Kovacs is of Japanese and Eastern-European descent, and was a teenage gang member before enlisting in the military. After leaving the Envoy Corps, an elite military force, Kovacs returned to criminal life and became a mercenary, and was eventually imprisoned, his cortical "stack" stored without a body for decades at a time as punishment before being paroled or hired out to work high-risk situations.
Kovacs is a former Envoy, a type of futuristic soldier, part intelligence operative and part shock trooper, trained to adapt quickly to new bodies and new environments. Envoys are used by the governing Protectorate to infiltrate and crush planetary unrest and maintain political stability. Envoy training is actually a form of psychospiritual conditioning that operates at subconscious levels. Envoys possess total recall and are able to discern subtle patterns within seemingly unrelated events. They possess a thorough understanding of body language and vocal tonality, such that they can discern intention and manipulate others with ease. They are able to control their physiological and psychological responses, such as fear and anger, at will. Another aspect that figures prominently in an Envoy's training is the systematic removal of every violence-limiting instinct a human is born with. Due to this training, most worlds prohibit Envoys or ex-Envoys from holding any political or military office. The fear the mere mention of their name can elicit is often used by Kovacs to threaten and intimidate.
- Morgan, Richard K. (2003). Broken Angels. Victor Gollancz Ltd. pp. 332–36. ISBN 0-575-07323-3. "2089 pre-colonial reckoning. ... the decoding of the first Martian data systems brings in evidence of a starfaring culture at least as old as the whole human race. (pages 332–33) 'We've still only ever found a couple of hundred intact Martian corpses in over four centuries of archaeology' (page 336)"
- Hopper, Jim (9 October 2005). "It can get dicey when you delve into an AI's id". Sign on San Diego. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- "Altered Carbon". Science Fiction Weekly. 17 March 2003. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- Andrews, Stephen (2007). 100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels. A&C Black. p. 98. ISBN 0-7136-7585-3. "A former member of an elite military corps, neurochemically treated criminal Takeshi Kovacs operates on Marian's World"
- Di Filippo, Paul (17 October 2005). "Woken Furies". Science Fiction Weekly. Retrieved 2 October 2008.[dead link]
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