360 years into the future and I find myself immersed in the darkest possible dystopian nightmare. Moody scenes of weary sexual encounters mutate into violent death and undying. My mind ruminates on a loop of iconic lyrics that merge with the music emanating from my speakers. Is this real life? Is this just fantasy? I open my eyes and it could be true; there is no escape from the oppressive cyberpunk reality of Altered Carbon. Scene after scene transcends the other-worldliness of science fiction to bring to the screen an unreality that terrifies and fascinates in equal measure. The future is a canvas of illusions, an ecstasy trip of expanding consciousness and despairing bleakness. A voice in the series echoes my misgivings: ‘The first thing you’ll learn is that nothing is what it seems. Ignore your assumptions. Don’t trust anything. What you see, what you hear, what people tell you, what you think you remember.’
I don’t trust my eyes anyway, even now, in this state of simulacra that is our false reality. Images are a vague resemblance of all that is tangible. Humans are not what they appear. Life is filtered, contorted, enhanced and embellished into unrecognisability. Will our futures push us to even further extremes? Could there come a day when we are unable to distinguish between flesh and carbon? It’s no longer unimaginable. I binge-watch on an indulgent Sunday during an unseasonably mild Autumn. Leaves are un-falling in abject confusion and the last swallow is yet to embark on its epic journey to warmer climes. I hunker down in my chosen universe, an autonomous dwelling on the second floor. Within these four walls I find sanctuary under a purple duvet with a swirly pattern, eating Bounty bars strictly of the dark chocolate variety, and drinking sweet milky coffee. The only other sounds are the rumble of traffic and muffled banging of neighbours’ doors.