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What you need to know about the Elders from Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon did a fantastic job of creating an expansive world with an enticing premise: If you have the money, you can live forever. Takeshi Kovacs, played by multiple actors throughout the dystopian series' two-season run, was in the unique situation in which people in power kept bringing him back to life. Of course, this wouldn't have been possible without an almost extinct species known as Elders creating the technology that led to immortality.

Thanks to the technology that these first inhabitants of Harlan's World created and left behind, Altered Carbon produced the idea of stacks and sleeves. Stacks are a person's digitized consciousness and as long as they aren't damaged, they can go into as many sleeves (bodies) as one can afford. Although seasons 1 and 2 mostly talk about Elders being mysterious beings that left behind powerful and incomprehensible technology, season 2 did feature the last remaining Elder known to this world — until, of course, Takeshi sacrificed himself to destroy it.

While season 2 left unanswered questions, especially pertaining to Elders, for presumably future seasons to dive into, Altered Carbon wasn't renewed for a third season. Fans can only pull from two seasons worth of, it would appear, unfinished material to learn about these beings. Thanks to the Richard Morgan literature on which the show is based, however, audience members can also pull from the book series and try to fill in the missing pieces. Here's what fans need to know about the Elders from Altered Carbon.

Elders are from other planets in the books

In a Reddit thread titled "Who Are the Elder Civilization?," u/Jhin-Roh starts the conversation by writing, "From the Fossil it looks like some bird shaped life form. And did they find them on Earth or some other Planet?"

The first season of Altered Carbon vaguely discusses the Elders and treats them as mysterious beings. Season 2 shows the last remaining Elder, which looks like a makeshift pterodactyl, but this creature is still shrouded in mystery as the audience never really finds out how the species created its otherworldly technology. In the show, the Elders made this unexplainable technology that led to Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry) inventing stacks.

The books, as another user responded, reveal more information about these beings: "In the books, they are a long dead avian species originating from, or at least having inhabited, Mars," the user writes. "They are very different from humanity – a lot less social, for example. The back story is that Humanity ends up finding fossils and left over structures on Mars during the 21th century (not noticed before landing there because very ancient / underground); among those structures are stellar maps showing other planets Martians have settled."

As the user points out, Elders are dead in the books (a ploy the author admittedly used to get out of having to fully explain them), and the show drops the Martian description entirely. The user also mentioned that the books had humanity invent stack technology by itself. For better or worse, this powerful species, whether audience members refer to them as "Martians" or "Elders," have a vague description and history attached to them, and it would have been ideal for the TV series to explain them in greater detail in a subsequent third season that's unlikely at this point

Nevertheless, the "bird-shaped life form" inhabited Mars and other planets in the books.