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The Real Reason The Hotel In Altered Carbon Differs From The Book

Viewers of the Netflix series Altered Carbon who were familiar with author Richard Morgan's novel likely noticed the absence of one important character, someone who would have fit perfectly in Bay City in the year 2384: Jimi Hendrix. 

Okay, maybe cyberpunk dystopia isn't the first thing you think of when you hear "Voodoo Chile," but for series protagonist Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman in season 1 and Anthony Mackie in season 2), the Hendrix was about as close to home as he could get. In the novel, a sophisticated, somewhat clingy AI based on the guitar god ran an eponymous hotel where Kovacs stayed during his investigation. But when it came time to adapt the property for the screen, the show's team found a significant obstacle in their way: the heirs of Jimi Hendrix. 

"The Hendrix estate doesn't license his image for anything that they consider to be violent," showrunner Laeta Kalogridis told Variety. "And our show definitely, as does the book, has some violence."

However, the concept seemed too good to discard entirely, and so Altered Carbon fished about for a new historical figure on which to base the hotel, someone who fit the show's milieu and would make for an interesting scene partner for Kovacs. Bonus points if that person had been dead long enough to avoid any fuss. It eventually landed on the author Edgar Allan Poe (Chris Conner) and installed the master of Victorian horror in The Raven hotel, after his most famous poem.

Why Poe works better than Hendrix for Altered Carbon

Not everyone was thrilled by the change. Morgan told fans in a Facebook Live event that he hated the change, according to The Daily Express. Yet, he admitted that he eventually came around on it, and said that there were ways that Poe and The Raven worked better than Hendrix for his story. More than Hendrix, Poe conjures a certain time period — the early 19th century — and a certain atmosphere, that Gothic foreboding, that draws interesting contrasts with Altered Carbon's gritty future. Not to mention the fact that Poe was a pioneer both of the detective story and of early science fiction, making the man a good match for the genres Altered Carbon explores. 

While the show's violence — including the hotel's ceiling-mounted Gatling guns, which survived the transition from The Hendrix to The Raven — may have disqualified the guitar legend from participating, it's not impossible to convince the Hendrix estate to let you use Jimi in your project. If you really want to see Hendrix on screen in some strange new environment, try 2020's Bill and Ted Face the Music, where the virtuoso (DazMann Still) participates in a guitar-versus-harpsichord battle with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Daniel Dorr) before the pair join the family super band in time to save all existence. Let's see Poe try that.