I needed a book to read (had few days without a computer) and Altered Carbon seemed a good a choice as any and I'd recently read this /. review about it.
This book isn't going to be as influential as the /. reviewer thinks. As far as sci-fi goes it's mediocre. It's set in the future, rather than being an exploration of it. People in this world have the ability to digitise their minds and switch bodies as market forces allow. But this just provides a few neat plot hooks - it isn't an Egan like world here.
What this book does give is a really good detective story. Not a culture changing item, but excellent crime-sci-fiction.