Review of Agency – William Gibson

Posted: March 25, 2020 in dystopian, Review, science fiction
Tags:

San Francisco, 2017.

In an alternate time track, Hillary Clinton won the election and Donald Trump’s political ambitions were thwarted.

London, 22nd century. Decades of cataclysmic events have killed 80 per cent of humanity. A shadowy start-up hires a young woman named Verity to test a new product: a ‘cross-platform personal avatar’ that was developed by the military as a form of artificial intelligence.

Meanwhile, characters in the distant future are using technological time travel to interfere with the election unfolding in 2017. . .

Agency

William Gibson

Viking

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Stephen Litten

San Francisco, 2017: Clinton’s in the White House, Brexit never happened, and Verity Jones (the app whisperer) has got a new job. The pay means she could stop couch surfing at a friend’s apartment. But within seconds of opening the app, it has decided that Verity is in danger and takes steps to ensure her safety. Meanwhile, approximately 100 years in the future, Wilf Netherton has been drawn back into the orbit of London’s Police fixer Ainsley Lowbeer to assess the threat level of a new timeline stub. Will they need to shut it down? The very one initiated by Verity and her new app, Eunice.

This is a novel told in two timelines. The chapters alternate. Mercifully, the list of characters is quite small, with Verity and Will being the point of view characters. There is an intercept, and Gibson handles it well – time travel is not invoked. Verity and Eunice try to survive the attempts to wrest control of Eunice, who turns out to be a piece of repurposed military programming. Will and Ainsley, once they’ve assessed the potential of the new timeline, have a bigger question – Who benefits? London, and what survives of the United Kingdom, is run by the Klept, a shadowy group of oligarchs who stole power after a disaster.

0I enjoyed this read. I’ve been a fan of Gibson for quite a while and he has not disappointed. It is well paced, and the two strands, action thriller (sort of) and spy-fi (sort of), mix well. It is comfortably paced, with the action scenes not overly described. Gibson, despite a tendency toward hard SF, doesn’t wallow in techno-babble. My one complaint would be the length of some of the chapters. Some are barely two pages. But then again, chapters should be as long as they need to be and no longer.

Buy this book. It’s good. The stories are resolved well, and there are no glaring plot holes. I thank Penguin for the review copy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.