Agency by William Gibson

Vince W

Towel Champion
Sep 9, 2011
Will Gibson's Agency is typical of his type of book. Tightly written with sparse descriptions and no safety-net. Admittedly if you've read The Peripheral you'll have a much easier time of given that many of the same characters are there and the settings are the same along the future timeline.

Agency is part time-travel, part noir thriller, and part political warning. Gibson weaves all the parts into a cohesive story that brings all the elements together in the last fifty pages or so. I don't want to give anything away to those of you that haven't read it but there is a chilling familiarity to the story that makes many of the events all too possible.

If you follow Gibson, @GreatDismal, on twitter at all, you know his leanings and they are evident in this book as well. He also manages to create a couple of new tech platforms that if they aren't already a reality they soon will be. At 72 years old Gibson still sounds fresh and youthful. If I were to recommend Gibson to a millennial or younger I would direct them to The Peripheral and Agency.

While I was reading Agency my thoughts were cast back to Neuromancer and Count Zero. There were elements to this book that made me think of the Wintermute and Kurshkova stories of those earlier books. There is even one non-character that made me wonder if Gibson was trying to tell us something.

The things that disturbed me the most weren't the things that Gibson had to explain but the ones he didn't. A couple of decades ago he would have had to explain what an IED was, now no such explanation is given and sadly it isn't needed. There were a couple of moments like that.

I would place this book slightly above its predecessor but only slightly and mainly because it builds on what was previously told in The Peripheral and also lets us know what was happening to those characters without them being the focus.

I would rate this book nearly a 5/5.
Managed to locate my copy of The Peripheral. 30 pages in and my memory of the plot and indeed reading it are so faint that it might as well be a new book.
The Peripheral is a much more difficult novel than Agency because the ideas and concepts behind it are new. Agency is more accessible because it builds on The Peripheral. It's very similar in the way Count Zero was easier to grasp because you had read Neuromancer.
About half way through my reread of the peripheral. I do like Gibson. Persevere through the first third of the book and it all starts to click into place. He reads very well.
Count Zero was a fascinating book. Gibson certainly does work without a safety net. He's demanding of his readers, but rewarding to read. The credit he gives to his readers to put together the pieces reminds me a little of Gene Wolf's Book of the New Sun.

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