On reading: Agency by William Gibson

Title: Agency

Author: William Gibson

From the back: San Francisco, 2017. Clinton’s in the White House, Brexit never happened – and Verity Jane’s got herself a new job. 

They call Verity ‘the app-whisperer,’ and she’s just been hired by a shadowy start-up to evaluate a pair-of-glasses-cum-digital-assistant called Eunice. Only Eunice has other ideas. 

Pretty soon, Verity knows that Eunice is smarter than anyone she’s ever met, conceals some serious capabilities and is profoundly paranoid – which is just as well since suddenly some bad people are after Verity. 

Meanwhile, in a post-apocalyptic London a century from now, PR fixer Wilf Netherton is tasked by all-seeing policewoman Ainsley Lowbeer with interfering in the alternative past in which Verity and Eunice exist. It appears something nasty is about to happen there – and fixing it will require not only Eunice’s unique human-AI skillset but also a little help from the future. 

A future which Verity soon fears may never be…

The gist: Gibson takes us back into the stubs, in another action-packed thriller with his usual dose of scarily real futures, both different and the same, a window into our world wearing a slightly different outfit. Agency bounces you between worlds (or stubs or histories or futures) with flair and electric energy. 

Having read (and loved) The Peripheral it was hugely entertaining to spend time with Netherton and Lowbeer again, not to mention Conner who is a massive amount of fun to hang around with. Everyone should have a Conner robot in their lives. The newer additions, Verity and Eunice provide an interesting layer to Agency, an exploration of the nature of friendship, identity and Artificial Intelligence. Suffice to say, AI appears to have some kinda sass. 

Gibson writes with his characteristic edginess, writing that strikes very much at the heart of the moment, treading the boards between prophetic and playful. You know you’re in safe hands when you pick up a Gibson book, and Agency is no exception. 

The question you’re left with, is what the hell stub are we in right now, and when is Lowbeer paying us a visit? 

Favourite line: “Rule of thieves brings collapse, eventually, because they can’t stop stealing.”

Read if: You love your science fiction close to the bone, close to home and messing with our past, present and future in and all too real way.

Read with: Some cool glasses, and Alexa to chat to.

Get it: Agency by William Gibson

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