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10 thoughts on “Agency

  1. says:

    Long time Gibson fan, but not so sure about this one The beginning is incredibly confusing too many strangely named characters, time shifting in alternating chapters and bizarrely named new inventions and words It takes sheer will to plod on until the two timeframes mesh and you start to understand what the story is about Once there, the second half of the book is an enjoyable romp However, it ends rather abruptly The ending chapters unsuccessfully attempt to tidy up loose ends, but are unsatisfying Gibson never fully realized the plot points relating to our present political environment and the late introduction of a do gooder persona for Eunice feels tacked on and pointless The basic premise has been handled expertly by others It feels as though Gibson wasn t quite sure what story he wanted to tell and ultimately just threw in the towel A disappointment.


  2. says:

    Goodreads shows a Sept 3, 2019 release, but the library shows January 21, 2020 Was this book released on Sept 3 IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE


  3. says:

    I never thought I would use the phrase tedious William Gibson novel, but apparently this is the version of the world we now live in This tedious William Gibson novel is clearly a William Gibson novel it has the effortless prose, the vivid if occasionally inaccurate imagery, the geek culture namedrops, the characters who are outsiders to power and the mainstream What it doesn t have much of is a plot, and what the characters don t have much of, by irony that may or may not be unconscious, is agency They do almost nothing that has any impact on anything In fact, they do almost nothing, and it s narrated at great length The author establishes a strict alternation between two viewpoint characters Verity, in a version of 2017 California where the US election of 2016 and the Brexit vote went the other way, and Netherton, in a post apocalyptic future descended, quite possibly, from our version of the timeline This strict alternation regardless of what s going on and who has the most at stake at the time, and this choice of viewpoint characters, soon begin to work against the success of the book Both viewpoint characters are essentially passive Verity spends most of the book as a passenger, being moved around to escape from a corrupt corporation who hired her at the start of the novel It s never really clear to me why anyone involves Netherton in events, rather than just going direct he s a go between and a middleman and an observer, and the one effective thing he does fighting off a random encounter that has no lead up and no follow through is entirely by accident Many of the chapters, particularly the Netherton ones, consist of someone, usually Netherton, repeating something we have just been shown in the previous chapter to someone else who wasn t observing at the time Not very far into the book, the two viewpoints connect, by a technological means of communication that s never explained in any depth, but looks to the users like VR The beginning is promising Verity is hired by that dodgy corporation because of her reputation as an app whisperer to do vague things with a new alpha build, an advanced AI called Eunice Eunice is templated on a feisty, fiercely intelligent and capable African American woman, and is by far the most interesting character in the book after view spoiler she disappears hide spoiler


  4. says:

    in a post apocalyptic London a century from now SOLD


  5. says:

    Agency is minor Gibson, insofar as its themes and plot generally stay within the space carved out so well by The Peripheral, but it s changed up enough to make for a worthwhile and often compelling middle chapter in this trilogy Note, there be spoilers beyond this point Much, of course, is exactly what one expects from any mid to late Gibson novel the sleek poly hyphenated prose fragments of the future hiding in plain sight larval AIs intelligence contractors of dubious morals otaku jeans And by setting Agency both so close to the present day as in Pattern Recognition and amidst tech creatives in the Bay Area cf All Tomorrow s Parties , it has an almost valedictory feel You can t help imagining Milgrim is about to walk out of Golden Gate Park at any moment, or that we could suddenly cut away to Chevette s own stub Unfortunately, there are also some familiar story elements that feel trotted out from The Peripheral in a fairly pro forma way gotta check in with Madison and other minor characters Are the klept still plotting ineffectually You bet Even in the book s new timeline, the central section falls prey to a slightly laboured race from point A to B to C to D to B that really limits the _ahem_ agency of the characters and whose fast cuts would play better on screen than on the page It s not actually the launch of a William Gibson Literary Universe, but it really could be with a few small edits.Still, amidst all this deja and presque vu there is some.philosophical novelty Is trying to help someone holding less knowledge helicopter parenting, imperialism, or just common decency Is there such a thing as having too much control, no.matter how benevolent Who gets to say what history is real, especially if the past is genuinely mutable And would reversing some of our most recent political messes actually change anything, or are we already so doomed we need a very literal deus ex machina to save us Any answers Gibson offers are oblique and partial, but between those heady questions, a propulsive final act, and the pleasures of his prose and sceptical eye, it s still a good use of time before the jackpot hits I see this point in a lot of reviews, and it s a fair cop But, uh, this is a novel that a pointedly references 2016 and Brexit and b tells the story of a lead whose one unwitting choice turns her into a choiceless passenger on endless, aimless journeys through a city awaiting disaster That s a narrative decision that creates problems for the story and blogs it down in several places, but you can t say it s coincidental.


  6. says:

    Not as complex as the first, but a hell of a lot fun to read The ending is a bright burst of optimism until you realize it s basically literally just wish fulfillment Dark Always good to end on a crude joke though.


  7. says:

    If you re a William Gibson fan, or even the remotest fan of The Peripheral, ignore the stars on this review and just read it You will thoroughly dig it, even if this feels like an expansion pack of a novel, a Peripheral 1.5, than a true sequel to that book For what it s worth, I think The Peripheral is Gibson s best and most inventive book yet Fight me, Pattern Recognition fans.Gibson s spare, barbed wire prose is in full effect here, for good and ill I find the writing at times too trim and concise, the characters all talking in the same ultra hip staccato, but the effect is unmistakable I am peering over the shoulders of these characters, barely able to take it all in, glimpsing perhaps half of what their expert eyes see before being whisked away to , , It all leaves me with a profound sense that this brooding, sprawling world I m seeing stretches for miles The klept, the jackpot, the by turns subtle and overwhelming powers and lethality of an agent like Lowbeer these all get extended in vast, grim vistas, kneaded with expert efficiency, stretching the world of this novel And wisely, even in this second bite at the time travel ish apple, the author leaves it to the reader to fill in the blanks of all the terribleness of the jackpot Imagining your own worst fears about climate change, pandemics, organized crime, failed states and the like is so much effective that telling me exactly how it happened, or how the world has come to have some semblance of order again.Unfortunately, the world of this novel s present a stub different than, but able to interact with, the characters we met in Gibson s previous novel has far less going for it Gibson s ideas around Eunice and AI are interesting, but they don t go far Eunice is pretty much an unfathomably sophisticated AI from the moment she shows up, and she just keeps proving it to new people throughout the course of the book The biggest flaw in the book, for me, is the cast of all too quotidian West Coast techno cognoscenti They are all paper thin characters and far, far less engaging antipodes to the grim, parodic world of Hefty Mart, Sushi Barn, Flynne and her cohorts that Netherton, Lowbeer, Ash et al interacted with in the last book This presents real problems for the story, because placed in such a recognizably mundane world, these characters just don t do much For all the talk of agency, Verity has precious little of it She spends the vast majority of this book being told what to do, being moved to and fro, driven around by people she barely knows for reasons she doesn t know at all Whereas the Peripheral was telling two good stories on both ends of its timeline, the past of this book is far less compelling The major differences in this stub and our 2019 amount to little than background chatter and a footnote for the reader Gibson s view of the world with a different Brexit outcome and a different 2016 U.S presidential election outcome don t do much to improve the overall shape of the world things are still on track toward the Jackpot A grim joke, perhaps, that the stub the reader s living in is perhaps like Flynne s than Verity s.Gibson rarely throws us than a single character or two to hang our hat on, and in this book, Eunice the AI is far interesting a problem any time she s not on the page in the past which becomes quite often Compare Verity s lack of agency to Flynne, who actually did things, made decisions, faced down real violence and stood up for her beliefs Verity has favorite restaurants and rides on the backs of motorcycles Oh yeah, and she s an app whisperer, a job half as cool as Cayce Pollard s was and about 10% as well fleshed out as Cayce s gig Gibson seems to write in trilogies, and I sense a pattern every decade he disgorges something new, a a sun glowing and alive with wild, brilliant, far sighted ideas And then he orbits that star with new stories, tangents, quasi continuations of ideas or threads but nothing that shines half as bright as that original sun As a huge fan of The Peripheral, I loved every bit of illumination this book brought into that world But like his other trilogies, this book is a mere rock orbiting the bigger ideas of its predecessor.


  8. says:

    Either this made sense than Neuromancer, or I m getting better at keeping multiple virtual POVs straight Also, than one female character, not all of whom are Ass Kicking Babes, or at least not all in the same way Hooray Later It must be odd to be William Gibson Society, and technology, has or less arrived at a point that he wrote about as futuristic during his early career he s now indelibly known as a science fiction writer, but Agency though it has all of the trappings of a techno thriller and is, certainly, science fictional is less world of tomorrow sf than world of three minutes from now satire It concerns the development of an autonomous AI system, originally created as a form of virtual handler for covert military operations, now stolen by a Silicon Valley firm and marketed as a PA called Eunice There s time travel sort of, in a manner of speaking , and high speed motorcycle chases, and a remote control drone shaped like a radiator, and a lot of quick, slangy banter It s terrific fun and reasonably clever along with it, though I think Gibson s ending is optimistic.


  9. says:

    Agency, William Gibson s latest book inhabits the same universe as The Peripheral, his last novel which came out in 2014 It s a long time between drinks, but you don t have to have read that book to make sense of this one I had indeed pretty much forgotten everything a talent of mine that enables me to re read books often with no spoilers.The first half of Agency introduces a number of characters across a world set in the present time albeit an alternate history and a future world which may or may not be based on our timeline Initially it s somewhat tricky keeping track of them all, but by the time the second half comes around, it s rolling along in a very enjoyable William Gibson style.The present world storyline centers around Verity, an App Whisperer , Eunice an Artificial Intelligence entity which will bring back memories of WinterMute , and Stets, some sort of generic Silicon Valley Billionaire only not a jerk There s a whole back story about Verity and Stets that isn t expanded on which had me frantically googling to find out what previous Gibson book they had appeared in none as far as I can tell but see also the paragraph above where I describe my special superpower.The other world is set in a very interesting and believable future London, with Russian mobsters, secret service operatives and nanobots making things furiously Before I deleted Twitter off my phone I was following the author and it was great fun to see him asking his English fans questions about language usage and parts of London I ll have to re read and do some googling to see what made it into the book.While this isn t Gibson s best book, it s still an enjoyable read and I m hoping for a third in this series.I received an advance copy for review from NetGalley.


  10. says:

    The preceding book, The Peripheral, has been a favorite recommendation since it came out in 2014 This sequel is good, though not quite as good as its predecessor I think it suffers from two things In a book titled Agency, the protagonist Verity seems to have very little of it She spends the whole book being sent from place to place.Eunice is interesting but largely absent for large chunks of the story.Those critiques aside, I would still recommend this book to fans of The Peripheral, and I hope there are books in this series forthcoming.I received an eARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.