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Agency

Written by: William Gibson
Narrated by: Lorelei King
Length: 10 hrs and 12 mins
4 out of 5 stars (22 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An instant New York Times best seller

"One of the most visionary, original, and quietly influential writers currently working" (The Boston Globe) returns with a sharply imagined follow-up to the New York Times best-selling The Peripheral.

William Gibson has trained his eye on the future for decades, ever since coining the term "cyberspace" and then popularizing it in his classic speculative novel Neuromancer in the early 1980s. Cory Doctorow raved that The Peripheral is "spectacular, a piece of trenchant, far-future speculation that features all the eyeball kicks of Neuromancer." Now, Gibson is back with Agency - a science-fiction thriller heavily influenced by our most current events.

Verity Jane, gifted app whisperer, takes a job as the beta tester for a new product: a digital assistant, accessed through a pair of ordinary-looking glasses. "Eunice", the disarmingly human AI in the glasses, manifests a face, a fragmentary past, and a canny grasp of combat strategy. Realizing that her cryptic new employers don’t yet know how powerful and valuable Eunice is, Verity instinctively decides that it’s best they don’t.

Meanwhile, a century ahead in London, in a different time line entirely, Wilf Netherton works amid plutocrats and plunderers, survivors of the slow and steady apocalypse known as the jackpot. His boss, the enigmatic Ainsley Lowbeer, can look into alternate pasts and nudge their ultimate directions. Verity and Eunice are her current project. Wilf can see what Verity and Eunice can’t: their own version of the jackpot, just around the corner, and the roles they both may play in it.

©2018 William Gibson (P)2018 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“His eye for the eerie in the everyday still lends events an otherworldly sheen.” (The New Yorker

“William Gibson can craft sentences of uncanny beauty, and is our great poet of crowds.” (San Francisco Chronicle Book Review)

“Like Pynchon and DeLillo, Gibson excels at pinpointing the hidden forces that shape our world.” (Details)

What members say
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

William Gibson does it again!!!

I’m a long-time fan of William Gibson’s work. As always, I don’t want to reach the end of the book, but i also can’t wait for the ending!!!. I listened to ‘Agency’ as a stand alone audio book and then again after I reread ‘The Perpheral.’ What a lovely ride! A side note: Gibson’s earlier works were read by Robertson Dean, but I much prefer Lorelei Dean....

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A fitting continuance from the peripheral

William Gibson doing what he does best. Entertaining thought provoking all I could of asked for is more!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A decent cyber romp

As in a typical Gibson story there is an AI. Also as is typical in a Gibson story, the AI is nominally female. I always wondered why he never just made them gender-less. I could never fathom why an AI would care one way or another, and if it did, it would probably a gender distinction far removed from what we understand as gender. At least in this book he gives a reason why the AI is nominally female.

Eunice is the AI. She is the commercial offspring of a military project. Verity is an app whisperer hired to test Eunice. There are some people from another timeline, various shady entities who are trying to disable Eunice and those that know about her, and the group that is protecting Verity from those people.

The story starts off very well. Eunice gaining sentience works well. The side plot of the background of the people from another timeline is interesting. Eunice being female plays into the narrator's voice. Lorelei King turns in a good performance and does well with the material. I would have given this book five stars but about a third of the way through the main protagonist, Verity, becomes less of a participant and more of a fragile, inanimate object to be protected. A lot of things happen around her, which although she is the focus of, she is not a real participant in. It is too bad Gibson couldn't find something for her to do, no even necessarily action, but even analysis, coding, anything.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected story-wise

The performance is great and it's a good concept but the way the story evolves was very lukewarm.

I didn't realize its a sequel so maybe reading the previous one helps get more engaged, but it wasn't legendary at all

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  • Mr
  • 2020-04-30

Perfect near future sci-fi

‘Pattern recognition’ has been one of my favourite books, and I think this matches it. Interesting characters with complex motivations, and lots of small, almost throwaway details that place it in a believable world almost (but not quite) exactly like our own.
Manages to be an engaging cerebral thriller without a lot actually happening - which I would normally find quite tedious - but here it seems to work, like it did in ‘Pattern recognition’.
One of the few fiction books that’s ambivalent about AI - not shown as good or bad, apocalyptic or a saviour, but something that could be either (or both). Also includes one spectacular dig at US and UK politics that I did NOT see coming.
Highly recommended.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Didn't finish it.

I started and stopped listening to this book twice and still have not finished it.

Found I had trouble paying attention and that led to confusion about the plot. Maybe it was the style/genre wasn't for me but I wouldn't recommend it.

The only positive comment I can give is that I liked the narration. That's the only reason I stuck with this as long as I did.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

pretty good, not his best

still, happy to have a timely instalment of the good stuff

felt like a lot more blocking and precise movement than ideas or plot

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Ocean State Prime
  • 2020-02-02

enjoyable romp lacking significance

I'd give this story an additional star for a first time author. One does expect an old master of science fiction to produce something of significance. This is not such.

King did a great job with the narration.

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Queequeg
  • 2020-01-31

Mediocre and Forgettable

This feels as if it were written by someone who had never been to the Bay Area. There is no sense of place, but then the characters are just as shallow. It almost feels as if written by second-rate AI. Another complete waste of time.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Bill Koslosky
  • 2020-01-27

Science Fashion?

Obsessive descriptions of clothing and everything else doesn't build interest. How many times do you need to know a character's pants are too baggy to accommodate a knee brace? This sequel to The Peripheral moves monotonously to a ho-hum ending where the bad guys are sent packing, and somehow the avoidance of any major calamity in the present-day stub is never fully explained.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • N.J
  • 2020-01-26

Low quality SciFi

This is the type of SciFi that doesn’t take you deep into the story or caricatures. It’s more like a long short story. But, the story idea was very interesting.

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Ronke
  • 2020-02-10

reads like a treatment for a bad movie

I am stunned how bad this book is. I am currently in chemo and have been using my enforced down time to read or reread all of Gibson (somehow missed a few like Mona Lisa Overdrive when they came out).

Having adored The Peripheral, I immediately put this on Pre-Order and just finished it, despite increasing reluctance to pick it up at any given point. When yet another incredibly stupid and unnecessary character (Manuela) appeared in the final chapters, I was about ready to throw the book and my Galaxy across the room.

The narrator is as excellent as always, accomplishing an astonishing range of voices and accents... or non accents. But even she cannot endow the main human character with anything but a sort of whiny simple mindednes, while the narrative is full of ridiculously detailed and meaningless descriptions of physical movements: sliding across a car seat, washing a face and putting on shoes (yes, many more times than once) . The brilliant internal monologues, characters and connections for which Gibson is famous are totally lacking. I have returned in relief to Pattern Recognition and am hoping the future will bring some return to form.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevin S.
  • 2020-02-04

Interesting concept, now just overdone

Overall, I didn't get what made this any different than Peripheral. Gibson actually pushed the envelope with things like Neuromancer, implying a truly viable high tech future. Now, the tech is here and nothing really new - I kept thinking along the lines of "drone of the week" at this point and the twist of the time travel is now stale - as well as repeatedly demonstrating there's no real stakes as the future we always see doesn't get impacted by those essentially just playing around with rich west coast D listers in the past. What exactly do the people in the future do for real work, anyway? I felt the (tired, overdone as every recent Stephenson 'hero' is) heroine came across as very flat, almost ignorant valley girl in voice acting - and it's awfully weird when the female narrator has better male voices than female. Finally, as in Overall, this just came across as Peripheral Part 2: Dry and Tired.. that's my opinion of the story. It seemed awfully woke and kind of gratuitous that the stolen military AI featured in the story never come across as African American female even though it identifies as one later - queue the wokeness, and way to pretty much steal a minor character from CBS SEAL Team - a translator no less (and yes, it's said the basis for the AI was a black girl translator associated with Navy Special Forces) and not even the kind of strategist that would pull off all the magic techno stunts and basically bank robbery inundated throughout.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Edward
  • 2020-01-25

Agency. Well done follow up to The Peripheral

Awesome story. Great characters. Hillary Clinton as a heroic figure was laughable. Excellent use of alternate history

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lisa
  • 2020-02-05

Love the themes!

I️ was disappointed in the performance by Lorelei King. She mispronounced words here and there, mixed up character “voices” and was inconsistent with character “voices.”

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-04-23

Don’t judge this book by its cover

The Black woman depicted on the cover has a small sometimes insignificant role in this sporadic, incoherent plot is alternative time line and political plots. Please don’t waste your time on this one

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Carter L. Whitte
  • 2020-03-02

Sadly, the worst Gibson has ever been.

I've been reading and been enthralled by Gibson for over 10 years, and eagerly await each new piece. Usually, he's the undisputed champion of writing timeless works that nevertheless perfectly encapsulate the moment in they are written.

Not here. There is barely any story, what there is trods old ground, there is one interesting character (recycled from an older novel), the thematics are the shallowest political tripe, (whoa, Trump is bad! What a hot take) and the zeitgeist inserts might have been edgy just after his last book (William Gibson is pushing Boston Dynamics? My aunts will feel so edgy, after sending those chain email vids).

I hope this is just a fluke, and not a sign that he's washed up. It's possible that I'm being overly harsh, but this one hurts. I'd prefer to live in a world where Gibson moves past this and innovates again.

2 people found this helpful