Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Agency” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Jackpot #2)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  7,361 ratings  ·  1,031 reviews
"One of the most visionary, original, and quietly influential writers currently working" (The Boston Globe) returns with a brand-new novel.

In William Gibson's first novel since 2014's New York Times bestselling The Peripheral, a gifted "app-whisperer," hired to beta test a mysterious new product, finds her life endangered by her relationship with her surprisingly street-sm
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by Berkley Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Agency, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Alison Gibson himself has said (on Twitter) that "either" is fine in terms of whether to read Peripheral first or jump into Agency. Personally, I'd recommend…moreGibson himself has said (on Twitter) that "either" is fine in terms of whether to read Peripheral first or jump into Agency. Personally, I'd recommend starting with Peripheral first. I'm sure that Agency stands on its own, but having already read some of Gibson's work "out of order," I'd say that it's *better* to read the linked books in order of publication.(less)
KyraB LOL ok there buddy. As if 61 ratings makes a huge difference in the outcome of the rating with 4,429 ratings... thats like... just over 1% of total ra…moreLOL ok there buddy. As if 61 ratings makes a huge difference in the outcome of the rating with 4,429 ratings... thats like... just over 1% of total ratings(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,361 ratings  ·  1,031 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Agency
Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
”Where you went, according to him, used to be the future of where he is. They still have a common past, but it forked a few years ago. And they both share a past with us, up until something that happened here, prior to the 2016 election, but he doesn’t know what.”

I’m shocked, simply shocked, that a writer would possibly think that the world was put on a disastrous course in 2016. Of course, this is William Gibson we are talking about, the very man who coined the term cyberspace, so nothing is as
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,
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-2019, fiction
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 u ...more
Matthew Fitzgerald
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 more 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 tri
Hal Johnson
Feb 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: pub-2020, sf, time-travel
How many times is Gibson going to write this same book? An overpadded group of characters, primarily distinguished by the clothes they wear, get shuttled like pawns through a series of minutely described tableaus. They do little and affect nothing, but are passively moved at the whim of someone very rich or powerful so that, in a disappointing climax, they may witness something boring.

In this case, (view spoiler)
Jan 29, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read an article a couple of years back about a show that Steve Martin had done where many in the audience were dissatisfied. Perhaps expecting the wild and crazy guy of the 70s, they had instead been entertained by a mature artist who played the banjo and told stories rather than jokes. The talent and inventiveness were still there, but it was different and not what they expected.

William Gibson’s 2020 sequel to his 2014 Novel Peripheral, and second in his “Jackpot” series, was easier to follow
Nadine Jones
This was an entirely pointless book.

Gibson sets up a fascinating premise: what if a few things in our world were tweaked, so that Brexit never happened, Hillary Clinton became POTUS, Notre Dame in Paris didn't burn down, a fully autonomous AI was created, and ... That's it. Because he does absolutely nothing with it for 390 pages. In the last few pages, (view spoiler)
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2020-shelf
If you were a fan of The Peripheral when it first came out, I'm certain you will also be a fan of this sequel. Reading the other is NOT required, however.

In fact, for a great deal of this novel, it's just a fun ride with an AI and a lot of time spent with drones. The AI is NOT your average superpower, but an uploaded mind/AI hybrid based on ad-hoc technologies designed to be a normal, average APP. :) Of course, when the App gets alpha-tested, it slips its leash and the rest, as they say, is his
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, scifi, fiction, dystopia
"Nondigital surveillance is weaponized boredom."
- William Gibson


USA has PKD (the Father)
UK had JGB (the Son)
CAN has WG (the Holy Ghost in the machine)

I was going to go on a huge riff about Gibson's talent for merging tech with an asthetic sensibility, but realize I wrote paragraphs about the very mood of Agency in my review of Gibson's previous novel The Peripheral. (See my review for Peripheral HERE.)

Agency, like Peripheral, operates in two stubs (times). But Agency is both a prequel (the earli
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This one was worth the wait, and the father (lord high emperor?) of cyber-punk delivers (again). The set-up is quick, the momentum picks up early and sustains itself throughout, and the short chapters make it easy to read in whatever increments time (or attention span) permits.

As modern AI (artificial intelligence) novels go, this one is quite good (and slightly less aspirational than, say, some of Becky Chambers' Wayfarers stuff, although I also recommend that stuff without hesitation). And, as
Ben Brackett
Jan 25, 2020 rated it did not like it
Let me save you the trouble. Girl meets AI. 397 pointless pages of the girl shuttling around to hide or pointless future alternate bullshit with a million characters that don't matter. AI says Hello World, and then its inferred the world is saved. That's not a spoiler, the real spoiler is reading this book because it will spoil your day and your opinion of Gibson. ...more
5 Stars for Agency: A Novel (audiobook) by William Gibson read by Lorelei King. It’s great that William Gibson brought back all these characters. I hope that there will be a third novel. I really enjoyed this more on audio than reading the physical book. I just love Lorelei King’s narration.
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Agency is the long-awaited second science-fiction epic in The Peripheral series and although I would strongly recommend reading the preceding novel first, Gibson has previously stated that they can easily be read as standalones or out of order. This is a science-fiction thriller heavily influenced by our most current events. There are two timelines: one set in an alternate 2017 where Verity Jane is handling the fact that digital assistant and AI Eunice is more powerful than both she and the deve ...more
Alexandra WhimsyPages
DNF at 21%

This was my first (and most likely last) novel by William Gibson. Which is a big disappointment, as I was very much looking forward to this Sci-Fi story, adding it to my “most anticipated of 2020” immediately after I heard it was coming out this January.

After attempting it twice and reading as far as 21% of the book, I had to put it down because I suddenly lost the ability to understand words. William Gibson’s writing felt confusing and incoherent, like a collection of random words.

Alternate Universe story in which an Instant A.I. becomes the McGuffin between Evil Inc. and agents of another more technologically advanced Alt-Universe. The intervention ends-up Saving the World of the AI. Second book in a trilogy.

My ebook version was a moderate 420-pages. It had a 2020 US copyright.

William Gibson is a Canadian author of science fiction and a screenwriter. He’s written more than ten (10) novels and many short stories. Full disclosure, I have read all of Gibson’s novels, mos
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ho
Jeff Jackson
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sequel to 'The Peripheral' which it's probably best to read first. Gibson offers a fresh tactic for how fiction might address the real-life dystopia of these Trumpian times. The first half is riveting, though the book slows from there and the last third feels like it's spinning its wheels, sometimes literally, plotwise. Still, the echoes of the present embedded in the novel's alternate realities are eerie and powerful. They've stubbornly stuck with me.
3.5 stars
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am disappointed in the trajectory of William Gibson's increasingly stripped-down prose. I thought I would try him one last time because The Peripheral was a difficult book to read completely. I realize now that I read this book out of a brand-loyalty to the memory of books like Neuromancer, but Gibson is no longer the type of writer I can be excited about. The reason The Peripheral and Agency are so underwhelming to me is that these books are 90% dialog, and contain barely any action or fantas ...more
Feb 06, 2021 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Drones, uploads and temporal tourists
Recommended to Alan by: Goodreads; previous work

You know the feeling too, I'm sure:
That new-job liminality was definitely gone, Verity thought, though not in any way she'd hoped for. Replaced instead by another feeling, deeply unfamiliar. Another in-betweenness, but between what and what, she'd no idea.
Confused and unsettled... that describes Verity Jane, the protagonist (sort of—and more about that later), and it describes me too, as I began reading William Gibson's very 2020 novel Agency.

First off: don't even pick this one
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The man has outdone himself. This is a hell of a ride: dense, rich, hilarious, and—less surprising to readers familiar with the Bigend trilogy as well as The Peripheral than to those who stopped at the Bridge trilogy or, heck, after Neuromancer—at its core, a love letter to humanity, in all its fuckedness.
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
Barely 3 stars for a Gibson novel, something I never would have thought possible.
Writing is there, kind of, but there is a) too much explaining to link this to the first volume, and b) there is this simplistic, b&w incorporation of current events in the novel (ugh). I had to stop following the author on Twitter a while ago not because he was only talking about the USA politics, nor because I disagreed with him in most of his views (wouldn't have stopped just for that, even if I did), but becaus
Mar 03, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Although I rarely read science fiction, I was curious and eager to read William Gibson’s Agency, highly recommended as it was by a long-standing GR friend with reliably excellent literary taste. The science fiction that I’ve enjoyed in the past features strong characters, plot, and prose complementing a currently fictional innovative science. Unfortunately, Agency, the only Gibson novel that I’ve attempted, just wasn’t for me: it seemed constructed solely to put forth William Gibson’s stimulatin ...more
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-reads
I wanted to like this more but the plot is pretty slim. As is the characterization. The main character didn't make much of an impression on me. I was hoping for more worldbuilding in the settings. There is some good dialogue and there are cool ideas, as always with Gibson. But to be honest, it was disappointing.

Full review on Wakizashi's Teahouse: https://biginjapangrayman.wordpress.c...
Chris Harris
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I became a Gibson fan when I first read Neuromancer back in the 80s. Since then, he's become my favourite author. Reading a new William Gibson is an Event. The writing is a joy; the degree to which everything is crafted, the subtlety with which the world is established and the organic way in which the plot unfolds show an author at the top of his game. He makes it look effortless. He's moved far beyond cyberpunk into a field of his own, in which he takes the present and drags it into some mirror ...more
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Either this made more sense than Neuromancer, or I'm getting better at keeping multiple virtual POVs straight. Also, more 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 more 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
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not as complex as the first, but a hell of a lot more 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.
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Human gets driven around while an AI does stuff off-screen. For no apparent reason, a form of time travel is involved.
Sep 08, 2020 rated it did not like it

Welcome to, not one but two worlds of surveillance, paranoia and time travel! A problem I often find with Gibson’s work is that he floods you with too much technological terms and it can be really confusing and distracting, that the novel itself soon becomes more about tech than the prose.

I struggled to keep up with what was going on with who and where and in what century, and as a result I felt like I was getting half-baked ideas and clever names rather than a proper story. As I battled through
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Gwendy's Magic Feather (The Button Box, #2)
  • Gideon Falls, Vol. 2: Original Sins
  • You Have Arrived at Your Destination
  • Long Bright River
  • Horror Stories: A Memoir
  • Me
  • The Starless Sea
  • Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns
  • Black Hammer, Vol. 3: Age of Doom, Part One
  • How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems
  • The Monster of Elendhaven
  • White Bird
  • Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA
  • Race of Aces: WWII's Elite Airmen and the Epic Battle to Become the Masters of the Sky
  • The Art of Resistance
  • The Other People
  • Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives
  • Mr. Nobody
See similar books…
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian writer who has been called the father of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction, having coined the term cyberspace in 1982 and popularized it in his first novel, Neuromancer(1984), which has sold more than 6.5 million copies wor

Other books in the series

Jackpot (2 books)
  • The Peripheral

Articles featuring this book

Myths and mayhem, the fantastical and the scientifically plausible, these are readers’ most popular sci-fi and fantasy novels published in the...
154 likes · 29 comments
“They’re still a bit in advance of the pandemics, at least.” She took the seat opposite. “Nothing before the 2020s has ever seemed entirely real, to me. Hard to imagine they weren’t constantly happy, given all they still had. Tigers, for instance.” Picking” 7 likes
“The plus sign is a hipster ampersand.” 3 likes
More quotes…