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Agency

(The Peripheral #2)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,584 ratings  ·  278 reviews

A thrilling dystopian novel imagining a world where Trump lost the election, from the master of science fiction

San Francisco, 2017. In an alternate time track, Hillary Clinton won the election and Donald Trump's political ambitions were thwarted.

London, 22nd century. Decades of cataclysmic events have killed 80 per cent of humanity. A shadowy start-up hires a young woman

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Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published January 23rd 2020 by Penguin
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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)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,584 ratings  ·  278 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
”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
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Mike
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
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Andrea
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, summer-2019
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 ...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
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Dannii Elle
What if Clinton won the presidential election? What is Brexit never happened? What if future technology, birthed in our own time, pierced history to alter events and begin a parallel chain? Well, that escalated quickly! And so does this book!

This is split between a future and present time-line and it is not until the latter half that the reader gets an understanding of how the two interact. I enjoyed the story far more once this was clear. The former part was also littered with confusing
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Bradley
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
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Steve
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Lou
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 ...more
Howard
4.5 Stars for Agency (The Peripheral #2) by William Gibson. The Peripheral is one of my favorite science fiction books. It’s nice to see a lot of the old characters back in a new adventure. I hope this will be a trilogy. I read that Amazon is working on a television series adaptation of The Peripheral. I can’t wait.
Joe
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
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Nadine Jones
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?????
Jeff Jackson
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aidan Craigwood
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.
Emma
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.
Eleanor
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
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unknown
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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.

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Colin MacDonald
First, I wish I'd re-read The Peripheral first. Gibson doesn't waste any time re-establishing the world and characters, and I was struggling to remember several of them.

And I may need to re-read this too. In my rush to get through it, I may have missed bits of connective tissue, but it doesn't feel like it really hangs together. There's a lot of scheming and running around, but I often felt that the actions didn't quite line up with the motivations. A lot of Wait, why are they doing that?

That
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KIRO
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Massive Gibson fan here. This one pre-ordered (and arrived really early) after thoroughly enjoying his “return” to SCI fi with The Peripheral. Agency is the sequel. To use a video game analogy, this feels like DLC before the next major release. Peripheral 1.5. It’s not bad, but there are no surprises here, all the cool stuff had been unveiled in the last book. It felt like the same props, scenery and actors just slightly remixed. This may be a little unfair but I kept waiting for something to ...more
Yuri Karabatov
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi, 2020plan
Don't believe the skeptics. But read “The Peripheral” first.
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
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Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller
William Gibson has contributed many revolutionary works to the science fiction canon since his breakout success, NEUROMANCER. Perhaps his greatest strength is to explore possible outcomes of our technology being pushed to its absolute limit. It’s a treat, then, that for AGENCY, Gibson draws inspiration from the late 2010s to rattle us with a science fiction novel that is equally thrilling and literary at every turn, with a focus on our current, in-use technology and fears surrounding our own ...more
Dan
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a follow up to The Peripheral, which is up there as one of Gibson’s best books for me. I’m assuming he is working on his usual template of loosely connected trilogies and that there will be another to come in this world. Being a return visit, this doesn’t have the same kind of impact or originality as The Peripheral did, but there is plenty here that fans will appreciate; his traditional sparse prose, meticulous examination of detail in fashion and tech, and big, big, ideas. The usual ...more
Hal Johnson
Feb 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, time-travel, pub-2020
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)
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Megan (ReadingRover)
Let me start by saying that when I put this audiobook on hold at the library I had no idea it was book 2 in a series. That being said I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. I liked the beginning when Verity is first introduced to Eunice and they start working together but soon after I began to lose interest and get confused. As things moved on I thought I would become more invested but the opposite happened. I cared less and less and had no idea what the fuck was going on. I just ...more
Keith
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes

I’m really happy with this book. It is an expansion of the Peripheral, book one of the series, with several of the same characters from three different parallel universes. The story is fun but also dramatic; adventurous and thrilling; and silly and thought provoking. It reminds me of the funnest aspects of Neuromancer and that first cyberpunk trilogy. The pacing got a little bit slow in the middle and the plot a little bit lost, but the last quarter of the book is simply super-cool. Highly
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Ben Brackett
Jan 25, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Eric
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Gibson's Agency is a pointless, empty novel that I honestly can't figure out why it exists. At no point is there any tension whatsoever and the entire thing is just....nothing.

I guess he wrote a whole book just to toast Hillary at the end? Cool.

Two stars because I still like the Big Stub stuff.
Cheryl DeFranceschi
This was everything I wanted it to be! I was completely ensorceled by the writing and the pacing. Also, I cannot think of anyone who sees the future more clearly. Thank you to Berkley Books for the chance to read this one early. I’ve been waiting for it forever, as it kept getting pushed forward. But, reading it now, I can see how Mr. Gibson availed himself of the opportunity to make it just that much more awesome!
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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
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