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An Agent of Utopia: New and Selected Stories

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  94 ratings  ·  20 reviews

In the tales gathered in An Agent of Utopia: New and Selected Stories you will meet a Utopian assassin, an aging UFO contactee, a haunted Mohawk steelworker, a time-traveling prizefighter, a yam-eating Zombie, and a child who loves a frizzled chicken—not to mention Harry Houdini, Zora Neale Hurston, Sir Thomas More, and all their fellow travelers riding the steamer-trunk i

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Small Beer Press
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Peter Tillman
Here's as far as I got before the book came due:
• An Agent of Utopia • novelette. Finalist for the 2018 Nebula and 2019 Locus awards. Historical fantasy: what if an emissary from Utopia had visited Sir Thomas More as he awaited execution in the Tower of London? Eh. Bounced on first try.
• Joe Diabo's Farewell • novelette. Eddie Two Rivers DeLisle is a Mohawk steelworker, building a skyscraper in NYC in 1926. The riveter on his crew falls to his death. Eddie goes to the movies that night. A slic
Galen Strickland
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review at

Duncan reads like the Southern version of Clifford Simak. Most of the stories are set in the South, with simple characters confronting weird situations. Even when not in first person, they read in the languorous lilt of the Southern drawl. A variation of style would have been nice once in a while, but that's the only negative. Well, that and the frequent use of the N-word. While appropriate for the time and place the stories were set, it's still ja
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
I got this thru LibraryThing's ER program for an honest review. Honestly, this collection of sci-fi and near sci-fi stories, was a bit of a miss for me. I ended up putting it down about 3/4 of the way thru. Perhaps it was just the mood I was in at the time. There were a couple stories that were exceptional that made the read worthwhile, perhaps I'll go back eventually and pick up the rest. My favorites were; "An Agent of Utopia" - a assassin from Utopia, "The Map to the Homes of the Stars" - li ...more
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining collection of short stories of science fiction and magical realism. The standouts for me were “Real Indians,” a story about Native American construction workers in the 1920s; “Slow As A Bullet,” a story written as a folk tale, about a man who bets that he can outrun a bullet; and “Close Encounters,” about a man coming to terms with an alien encounter decades before.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bestest of things, ever. My two favorites were the two previously unpublished, "Agent of Utopia" and "Joe Diablo's Farewell."

"Agent" is powerful and clever and really makes you feel you're stuck in the filth of early modern London. A true delight to see Andy turn his penchant for dialect on the Shakesperean Insult!

"Joe Diablo's Farewell" was just... wow. Heartbreaking and beautiful. It hit all my buttons hard and will stick with me for a while.

So, if you love historical fiction, the delightful
3.5 stars. I picked this up because the title story, "Agent of Utopia,"is nominated for multiple SFF awards. The stories in this collection were really a mixed bag for me; I really liked some and wasn't all that fond of others. I actually feel like the collection would be best read spaced out over a long time, reading one story every few days. Part of this is because Duncan has a tendency to fall back on a couple common themes in this collection, such as centering the story on real-life historic ...more
Christopher Rose
This book makes me wish I were more familiar with his writings, but it seems likely to me that much of his best work is collected here. Crackerjack storytelling, just very satisfying reading, and nothing here that you could say was a lesser story. The voice is assured, rich with southern flavors, cagey about revealing details. You’ll feel, as I did, like the author is always a step or two ahead of us. I’m grateful to him for having taken such care in the writing, and grateful to Small Beer Press ...more
Simon Mcleish
Mixed bag of fantasy stories. My favourite was the title story, which I had already read in a best of collection. Many of the others were set in a sort of generalised Americana background, often touching on issues of race and class, usually with some humour. It reminded me of the fantastic Little, Big, but I found it alienating (as a non-American) rather than charming. ...more
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review is specific to An Agent of Utopia, which is all I have read so far. And as these stories go it's a good one--the best thing about it is the period setting, particularly his florid descriptions of the filth of the Thames in Shakespearian London. The story centers around Thomas More and his execution, imagining Utopia as a real place with an active presence in London. Good if you like Andy Duncan already.
Like most short story collections, some were better than others. My personal favorites were Map to the Homes of the Stars and Close Encounters. Very good ones were Senator Bilbo and Slow as a Bullet and maybe Beluthahatchie. It took me a while to get through it. I think it's because I kept losing interest in the stories. Not a bad collection, overall.
Trish Graboske
I love Andy Duncan's stories, so I was really looking forward to this collection. Sadly, seven of the stories can be found in The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories, and two of them can be found in Beluthahatchie and Other Stories. Only three stories in An Agent of Utopia weren't in the two books I already had. They are all great stories, but the book was a disappointment in my case.
Maggie Mattmiller
Aug 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't want to be unfair, because I know I don't like short stories, but typically in a collection I will at least enjoy one or two despite that. Not so with this one. I only pushed through this one because it was for Book Club.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars, mixed bag of course. Not bad stories, but not quite to my likeling.
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Totally sucked me in to each story. I think the one from Depression New York was my favorite, but they were all outstanding.
Dave White
Wasn't for me.
I was disappointed.
Aug 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first story is pretty good. I'd rate the rest from very good to just ok. Some of them seem to just end and you're left wondering "What the...?" Although perhaps that was the author's intent.
Patrick H.
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read though some of the endings fell a little short. Enjoyed the folksy southern stories most.
Dedmanshootn dedmanshootn
a couple stories were very good but several didn't engage me at all. when you're in the mood for something different
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, scribd
I enjoyed this collection of stories very much. Andy Duncan knows how to put a story together. As I was writing up this review and adding links, my admiration grew and grew at how Mr. Duncan could take a grain of truth and wrap a pearl of a story around it.

CW: a number of these stories deal with racism and abuse. There's possibly more use of the n- word than we really need. But the author's voice is very Southern. If you can take a deep breath and read past the offensive word(s), the stories are
Anne Worth
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's the language of these stories that lingers in the mind. I came away from each one feeling like a good friend had told it to me out loud. Several stories inspired me to look up a fact or two, since they're based on actual odd little incidents in the past. I bet Duncan is a fantastic person to have dinner with, given his interest in history.
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Andy Duncan is the award-winning author of two novellas—The Night Cache (2009) and Wakulla Springs (with Ellen Klages, 2013, 2018)—and three short fiction collections: Beluthahatchie and Other Stories (2000), The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories (2012) and An Agent of Utopia: New and Selected Stories (2018). He is also the author of non-fiction book Alabama Curiosities (2005, 2009), and co-edi ...more

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