Agency by William Gibson – book review

Many many years ago I was a literary critic for cyberpunk books. I had a regular column in a magazine and it was really cool to be able to pick up a magazine on a newsstand and see my own writing in it. These days I very seldom review a book, but Mr Gibson was and remains a favourite of mine, so here goes. Let’s just plug that jack back into my temple and fire up the MC400 word application heh heh.

Agency is set in the time travel lite “stubs” universe where future rich folk get their kicks interfering with the past and creating different timelines. Like the first in this supposed trilogy, Peripheral, Agency flits between the two times, playing with fanciful and charming extrapolations in the future, and keenly observed little aesthetic vignettes on fashion, consumer goodies and modern life. There are little frissons of detective story and street life drama, but not a really compelling story. A compelling story isn’t really what Gibson does and it isn’t why I like him. Gibson works even better as an audiobook than a text. Gibson is more like stream of consciousness aesthetically astute consumer goods eye candy, but dialled down to a very cool soporifically ambient level. Its word wallpaper, text texture, very nice background for driving or at bedtime.

So, thoroughly recommended if you like coffee table books of Pantone colours, quiet Philip Glass piano tinkling, close-up studies of the weave in denim, and other gentle accompaniment to your latte. Do it as the audiobook for maximum relaxation.

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