Agency by William Gibson
“It was either a genius marketing stunt or a strangely appropriate meta-moment,” said Francesca Carington in The Daily Telegraph. Weeks ago, Dominic Cummings called on “weirdos from William Gibson novels” to work at No. 10. Now it transpires that the sci-fi author’s latest novel envisages a 2017 in which “Brexit never happened”. In Gibson’s alternate reality, freelance “app-whisperer” Verity Jane is hired by a shady firm to test an AI device. But, it emerges, this world is in fact a “stub”, produced by people in 2136 meddling with earlier realities and causing them to “branch off”.
“Once you have got your head round the cyberjargon and the twin timelines, Agency is an enjoyable read,” said Allan Bryce in The Times. Gibson has particular fun with his “crazy” future universe, a world where paper bags “fly back to the shops of their own accord when emptied – the ultimate in recycling”. It certainly offers a “compelling” vision, said Jon Day in the FT. Yet with its shifting perspectives and many “bots and apps”, Agency feels over-complicated – its “various parts don’t quite cohere”.