An Exclusive Excerpt from William Gibson’s New Novel, ‘Agency’
The celebrated sci-fi author returns with a novel set in an alternate — but familiar — timeline
A sequel to 2014’s great novel The Peripheral, William Gibson’s Agency takes place in an another “stub” — the science fiction author’s term of art for a fledgling alternate timeline — wherein a certain Democratic candidate won the 2016 presidential election, Silicon Valley is still booming at the expense of much else in its path, and an “app whisperer” named Verity Jane has stumbled upon an A.I. assistant in beta called Eunice that may or may not have disturbing ties to the military. The narrative unfolds in two timelines; one before “the jackpot” — a massively disruptive event that has winnowed the world’s population to a number of enclaves, like London — and one after.
This marks the first time that Gibson, the writer who coined the term “cyberspace,” has taken direct aim at Silicon Valley, at the industry and culture that has reorganized the world — with some of his ideas propelling it. The result is a blend of speculation and satire that any self-respecting denizen of the digital world should spend some time with. And you can start here. Enjoy.
Verity’s phone woke her, its ring silenced, vibrating on the floor. Freeing an arm from the mummy-bag liner, zipped to just above her chin, she groped beneath the couch.
Eunice had screened Inception for her, the night before, with pauses to reference the infographic she’d mentioned. Something about this had changed her attitude to Eunice, she’d realized as she was falling asleep, though she didn’t know exactly what or why. Returning her to Gavin had seemed the wisest option, but then something about her earnestly nerdy exposition of the film had been the start of a growing empathy. Somehow rooted, she thought now, in a sense of someone afflicted with extremely busy but only intermittently connected suburbs of the self.
“Breakfast,” Eunice said, as Verity got the phone to her ear, “Wolven Plus Loaves.”
“That’s not a plus,” Verity said, “it’s an ‘and.’”