- Book: Agency
- Location: London, San Francisco
- Author: William Gibson
San Francisco in 2017, and London in 2136. In San Francisco, Verity Jane is hired by a somewhat mysterious company to test drive a new form of AI. She communicates with ‘it’ through glasses and earpieces. It’s name is Eunice (a friendly name for an Untethered Noetic Irregular Support System – U.N.I.S.S.), and they soon build a relationship. Its avatar shows it is clearly female… Eunice becomes too clever and too advanced for her own good – she is paranoid and hides what she is doing from those who created her. They decide to take her down, but they fail. Eunice has designed a plan to survive such an eventuality. She splits into many units scattered around the world and waits to be reassembled.
Fast forward to London. A government agency needs to rewrite the past to prevent a disaster. They need to go back to San Francisco in 2017 and change the course of history. Only Eunice can help them achieve this. They have to track her down, and get her back operationally. Netherton and his wife, Rainey, are given the task – working for Lowbeer, ostensibly a Metropolitan Police Inspector, but in fact a great deal more… Technology has advanced – they can communicate with Verity Jane and Netherton can ‘appear’ in California in 2017 and Verity Jane can equally ‘appear’ in London in 2136. What follows is a very exciting and imaginative thriller as Verity Jane is pursued around California by the mysterious forces that created Eunice – and relies on entities that Eunice herself has designed to protect her. Drones controlled by the good guys out of Washington create havoc for the forces, all watched in ‘real time’ by those in London over 100 years into the future. Avatars, screens, and drones are everywhere.
Agency, apart from being an exceptionally exciting thriller, is also a book that makes you ponder what the future may hold. The amazing technology is in some ways an extrapolation from today’s cutting edge ideas, and in some ways a result of the imagination of William Gibson. William is credited with the creation of the term ‘cyberspace’ and is someone who envisioned both the internet and virtual reality before either existed. He is hailed as one of the great thinkers of our generation. His envisioning of London in 2136 is quite remarkable.
Agency is a book very well worth reading.