by William Gibson

Recommended by the artist and composer Bernhard Living.


Why You Recommend It?

“William Gibson is one of my three ‘go to’ writers – the other two being Jack Kerouac and Franz Kafka – and I return to their work again and again.  Their novels and writings sustain me – are inspirational – and often give rise to ideas and concepts of my own.  For example – a new composition might come out of something that I’ve just read in a William Gibson story. “


William Gibson’s Agency is a ‘sequel and a prequel’ to his previous novel The Peripheral (2014), reusing the technology from the novel to explore an alternative 2017 where Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Presidential Election.  The story line further explores the concept of the “Jackpot”, a back-story element of The Peripheral.  One plot is set in the alternative 2017, with a young woman named Verity testing a new form of avatar software developed by the military, for a start-up in San Francisco. A second plot line involves people in a post-apocalyptic 22nd century meddling with 2017.

Here is an example:

Agency – Chapter 5 – 5 Situational Awareness

The silence lengthened. If there were more drones out there, Eunice wasn’t bothering with them now, the cursor having become an arrow again, immobile against the sky. Verity turned, looking back the way they’d come, toward Valencia. In the park below, hunched on a bench, one of two skater boys released a startlingly opaque puff of white vape, like a winter locomotive in an old movie. “Sorry. I guess that’s weird for you. If you’re what Gavin said you are, you’re seriously next-level.” “Am I?” “On the basis of this conversation, yes.” “Google ‘tulpa,’” Eunice said, “you get Tibetan occult thought-forms. Or people who’ve invented themselves an imaginary playmate.” “I did.” “Don’t feel particularly Tibetan, myself,” Eunice said. “Maybe invented, but how would I know?” “He called you a laminar agent. Googled that too, on my way out.” “No applicable hit,” Eunice said. “Meant something to him. He also used the term ‘laminae.’ Plural.” “For what?” “Wasn’t clear,” Verity said, “but he described the product, that’s you, as a cross-platform, individually user-based, autonomous avatar. Target demographic power-uses VR, AR, gaming, next-level social media. Idea’s to sell a single unique super-avatar. Kind of a digital mini-self, able to fill in when the user can’t be online.” “Why didn’t they make one of you?” “I don’t think they can, yet. You’re more like proof of concept. They’ve only made one, and you’re it.” “Based on somebody?” “He didn’t say.” “Kinda gloomy up here,” Eunice said, after a pause, “what with the dying of the light and all.” “Sorry.” “Back to your friend’s place? José Eduardo Alvarez-Matta, on the lease. Infosec consultant. Boyfriend?” “Friend,” Verity said. “We kept winding up on the same projects.” She started back down the path. The skaters were gone, as if she’d imagined them. Streetlights were coming on, faintly haloed. There was mercury in the fog, she’d once heard someone say, in the bar on Van Ness, but after the recent sub-Beijing air quality it didn’t seem that big a deal. “If all this really is some asshole’s YouTube channel,” Eunice said, as they left the park, “I guess that makes me a figment.”

Verity watched the cursor check the interior of each parked car they passed, then scan up, higher, on both sides of the street, as if expecting someone in a window, on a roof. “Can you tell what I’m looking at, Eunice?” “Watching the cursor.”

“Why are you looking in cars?” “Situational awareness.” “Of what?” “Of the situation. Observe, orient, decide, act.”