Sunday, June 16, 2019
The Bookwyrm's Review of Agent G: Assassin by CT Phipps
Author: CT Phipps
Length: 207 Pages
Publisher: Crossroad Press
Release Date: January 7, 2019
Genre: Spy thriller/Cyberpunk
Having been a big fan of so many of CT Phipps other series, when I heard he was writing a sci-fi spy thriller, I was excited. The finished product, featuring a cyborg assassin in a clandestine group, was just fantastic. The second book continued the trend, filling in holes in the main characters life and back story, and setting up the third, which, with the events of the second book, take a radically different turn, going straight out of clandestine and right into dystopian cyberpunk. While it may seem a strange juxtaposition, it was carefully set up with the events of the first two books.
When the super volcano in Yellowstone erupts, the world is thrown into disarray with the resulting climatic, societal and economic chaos. After a massive die-off of the worlds populations, society is just getting back under something resembling control. The governments are massively weakened, while the multinational corporations are massively powerful, basically using the governments as puppets. Many people live in arcologies, trading in freedom for the illusion of security. Case also released all the Black Technology that had been kept from the world through the AI known as Delphi, resulting in even more societal changes, as the advanced tech made whole industries obsolete.
Ten years into this new paradigm is where we find Case, formerly Agent G, assassin for the International Relief Society. He is now chief security executive of The Atlas Corporation, the worlds premier security company. Working with Lucita and Agent S, former lovers and assassins themselves, Atlas tries to mitigate the worst excesses, while also turning a massive profit. When another former lover, Claire, involved with an advocacy group, H.O.P.E, which has a radical violent element, gets involved in a mission to find the mythical Black Dossier, which is supposed to have the deepest dark secrets of all the corporations and their executives, from every dirty deal made to what depravity the executives engage in, Case as to make some decisions where his loyalties lie.
Case and Claire begin their hunt for the Dossier, which is complicated when Marissa, Case's former lover/handler/enemy, gets involved in the chase, as well as Case's Society nemesis, Agent A, the best of the Letter cyborg assassins. Their involvement complicates things a great deal, as the Dossier contains in information about medical Nanotech, which is of particular interest to Agent A. So interested in it, in fact, that he will kill anyone in his way to get it. This all leads to a wild series of events, as Case must face some painful parts of his past as he tries to keep millions more people from being harmed by information contained on the Dossier, and Case and Claire must work to keep their worst nightmare coming true, killing millions in the process, resulting in a climactic final showdown.
CHARACTERS AND WORLD BUILDING
Like all CT Phipps books, the Agent G series is all about the characters first. We have seen G, now called Case, go from a remorseless (well, mostly) cyborg assassin to a person who cares about more than just where the next contract is coming from, that is willing to make sacrifices for those he loves. His evolution as a person is one of the key selling points of the series. The secondary characters are also given lots of attention as far as building them into believable characters, especially with the huge changes the world has gone through. The introduction of Agent A was a bit unexpected, but he paid off in the story. Marissa and Claire Had especially wide arcs, and their character development survives a lot of turbulence, both of which the readers can really appreciate.
The world which Case helped create with his release of Black Technology is the amalgamation of every cyberpunk world. Corporate oligarchs run the world through weak puppet governments, while the poor have either died off, or are forced to live in archologies where they surrender freedom for a feeling of security. The only alternative is live a hardscrabble life in the slums where life comes cheap. While the world building doesn't reinvent the wheel, it does show a deep knowledge of and appreciation of the genre, without being so outside recognizable that non cyberpunk fans cant get into the story.
Any time a series make a huge change in plot line, it can result in a a disjointed story. Fortunately, that's not what happened here. The shift to a cyberpunk future creates more storytelling opportunities, and I have the suspicion CT Phipps will take full advantage of them. I can whole heartedly recommend this story to a wide variety of fans.
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