Cyberpunk Series Review: Agent G by C.T. Phipps
Cyberpunk Level: Gateway Drug
I finished AGENT G: ASSASSIN (Agent G #3) a couple of months ago completing my foray into the wonderful world of Spy-Fy that C.T. Phipps has created.
I’m giving this series the Cyberpunk rating of “Gateway Drug.” 🦾
The first two books in this series are not cyberpunk of the ‘rainy nights and neon lights’ variety. Phipps embraces what some might call a post-cyberpunk vibe, placing his cyborg assassin/spy character directly into our world. No dark, dystopian future here. We’re already living in it.
To me, this doesn’t make the work any less cyberpunk. Especially as Phipps tackles a lot of major cyberpunk themes including how technology could be used by world governments to oppress and control the general population, how technological disparities could cause a greater and greater divide between the haves and the have-nots, the psychological side-effects of body augmentation, and the cheapness of human life in an increasingly technocratic world.
But for those who haven’t read a lot of classic cyberpunk and want to start with a more familiar setting, I think AGENT G would make a great place to start. What’s better than a classic James Bond spy story, if not a cyborg James Bond spy story, right?
G himself is meant to be a morally gray character. He works as a spy and assassin for an international group with dubious ethical boundaries, generally doesn’t ask a lot of questions, and lives a life of luxury thanks to his uniquely lethal skill set. But as the series progresses, and the true motivations of his employers are revealed, G himself evolves into a surprisingly complex and ethical character operating in a corrupt world. After a series of brutal betrayals and revelations in the first two books, G’s worldview is deconstructed piece by piece.
Then he returns the favor and deconstructs the world.
The most interesting part about the Agent G series for me is the fact that Phipps tackles the fall of modern civilization and the birth of our cyberpunk dystopia as a part of the main plot line, rather than as a flashback from the dystopian future. This, too, makes it a great jump-off point for people who are new to the genre because Phipps goes into great depth about a variety of things that could cause us to go from our sad present of ‘cyberpunk mundanity’ to the more familiar cyberpunk setting we know from science fiction movies and video games.
The third and final book in the Agent G series, ASSASSIN, jumps into the dystopian future that G unleashes upon the world at the end of book 2 (not really a spoiler if you read the book blurbs) and we really start to explore the dark underbelly of technology.
This series is an unusual combination of intense, fast-paced action scenes on one hand, and witty banter with introspective/philosophical debates between the characters. Either way, it’s never boring, and you will really get to know and love (or hate) some of the characters. The back and forth between the characters actually serves as a great intro to a lot of cyberpunk themes and questions without feeling heavy-handed. There’s a good dose of pop culture references for you trivia buffs, too.
SO MANY EASTER EGGS!
Whether you are new to cyberpunk books, or you’re an old cyborg looking for a light, fresh take on the genre, AGENT G will not disappoint. Enjoy!