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Agent of Chaos Paperback – February 28, 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Before Spinrad made his name with Bug Jack Barron, his rude, energetic fourth novel, his earliest work had passed without much notice. In this second novel, written in 1967, the tyrannical Hegemony, which has given its citizens peace and prosperity, easily thwarts the small, gadfly Democratic League, with its goal of freedom, but is stung at the heart by the old and efficient Brotherhood of Assassins, whose object is simply to increase chaos in the placid utopia. Although there is nothing here of the verve, iconoclasm, rock rhythm or mass-media amplification that have characterized Spinrad's best work, the anarchic, id-driven social philosophy underlying this slight pulp adventure is certainly more interesting in the retrospective light of those later science fiction classics.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Pulpless.Com, Inc. (February 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584450428
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584450429
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,183,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on February 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Only a few of the previous reviews for this obscure old sci-fi chestnut really tackle its actual themes and points of view. This was Spinrad's second novel and he was still a few releases away from wide recognition, but here he shows some real ambition and creativity. While the book does get a little full of itself at times, and the rather wooden characters show the golden age sci-fi weakness of talking way too much, Spinrad spun a surprisingly unique and effective political focus into an otherwise typical little space opera. The story revolves around a quite fascinating philosophy of chaos as the natural state of the universe (and its inhabitants), with the order imposed by leaders as antithetical to the destiny of mankind. It's a rather anarchist political outlook presented in cosmological terms. Spinrad does well with this premise, plotting out some intricate political shenanigans as three different parties exploit each other while trying to impose their vision of humanity, with dueling strategies for creating order or chaos. In the process, Spinrad delivers some insightful ruminations on power, tyranny, and freedom - and what those seemingly cut-and-dried terms mean on a cosmic scale. While parts of this book are pretty outdated and it shows many of the minor weaknesses of its genre at the time, Spinrad delivered what might be the most ambitious sci-fi political exploration this side of Frank Herbert or Anthony Burgess. The fact that this ambition actually leads to readable results is all the reason to pick up this old lost classic if you come across it. [~doomsdayer520~]
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Format: Hardcover
Norman Spinrad is certainly not a household name. Matter-of-fact, his name is not even listed in the alphabetical reference for Sci-Fi authors. Imagine my surprise when I looked up his name so I could review "Agent of Chaos" and found dozens of his novels listed, many with 5 star ratings!
"Agent of Chaos" was published in 1970, and I have no idea how this novel became part of my Sci-Fi collection. It is yellowed and brittle now, and I picked it out one afternoon just because I was curious. No, this novel wasn't `the find of the century', by any means, although it was an engaging and quick read (half a day).
It is a story of a group of rebels trying to assassinate the leader of the Hegemonic Council that rule the solar system with absolute tyranny. Spinrad uses many clever ideas, and the world of the Hegemony is fleshed out nicely. Center to the plot is an enigmatic group called `The Brotherhood of Assassins' who thwart the rebels at every turn, yet, also create havoc within the Hegemony. It is this group that heightens the reader's interest. Unfortunately, the protagonist (Johnson), who is suppose to be a great fighter and leader, turns out to be rather naive, and is easily duped (too easily). This may or may not have been the author's intent, but in either case, it frustrated this reader. Also absent was any hint of a love interest, leaving the reader with a fairly shallow story.
Long out of print, "Agent of Chaos" does many things well, but when I finished the novel, it left no lingering memories. It's just a quick, enjoyable read for a Saturday afternoon. No depth here. Between 1 and 10, "Agent of Chaos" gets a 5. I'm more curious about the author, but it looks like if I want to read anymore of his work I'll need to look through used book stores.
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Format: Paperback
When I was only thirteen I think my Father handed this book to me to read. This book is an early work of SF that takes place in a dystopian future. The book itself touches on the nature of power and freedom. Though I don't agree with Spinrad's ideas entirely, his book contains ideas about individualism that resonate even today. This book has been a major influence on my thoughts and beliefs and the story is still remembered by me to this day. I would suggest this to anyone who has some time on their hands.
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Format: Kindle Edition
a monolithic government known as the hegemony rules the solar system and all the planets in it that mankind now inhabits in sustainable domes. a small rebel group known as the league of democracy fights them for a freer society. however a third group known as the brotherhood of assassins helps both sides of the struggle for what seems like no discernable reason but to create disorder. through the struggle of all three parties, spinrad analyzes the very nature of societal organization and the energy it takes to maintain such structures. totalitarianism and democracy both expend energy maintaining their societal structures but mans true nature make chaos and anarchy inevitable!
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Format: Hardcover
With calls for a National ID system with biometric controls, Agent of Chaos should be required reading for everyone to understand what a government could do with the ability to track everyone everywhere. We are now descending into the fascism that Spinrad predicted, but much sooner than he anticipated.
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Format: Paperback
as a youth i consumed scifi and fantasy like junk food. i picked up this bouquin back then ('87 maybe). it's a quick read and it's just alright in and of itself. the memory of this book resurrected itself, for me, with the occurrence of the 9/11 tragedies. my vague recollections (faded with time) of the story's random acts of violence/terrorism perpetrated against a corrupt global governance... its images, both large and small, of dystopia and terrorism/rebellion... stirred then and still haunt the back of my mind now when I read the news or other books/articles about current events. i'm not saying it was/is heinlein-like foretelling , but I can say that it did, for whatever reason, insert itself firmly into my consciousness, where it persists to this day. for that, if for no other reason, I'm giving it four stars.
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