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Temporary Agency Paperback – May 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"When I was fourteen, a cousin of mine angered a Malignant One." Ellen Pierson's cousin Paul brings his problem and his fear to Ellen, and Ellen turns to famed investigator Alison Birkett for help. For these two novellas, Temporary Agency and Benign Adjustments, Pollack returns to the Living World. In Unquenchable Fire a character says that "there are only two things in the world. Suffering and ecstasy." Here, Pollack explores this theme in a fast-paced, moving story as Ellen, Paul and Alison unwrap first a conspiracy of evil and then one of misguided good.

From Publishers Weekly

Pollack's latest presumes knowledge of its prequel, Unquenchable Fire, in which entities known as Bright Beings, Malignant Ones and Benign Ones actively participate in human affairs. In any case, this is a first-rate work, comprised of two related novellas. The title entry introduces narrator Ellen Pierson, whose cousin Paul Cabot unwittingly becomes involved with a Malignant One named Lisa Black Dust 7 (who runs a temp agency). Paul's travails lead the adolescent Ellen and her family to enlist the aid of lawyer Alison Birkett, who attempts to restore peace to Paul's life. Ellen and Alison uncover Grand Conspiracies, and Ellen discovers what people will do in the name of pragmatism. In the next story, "Benign Adjustments," Alison and Ellen, who's now an adult, are paired again, to protect Alexander Timmerman, who, aided by three Benign Ones, espouses peace, love and reform of the financial system. The latter preachment leads to trouble, including a scene on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange graphic enough for the most avid action-adventure fan, but the heart of the novella examines how the most benign intentions can be adulterated by human frailties. Pollack is primarily concerned with the character and basic emotional underpinnings of the people in her future society-and, by extension-in our own. The two novellas combine into a consistently rational framework while never forgetting that the key to good fiction is people and what happens to them.
Copyright 1994 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: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Books; Reprint edition (May 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087951602X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879516024
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,634,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Baus on April 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rachel Pollack's Temporary Agency seamlessly places the reader in a world where Pagan beliefs are real. This sort of reality, however, is a dual-edged sword. To copy a phrase I heard from Baptist theology, there is a radical "priesthood of the believer" in Ms. Pollack's world. Mere people can access supernatural powers without any sort of intermediary figure. Being an active part of creation is wonderful, but with this power comes responsibility.

In this story responsibility takes the form of Lisa Black Dust 7 (coolest naming convention ever, by the way), an evil spirit with designs on Ellen's cousin, Paul. He has already compromised his own ability to resist, and Ellen attempts to save him. The fight is fierce, but Ellen does gain an ally in the process: Allison, a lawyer "specializing in demonic possession." The outcome is a messy draw, and the groundwork for the second part of the book, set roughly a decade later, is set.

By then, Ellen is out as a lesbian. In Temporary Agency sexual orientation is not the crisis some make of it today, but meeting Allison again gives Ellen a different sort of challenge. Sharp barriers remain between the pair as a result of Paul's ultimate fate, but their love overcomes all. The romance is an intoxicating blend of lust and compassion. Then it is off to face a supernatural threat with roots in their shared past.

I have been known to drop books with a two-part structure like Temporary Agency, but not this time. Ms. Pollack has written a masterpiece. I don't give 5 stars lightly, but for this book I do so without hesitation.

Earth Mother's Grace
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paul on January 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a great read that blurs the line between science fiction and fantasy genres! Others have tried melding the supernatural with science fiction (such as Poul Anderson in "Operation Chaos"), but with nowhere near the success of Rachel Pollack. Unlike some other writers, she obviously understands something about magical beliefs and rituals, and does a great job of imaginatively integrating this into a high tech future and a suspenseful plot. After you read this, you may want to read "Unquenchable Fire" too, since it is set in the same futuristic world.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor Skinner on April 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
"This is the real thing, a shot straight from the Jungian depths, and the single most gripping book I've read this year," says Michael Swanwick on the back of the book. He's perfectly right. It just comes at you, this right, slightly altered, world of a shamanic America.

This is how the book begins, perfectly mixing modern life and fantasy:

"When I was fourteen, a cousin of mine angered a Malignant One. It was a big case, a genuine scandal. Maybe you remember it. At the time, when it all ended, I just wanted to forget about the whole thing. But a couple of years have passed and I guess maybe it's time to think about it again."

"The Bright Being lived in the office building where my cousin Paul worked analyzing retail sales reports. I don't know how she got there, really. We never did find that out. I don't even know how long she was there. I mean, before Paul met her. Maybe she lived on that same spot long before the building went up. Maybe she even lived there for thousands of years, way before the Indians came. No one really knows how old the Beings are. Some people say -- I read this in a book, actually -- that the Bright Beings, the Malignant Ones and the Benign Ones, go back to the beginning of the universe. According to this Sacred Physics book, the Big Bang Story that broke open the cosmic ylem egg showered out the Beings along with all the quarks and tachyons and all the rest of them. The Beings came from a kind of impurity in the ylem, a sort of aesthetic flaw in the original story. So maybe the Ferocious One lived at that spot for millions of years, embedded in the granite of Manhattan Island, waiting for humans, for victims -- like my poor cousin Paul."

"Or maybe she never lived there at all until the building went up.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Annie O on June 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book. I especially liked the scene on the NYSE. Remember, low level hacking the NetStream feed is your best entertainment value!
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