In the tales gathered in An Agent of Utopia: New and Selected Stories you will meet a Utopian assassin, an aging UFO contactee, a haunted Mohawk steelworker, a time-traveling prizefighter, a yam-eating Zombie, and a child who loves a frizzled chicken—not to mention Harry Houdini, Zora Neale Hurston, Sir Thomas More, and all their fellow travelers riding the steamer-trunk imagination of a unique twenty-first-century fabulist.
From the Florida folktales of the perennial prison escapee Daddy Mention and the dangerous gator-man Uncle Monday that inspired "Daddy Mention and the Monday Skull" (first published in Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson) to the imagined story of boxer and historical bit player Jess Willard in World Fantasy Award winner "The Pottawatomie Giant" (first published on SciFiction), or the Ozark UFO contactees in Nebula Award winner "Close Encounters" to Flannery O’Connor’s childhood celebrity in Shirley Jackson Award finalist "Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse" (first published in Eclipse) Duncan’s historical juxtapositions come alive on the page as if this Southern storyteller was sitting on a rocking chair stretching the truth out beside you.
Duncan rounds out his explorations of the nooks and crannies of history in two irresistible new stories, "Joe Diabo's Farewell" — in which a gang of Native American ironworkers in 1920s New York City go to a show — and the title story, "An Agent of Utopia" — where he reveals what really (might have) happened to Thomas More’s head.
"Reading Duncan can feel like being taken on a tour of your own dusty attic and being shown treasures you didn’t know you had." — Chicago Tribune
"Must rank as one of this year’s best collections. It’s on bookstore shelves now and deserves to be on your shelves soon." — Tor.com
“Whatever the topic, all of Duncan’s fictions are united by an evocative, playful, and deeply accomplished storytelling style. Highly recommended for fans of Kelly Link or other slipstream writers, and for any reader looking to lose themselves in an engaging and fun reading experience.”
— Booklist (starred review)
"Zany and kaleidoscopic, the 12 stories in Duncan’s third collection draw on Southern traditions of tall tales and span time periods, continents, and the realm of human imagination to create an intricate new mythology of figures from history, literature, and American folklore. . . . This is a raucous, fantastical treat."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A rare book that blends fun with fury and tomfoolery with social consciousness." — Kirkus Reviews
“An Agent of Utopia is all the proof you’ll need to see that Andy Duncan is one of the very best short story writers in Science Fiction, Fantasy, or anywhere else. It’s a sure bet that you’re holding in your hand the best story collection of the year.”— Jeffrey Ford, author of A Natural History of Hell
"Duncan will get you to bust a a gut laughing. He'll make you teary, and put a shiver up your spine. But most importantly, his stories ask questions you might not know how to answer, and leave you looking inside yourself long after you've read the last line of his singing prose.” — Lara Elena Donnelly, author of Amberlough
“Andy Duncan’s unique voice shines through in his third collection. You’ve not read him yet? Shame on you! Go out now and buy An Agent of Utopia: New and Selected Stories. You’ll thank me.” — Ellen Datlow, award-winning editor
"Andy Duncan is one of the most hilarious and poignant writers of short stories that we have. He effortlessly forges dreamlike and nightmarish tales with wit and wisdom that rivals Mark Twain.” — Christopher Barzak, author of Wonders of the Invisible World
“Andy Duncan is the Andy Duncan of Andy Duncanland, and we are all lucky to have access to that fabled locale via the portal between his brain and these pages. The stories in this collection drip with magic and mayhem and time and place and personhood, along with the most creative cussing this side of anywhere. Each one is a microcosm, a moment from our own history, real or imagined, passed along to us by a master storyteller. “ — Sarah Pinsker
“Andy Duncan is the best storyteller of our generation. Every page is breathtaking, down-to-earth magical.” — Ellen Klages
“Andy Duncan’s work bursts on the tongue. Every word is a rhythm, perfectly shaped to thrum in the throat, to twang in the mouth, to dance on beats of breath. His dialogue drums savory dialects. His prose is a brass instrument, trumpeting stories like songs. Like blues, like jazz, his stories are written to an American tempo, her checkered history, her bright syncopation, her cacophony of Southern storytellers and conjuring women. He is a musician, magician, mythmaker, a raconteur of marvels.” — Rachel Swirsky