In his latest novel, Agency, science fiction author William Gibson imagines a future where Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election.
Gibson, the 69-year-old “grandfather” of the cyberpunk genre of science fiction, began writing the forthcoming book a year before Donald Trump’s stunning victory. “It was a really weird and powerful sensation,” he told the New York Times of his reaction to the election results.
Agency — set in two separate timelines — envisions one present-day reality in San Francisco where Clinton is president and another reality set 200 years in a postapocalyptic future where “climate change, droughts, famines, and political chaos” have killed 80 percent of humanity.
“The characters in the book are scarcely aware of the broader political landscape,” Gibson told the Times. “No one ever says, ‘Thank God we’re not in that other time track.’”
The future timeline in Agency resembles the reality Gibson imagined in his 2014 novel The Peripheral, though he says he never intended to interconnect the two.
“I assumed that if Trump won, I’d be able to shift a few things and continue to tell my story,” Gibson explains, admitting that his attempts to alter the storyline were futile. “It was immediately obvious to me that there had been some fundamental shift and I would have to rebuild the whole thing.”
Gibson coined the word “cyberspace” in his 1984 debut novel, Neuromancer, popularizing the term more than a decade before the emergence of the internet.
Agency is set to come out in January 2018.
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