Agency, by the famously prescient SF author, imagines an alternative US where voters have elected their first female president
Science fiction novelist William Gibson is to use the dream of a Hillary Clinton win in last years US presidential election as the launch phase for his next fiction. Gibson, who coined the word cyberspace in his 1984 debut Neuromancer, will reimagine the world under a Clinton presidency in his next fiction Agency, as well as London in the distant future.
Due out in January 2018, the novel will travel between two periods: one in present-day San Francisco, where Clintons White House aspirations are realised; and the other in a post-apocalyptic London, 200 years into the future after 80% of the world population has been killed.
In the present-day strand of Gibsons story, a shadowy military organisation develops and tests artificial intelligence on a young woman named Verity. The proportions set in the distant future show that time travel has been discovered and used to create a stub, a route of interfering to create an alternative future, starting in 2017.
The author, whose volumes include The Difference Engine and All Tomorrows Parties, said the new volume acts as an unplanned sequel to his 2014 novel The Peripheral, which also features London after climate change, famine and war have ravaged the Earth. However, he told the New York Times, his target was closer to the present day: Every imaginary future ever written is about the time it was written in People talk about science fiction predictive prospects, but thats a by-product. Its all really about now.
The manuscript was written before Clintons defeat in November rendered the original plot obsolete. Although he attempted to rewrite the original draft with the Trump win in mind, Gibson said: It was immediately obvious to me that there had been some fundamental shift and I would have to rebuild the whole thing.
The author has yet to confirm whether the alternative history he imagines under Clinton is more positive than he envisioned in July 2016 when he urged US voters: To not vote for Clinton* is* to vote for the candidate Putin and David Duke so badly wants you to. Its a raggedy-ass world, that way.
Gibson-watchers will be looking closely at his latest vision of humanitys future. Hailed as one of the most important novelists, whose influence is shown on everything from The Matrix to Stieg Larssons Millennium trilogy, the 69 -year-old has gained a reputation for prescience. He has predicted, among other developments, the rise of reality television, virtual sex and technologies such as Google Glass. He credits his success in ensure into the future not on understanding technology but on his observations of the people who use it. In 2007, he told PC Magazine: Im anything but an early adopter, generally. In fact, Ive never really been very interested in computers themselves. I dont watch them; I watch how people behave around them.
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