I’m Going To Read This

SciFi Superstar William Gibson’s New Book Imagines a Trump-Free Alternate Reality

The novelist sat down with Mother Jones Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery for a live recording of the Mother Jones Podcast

Molly Schwartz
MOLLY SCHWARTZ
Digital Media Fellow
Bio

Ulf Andersen/Zuma/Mother Jones illustration

There are many alternate futures. But what if there were also… alternate pasts?

That’s the premise of William Gibson’s latest novel, Agency. Gibson is the pioneering science fiction writer who coined the word “cyberspace” and whose 1984 debut novel, The Neuromancer, inspired The Matrix.

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In, Agency, the second novel in Gibson’s Peripheral trilogy, we’ve arrived back in 2017, at a fork of the past, called a “stub,” in which Trump was never elected and Brexit never happened. In this stub of 2017, an app-whisperer named Verity Jane is testing a beta super AI named Eunice, and crisis communication expert named Wilf Netherton has teamed up with a cop named Ainsley Lowbeer to try to avert a nuclear war. In other words, it’s a novel that looks unflinchingly at the importance of choice and the complex decision trees that could precipitate, or prevent, the end of the world as we know it.

Mother Jones Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery sat down for a conversation with Gibson at Public Works in San Francisco last January to talk about his new book. They discuss how politics has influenced his writing, and how the real-life climate crisis intersects with his fictional imaginings of the end times.

Read an edited transcript below, or listen to a recording of their conversation on this bonus episode of the Mother Jones Podcast.

There’s so many cool concepts in both of these books. But was there a particular one that got you on this path that you really took ahold of when you started the process?

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