For a science-fiction writer who has conjured up some remarkably vivid visions of the future, and even coined the word cyberspace, William Gibson seems stubbornly stuck in the present, and the past.

Though his latest novel Agency is partly set in a post-apocalyptic London a century in the future, it is also about the intertwined fates of a group of characters in San Francisco in 2017 living in a reimagined past in which Hillary Clinton became president and Brexit never happened. One of the novel’s central concerns is how people in the future can revisit alternative histories, or “stubs”, as he calls them...

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