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WILLIAM GIBSON’S NEW GRAPHIC NOVEL TAKES NUCLEAR ANXIETY TO ITS TERRIFYING END via Wired

LIKE A LOT of children of the 1950s, William Gibson grew up haunted by the specter of the atomic bomb, and enthralled by science fiction stories. His latest project combines his two childhood preoccupations by imagining a very different outcome to World War II—one in which America bombed its allies in the Soviet Union as well as its foes in Japan, and went on to rule the world as its sole nuclear power. And in the 21st century, things gets even darker when a string of nuclear bombs are detonated across the globe, turning the Earth into an irradiated hellscape that can only be escaped through time travel.

This is the universe of the sci-fi legend’s comic book Archangel, which comes out in graphic-novel form tomorrow. “My personal experience of nuclear anxiety was very real and lasted for decades, and with Archangel I was drawing on that experience,” says Gibson. The book, illustrated by Butch Guise, opens with a scene that reads like the logical end of that Cold War nuclear anxiety: a nightmarish montage of the world’s largest cities in ruin, iconic landmarks like Big Ben and the Kremlin destroyed. Although the cause of the chain reaction is unclear, democracy has died in the aftermath, leaving a dictatorial President-for-Life in charge of the wasteland.

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More often, however, science fiction looks to the future—if not the precise shape it will take, then our fears about the changes it will bring. While Gibson’s iconic 1984 cyberpunk novel Neuromancerexplored cultural anxieties about technology and artificial intelligence during the rise of the digital age, Archangel delves into the apocalyptic terror of nuclear weaponry, which has loomed over humanity for more than 70 years.

It’s an anxiety that feels newly urgent due to the growing nuclear threat from the mercurial regime of North Korea, not to mention the tens of thousands of nuclear warheads already stored in countries around the world, some of them thousands of times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The final panels of Archangel also make explicit reference to the current political upheaval in American politics, and what that says about the malevolence of own timeline.

Read more at WILLIAM GIBSON’S NEW GRAPHIC NOVEL TAKES NUCLEAR ANXIETY TO ITS TERRIFYING END

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