History and Gibson’s alternate history are caught in a set of loops and branches, where the distributed apparatuses of planetary computing meet all-too-human responses. “We are confronted with both a surplus of new worlds and a lack of clear civilizational frontiers,” Bratton says, “other than those simulated by various senile medievalisms now in ascendance. Can we survive that? Can we address the openings closest at hand fast enough that they generate new geographies before we can ruin them?”

Roger Whitson, “Time Critique and the Textures of Alternate History: Media Archaeology in The Difference Engine and The Peripheral,” in William Gibson and the Futures of Contemporary Culture, Mitch R. murray and Mathias Nilges (eds.), University of Iowa Press, 2021, p. 144.