William Gibson's graphic novel Archangel, originally developed as a screenplay, begins in an alternate present in which America won World War II a little too well. In addition to dropping atomic bombs on Japan, the U.S. also nuked Russia, taking out Stalin and paving a way for a world under uncontested American rule. That set the stage for an American president to declare himself ruler for life, succeeded by his son, Junior Henderson, a sneering totalitarian who brooks no dissent.
After much of the planet becomes irradiated in a nuclear disaster, the young Henderson decides to send himself and a few goons back to 1945 in order to take over and ruin another timeline. That's where the story begins. Saving the past turns out to have troublesome effects on the present.
Archangel, then, is a tale of political power and corruption in which self-interested political elites effectively attempt to strip-mine a parallel timeline for their own gain. Although it lacks the depth of cyberpunk founding father Gibson's best work, it provides many of the same essential pleasures, blending high-tech, high-concept storytelling with the tropes of hard-boiled noir. In the process, it raises more than a few questions about the politics of our own timeline.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Archangel".