Pierce: “With the new variants of Coronavirus, the slow production of the vaccine, the millions that will refuse to take it, the millions who ignore the slightest health preventions, [and] the steady death march of this disease, [are] we in an extinction event? Has anyone considered this?”
Gibson: “Potentially, but it’s going to be multi-causal, and far more incremental than we culturally have imagined any apocalypse to be. In a sense, we caused this pandemic to happen, but very gradually.”
Gibson’s describing the “Jackpot,” which is the background for his excellent recent novels Peripheral (2014) and Agency (2020). From an interview in the New Statesman last year:
[I]t might be worrying to learn that Gibson’s latest novel, Agency, is largely a credible account of a coming apocalypse. His characters call it “the Jackpot.” “It’s multi-causal, and it’s of extremely long duration,” he explains. Over many decades, climate change, pollution, drug-resistant diseases and other factors – “I’ve never really had the heart to make up a full list, else I’ll depress myself” – deplete the human race by 80 per cent.
The Jackpot is the mundane cataclysm of modernity itself. It is hundreds of millions of people driving to the supermarket in their SUVs, flying six times a year, and eating medicated animals for dinner. “If the Jackpot is going to happen,” Gibson says, “it’s already happening. It’s been happening for at least 100 years.”