We often look to speculative fiction to take us on journeys to distant galaxies, to transport us to far, fey kingdoms or realms of nightmare. But there's a strange, lost land hiding much closer than we might suspect-- every day, in cities all around the world, humanity treads unthinkingly over it. Those seemingly solid streets we drive on every day? Hollow. Buildings, sidewalks, even parks stretch over spacious caverns of air. Although this sounds fantastical, I haven't even gotten to the "fiction" part yet-- read on!
Every manhole, subway grate, cellarway, and sewer drain is a portal to this hidden metropolis. I'm referring, of course, to the city's underground systems-- the access tunnels, sewers, conduits, subway lines, pedestrian underpasses, subbasements, and catacombs. With space at such a premium, many cities have delved far underground to build support networks for the buildings above. As the urban landscape above changes and grows, parts of this infrastructure inevitably get cut off from the whole, leaving abandoned subway stations and tunnels no longer accessible to the public. Some cities, like Edinburgh, have even built on top of older parts of the city, burying the more ancient structures beneath intact.
While the reality is a fascinating enough concept to explore, these vast underground networks have also become a playground for the imaginations of speculative fiction writers. Just think of it: empty, forgotten spaces concealed at the very heart of our most crowded populations... what else might be lurking beneath our unsuspecting feet? What creatures might come to dwell in such places, safe from prying human eyes? If you'd like to explore a few of these secret spaces yourself, check out one of the titles below:
Black, Holly. Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie (YA Black)
Gaiman, Neil. Neverwhere (BCD Gaiman)
Golden, Christopher. Mind the Gap: A Novel of the Hidden Cities (Fantasy Golden)
Goldstein, Lisa. Dark Cities Underground (Fantasy Goldstein)
Green, Simon R. Everybody Comes to the Nightside (Horror Green)
Hambly, Barbara. Those Who Hunt The Night (Horror Hambly)
Miller, Kirsten. Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City (YA Miller)
Preston, Douglas and Lee Child. Reliquary (Fiction Preston)
Richardson, Kat. Underground (Horror Richardson)
Sedia, Ekaterina. The Secret History of Moscow (Fantasy Sedia)
Slattery, Brian Francis. Spaceman Blues: A Love Song (SF Slattery)
Stephenson, Neal. Snow Crash (SF Stephenson)