Excerpts From Three Future Travel Guides, Part I

Swimming #1 by Monika Lin

"Swimming #1" by Monika Lin

by David Perry





As difficult as it is to believe today, this quiet fishing village was once a bustling megalopolis. Today, little above the waves remains visible, but at the height of its glory the original Shanghai was the financial and entertainment capital of the People’s Republic of China, not to mention the de facto money and pop-culture heart of the Earth Prime post-Water War era’s Han-dominated globe.

Shanghai’s underwater ruins have long been popular with divers, ectopaths and the odd bathy-projection enthusiast. For the past two centuries few but the hardiest of extreme travelers have ventured to this remote spot on the far Pacific side of the sparsely populated East China Archipelago.

Today, however, all that’s changing. Backpackers, fractal hoppers and a growing number of vanguard tourists are exploring Shanghai, drawn as much by the lure of the colorful indigenous human-animal hybrid Dongwuren population as by the massive lost city beneath the sea.

On land, the village of Sheshan is the primary attraction. Located 3.2 kilometers south of Shanghai Landing—where four public wormhole pores open opposite the Upwind Hostel, Kevin Linda’s Dive Shop, a thicket of bathy-projection antennae and a small military drone-o-drome—the village spreads beneath the oft-rebuilt Sheshan Cathedral, which rises above a jumble of single-story shops and huts patched together from an incredibly eclectic assortment of ancient Earth Prime post-industrial urban detritus.

If you’re in town on a Sunday or during a Dongwuren Festival, don’t miss the ceremonies at the cathedral, where the locals practice a hypersyncretic religion known as Consumunism that combines a bewildering number of Old Earth Prime beliefs and rituals. Even on regular weekdays, a collection of over 13,000 personal icons—Old Earth Prime figures and totems that the Dongwuren believe have special powers—occupying tiny niches carved into the interior wall of the Cathedral make it worth a visit, as does the spire topped by an eight-meter River Crab junk-sculpture in honor of Hexie, a prominent Consumunist deity. (See “What to Do and See” for more on Sheshan Cathedral.)

Though most visitors stay at the Upwind or the nearby Xiahai Guesthouse, home stays can be arranged with indigenous families. If you stay with a local family, you can choose between cave dwellings (many feature spectacular cliff-window views) and traditional above-ground lajimen structures built from recycled Earth Prime materials. Certified ectopaths may opt to stream to Hivemind for recharging, and there is a 82% chance that Wormhole 4 will lead travelers to the lobby of the four-star Brangelina Hotel in Los Angeles, California, the Republic of Mexico, Earth237. The seven other possible Wormhole 4 destinations, while not as desirable for accommodation, are at least all easily survivable. (More in ‘Where to Stay’.)

The Sheshan Fish Market and a number of grilled fish and sushi stalls line the caves at the base of the Sheshan Cliffs above the narrow strip of sand, rocks and heavy post-industrial wreckage that comprises Shanghai Beach some 120 meters below the village, and most major Multiverse F&B Outlets provide wormhole delivery, though you can expect extra charges to compensate for the high risk of multiverse misdelivery caused by ongoing instabilities in Shanghai’s wormhole pore structure. Be sure to stop at least once at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or vendor cart for local delicacies including xiaolongbao. Just be careful! These delicately wrapped steamed fatty-algae balls release a hot ‘soup’ upon steaming that can easily burn the mouth of the uninitiated! (See ‘What to Eat & Drink’ and ‘Getting There and Away.’)

On clear days, beachgoers can make out the needle-like tip of the leaning spire of the Golden Tranquility Tower, which remains Earth’s tallest manmade structure to this day despite the 32-degree angle of its lean and though only 23 meters of its spire emerge from the waves of the Pacific. Though not good for swimming, the beach does make for good sunbathing and offers a pleasant glimpse into the daily rhythm of life in this quaint seaside community.

History in Brief

Contemporary Shanghai

The Shanghai we see today is the result of some of the most dramatic sudden geological, climatic and geo-political upheavals known to pre-Multiverse history.

Immediately prior to the events known throughout the post-Earth Prime Multiverse as the Five Catastrophes, Three Disasters and Two Wild Total Flukes (5C3D2WTF), Shanghai boasted a population of some 64 million legally embodied inhabitants augmented by a ‘floating population’, estimated to have been around 20 million, which consisted primarily of quasi-legal body-share temp-transplant network migrants working shifts in biotech-enhanced post-human shells before retiring their conscious minds to the rudimentary but powerful first three generations of Hivemind that began to emerge in the decades ahead of 5C3D2WTF.

Ironically, the only survivors of 5C3D2WTF from the ancient Yangtze Delta Mega-Region were 2.4 million such network migrants whose conscious minds were stored in orbital and subterranean Hivemind 3.4 servers at the time of the Second Catastrophe—a sudden reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field that incapacitated the plasma dikes holding back seas which had risen some 30 meters following the first phase of the Great Global Climate Anomaly (the First Catastrophe) and accelerated by the use of thermonuke lite devices during the last of the Himalayan Water Wars between the China-Pak-Russian Alliance and the ill-fated Euro-Indian-American Axis (2052-2053 OER) .

Of those 2.4 million, several thousand network migrant workers managed to transmit to stable bodies, escaping Earth Prime to settle in parallel universes; most of the rest perished either in transmission to destroyed or damaged bodies. Some 3,000 others, however, stayed in Shanghai and, rather miraculously, survived the 5C3D2WTF’s tumult of earthquakes, floods, meteor impacts, solar flares, Internet outages and Hivemind virus attacks that saw Earth Prime’s human population reduced by nearly 98% in just a decade.

The landscape these survivors inherited was much-altered, not only by rising seas but also by the Third Disaster, also known as the Total Global Quake, which radically realigned Earth Prime’s tectonic plates and geography. In case of Shanghai, Sheshan and the increasingly mountainous area to the south and east were raised several hundred meters in the Zhejiang-Jiangsu Crust Upthrust, while the ravaged city to the east fell further beneath sea level, wiping out millions but creating what would become today’s adventure diving and extra-corporeal projection paradise.

Those survivors were, of course, the human ancestral element of today’s Dongwuren, whose non-human components derive from a makeshift mix of force-evolved biotech zoo-apps hastily downloaded from the Hivemind and modified to stabilize the inherently unstable post-human shells just before Earth Prime was cut off entirely from the rest of the human-inhabited Multiverse following the Second WTF—best known for the incredibly destructive plague of sulfur-based ‘Dragons’ that poured through the blown Shenzhen Experimental Wormhole from a human-incompatible parallel universe before eventually expiring in Earth Prime’s carbon-based ecosphere. The Lucite-encased skull of one such Dragon may be viewed in the back of the Cathedral, under careful watch by yet another enormous River Crab icon lest, as the Dongwuren believe, its kind return to wreak havoc once again. (See ‘Sheshan Cathedral’ sidebar.)

Today’s native Shanghainese, then, are a fascinating hybrid mix of humans, dogs, cats, dolphins, rats, voles, parrots, ducks and various other fauna, and though human characteristics predominate, it’s not unusual to see, for instance, a girl with a long tail, striped tabby-patterned fur and a beak or an old man with brightly colored feathers, a blow hole and reptilian claws. (See ‘Dongwuren: The Multiverse’s Only Known Polymorphously Perverse Matriarchy’ for more on this exotic minority’s unique culture).

Pre-5C3D2WTF Shanghai

Imagine a seven-square kilometer food court with as many as 32 levels… a cluster of hypertall skyscrapers with low-orbital space elevator access to geosynchronous satellite-platform research parks… quaint plane tree-lined streets running through neighborhoods o ancient French (Old Europe) villas and apartments housing quirky boutiques, art galleries and garishly lit ectopath transmission parlors…..


On the picture:

By Monika Lin from Child Palace, 2008, Swimming #1, oil, ink, resin on wood panel, 45cm x75cm

Collection of James Brearley and Shirley Fang