Around 2007, I read a short story from a collection at my friend’s house. I do not remember the format, unfortunately, but it may not have been formally published. I think it may have been from one of her parents’ workplaces but no information seems to make sense there. I think it had been published somewhat recently, definitely no later than 2007, although I’m hesitant to say that, since something informally published could turn up later in another collection, right? I’m pretty sure I read it in one sitting while hanging out with my friend, so even though I’m a quick reader, I don’t think it was that long.

I’m in the northeast US, but for some reason I think the story may have been Canadian. I do not remember title, character names, or the author.

The story was a dystopian future wherein everyone lived in a superstructure that stretched far above and far underground. Your position in the structure was related to class; the extremely wealthy lived high up, while the lower down you lived the worse the conditions were.

The protagonist was a young-ish musician, and I think she was female (but I’m not certain). She was interested in experimental music and a friend of a friend was going deep underground to do some kind of art piece about the people living down there. I believe her goal was to use sampling from deep underground to make musical pieces.

After a journey very far down with a recorder, she and her traveling companion meet the people down there, and realize they are not like the people closer to the surface. They’ve adapted to life in these depths. I think they were either blind or had low visual acuity because of the lack of light. I don’t remember whether she ends up recording or not, and I don’t remember whether she could communicate with these people. I don’t think so, but I remember her feeling weird about the whole experience and getting back home and feeling like she’d been exploiting these people’s situation for art.

The idea of superstructures, underground cities, and subbasements has continued to fascinate me, and I’ve thought about this story regularly ever since. I sincerely wish I could remember more. I had a pretty terrible falling out with the friend in 2008 or so, and while I probably could contact her about it now, I’m not sure she’d even remember. I’ve tried making some cursory searches, but I’m not super familiar with short fiction and haven’t had any luck.

Here are some keywords that have triggered some memory of the story: CHUD; musique concrète. The former was definitely not used in the story but I think there are some similarities. I don’t think the underground people in this story were hostile. I do think their appearances were unsettling to the characters. The latter term is nagging me; I know I’ve come across it before and it may have been in this story.


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