When we visited Atlantis in Nassau, The Bahamas a few years back, I recall standing in front of a gigantic glass wall holding back tons of water, and I thought, “Wow. This is such a cool view!” But there was another part of me wondering how fast I could make it up those stairs if that glass suddenly let go.
And there, my friends, is the dilemma. In UNDERCURRENT, most of the people—including Phelan Maxwell, my protagonist—were born in the underwater city of Aquataine and living under a high-strength polymer dome is all they know. It’s those “surfs” who move to the dome because of the incentives—cheaper housing in a somewhat utopian city, in exchange for working in one of the service professions, like utility work, teaching, medicine, or any number of jobs that are needed to keep the place running. It’s creepy, right?
I’ll admit that there is probably a little bit of “Disney Adventure” going through my head when I think about things like the submarine ride to get to the city, and the crew’s uniforms, and the whole “experience.” Maybe there’d even be dolphin-shaped cheesy crackers. But all that would probably cease being a ride once the sub made it through the underwater locks and we surfaced inside the harbor inside a giant air bubble four hundred feet below sea level, at which point I’d realize that I’m four hundred feet below sea level. I’d need some of that Nirvanum to settle my nerves.
Like that aquarium wall, which is made out of some sort of high-strength acrylic, just how indestructible is that dome, anyway? I mean, how are you able to sleep? Aren’t you worried that that thing’s just going to shatter? If you’d like to test this out, you’ll be happy to know that you can indeed spend a night (or more if you like) in an underwater hotel. All it takes is your airfare to Dubai, and $10,000 per night. Sure, you’re not four hundred feet down, but the rooms are underwater.These rooms are, by total coincidence, at the Atlantis Resort on the Palms in Dubai, and it actually does exist.
I imagine there might have been a time when one of the workers installing the giant aquarium wall probably turned to his buddy and said something like, “Hey, Vinny. You think you could live in a thing like this?” Picture yourself standing in that marine habitat, the only thing missing being the literal eight million gallons of sea water that goes where you’re standing, probably about forty feet down. “No, Jimmy, I don’t think I could live in a thing like this. But I’ll bet if we built one, people would pay $10K per night to stay in it.” And apparently, they do.