In a 1964 essay for the New York World’s Fair, Asimov looked ahead to a prosperous world of 2014 — 50 years in the future. Among his visions: Suburban houses would move underground, leaving the surface free to agriculture and parks.
In the real world of 2016, people are moving underground, but only where economics drive them there, in densely crowded cities like Beijing, says Megan Logan on Inverse.
Underground living has advantages, mainly natural, effective climate control. But human beings just like fresh air and natural light. Logan says:
Underground spaces aren’t exactly inviting and homey by nature. More than that, though, being underground taps into a baser fear or instinct of being buried alive, which doesn’t necessarily scream “rest and relaxation.”
I think these are solvable problems, piping in fresh air and using fiber optics or some similar technology to direct natural light to where people are.
On the other hand: Our bedroom overlooks the backyard deck. A few years ago we decided to put a roof on the deck, which blocked out direct light in the bedroom. Our thinking at the time was, who needs sunlight in the bedroom? The only time you use the bedroom is at night, right? And we like sleeping late when we can, so more darkness in the bedroom is good, right? I still sometimes regret that decision — I underestimated the pleasures of waking up to sunlight.
I think Logan overlooks one major reason Asimov predicted underground housing in 2014 — and vast, closed-in cities in stories such as the novel “The Caves of Steel.” Asimov was a self-described “claustrophile.” He loved closed-in artificial spaces. That’s one of the reasons he wrote so many hundreds of books; he was happiest alone in a small, windowless room, lit by artificial light, tapping at his typewriter.