These are the links that bound two continents and three great cities together, and these are the shackles that bound men whose voices were forever silenced, whose names were forgotten. There is beauty and wonder here, and also horror and death.
In Ken Liu’s short story “A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel”, a tunnel has been built underneath the floor of the Pacific Ocean. People and cargo shoot through this tunnel in order to get from California to Japan (and back) just like the tubular things that shoot under the ground at bank drive-thru’s.
Narrated by one of the workers who built the tunnel, the story is looking back at history and reworks the history we know. The tunnel is built to provide jobs during the Great Depression and it works. Japan and China’s role in the world is now different as is Germany’s. Is this world better than the one we know? It’s hard to say. There are bad things that didn’t happen, but other bad things took their place.
The story is as well-written as any of the stories in this collection as well as thought-provoking. History buffs may enjoy it especially.