On the Dark Streets of Neo Taipei

A still image from Neo Taipei
From the underbelly of the future city we dreamt into being.

I was riding through the streets of Taipei 台北 during the last days of summer when I stopped at the far side of an underpass beneath Huázhōng Bridge 華中橋 in Wànhuá District 萬華區. I was fascinated by the quality of light, the starkness of the concrete conduit linking one side of a bridge to the other, a bridge between worlds.

Many of the near-future dystopias imagined in the books and films I was raised on in the 1980s and 1990s were inspired by—or created from within—the sprawling, neon-lit mega-cities of East Asia. Neuromancer, Blade Runner, Akira, and Ghost In The Shell captivated an entire generation of science fiction fans like myself.

Even though reality is a bit of a letdown, I still catch a glimpse of those glittering cities we all dreamed into the collective cultural consciousness now and then. Prowling the streets late at night, warding off insomnia with a heady dose of future shock—I can still see the future, just up ahead.