Singlit Spotlight: What Would Singapore Look Like In The Multiverse?
STORY: Diane Lam & Farhan Shafie
19 May 2022
Ever since the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we’ve been trying to imagine what alternate versions of Singapore would look like. Thankfully, Singapore’s creative minds have already done some of the heavy lifting for us, as there’s a whole subset of speculative Singlit that imagines a Singapore where magic exists, where Merlions are weaponised, and where the gods hang out at Changi Airport.
Some of these universes are wonderfully whimsical, while others make us extra grateful to live the way we do now. Here’s what you should read to traverse Singapore’s own multiverse of madness:
Altered Straits, by Kevin Martens Wong
In this version of Singapore….Technically, there are two alternate versions of Singapore here: the kingdom of Singapura, where native Malays have used living, breathing Merlions to defeat British colonisers. The other version takes place in 2047, where the Concordance - a “hive intelligence” - has forced Singapore underground.
How much we’d want to live there: If you want to live in a world where time travel is the norm or if thought that America Chavez’s multiversal travelling abilities were cool, then this is the multiverse for you. Also perfect for pet or Pokemon lovers who crave for a mythical bond with a mythical creature. NS is still a thing though in this timeline so some uniquely Singaporean things never change.
In addition to being an author, Kevin Martens Wong also teaches Kristang! Read our interview (and watch him sing 'Home' in Kristang) here
Dream Storeys, by Clara Chow
In this version of Singapore….There are NINE versions of Singapore here, all based on interviews that Clara Chow - a former journalist - had with local architects. In one of the stories, the Singapore Flyer is a political prison. In another, the powers that be consider building disposable malls with a lifespan of 6 months to two years.
How much we’d want to live there: If designing your dream home wasn’t enough for you, how about constructing your very own fantasy Singapore landscape? As if our futuristic architecture currently isn’t enough, this story takes it to another mind-bending level. You know that scene from the first Doctor Strange where skyscrapers are flipped upside down and stacked upon each other? Yeah, this is the reality you’ll be living in. Freaky.
Lion City, by Ng Yi-Sheng
In this version of Singapore….All the animals in the Singapore Zoo are robots, Changi Airport is a hub for the gods, and the legend of the swordfish and subsequent founding of Bukit Merah leads to Singapore becoming a vast empire.
How much we’d want to live there: As an animal lover, this would be a depressing reality. To live in a world where animals are supposedly extinct and have been replaced by mechanical robots? Man, that sucks.
But the book does offer some wildly imaginative 'what if' scenarios. We especially loved the chapter about a clandestine Changi Airport terminal being a temple to the gods. I mean, how else can our airport be the best in the world on so many occasions? Clearly, we are blessed by some good feng shui.
Read our review of Lion City here
Sofia and the Utopia Machine, by Judith Huang
In this version of Singapore….Singapore is a dystopia divided into three strata: the oft-ignored Voids, the Mid-Levels, and the upper-level Canopies. A bit like academic streaming, but way more intense.
How much we’d want to live there: You’ll never look at 'Void' decks the same way again. An uncomfortable glimpse into a futuristic Singapore that is more Hunger Games/Divergent than human utopia, where social divisions are still a norm. Sian. We’ll pass on this reality, thanks.
Children of the Ark, by Teo Xue Shen
In this version of Singapore….Monsters abound, and a teenage warrior involved with an underground rebel group must save children known as 'Pentagons'.
How much we’d want to live there: For some reason, this dystopia reminds us of children’s novel Artemis Fowl. Underground rebel groups. Check. Grotesque creatures check. Pesky children. Double check.
It’s a gripping adventure filled with danger or peril. But the only peril I need is morning rush hour traffic at the PIE. Anything else is too much, so no thanks.
Did you know that author Teo Xue Shen wrote this book on his phone while he was in National Service? Read our interview with him here
Beng Beng Revolution, by Lu Huiyi
In this version of Singapore….An impoverished Singapore has run out of oil and gas, driving its most precious resource - people - into shanty towns and food scarcity.
How much we’d want to live there: The premise of this book isn’t too far from reality - as a country with little to no natural resources, Singapore is in danger of being totally screwed over if the world were to run out of crops and fuel. And the tale of an everyman 'beng' destined to be the savior of the nation sounds like something Jack Neo would produce so this is very much on brand. Would be cool to experience a steam engine train in Singapore instead of the MRT though.
The Gatekeeper, by Nuraliah Norasid
In this version of Singapore…Singapore is called Manticura, and it’s basically an urban city built on top of an underground colony filled with fantastical marginalised creatures.
How much we’d want to live there: If you've never experienced kampung life, this reality might intrigue you. Couple that with fantastical creatures and Greek-inspired mythology, it sounds like a pretty dope place to live.