Red Light Bytes: 10-6-2022
Updates, Op-Eds, Culture, & More!
SERIES NEWS: First drafts for the latest installments in “The Hunt” and “Tales from the Front Line” have been completed. The latest in the saga of Valentina promises a quieter, yet electric piece of drama as the vagabond finds herself restless…and in love. On the anthology front, this Winter shall see a ground-level recounting of a terrible revelation deep within the heart of Haven.
EXCLUSIVES NEWS: Scripting is nearing completion on our brand-new audiobook drama, and the team figures it’s time to share a little more about this exciting yarn:
Alan Firedale: Desert Delinquent is the ongoing saga of young man and his ride, the stupendous, intelligent machine Golden Cloud. The red wolf Firedale and his dearest “Goldie” lead a life carefree, roaming the desert for their own amusement and living it up to the fullest. However, when evil threatens the innocent, and the forces of villainy march on the good desert-dwellers he happens across, Firedale will be there, twin revolvers ablazing. This brand new work of in-world fiction is set to debut alongside the Winter ‘22 Quarter.
We are 92% funded in our Ko-fi campaign to fund the Winter ‘22 and Spring ‘23 quarters of art! We thank all of our wonderful readers and supporters who have donated. If you love the tales we tell & the wonderful illustrations of our lead artist, Kevin John Jacob, don’t delay and
Commitment’s a helluva thing, ain’t it?
To spend all that time devoted to something. Just because you wish to see it through, you wish to see the fruits of your labor brought forth, or you have too damned a sense of duty to the thing to let it go in the face of it all.
365 Infantry is no small commitment, never has been. Pre-production (“he’s letting his filmmaker show again!”) began in late summer of 2021. It was August and I was a production assistant on a local shoot. Much to my chagrin, I had to keep out of the way once the cameras rolled, so I’d bring my laptop with me and start plugging away on stories.
That first story was “An Address from the General,” and from there I created a little character in a coffeeshop. At the time, she bore no name, just her professional title.
That title being “Urban Avenger.”
A week of me writing in a closet and a caffeine-fueled windowsill turned into more stories and more characters. That turned into an artist hunt, which turned into 15 sheets of concept art by Kevin. Cost a pint-sized fortune, but by God was it worth every penny.
That turned into an announcement on April 8th, which in turn became a launch on June 5th, a fresh batch of tales on September 4th, and now here I sit. Writing my head off for my own amusement and yours, going out of my gourd with stories to tell.
There have been times when I fell out of love, when I felt there were only so many ways to say a hot rod went hurtling through the desert plains, when I felt I grew weary of science fiction, rock-n-roll, genre, and everything under the sun.
Yet here I sit.
Because this is a commitment I would gladly throw the rest of my life into. I can always sell one-off stories, I can always write music, and I can always (as crazy as it sounds) make movies. But to have a whole world up my sleeve, to return to, to cherish and relish and live in…that’s something special. Something you can’t sweep under the rug, nor put off.
In this dawning Age of Iron, I am committed to making this series the best damned romp it can possibly be, and I can only hope you, dear reader, are sitting down somewhere and digging each handcrafted tale. And as you read, I hope that at least one iota of that caring and devotion shines through.
Because come rain or shine, we aren’t going away. Neither 365 nor the many bold and exciting creations of the Iron Age. Not for love nor money.
And in the words of dear Senator Trent
“You can take that to the bank!”
We’re going to kick things off with something of a dual recommendation, of both the item itself and the story upon which it is based.
“Let Me Tell You How Much I’ve Come To Hate You Since I Began to Live…”
From Cyberdreams and The Dreamers Guild, it is the 1995 adventure title I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, based on the 1967 award-winning Harlan Ellison story of the same name.
It should surprise no one that a series whose focal point revolves around a sentient computer system might have drawn inspiration from one of the greatest masterstrokes in New Wave speculative fiction. The story of five humans trapped in the horrific schemes of a mad war machine remains a horror story without peer, and through the added layer of interactivity, becomes even more immersive.
I shit you not, when I first saw the opening of this game, I fell into a fit of unparalleled catatonia for an hour straight. I was a kid curious about horror video games growing up, and by senior high, I was all over the fruits of the 90s. Titles like Clock Tower, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and the like.
As Ellison’s AM ended his excoriating overture with the haunting question, “Which of you five would like to play my little game,” the absolute existential dread of it all short-circuited my teenaged mind and I felt chilled to the bone. I literally got up from the computer, went to lay down on my bed, and sat there for what felt like ages.
And then I played some of it, and watched others play some of it.
From the spectacularly darksome backgrounds, John Ottman’s eerie soundtrack, and Ellison’s bombastic portrayal of the Allied Mastercomputer, the game envelops you in the harrowing dystopia with vice-force. It suffers from some classic adventure game maladies (some subpar voice acting, some mind-bogglingly specific event sequences), but it comes out the other side frankly unscathed thanks to the incredible story it retells.
Also floating around the ether is an audiobook reading of the original Hugo Award-winning tale, performed by Ellison himself. It showcases a far more robotic take on AM, as well as a profoundly madcap performance all around. Both recommended without reservation. Essential fiction, full stop.
The metallic monolith that is Motörhead, having achieved great success by 1979 with the release of Overkill and Bomber near-back-to-back, would find themselves with a third album on the shelves that year. An album cut in ‘76 and released by a label that once dropped them out right. This week’s platter of choice is another title track, from the debut that never was, On Parole.
A high-octane jailbreak rocker penned by then-guitarist Larry Wallis, the song was one of the few not to make it to the legendary 1977 self-titled debut. Frontman and Metal God Lemmy turns in another entertainingly racous and gruff performance, backed by the Lou Reed-meets-punk voice of Wallis.
The album disposed of by United Artists (only to be resurrected as the band rose through the ranks of the UK charts) represents the earliest lineup(s) of the firebrand heavy rock outfit. Wallis stands tall on axe, Lemmy roars on bass, and with a percussive handoff beneath it all. Drummer Lucas Fox played on the Dave Edmunds demos and Hawkwind cover “Lost Johnny,” before promptly being overtaken by the twin-kick demigod Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor.
“On Parole” is proof-positive that the band, and Lemmy in particular, knew the exact sound to push for right from the get-go. A riveting fusion of old-time rock-n-roll, British punk, and classic heavy metal. And while the album is missing some of the finer hours on the ‘77 debut, such as “White Line Fever” and “Keep Us on the Road,” it conversely showcases the best cover of Hawkwind’s “The Watcher” they had ever cut, and this top-of-the-line title track. Spring it from the cell and take On Parole for a white-knuckled spin.
Lastly, there is a film I implore one and all to see. It was one of the first films to introduce me to a world of animation relatively unseen. Beyond the modern family-friendly foundries and outside the adult comedy carousel lies a world of tremendous vision, ambition, and fantasy.
1973 saw the release of French animator René Laloux’s surrealist classic Fantastic Planet. The tale of humans (“Oms”) as pets and playthings of larger beings (“Draags”) on an alien world, the film adapts Stefan Wul’s 1957 speculative novel Oms en série, telling its story through perplexing visuals (designed by renaissance man and cowriter Roland Topor), realized with effective cutout animation, and topped with a sensationally psychedelic score by jazz pianist Alain Goraguer.
The joint French-Czech production clocks in at a breezy 72 minutes and tells its allegorical tale of liberation with economy, style, and that wonderful European fantasism that would creep into everything from bande dessinée legends Métal Hurlant and stateside variant Heavy Metal Magazine, to films across the globe like 1979’s Alien and 1984’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
Fantastic Planet was given a beautiful DVD & Blu-ray release by the Criterion Collection, but you can find it on Prime, HBO Max, YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, and free-to-stream on Plex among numerous other platforms. A top-shelf slice of science fantasy from a French visionary.
A Tale To Tell…
This week’s story takes us back into the heart of Haven, to the noble fools running the finest computer system in the functioning world. The White Coat Crew is an odd bunch, so indebted and in love with the Artificially Controlled Eco-System that they can never tear themselves away from her.
Stats on the Rocks is the amusing tale of the only man who could, as he and his gal try to make the best of a fast-devolving dinner party. How bad could it be? Read on to find out more in this humorful outing…
May God bless you and this Force. Until next time!