Red Light Bytes: 9-29-2022
Updates, Op-Eds, Culture, & More!
SERIES NEWS: The first draft of The War III has just been completed. This terrific cover story promises a thrilling yarn in which the dynamic Gibson and the tough General Knox are pushed to their absolute limits as soldiers, and as men. Newfound shades of psychological horror add a tremendous dimension to the story and the series at large.
EXCLUSIVES NEWS: Production has begun on an original audio series. The new show is a work of in-world fiction, a program enjoyed by all who dwell in the desert, starring a tough young loner and his most special automobile as the fight back the villainy of the day. The pilot will be released for FREE in conjunction with the Winter Edition launch, and the remainder of the series rolled out with the paid subscription, including Episode 1 on Launch Day.
Work has begun on a print collection of the 2022 stories. This will include all 15 mainline stories and all of the forthcoming Red Light Bytes flash stories, of which there shall be 10 in total before the Winter ‘22 launch.
I’d like to talk a little about creative control. Not because of power struggles nor power trips. I’m talking about grabbing hold of your vision and sending it to the stratosphere. I’m talking about never losing sight of what it is you’re doing.
I create this series because I must. Not because I’m sending some crazed sociopolitical message into the ether, and not because I see a market worth cornering. It is because this is one of the purest distillations of what I adore and am fascinated by both aesthetically and thematically.
I write 365 Infantry because it is the first true project I have had 100% creative control over. The beauty of writing is that the writer is end-all be-all. Editorial may pop in to tighten up the tale, but at the end of the day, the words on the page are YOURS. The world built is YOURS. The characters forged are YOURS.
365 Infantry was the first time in my life, however young or old it may be, that I could say “this was my vision.” And that is a beautiful feeling I shall cherish until my dying day, and is that feeling that keeps me dishing up story after story in this particular, peculiar, and fantastic world of my own design.
If there’s any takeaway to be had from this, it is a note of encouragement to all creatives. Hold tight to that wonderful feeling and never let go of it, nor your control. I’ve been blessed to have found more guidance than naysaying in my time on this project, and I hope for it to stay that way.
If someone says you can do better, that’s one thing.
If someone tears at the fabric of your vision solely because they do not happen to share it, tell them to go kick rocks and eat a few on their way out.
My favorite part of the program! This section is where I’ll recommend three works I can’t get enough of. Could be anything from books to songs to films and more. Today, we are kicking things off with a particularly striking little number.
The visage of Death haunts a planetoid body as it erupts upon collision.
Tim White was one of the finest painters of his time in the realm of science fiction and fantasy. His impeccably rendered yet evocative works have graced the covers of books by legends such as Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Frank Herbert. His style is equal parts colorful and highly-detailed, an approach that would come to inform much of British science fiction art from the mid-70s and onward.
It is the dreaminess of The Eater of Worlds that makes it a phenomenal work. Crafted with enough detail to make it believable, but given plenty of room for that ethereal quality to arrest all who gaze upon it. From the desert landscape to the color-spectrum sheen beneath the crashing craft, White forged a mesmerizing futurist vision that has stayed with me since the day I first laid eyes on it.
Now, I always like to pair paintings like these with a piece of library music. A sort of aural wine to go with the visual entrée, untainted by pop radio or classical pretense. For The Eater of Worlds, I’ve picked a slice of ambience on the Bruton label, “The Sea” by Brian Bennett of The Shadows fame. Give it a listen as you get lost in The Eater of Worlds.
And speaking of music…
Hailing from the year 1989, it is the title track from English thrash band Onslaught’s third album, In Search of Sanity.
It should come as no surprise that 365 Infantry is as much informed by old-school speculative fiction and freewheeling pulp fun as it is by heavy metal. From the apocalyptic speed of Motörhead to the earth-rending doom of Black Sabbath, if it ain’t screaming, rocking, rolling, and slaying, it simply ain’t it Chief.
With the indominable Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper leading the charge on mic, “In Search of Sanity” may stand as one of the most profoundly affecting thrash songs to ever come out of the genre. An odd statement considering we’re talking about a certain breed of absolute, untrammeled aggression.
And yet, through the twin axe massacre of Nige Rockett & Rob Trottman, as well as a rock-solid bottom end courtesy of James Hinder on bass and Steve Grice on drums, “In Search of Sanity” spins a harrowing and heartbreaking tale of madness and mental entrapment without ever once sacrificing aggression for the high melodic content of the record.
And my God, what melody there is on offer. In a career performance from Grimmett, every line and note is unleashed with equal parts passion and intensity, including a haunting chorus and some of the scream machine’s most immense primal cries caught on tape. It is a perfect blend of melody and monstrosity that stands as one of the thrash genre’s undersung gems.
Lastly, I have a little story for you all, about a boy and his car.
Or rather, a vengeance-fueled man and his killer hot rod.
From the pages of the June 1965 edition of Galaxy Magazine, it is Roger Zelazny’s Devil Car, brought to life by Michael Hanson for his radio program Mindwebs.
For over 150 episodes, Hanson brought to life speculative fiction for listeners of 97.1 WMSE Milwaukee, utilizing carefully chosen compositions, sound effects, and on occasion other players, to enhance what is ostensibly a half-hour audiobook reading. It is a format that served the host well, and has left us with hours worth of science fiction entertainment and enrichment.
As for the story itself, the fantastic Zelazny spins us a tale of a future automated. Cars are not only made with artificial intelligence and amenities in tow to better serve their drivers, but some gain enough sentience to rebel against the slavery they perceive.
One such ride is the Devil Car, the leader of a gang that kills the brother of one Sam Murdock, who in his rage, goes on a hellbent hunt behind the wheel of a car designed to kill the murderous automobile. Their journey brings them face to face with the cars of the wild, and Murdock’s “death car” Jenny may be brought to heel at their side…
Devil Car might seem somewhat cheap at first, with Murdock acting as a bystander in much of his own story, often relinquishing control of the action to Jenny. However, Zelazny makes up for this by crafting and developing vivid characterizations, a strikingly realized world, and a great push-pull dynamic between Murdock and Jenny. Something remains eternally fascinating about the world created, where man and machine are at once at odds with one another, and yet reliant on one another too, often in different ways. Listeners and readers may also find it an amusing footnote that Detroit became something of an empire in Zelazny’s rendering of the future.
All are treated to a sensational production job by Hanson who, along with Trisha Day in the role of Jenny, brings the story to vivid, stereophonic life.
Before the days of Knight Rider, before the days of The Road Warrior, there was the Devil Car. An entertaining glimpse into an automotive future.
A Tale To Tell…
And before we forget, we too have a story of our own. It’s something of a reversal, albeit not intentionally.
This week’s flash story is The Hellioness. A mood piece about a devoted biker and her incredible steed as they face the world in endless pursuit of the one thing both crave so dearly. What could it be? Read on to find out more in this desert-set tall tale…
May God bless you and this Force. Until next time!
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