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Peering Past the Bleakness of Infinite Dark With Ryan Cady

Infinite Dark is a new ongoing series from Top Cow and Image Comics by writer Ryan Cady, artist Andrea Mutti, color artist K. Michael Russell and letterer Ryan Peteri. It tells the story of a special sort of space station called the Orpheus which was built thousands of years from now to survive the heat death of the universe. The theory is that this station will survive until the next Big Bang. The survivors would then find a new planet and colonize it. However, while the station was built to house 15,000 people, none of the other residents got to the station before entropy claimed them. Only the 2,000 people who were built the station itself have survived the death of the universe. Now, a few years after the end of reality as we know it, there is something seriously wrong on the station and Deva, the head of the station's security, has to get to the bottom of it.

I spoke to Ryan Cady about the book...

Brian Cronin: When did you first develop the idea for Infinite Dark?

Ryan Cady: Well, it’s sort of cobbled together from a few different early ideas of mine - I'd been terrified of the Heat Death of the Universe since high school, and I'd wanted to use it as a bogeyman in something for years. I'd been talking to Andrea for a while about doing SOMETHING together, but nothing was clicking. Then in Winter 2017, after chatting with him following NYCC, he made it clear he wanted me to throw him something really personal, passionate, but still high concept. So I took a lot of the stuff I was going through at the time - depression, existential dread, fear of the future, survival as a virtue, all that - and threw them up against that ultimate villain, Heat Death. Oblivion, the end of everything. And it all just started falling into place.

BC: It is a hell of a high concept.

RC: Ha! Thanks. It helped that Andrea was REALLY into it from the get-go. We hit the ground running.

BC: What, exactly, is the situation that the people on the station are going through - they are the last 2,000 people in existence, but are there kids? What is

the deal there? Are they literally the LAST 2,000 people?

Pages from issue #1
Pages from issue #1
Pages from issue #1

RC: Hahahaha. You know, NOBODY has asked me about that, isn't that funny? A lot of the big world building stuff that hasn't been answered, people haven't really grilled me on.

BC I just figured that would sort of tie into said existential dread. Like, if they were the last 2,000 and there was no one set to pick up from them, then that's a whole new level of messed up. For instance, we don't see it in the first two issues, but DOES anyone on the station have a family? Or are they all loners who are meant to be the support staff for the real families who were meant to come later?

RC: The short answer is no - there are plans in place for them to survive, to repopulate (both conventionally and also with some far future genetic tech), but that all ties into their "what comes next" plans. Nobody on the station is quite sure how long it'll take for a new Big Bang - assuming one even comes - or if it's a matter of time at all. Is Time even happening outside the station, can they interact with that spacetime beyond their pseudoreality field, etc. They're in a kind of stasis, waiting to see what they have to do.

And there are a few people who have coupled up, a handful of preexisting families, but that really is the other big lonely aspect of the Orpheus - these were all support staff. Planners, builders, dreamers. Hard workers. A lot of them were loners to begin with, and many of those left their families behind - assuming they'd make it on board the station later.

BC: Gotcha. I imagine, having witnessed the heat death of the universe, they probably need longer to process than normal.

RC: Ha! Yeah, there's a lot of the "Sex/death oh god what now" circling around, but not a lot of healthy relationships. And I haven't been able to show that as much in these first couple issues - hopefully I've hinted at it well enough - but it will be expanded upon as the series continues.

BC: In #2, there was an interesting note that Earth was "thousands of years behind," so just curious; the basic set-up is that this roughly 10,000 years from now, is that correct? And so I imagine humans have colonized other planets, right?

RC: Yes! Absolutely. We've spread across the Milky Way and beyond, at this point. In issue 4, Deva will happen to mention that she was actually born in the Andromeda galaxy.

BC: I liked how you waited until issue #2 to fully introduce the concept of the technolinguists. It is something that could have been the hook of its own series, so it reminds me a lot of how Ash was used in Alien. This cool other concept that ties in with a seemingly unrelated type of story.

RC: It was VERY tempting to just frontload a lot of those cool sci-fi concepts, but I really wanted to focus on mood and character from the get-go. I love the idea of technolinguists and how they work, and I wish I could go into them more. How their brains function is actually part of WHY Alvin interacted with the mysterious Entity the way he did, but I couldn't go too in detail on that...and it's a bit of spoiler.

BC: And, interestingly, I was just reading about how the original screenwriter of Alien fought against the inclusion of Ash for that very reason (that, while a cool concept, it was too much of its own distinct idea).

RC: I actually didn't know that about Ash! That makes sense, though. God, you've paid me a really big compliment there, personally, and I appreciate that. ALIEN is so formative for me.

BC: This book certainly evokes that fear of the unknown that Alien delivered beautifully. The claustrophobia of it all

RC: I'm glad to hear it. So much of that is Andrea and K Mike, of course. But I'm glad it comes through in the writing, too. I really want to tread that line between dread, claustrophobic fear, and that sort of resilient survival instinct/hope that is so inherent to some of the best sci-fi.

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