Infinite Dark’s opening pages set up a very gloomy, lonely atmosphere, with the weight of a heat dead world on Security Director Deva Karrell’s shoulders. The sense of loss and isolation is very heavy, to the point where a grizzly murder almost feels like a breath of fresh air against such pressing darkness. But, writer Ryan Cady promises that his first creator-owned story won’t be all hopeless doom and gloom. Infinite Dark is more like a tribute to humanity’s indomitable will to survive, even after the Heat Death of the Universe has claimed Earth and the majority of those trying to escape the end, leaving only the small crew on the voidship Orpheus to deal with their survivor’s guilt.
When Cady wrote this story, he was clawing his way up out of his own personal darkness that involved a move to a new city with few friends and a relationship that didn’t work out. The isolation he felt during this rough patch is relatable for many of us and is palpable in Infinite Dark. Cady sees writing this story as a catharsis. Now he can look back on the experience of working on Infinite Dark alongside all the self-care necessary to pull him out of the depression and anxiety that he’d been dealing with, and take pride in how far he’s come and how those efforts fit into the story itself. “[N]ot necessarily the depression and the darkness,” he pointed out in an interview with WWAC, “but the pathways out—the strategies for survival.”
Cady views humanity’s penchant for survival as a virtue that he admires. “It’s a trait I love in our species,” he said in an interview with SyFy Wire, “the ingenuity necessary to keep moving forward as a species and a community.”
Aside from his personal struggles, there are many influences that have made their way into Infinite Dark—starting with the title, which is a nod to a line uttered by Morpheus from the first volume of Sandman by Neil Gaiman, whose work Cady is a big fan of. “Morpheus, aka Dream, is a father to Orpheus,” Cady explained, which brings us to the name of the lone voidship that survived the catastrophe of this story, and also touches on some mythology. “In the original Greek myth, Orpheus descends into the underworld for love, on an optimistic mission. It’s only his looking back that dooms him—his anxiety that he was failing in rescuing his wife. So the voidship is Orpheus on his way back, bringing humans out of the underworld—they can’t afford to look back.”
Cady is an experienced writer with his name on several titles for big name publishers, including The Magdalena, Warframe, and most recently, Old Man Logan, but a creator-owned project is a whole new ball game that has left him feeling quite nervous. “There’s no editor to woo or set fanbase to try and appease, not even like, a big, well-known character or world to play in or use as a benchmark. And even with all the amazing help from folks at Top Cow and Image, and my fantastic editor Alex Lu … At the end of the day, with creator-owned, it’s all on the creators. We’re hung out there with our names, and the book.”
On the flip side, he notes, that scary feeling is balanced by the freedom to tell his own story exactly the way he wants to tell it, capitalizing on all the things he’s loved about storytelling in general and horror specifically. “I’ve been in love with the horror genre for as long as I can remember, and I can’t quite say WHY it’s so important to me. Maybe because big, monstrous fears can overshadow all the awful stuff we deal with in the mundane. The Heat Death of the Universe and a monster out of time—things like that make our problems feel small, and they eat up that fear bandwidth.”
Cady has cited the psychological chills and thrills of Alien and Lovecraft as his long time inspirations. Reading Infinite Dark threw me back to the paranoia I suffered after watching Event Horizon and I found myself very thankful that I wasn’t trapped out in the dark reaches of space. “Nothing could please me more than this book giving people insomnia. If my work is scary enough to keep people up at night … mission accomplished.”
As with so many of us these days, Cady is a devout Dungeons & Dragons lover, so I stepped away from the darkness and horror to have a little informative fun to help me get to know the characters a bit better. If the crew of the Orpheus were playing a D&D game, I asked, what class and race would the main characters choose? “Okay, Deva is a Paladin—Lawful Good but not Lawful Nice. And she’s probably a half-orc. Her right hand man, Sebastian, is, god bless him, a boring old Lawful Neutral Human Fighter.” (Pfft, there’s always gotta be one, right?) “Kirin-Tal Shi, one of the characters you meet in issue 2 … they’re a little harder. I think they’re a tiefling, and probably a Warlock … but their motives are more complicated than I can give away here.”
“Oh, and Dr. Ike Chalos is one of those useless Elven Druids.”
And to add to my reading pleasure, I decided that Smith, the computer voice that we meet in the first few pages, needed to be fancast. Cady initially suggested Anthony Hopkins, but decided that might be too spooky. We all know that hanging out with computers in the darkness of space is never going to go well, so I appreciated Cady’s switch to Chiwetel Ejiofor. Buuuut Ejiofor would better suit an action comic, Cady thought, as opposed to the slow burn of Infinite Dark, so, “for the sheer crisp, polite Britishness of it all,” he decided, “gotta go with Colin Firth.”
To hear Colin Firth chat with our new favourite half-orc Paladin, be sure to grab the first issue of Infinite Dark, which will hit shelves on October 10th.