The Visuals of Cold Reboot

It’s funny to talk about visuals when discussing an audio drama, but even funnier when you consider that the cyberpunk thriller Cold Reboot started life as the first novel in the Shadow Decade series. Very different beasts, prose and audio, with entirely different strengths and weaknesses. The act of adaptation is very much the act of translation, of converting the inner expression of a novel’s emotional reality into an external landscape.

In the novel, the reader indulges in Erica’s experiential reality of the future through her senses, and what feelings those sensations evoke within her. We ride along, inside her head, and know the setting primarily through her fictive lens. While the audio drama does employ a device in the recordings Erica makes as part of her therapy, this is second-hand. We’re not experiencing what Erica feels, we’re hearing her describe it.

Instead, the strength of audio drama is what we hear. The soundscape gives us our taste of the future.


But in creating the future, in deciding what Erica experiences, in what the listener experiences, the creators of the work have to be able to fully visualize what the setting is like. The tepid coffee. The stale polluted air. The gentle hum of surveillance drones hovering just out of sight. And, of course, augmented reality.

This plays the biggest part in our future — the extra layer of technologically granted sensory input. The in-your-face internet you can never really get away from. When I was originally writing the books, I based the future’s invasive information glut based on current trends and future speculation. Information overload is common to the cyberpunk genre, but in the case of Cold Reboot we’re not dealing with Virtual Reality, but Augmented Reality.

I guessed. You don’t have to.

While working on the next evolution of Cold Reboot‘s story, an upcoming simulation game where players try to get by in a situation similar to Erica’s, I came across two videos by filmmaker Keiichi Matsuda that are eerily close to what I’d envisioned the future is like. Check them out:

HYPER-REALITY from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

A lot of this… specifically the marketing applications, the reliance on tools, and the drabness of the world when the pictures are taken away… ring very true to me. I can’t wait to see the next short film in the series.

About Michael Coorlim

Michael Coorlim is an author and producer for the Chicago film production company Burning Brigid.

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