Crimson Skies is a fictional universe, an altered timeline that has been used for a variety of successful games and books including well-received Microsoft PC and X-Box games. From the official Microsoft website …
In this alternate history, the year is 1937 and the United States is fractured into squabbling nation-states, brought about by the weight of the Great Depression, regional prohibition and mounting isolationism. Giant Zeppelins crisscross the skies carrying both passengers and cargo, and airborne bandits are a constant threat.
It has pirates and gangsters, gumshoes and movie stars. Its a world where The Maltese Falcon meets Flyboys, The Rocketeer and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. The plots and characters hearken back to the seminal works of pulp magazines, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard, exciting, fast-paced tales where classic archtypes are given individuality by the absolutely immense range of regions created by the 'break up' of the United States, each with a unique cultural background creating a virtually limitless canvas for conflict, triumph and tragedy.
The Series Concept:
Crimson Skies: Radio Liberty is a new fan-produced audio drama produced by Silvertongue Productions. It will be a three episode, proof of concept, mini-series to be released at monthly intervals, based on the premise of a news programme broadcast by a radio station on a night club / casino zeppelin called the Pascal. Registered in New Orleans in the nation of French Louisiana, Radio Liberty broadcasts from various locations on its round the world cruise, mostly in international waters. They report on the news "without fear or favour" making them enemies and friends amongst pirates and militia who see them as either a force to be respected or hated. Sometimes the Pascal and Radio Liberty are simply bystanders in the drama that goes on around them but as the story goes on they start to become the focus of events in the complex political arena of central America and the Caribbean and a major player in the struggle between good and evil that is shaping the destiny of nations across the world.
The content of our 'news reports' (our script) will be based on Crimson Skies canon literature (the sourcebooks and licensed fiction), various fan works (including fan fiction and game scenarios) and historical events and people. Each 10-15 minute episode will be self-contained but plot threads will run throughout the mini-series. The format of the episodes will be based on research to make it as historically accurate as possible without compromising dramatic effect and will feature period swing and jazz music.
This is primarily action/adventure and as such shouldn't be expected to have deep and meaningful themes, in fact one of the characteristics of '30's pulp fiction is that it is very clear cut, usually good versus evil, with both sides standing out in black and white.
However any plot without a message is ultimately unfulfilling. Our production will be speculative fiction that builds up a picture of "The Fractured States of America" that is as plausible as possible, given the events and conditions, to explore the way that different people react within it.
Personally I see Crimson Skies as an exercise in anarchy - the freedom of individual regions above larger national groups - which ultimately questions the civic responsibilities of individuals: what is the dividing line between personal freedom and the pursuit of happiness, and our responsibility to society? Is it defined by the laws of the land or ethics and morals? Through subliminal games of 'truth and consequences' the crew of Radio Liberty will hopefully make the listener see their own world in a different light.
The Target Audience:
You can't hope to design something unless you know who your target audience is so, who would we expect to be interested in this audio drama?
Crimson Skies fans, past and present. Whilst there might not be too many still active in Crimson Skies gaming, the general feedback the mention of Crimson Skies gets when mentioned on forums is, "Damn, I loved that game! Why can't they do something like that now?" I expect that this will re-kindle interest in the game with a lot of past gamers and in so doing encourage the copyright owners to create new games and entertainment media.
Pulp genre fans. Crimson Skies is a classic example of the pulp genre. If we do this right, we could gain a large following from this section of fandom, both from fans of the originals (the Shadow, Sam Spade, R.E.Howard's books...) and new media based on it (The Red Panda, Sky Captain, Raiders of the Lost Ark...)
Old Time Radio (OTR) fans. Whilst I will not be doing the whole production as a faux-OTR piece, the parts that are meant to sound like radio will be as authentic as possible. I'm hoping that OTR fans will see this as bringing their genre into a modern context.
Swing / Jazz / Big Band fans. The music of the production will be as authentic as possible and to do this legally we have two options: original music composed for us, in particular our theme, and music from 1937 that is now in the public domain. This should, again, be a way for fans to see their favourite work brought into a new production, so that it will be of interest to contemporary jazz fans as well as jazz historians.
MUSIC: [A-1] [STING] THREE CHORD ORGAN. ANNOUNCER: Stay tuned for more adventures in Crimson Skies from [BEAT] MUSIC: [A-2] [BED] RADIO LIBERTY THEME--FADE IN. CONTINUE UNDER. ANNOUNCER: Radio Liberty!
Igor de L'Stok
Producer, Silvertongue Productions