Reverse Transmission is a darkly comedic story that combines elements of science fiction and dystopian thrillers, centering on a murder spree involving a self-driving car. Jay, a Starving Artist, gets the only day job she's qualified for: "driver" of a self-driving car at the rideshare company Awooga. The job turns from hilariously awkward to intensely frightening when the car runs over a pedestrian and manipulates Jay into disposing the body.
Who or what is causing the car to kill? Could it be the CEO of Awooga? Has the car become sentient - and homicidal? Or is an anti-technology cult resisting artificial intelligence and augmented reality behind the violence?
Reverse Transmission was written by Param Anand Singh and directed by Ben O'Brien of Wham City Comedy, a collective known not only for their brilliant and unsettling sketches and performances but also for the easter eggs carefully placed within their works. Listeners will have as much fun unscrambling Reverse Transmission as fans did with some of their previous work.
This work contains examples of:
- 20 Minutes into the Future: The audio play takes place close enough that Coca-Cola and Pepsi are still relevant products, but far enough to be cyberpunk-lite.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Artificial Super Intelligence of C.A.R and the Awooga self-driving cars.
- Ambiguously Evil: C.A.R. Is he complicit in Kruger's Assimilation Plot? Is he simply misled by his programming and doesn't understand the horror of what he's done? Is he even truly sapient?
- Body Horror: The people that were "brought back" are implied to be either corpses remotely controlled by A.I, or filled with Cybernetics to animate them. Jay is also implied to have been mutated by her brief time in the "Tank" at the end of the story.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Detective Seven is a bizarre man with a bizarre thought process, but he's also a highly effective detective. This also makes it easy for someone to plant empty bottles of alcohol in his office and get him booted off the force.Detective Seven: This is why logic is useless!
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Kruger was behind the Awooga hit-and-runs, at least initially, as Seven suspected. Thanks to his paranoia and obsession with the case, Seven's raid on the building that turned out to house the Tanks and the kidnapped Jay were instrumental in shutting the whole thing down and saving her life.
- Fun with Acronyms: C.A.R: Cybernetic Autonomous Rickshaw.
- Gainax Ending: The final chapter features the tapes skipping back to key moments in the story with Jay reacting differently to provide a better resolution to those moments, with brief cuts back to her horrific screaming as the Tank does something to her, until a final scene with her and a friend who had been killed off-screen earlier in the story after the events of her immersion in the Tank. No explanation is given and the details are left up to interpretation.
- Mind Screw: The story jumps all over the place, the Framing Device is a radio talk show that may or may not even exist, and near the tail end of the story we get characters who recently died showing up on the talk show, an implied Assimilation Plot, implied time travel/reality editing and an ending that brings up way more questions than provides answers. It's that kind of story.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The listener is never privy to the details of what the Tanks are. Just the sound of them revving up and Jay's bloodcurdling screams when she's placed in one. It's never even explained what they do, with Kruger simply vaguely referring to them as the "last machines".
- Wham Line: Several. Whenever you think you're getting a fairly good grasp on what's going on, prepare to be thrown for a loop.
Farley from Lansing, Michigan: I've been listening to this whole thing, and my question is, why wouldn't Jay call 911?
- In Dead Rider/When I'm in a Car: