Red Light #1 Review: Artificial Sex-telligence

Red Light #1 review header

AWA launches a new title from writer Sarah H. Cho and artist Priscilla Petraites that takes on both AI and sex work in a heady sci-fi erotic thriller.

We reviewed the book on the Stack podcast. But in the interest of highlighting more about the title, here’s a summary of the conversation with our thoughts. And if you prefer the longer audio version, that’s below as well!

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Red Light #1 Review:

In this new series, we meet Lacy, an AI sex worker at a near-future brothel. Lacy never leaves the compound. Not only that, she’s at the whim of her customers and her boss, who has some emotional issues of his own. Naturally, things develop from there. And just a note: this book is for adults, only.

“I really liked this,” host Justin Tyler said, kicking off the discussion. “I liked our main character here… The situation was interesting… We find out she is the first AI to really develop empathy. I thought was an interesting direction to go in. And I like the possibilities where this could go. The art was great as well.”

Alex Zalben noted that he’s always “trepidatious about this sort of thing,” because often this subject matter will be used for titillation, and that’s it. In fact, Zalben was impressed how the book was “more the implications of AI, how we use AI, how we use each other, how we sexually [exploit] people… There are some interesting tones to the characters, particularly with the owner of the brothel that takes things in ways emotionally that you wouldn’t expect.”

Zalben continued that he was impressed by the pace of the first issue, which lays out the people Lacy interacts with on a daily basis — though he did think the “turn at the end was a little quick for me… I actually wanted to play her development as a personality a little more over the course of the issues, because I think really delving into the psychology and taking a little farther, versus where I think it’s going in a second issue, takes it to slightly more typical places.”

That said, not having read the second issue, Zalben did like the tone of the first, which he likened to The Prisoner. And further he hoped, “we continue to explore this complex, and what it means… This could be a very interesting sci-fi tale.”

Though generally sexual fare isn’t Pete LePage’s cup of tea, he found the book to be a “weird, interesting take,” and added, “The art is really impressive.”

And wrapping up, Tyler said he, “wasn’t as concerned about the turn at the end. Because it was set up pretty well over the course of the issue… The reveal of the empathy crystallizes it, and then we get a strong turn at the end. So I wasn’t it was fine by me.”

Red Light #1 Official Synopsis:

A FUTURISTIC EROTIC THRILLER BEGINS! Get ready for a red-hot futuristic erotic thriller that sits at the intersection of sex and tech by exciting new writer Sarah H. Cho and artist Priscilla Petraites (CHARIOT, HIT ME). 
Lacy is an A.I. sex worker in a futuristic Red Light District. And Lacy knows exactly what her clients want — better than they know it themselves. Housed in a high-tech brothel under the watchful eye of the mysterious Mister, Lacy has little in her manufactured life besides work. All that changes when she befriends Natalie, an orphaned child who comes into her care. Now Lacy and Natalie are on a mission to escape the Red Light District, only to find themselves flung headlong into the mystery behind Lacy’s creation.

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