February 07, 2014 at 05:00 AM EST

One day, the world had to learn how to navigate a brave new landscape. That could be a synopsis for The After, an upcoming drama pilot from Amazon Studios created by The X-Files mastermind Chris Carter. But it could also describe what’s happening with TV, as companies like Amazon and Netflix push viewers to think outside the cable box.

The After follows eight strangers who are brought together after an unexplained event shuts down all electrical power. The ensemble (including Jamie Kennedy and Adrian Pasdar) eventually discovers the cause may have been less than earthly. “You can use words like apocalyptic or dystopian,” Carter, 56, tells EW. “I don’t think they would be perfectly applied here. What happened is a mystery, and it’s one of the reasons to watch.” The show is available starting Feb. 7 as part of Amazon’s second pilot season where users get to decide which shows ultimately get picked up. (Among the other nine also debuting: Bosch, starring Titus Welliver as the LAPD detective from Michael Connelly’s crime novels, and Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Alex Timbers’ philharmonic comedy Mozart in the Jungle.) Last year, Amazon ordered full seasons of the politico sitcom Alpha House, starring John Goodman, and the Silicon Valley-set comedy Betas.

Amazon has attracted some big names, and Carter is an especially intriguing one considering that he created one of the most groundbreaking series of all time and could likely land a deal at a traditional network if he chose to. “Everything about the Amazon partnership is interesting to me,” he says. “Technology and viewer appetites are leading us away from what we typically think of as television, and I want to be there when it happens.”

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