Adam-Troy Castro’s story “Arvies,” first published in the August 2010 issue of the magazine. The speed of light magazine, imagines a society that believes only fetuses have souls. One consequence of this is that it is normal for humans to use advanced technology to never leave the womb.
“There are two kinds of people in that story – fetuses and ‘arvies,’ in which they ride and have fun and change regularly,” Castro says in episode 519 Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “[The story] it bounces back and forth between the point of view of one of these fetuses and the ones where you go to a basically mindless woman—by design—whose fate is to carry her around.”
“Arvies” was a huge hit for Castro, winning the 2011 Million Writers Award for Best Short Story and appearing in books such as Nebula Awards: 2012 and Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: 2011. “That was the big story of my career,” Castro says. “I wrote it in an unusual style and it attracted a lot of attention. It got a lot of international attention, which was satisfying. I really, really like it. I still think it’s one of the top five stories I’ve ever done.”
But not everyone loved “Arvies.” Many readers were put off by the macabre premise or chose to read the story as a commentary on abortion, an idea Castro rejects. “A lot of people thought that story was cold; a lot of people thought it was too dark,” he says. “Good. You don’t like this one; you might like the next one.”
Castro is known for pushing the envelope when it comes to horror fiction. It’s a talent he’s honed over 30 years of writing stories like “A Sweet Slow Dance on the Trail of Temporary Dogs,” about a tourist paradise that suffers a genocidal invasion every 10 days, or “Shallow by the Pool,” about a toxic married couple raising their children. to fight each other to the death.
“You have to feel whatever emotional response the story is meant to give the reader,” says Castro. “If it’s a funny story, you have to giggle like a maniac while writing it. If it’s a suspenseful story, you have to be on the edge of your seat, not knowing how things will turn out. If it’s supposed to be horrible, you have to ask yourself, ‘Oh my God, is it okay for this to come out of me?’
Listen to the full interview with Adam-Troy Castro in episode 519 Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Adam-Troy Castro on his story “The Author’s Wife vs. the Giant Robot”:
[My wife Judi] read almost all of my stories before I submitted them. This particular story, about a giant robot that lives in the middle of Manhattan and randomly kills one person every day, was an exercise in writing about mortality. Judi found a lot of logical problems with this, and my conversations with her were so great that I reported them pretty much verbatim when I wrote the story, and they helped guide the story… I find it very ironic that with Judi’s death, this story is a commentary at that, because she was randomly taken by a giant robot. This happens to all of us; we all have a story like that. And that’s sad, but that’s life, and that’s what he talks about.
Adam-Troy Castro on Fandom:
I went to a few scattered ones [science-fiction] conventions already at the age of 10 or 12. When I was around that age, there was a convention called Lunacon, which was usually held at the Commodore Hotel, I believe, in New York. All I cared about about that convention—literally everything—was that on Saturday at 2 o’clock Isaac Asimov gave a speech. So I would buy a membership and go to that convention just to hear that talk. I did not attend the other panels. I’d show up and sit down for that talk, watch that talk, say hi to Asimov—who I could tell maybe felt I was a pain kid—and then maybe show up in the dealer’s room for a bit. But then I left.
Adam-Troy Castro on Harlan Ellison:
I realize that people have their reasons for disliking him or disapproving of him or — pardon the phrase, I don’t agree with the phrase — trying to “cancel” him, but my answer to that is that you don’t get 30 years of friendship or 50 years of literature out of it admiration. You can’t do that. It’s very easy for younger people to do that when he didn’t mean anything to them…I guarantee everyone listening to this—and this isn’t me making excuses for Harlan, I’m telling them one thing about life, and that’s if iconic figures live long enough, come there will be a day when you will have to apologize for them, and if you live long enough, you will lose touch and you will lose the respect of people younger than you. This is happening. It’s part of life.
Adam-Troy Castro on his story “The Old Horror Writer”:
When Frankenstein’s monster first appeared on screen as Boris Karloff, the first look at his face was enough to make people swoon in the theater. It doesn’t have that effect on anyone right now. Every day we see many more horrible monsters in CGI. In fact, within 15 years Frankenstein’s monster was chasing Lou Costello. Monsters are provided by horror fiction. It’s very, very hard to write a scary vampire story now. Hell, there’s a zombie movie Fido in which [the zombie] is a children’s pet. It was a musical. I think that’s one of the things that drove it [“The Old Horror Writer”]. That’s what the story was about and that’s ultimately the success of the old horror writer in that story.
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