This month, SF Signal is featuring guest posts and interviews with the authors of Alien Contact edited by Marty Halpern. Today, we’re pleased to bring you an interview with contributing author Adam-Troy Castro!
SF SIGNAL: What’s the appeal of Alien Contact stories for you?
Adam-Troy Castro: A good alien contact story is a confrontation with a different way of thinking, a mind that formed its model from different starting assumptions, a value system that makes ours wholly irrelevant. And sometimes they burrow into our skulls and eat our brains.
SFS: What was the first “alien contact” story you read that made a lasting impression?
ATC: “First” is a difficult question to answer; I no longer recall the order in which they were encountered. However, I give special props to Robert Sheckley’s “Specialist,” which is not only the damnedest first contact stories of all time but also one of the damnedest models for space travel.
SFS: In “Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl’s,” what, exactly, are Minnie and Earl?
ATC: I’m tempted to say “That would be telling,” especially since some of the theories that have drifted my away venture far, far from the author’s intention. I recall one, for instance, that inferred from clues that are actually there in the story that Minnie and Earl are angels and that the son who died “in the war” was Jesus Christ. I didn’t agree with that, but I found it a cool interpretation. However, the answer to what Minnie and Earl are, and just what they’re doing playing host to confused astronauts, is actually right there, in the story itself…and not in the long section detailing all the theories regarding their origins. It just comes up so naturally, as a subject for conversation, that people read the story and don’t realize that Minnie offers as specific an answer as anybody could possibly hope for. Re-read the sequence that begins with the narrator asking Minnie about the Ray Bradbury story, “Mars is Heaven.” Pay special attention to Minnie’s response. It’s right there, wrapped in metaphor but as clear a statement of overall intent as Captain Kirk’s iteration of the Five-Year Mission. That’s what Minnie and Earl are doing on the Moon.
SFS: What’s the most alien kind of creature you can imagine?
ATC: I have conceived a story that will answer that precise question. I can’t promise that it will be written, but if it ever does emerge, you’ll know my take on the ultimate unimaginable alien. It would be called, “Revulsion.”
SFS: What projects are you currently working on?
ATC: Two collaborations with artist Johnny Atomic! Both in stores now! Z Is For Zombie! V Is For Vampire!
Coming soon: “Cherub,” in Demons! “In the Manure Car,” for Spirit Of St Louis! The new Andrea Cort novella, “With Unclean Hands,” in Analog Science Fiction! “Her Husband’s Hands,” in Lightspeed! And “Our Human,” on Tor.com!
Coming in 2012! First of a new series! Gustav Gloom And The People Taker!
Subscribe to The Remake Chronicles, the new movie blog by Adam-Troy and Judi Castro!
Still available! The Andrea Cort novels! Emissaries From The Dead! The Third Claw Of God! (both Eos). Also: the acclaimed strange future of “Arvies“.