How did this story come about?
This is that splendid thing, the story that arrives as a dream. I woke up in the middle of the night reeling from the image from a man skateboarding down a mountainside with an avalanche of boulders chasing after him, only to be paced by a rickety dented robot bearing a birthday card to whom he would snarl, “Fuck off.” I woke having absolutely no idea how this situation would come about, and everything else was reverse engineering. I’ve got to tell you, the moment I came up with that bit about the Galactic Year, I knew I had struck gold.
The voice is so restrained, the perfect foil to the absurd tale. Did you consider any other approach?
This is not a story where voice was considered, not really. Sometimes function dictates form. Nothing else would have worked for this shaggy-dog story. I was more worried about coming up with a satisfying ending. There was that “Galactic Year” thing, and for a while it seemed like that would be the final twist, the stunning ha-ha that wrapped it all up in a bow, but sometimes it’s honestly wiser to take that clever surprise ending you’re so proud of and move past it, to see what else develops. As I did.
Can you talk about the structure and pace you chose?
About all I can say is that it was originally going to be just a series of adventurous vignettes interrupted by the robot, but I realized at the midpoint that it needed a plot greater than that, that the poor robot also deserved closure, as it was just trying to do its goddamned job.
That last killer line slayed me. Did it come first, last, or somewhere along the way?
As near as I can remember, I didn’t know exactly how I was going to wrap it up until I began the last scene.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know about this story?
Sure, here’s a little piece of trivia. One of the story’s other robots, PHP-321, made its debut a little more than a quarter of a century ago, in a story called “The Last Robot.” It was my first published science fiction story (I had previously only published horror), and one of the first stories I ever wrote that ever made a splash worth mentioning. I thought enough time had passed that it could show up among a gathering of robotic drinking buddies. (Giving the protagonists of some stories cameo appearances in others is a harmless little tic of mine that really accomplishes little for their literary quality, but amuses me no end, when I indulge.)
Whose absurdist writing do you enjoy?
Bill Fitzhugh, Christopher Moore, Donald Westlake.
What do you wish interviewers would ask you about?
I have a website (adamtroycastro.com), at which you can find a complete bibliography and many essays, reviews, rants, and links to older entries in my movie blog, The Remake Chronicles. That latter ongoing project moved on to the defunct Fantastic Stories of the Imagination and from there to my Patreon page, where for a pittance you can support this author in his quest to produce as many stories as possible. Please, interviewers, ask me about those.
Any news or projects you want to share?
(Sigh) I now have TWO novels homeless but making the rounds. I must also mention a novella coming up in Analog, sometime in 2020, the latest story in a series about my far-future super-spy, Draiken, called (gulp), “Draiken Dies.” But . . . does he? Does he really?
Spread the word!