In this Author Spotlight, we asked author Adam-Troy Castro to tell us a bit about the background of his story for Lightspeed, “Arvies.”
Can you give us an idea of the class structure in the world of “Arvies”? What determines whether a fetus becomes an arvie or stays in the womb?
This is a post-poverty utopia where everybody lucky enough to be plugged into the society’s opportunities—the passengers or if you prefer “pilots” of the arvies—gets to do whatever the heck they want to do with their lives, indulging their slightest whims via the bodies whose wombs they occupy. I left unexplained what criteria determine who gets to enjoy all of this world’s vast opportunities and who becomes an enslaved recreational vehicle; that decision is made, from standards you and I can only guess at, long before any fetus is granted the gift of adult awareness. There must also be genetic and medical issues involved far beyond us. But no doubt, if some zygote possesses genetic gifts that promise vast talent in athletic pursuits, that’s a quality that would render their future body very very much in demand as athletic gear for some fetus interested in enjoying the ride from the safety of the amniotic fluid.
The story takes place after an apparent fetus uprising, any ideas as to how that came about?
The premise of a literal fetus uprising—man the pitchforks, Sparky!—is too risible to be borne. Even in the unlikely satirical world I posit, I refuse to believe that it happened in that precise way. I presume that, at some point in the story’s far, FAR future, an era that defines Clarke’s dictum about sufficiently advanced technologies being indistinguishable from magic, somebody said, “you know what? We have the medical technology to grant us all eternal lives living our wildest and most hedonistic dreams inside host bodies bred for the purpose,” and everybody else said, “yeah, you know what, I think you’re on to something there, let’s do that.”
The idea that an unborn child can have full lives, multiple even, is interesting. Would these humans ever actually be born or would they eventually die in the womb?
The entire point of the story is that they have no interest in being born; they can enjoy all of life’s opportunities without being born. As being born is a fate reserved for future arvies, it’s something nobody would ever want. The ability to arrest the fetuses at a stage before birth presumes a tremendous capacity to retard aging, for many hundreds of years if not even longer. There would be deaths due to the occasional accident capable of killing both arvie host-body and fetus passenger alike—let’s say, in the case of some hypothetical cliff-climbing arvie taking the long fall and carrying its unlucky passenger along with it—but such occurrences would be relatively rare. Think of it as functional immortality. But the question of whether any would “ever” be born — that brings up a potential story idea; a hated criminal in this world, who is sentenced to birth…
Do you have any upcoming work you would like our readers to know about?
There’s plenty of stuff in the pipeline. Short stories: “Anteroom,” a zombie story for the John Joseph Adams anthology; The Living Dead 2; the downright vicious “Pieces of Ethan,” in the John Skipp anthology, Werewolves and Shapeshifters; and the very very very very very short (25 words) “Chance Encounter At the Insurance Office,” for the Robert Swartwood anthology Hint Fiction. Later this year, the third Andrea Cort novel, Fall of the Marionettes (right now only available from a German publisher, but still an entirely new installment in that series). I am as of this writing almost done with a new Andrea Cort novella, not placed yet. There are a bunch of book projects I cannot announce yet, but there are two set for publication early next year that I can brag on: Z is for Zombie and V is for Vampire (both Eos), collaborations with leading artist Johnny Atomic that are wild-and-wacky alphabetic primers to those two titular monstrous icons. I predict that those volumes will pop a lot of astonished eyes from their sockets in 2011.