Adam-Troy Castro


Adam-Troy Castro is an American science fiction, fantasy, and horror writer.



Short fiction

Page numbers from the trade paperback first edition, published by Wildside Press, ISBN 1-58715-153-7, first printing
See Adam-Troy Castro's Internet Science Fiction Database page for original publication details
Capitalization and ellipses as in the book. Bold face added for emphasis.
  • Talent’s cheap…historically, one of the cheapest things you can buy. And considering the sheer amount of angst you carry around on your back, you need it. After all, angst from a Talented person is fascinating; angst from a Common Everyday Nobody is just an annoyance.
    • Ego To Go (p. 35)
  • “The question is, just how do we tackle this problem? Do we merely modulate your Ego so it’s less irritating? Admittedly, that might make you easier to take – but it won’t address the real core of the problem, which is that when all is said and done you really don’t have a lot to be egotistical about.”
    “That can’t be true! My Haiku alone –”
    “First rule of human social interaction, Mr. Porter: If you have to lead with Haiku, you’ve already lost.”
    • Ego To Go (pp. 37-38)
  • What Nancy Peabody can be blamed for was actually behaving like a crowbar, designed to pry open the locked places belonging to others. Not that she was interested in stealing material things. No, her sin was much more insidious than that. She thought everybody in the whole wide world was obligated to rearrange their lives to avoid doing anything that ran even a miniscule chance of offending her. That included reading the wrong books, seeing the wrong movies, wearing the wrong clothes, worshiping the wrong God, enjoying the wrong kind of sex, learning the wrong kind of knowledge, thinking the wrong kind of thoughts, and – most importantly, for our narratives sake – making music with the wrong kind of instruments. Nancy had spent her entire adult life pitilessly crusading against the right of anybody anywhere within her line of assault, to have even a thimble’s worth of fun without her approval. And because there were unfortunately all too many people running around who were (except for the regrettable crowbar-shaped nose) exactly like her, and were willing to support her in her various crusades, she was much more successful than she deserved to be. Before long, people who enjoyed things she didn’t begin wearing a hunted, apprehensive look similar to that worn by the lead cow entering the slaughterhouse.
    • The Guy Who Could Make These, Like, Really Amazing Armpit Noises, and Why He Was Contemplating Hippopotami at the Top of Mount Everest (p. 79)
  • All of this had seemed so obvious and vital to them once. But then it changed, in the timeless time since putting their vessel together; some might even say, they’d degenerated. They were no longer the beings who’d set themselves an impossible task and built themselves a miraculous vessel to help them accomplish it. In that time they had forgotten all of their arcane and hard-won knowledge and become passengers, instead of engineers. Now the bubble piloted itself, without their input; and the glorious mission that had once been the whole reason for their existence now seemed nothing but an ancient folly, too far gone to change.
    They wouldn’t have understood Vietnam, but they would have sympathized.
    • Fuel (pp. 92-93)
  • In short, they were like the complacent everywhere: in that they were already dead, and did not yet happen to know it…
    • Fuel (p. 93)
  • There was never any shortage of Despair; it had always been far more common than hope, and there was always more being manufactured, everywhere in the universe. That was what made it such a convenient, and inexhaustible, Fuel.
    • Fuel (p. 95)
  • Like all career diplomats, he’d spent a lifetime sculpting the truth into the shapes that best suited the needs of the moment, and would see nothing wrong with doing the same now.
    • The Funeral March of the Marionettes (p. 143)
  • Every once in a while, some poor bastard get saddled with the kind of impossible decision that destroys his career and makes his name a curse for the next hundred years.
    • The Funeral March of the Marionettes (p. 150)
  • It was the sort of platitude-laden gibberish that people learn to repeat so they can imagine themselves clever without ever bothering to think an original thought themselves.
    • The Funeral March of the Marionettes (p. 155)
  • Art isn’t just technique, in any culture…it’s also Content. It’s understanding not just How, but also What, to express.
    • The Funeral March of the Marionettes (p. 155)
Nominated for the 2008 Philip K. Dick Award
All page numbers are from the mass market paperback first edition published by Eos Books ISBN 978-0-06-144372-5
Italics as in the text
  • There had never been any violence in her life, up until those last few hours—and there seemed no reason beyond simple self-defense for her to feel the urgency she felt now.
    But she did hunger for it. She wanted to feel something alive turn to something dead. She wanted to stand above it at the moment of its dying, and feel the satisfaction of knowing that she’d been the one who drove it from the world of things that live and breathe and feel into the world of things that merely rot.
    • Prologue (p. 3)
  • It occurred to me a long time ago, Mr. Lastogne, that diplomacy has very little to do with making friends.
    • Chapter 4, “Brachiators” (p. 47)
  • Management’s never been interested in really doing the job, not at any point in human history. Management’s true agenda has always been making things more pleasant for Management.
    • Chapter 4, “Brachiators” (p. 57)
  • “What do you think about their position? Do you think it’s right for sentient creatures to be owned?”
    He emitted a short, cynical laugh, driven by the kind of anger that drives entire lives. “We’re all owned, Counselor. It’s just a matter of choosing who holds the deed.”
    • Chapter 4, “Brachiators” (p. 58; the last line is repeated on p. 345)
  • I could only read the delay as a dramatic pause. Theatrics. Or diplomacy; wise men throughout history had already noticed that sometimes there wasn’t much of a difference between the two.
    • Chapter 7, “Interface” (pp. 84-85)
  • You want to know why humanity’s never been involved in a serious interspecies conflict? Because it’s like going out to eat when you have a pantry full of food at home. Why bother sampling the buffets elsewhere when we haven’t worked out all the great ways to kill each other yet?
    • Chapter 11, “Levine, Negelein, Lassiter” (p. 130)
  • When you get to the core of it, we’re all aliens to one another, raised according to some common precepts but otherwise ruled by paradigms far removed from those of the people around us. The tragedy is that we tend to judge others by standards that may make perfect sense to us but which are most likely totally irrelevant to them.
    • Chapter 11, “Levine, Negelein, Lassiter” (p. 136)
  • It was nobody’s idea of luxurious travel, but then I’d known luxurious travel once or twice in my life and found that it just got me to places at the same speed while forcing me to interact with the kind of people who could afford such passage.
    • Chapter 14, “Retreat” (p. 182)
  • Middle management has always favored underlings friendly to middle management. It’s corruption, all right, but of a minor and probably unavoidable sort.
    • Chapter 16, “War” (p. 202)
  • “Any messages?”
    Oscin said, “Just a lot of people dreading whatever you plan to do next.”
    • Chapter 16, “War” (p. 206)
  • Human bureaucracies, and most alien ones, are slow by design, their response times slowed to a crawl despite all the technologies we employ to make their progress visible to the naked eye. That’s because they’re still subject to all the delays native to organic life: the mistakes, indecision, the malice, the covering of asses, and the reluctance to transmit even the most urgent message until after a leisurely break for lunch.
    • Chapter 16, “War” (p. 206)
  • “Are you refusing a direct order?”
    “Tell me to die for no good reason and I’ll do more than refuse, I’ll shove the order up your ass.”
    • Chapter 17, “Descent” (p. 227)
  • “In my experience, mediocrity in life-or-death situations gets people killed.”
    He looked knowing. “Read your history. Greatness kills more.”
    There was nothing I could say to that.
    • Chapter 19, “Knots” (p. 259)
  • She’s a little bit below mediocre, isn’t she? And the worst kind of below-par personality at that: the kind who believes herself destined for great things.
    • Chapter 19, “Knots” (p. 259)
  • His smile was the wholly unpersuasive kind that only a professional diplomat could carve. Damned if there wasn’t some pretense of compassion in his voice, some veneer of fatherly understanding that gave every word out of his mouth an extra, oily sheen.
    • Chapter 19, “Knots” (p. 263)
  • “You know what murder investigators call the ex-lover who says the dead woman slept around?”
    “I think I can guess.”
    “The most likely suspect.”
    • Chapter 19, “Knots” (p. 265)
  • He’d played me very well. He’s sensed my misanthropy, and played up that aspect of his own personality. He’d even accused the Porrinyards of the same failing. But was that just the typical gamesmanship of a habitual manipulator, or the obfuscation of a sociopath?
    • Chapter 19, “Knots” (p. 276)
  • It was stupid to feel fear. Fear was nothing but the body’s involuntary response to perceived threats. Fear increased heartbeat, respiration, and perspiration; fear clouded the mind and paralyzed the limbs, and I’m going to die wasn’t subject to logical arguments about its counterproductivity.
    • Chapter 20, “Suspension” (p. 284)
  • I’m going to die.
    But that meant nothing, too, because we were all going to die, and every breath of air I managed to wrest from the universe was one more the nightmares of my childhood had failed to deny me. When I breathed it was an act of defiance. When I breathed it was a victory.
    • Chapter 20, “Suspension” (p. 284)
  • What followed was the well-known phenomenon of a group, asked a simple question with an obvious answer, that nevertheless remains silent as everybody waits for somebody else to trigger a suspected rhetorical trap.
    • Chapter 22, “Emissaries from the Dead” (p. 324)
  • It’s almost comical. Nobody knew anything, but everybody took that as proof of the hypothesis.
    • Chapter 25, “Aftermath” (p. 378)
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