Birthday Reviews: Adam-Troy Castro’s “MS Found Paper-Clipped to a Box of Jujubes”

Birthday Reviews: Adam-Troy Castro’s “MS Found Paper-Clipped to a Box of Jujubes”

Cover by Amy Sterling
Cover by Amy Sterling

Adam-Troy Castro was born on May 20, 1960.

Castro has been nominated for the Nebula Award 8 times in the three short fiction categories, beginning with a Best Novella nomination for “The Funeral March of the Marionettes” and most recently for the novella “With Unclean Hands.” “The Funeral March of the Marionettes” was also nominated for the Hugo Award, and Castro later shared a Hugo nomination with Jerry Oltion for “The Astronaut from Wyoming.” Castro and Oltion would go on to win the Seiun Award for “The Astronaut from Wyoming” in 2007. He won the Philip K. Dick Award for the novel Emissaries from the Dead in 2009. Four of his stories have topped the Analog Readers Poll, including “The Astronaut from Wyoming,” “Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl’s,” “With Unclean Hands,” and “The Coward’s Option.”

“MS. Found Paper-Clipped to a Box of Jujubes” was an original story included in Castro’s 2000 collection An Alien Darkness. It is the only time it has been published and was one of three stories first published in that collection.

It is only natural to look at a Ferris wheel and think about what would happen if it broke loose from its moorings. Of course, the reality of the situation would be deadly and horrific, but Castro paints a more surrealistic scene in “MS Found Paper-Clipped to a Box of Jujubes.”

Joe and Mary Sue are riding on a Ferris wheel, ignoring pretty much everything except for each other, when the wheel jumps from its holder and begins to roll down the midway and eventually out of the fairgrounds, gaining speed as its goes and causing Mary Sue to fall out of the wheel (unharmed). Joe just goes along for the ride as police try to stop the runaway wheel, treating it more like a speeding driver than anything else. Eventually, the wheel goes on to achieve cross-dimensional status and the wheel’s riders begin to work to regain control of the ride.

There is little in “MS Found Paper-Clipped to a Box of Jujubes” to ground it in science fiction, fantasy, or horror. Like Joe, the reader must simply go along for the ride, accepting the absurdities Castro piles on. The story is a light entertainment, giving a glimpse into alternate worlds without really exploring them, eventually returning to the status quo after what is essentially an out of control carnival ride.

Reviewed in its only publication in the collection An Alien Darkness, by Adam-Troy Castro, Wildeside Press 2000.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium” in Galaxy’s Edge. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 5 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7. He has been the news editor for SF Site since 2002.

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