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Saturday, January 4, 2014

"The Thing About Benny" by M. Shayne Bell (Updated)

First appeared in Ellen Datlow's Vanishing Acts. Reprinted in both Dozois and Hartwell's Year's Best SF. Collected in How We Played the Game in Salt Lake.

The narrator, presumably a botanist good at identifying plants, plays chauffeur and observer to Benny, an eccentric who listens Abba's "Dancing Queen" over and over, all day long because it has the answers to help find new (unidentified) species, some of which show up in offices and stores.

It's a rescue mission*, baby as plant species disappear.

If the species aren't rare to begin with in a hotbed of genetic invention, such as a tropical rainforest, I suspect the human species will be doomed, alas.

Interesting characters and search.  If Benny didn't have limited ability, he might be worth following into other adventures with this narrator as side kick if they can create greater comedy and friction and passion between one another--meaning bro-love, like an odd couple.

This makes an interesting comparison to his other apocalypse tale, "Mrs. Lincoln's China"--that is, if there's an unnamed imminent disaster (there may not be), but the apocalypses are not highlighted, which I find interesting.

*-Off topic, I got derailed by a Luka Bloom title--fine Irish musician. Here's a link to a favorite "Exploring the Blue" which inspired my first published story. Still moves me, still a beautiful voice. The original had more voices, methinks. Here's a cover with a nice voice although I prefer the original as it carries more heart-breaking power. Can't find the original original. Dagnabit.

Here's Luka Bloom's website with a cover of Abba's "Dancing Queen."  If you have a myspace account, you can listen to it here, apparently.

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