This is how I mostly discover new short fiction authors: I skip recommendations and glowing reviews and just read. I lose track of who I read and where, wonder why a name sounds so familiar, and through sheer luck I rediscover them all over again. I may be an oddball in my stumblings, but when I stumble upon storytelling that grabs me, an author who does it right more times than not, I make a note of it.
And this blog is just sitting, so why not make a note of it here and share with others an author I think they will enjoy as I have?
So, who is M Bennardo? I suppose it would be proper to start with a bio of the author, but I’m not going to. I’m going to introduce you M Bennardo over a couple of posts the way I was, through his stories, with hits and misses but mostly, in my humble opinion, hits.
The first M Bennardo story I read was a flash fiction piece at Daily Science Fiction called You’re Heads, She Says. You’re Tails. Honestly, I didn’t like it. It felt spare and cold—even for a flash about a mad scientist. For me, it left something to be desired, that warm spark of an impression.
As I am wont to do, I promptly forgot the author’s name.
Literary SF is fine, if that’s what you like, but I like it in small, infrequent doses. So, when M Bennardo kept popping up in Lois Tilton’s reviews at Locus Magazine—at one point along with a recommended rating—I just assumed ‘literary sf’, as most recommended stories there seem to be, and then I moved on.
At some point, I learned Bennardo is also the editor of Machine of Death. Imagine my surprise. I’ve got MOD on my PC, I recommended it to a friend, and this guy was the one behind it all. Here, I went off to find the author’s site.
But, what’s the Machine of Death, you ask and why should that change my mind? It’s an anthology featuring a machine which predicts how you die. I enjoy picking a story from the collection at random to read how that unifying theme spins off into profound concepts, how it reveals different facets of human behavior.
Bennardo’s contributing story there is Starvation, a nail-biting tale about the physical and psychological pitfalls of two men stranded on an island. Sounds like a familiar premise? Consider that one man knows he will die by homicide and the other knows he will die by starvation. Neither knows when or where or how it will ultimately happen, but desperation makes both predictions chillingly possible on the island.
And via M Bennardo’s site, I found more great tales like it. Check out the links below, read some of his stories, and share your opinions in the comments or wherever you care to.
Next time, more Bennardo and evolving thoughts on why I like his writing…