Bodies of Evidence by Jefferson Smith

Bodies of Evidence by Jefferson SmithThis short story skilfully balances humour and gore, to create a dark, but entertaining picture of an industry that must exist in superhero universes but is never seen.

Sid is body-disposal specialist. Supervillains and their hench-persons come up with steadily more-extravagant ways to spread their opponents over a wider area, but when the bits land it is Sid and his tried and tested methods that remove the evidence before the survivors get caught. This story follows Sid on a single job, a job made harder by a new employee riding along.

From the over-the-top particle-cannon battle at the start to the grim-yet-amusing dénouement, Smith packs the story with technology and schemes that are grander than real life.

However – unlike some superhero stories – the hyperbolic mechanisms and devious plans are only part of the world. As with real life, events are driven more by plausible (and mundane) reactions than by shallow parodies of madness.

This character-driven approach shows most strongly in Sid. Despite dealing with aftermath of theoretically world-shattering weapons, he is interested only in doing his job: how many bodies were there? How far might the blast have thrown the fingers? Will his new assistant manage to not throw up in the van?

This almost blasé attitude is counterpointed by ‘the new kid’s desire to learn everything about the job. Cursed with a – for his job – over-active sense of curiosity, he provides both light-relief and a solid justification for Smith’s revelation, or withholding, of information.

I enjoyed this story greatly. I recommend it to speculative fiction readers seeking an interlude of macabre humour.

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