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Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories about People Who Know How They Will Die

( 52 )

Overview


Machine of Death tells 34 stories about people who know how they will die. The machine doesn't give the date or specifics; using only a blood sample, it just spits out a sliver of paper upon which are printed, in careful block letters, words such as drowned, cancer, old age, or choked on a handful of popcorn. The realization that we could now know how we are going to die changes the world: people became at once less fearful and more afraid. For every possibility the machine closes, it seems to open several more,...
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Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories about People Who Know How They Will Die

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Overview


Machine of Death tells 34 stories about people who know how they will die. The machine doesn't give the date or specifics; using only a blood sample, it just spits out a sliver of paper upon which are printed, in careful block letters, words such as drowned, cancer, old age, or choked on a handful of popcorn. The realization that we could now know how we are going to die changes the world: people became at once less fearful and more afraid. For every possibility the machine closes, it seems to open several more, with varying degrees of plausibility. Over time the machine is reverse-engineered and duplicated. Eventually there are machines in every doctor’s office and in booths at the mall. People can pay someone or perhaps get it done for free, but the results are the same no matter which machine is used — they are, at least, consistent.

Machine of Death features stories by Randall Munroe, Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, Tom Francis, Camille Alexa, Erin McKean, Jeff Stautz, and many others. The book also features illustrations by Kate Beaton, Kazu Kibuishi, Aaron Diaz, Jeffrey Brown, Scott C., Roger Langridge, Karl Kerschl, Cameron Stewart, and many others.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Machine of Death is a marvelous collection, riddled with intelligence, creative reach, and a frankness that makes the best use of the central gimmick." — Tasha Robinson, The Onion A.V. Club

"For an anthology that deals with the inevitability of death, Machine of Death is a lot of fun. The editors knew not to start off heavy, nor does the tone of the anthology lean too long in any direction, providing a lot of singular entertainment for the reader . . . Highly engaging, interestingly crowdsourced, and crafted with a great deal of care. You’ll be thinking about it long after you’re through reading." — Chris Greenwood, TOR.com

"The only consistent entity is the presence of the Machine of Death; the appearance of the machine, the depth of its integration into culture, and peoples’ responses to it and its predictions vary from story to story. This is both wonderful and frustrating — each story offers up a uniquely interesting take on the Machine of Death, which is impressive, but sometimes I found myself so taken in by one writer’s universe that I wanted it to serve as canon to the rest of the book. It’s not a bad complaint to have, and it’s the only one I can muster . . . The book is just too good to pass up." — Andrew Cunningham, Charge Shot!!!

"Picking just one good story in the Machine of Death anthology is like any of its characters escaping their foretold deaths — impossible." Rating: 4/4 — Christine Cabalo, Hawaii Marine

"Recalls the best writings of Harlan Ellison and Charles Beaumont and easily one of the most engaging slices of short stories I’ve had the pleasure to read in quite a long while. After all the years of picking up short story collections that inevitably disappoint, Machine of Death brought me laughs, terror and tears . . . Highly recommended." — Maurice Greenwood, Paradox Magazine

Chris Greenland
For an anthology that deals with the inevitability of death, Machine of Death is a lot of fun. The editors knew not to start off heavy, nor does the tone of the anthology lean too long in any direction, providing a lot of singular entertainment for the reader. Machine of Death is highly engaging, interestingly crowdsourced, and crafted with a great deal of care. You’ll be thinking about it long after you’re through reading.
Tasha Robinson
Machine Of Death is a marvelous collection, riddled with intelligence, creative reach, and a frankness that makes the best use of the central gimmick. While the seed idea seemingly lends itself to twist-ending stories about people who try to evade their predicted deaths, there are only a few of those; more often, the stories examine how the death-predictor machine would change the world.
Jeff VanDermeer
Personally, I found Machine of Death a lively, self-assured, and diverse read. The stories aren’t as similar as you might think from the premise, the editors have done a good job of breaking up the text with the art, and the whole enterprise has an air of subversion and energy that supports the outrageously cool way in which they managed to get the book world’s attention.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780982167120
  • Publisher: Machines of Death
  • Publication date: 10/13/2010
  • Pages: 470
  • Sales rank: 220,236
  • Product dimensions: 9.14 (w) x 11.32 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author


Ryan North is an author who lives in Toronto. He writes a comic strip called "Dinosaur Comics" which you can pick up in book form at your local bookstore, or which you can just read for free at Qwantz.com. They're pretty okay!

Matthew Bennardo has lived in Cleveland for the past twenty years. His stories have previously been published in Asimov's Science Fiction and Strange Horizons, among other markets. 

David Malki ! is the author of the Eisner-, Harvey- and Ignatz-nominated comic strip "Wondermark." His latest collection is Dapper Caps & Pedal-Copters, published by Dark Horse Books. He lives in Los Angeles and he likes to fly airplanes. Read his comics at Wondermark.com.

Randall Munroe, a cartoonist from southern Virginia, is the creator of the webcomic "xkcd" (xkcd.com), one of the most popular comics on the Internet. Formerly a roboticist at NASA, he now makes a living writing comics. He spends his time drawing, traveling, and training computers to beat humans at Rock-Paper-Scissors. He lives in Massachusetts.

Kate Beaton draws men in fancy hats for a living. On an exciting day she'll draw a character with epaulets. Visit her at Harkavagrant.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 52 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(35)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 12, 2013

    Really excellent and ironic machine

    This book might sound a little morbid, and it sort of is, but it is also a collection of funny, thoughtful and surprising stories about a really interesting machine that will make you have some pretty interesting discussions with those around you! I highly recommend it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2012

    Exceeded Expectations Dramatically!!!

    Didn't know what to expect from this book, I was just purchasing off of the concept alone. The book has turned out to be many different things all rolled into one. This book is the perfect book for readers of any genre, because it absolutely has something for everyone.

    I would highly recommend this book to casual readers looking for a bit more, a bit more thinking in their enjoyment.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 25, 2011

    An intriguing new concept

    Stumbled upon this book entirely by accident and I was really glad I did. I hate to sound cliche, but this book really makes you think. How would you react if you found out the way you would die? Would you want to know? The individual stories are well-written and draw the reader in easily. I breezed through this book in no time. The only flaw I could see is that you get so engrossed in some of the characters that you are disappointed when the story is over and you don't know what happens to them.

    Definitely worth a read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2011

    A must-read if you want to think for a while

    Picked this up in a BN store and thumbed through it, it's why I bought a NOOK! Overall a fantastic read, one that made me think every time I got to a new story. What would like be like if you knew (sort of) how you were going to die? This book will make you wonder.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    Lots of morbid fun

    So many Internet celebrities means lots of different angles on a compelling premise. How do governments react to facing mortality? How do teenagers? If you like the aesthetic of our young Internet, you will love these stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    Not for me.

    Started it but haven't picked it back up. Ordered book after a discussion with friends, which started with the movie (Fault of the Stars ?) and book. What would we do if we knew we were going to die from a certain illness or accident ? Felt the book was repetitive and rather silly. The book was put together by the editors who had made up a story line and had writers send a short story of what this death machine could do. Rated two stars due to writers created some wild ideas but it fell short of substance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2013

    Lightnings journey....part 12 (ran out of characters[letter spaces, not cats]!)

    "Wake up!" A quiet hiss interrupts lughtnings sleep. He blinks his eyes open sleepily. An unfamilar den lay before him and he jumps up. "Calm down!" He turns and sees moth, remembering that he was now part of furyclan. "I wanted to introduce you to some of my friends!" Sparks excited voice rings through the quiet den. "Quiet spark!" Moth hisses. "Sorry! C'mon light! You don't mind if i call you thaylt do you? What about ligh. Or ning." Spark chatters as they exit the den. Lightning blocks out her voice and listens to the forest. A tom next to him shives him and he turns his head quickly, startled. Striker was next to him. "Blocking out spark?" He whispers. Lihtning nods, emarassed. "Don't worry. I do it all the time." Striker says with a grin. "So, you're gonna meet the gang. Only you're secobd day here and you're that popular. It was moons before i knew about it. I was accepted into it a moon ago." Striker says. Lightning looked at him in confusion. "No one told you? Its pretty much a close group that are or will be friends. They rely on eachother and make eachother strobger in areas they were previously weak in. We even accept soke rouges that we stumble across. There was one that left named Ivory. You would like her. Everyone had a crush on her." He says with a laugh. Spark cuts in. "Almost there!" Lightning looks at strikr. "So how did she get into the group?" Striker grins. "Thats a really long story. Maybe i can tell you later. We're here." A beautiful clearing lay before them. Several cats were talking and training. "Good, poppy!" A light brown tom called to a reddish apprentice. "That's Thorn and his apprentice Poppy." Moth says. "Over there is Splinter, Haze, and Mist. Splinter is part of the "inner circle," a group within this group. So is Striker, Spark, Stone, Feather, and some rouges. Oh and me to." Moth continues. Lightning nods. The cat named splinter pads over. "Hey Moth!" She says brightly. "How are Shadows kits? I haven't seen them in a while!" Moth purrs happily. "They are adorable. Twig is the troublemaker but Flora takes the blame." Splinter smiles. "What about Flash and Bat?" Moth laughs. "Flash? She is always trying to get into the worst places. I saw her in Emerald, the med cat's, den a few days ago. Bat is just playful and bright." Striker purs. "I nee d to visit soon. Oh! Who is this?" She notices lightning. "This is lightning. Lightning this is splinter." Moth intriduces them. Lightning greets splinter. "You have good timing! Today is the day that a few more members might return." Splinter says. Moth mews excitedly. "Ivory and Hawk might come back!" Splinter nods. "I actually talked to hawk recently. He said he was cobsidering it." Lighting listens to the two checats for a few mire minuted before heading iff to find striker again. A cat stops him. "Hey, are you lightning?" She asks. Lightning nods. "Follow me please." Lightnibg nods and follows to a smaller clearing behind some bushes. "So. You're joining the group?" An amber shecat aks. "I guess so." Lightning says, confused. "I was asked to put up to inner circle immediatly. You must be special." She says, sounding vaugly interested. "Its time for the ceremony. Its only done with your closest friends." Striker, moth, and spark pad in. The she cat leads them to a pool of water. "Its up to starclan now." Striker, moth, and spark touch their noses to the water. Lightning lies down beside them and does the same. He is quickly whirled away into starclan.........

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    waste of money

    this anthology reads like a middle school class project.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    Yahtzee?

    I honestly found it hilarious when i was looking through the chapter names, the chapter named "death by sex with minor" was co-written by Yahtzee.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    I shouldn't have started 2011 with this book

    Because it remained one of the best books I read all year.
    With a great breadth of stories from hilarious, to insightful, all the way to depressing this book ran the gamut.

    I read it for our book club and it was the most popular book amongst all the members thus far.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A beautiful collection, a necessary read!

    An amazing anthology with something for just about everyone, this book is a must-have for every device!

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  • Posted February 12, 2011

    Great Book!

    I am not a fiction reader, but this book is great!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2011

    This is a really great collection

    The product of a really cool communal project, the stories in this book are consistently well written and always enjoyable. Some of them are funny and some of them are sad. Some are thoughtful, and some are just silly. This is a seriously good book, I highly recommended it.

    Also, you should note that this book IS available on the nook.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2011

    This is a really great collection

    The product of a really cool communal project, the stories in this book are consistently well written and always enjoyable. Some of them are funny and some of them are sad. Some are thoughtful, and some are just silly. This is a seriously good book, I highly recommended it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not what I was expecting, but better than I'd hoped

    First, I have to say that it wasn't what I expected, but it was better than what I expected. For whatever reason I expected more stories dealing with the actual death of people. Instead it was more about the reactions of people to the concept itself or their particular reading.

    My two favorites in the book are very very different, yet at the core have the same sort of bias towards the machine. Torn Apart and Devoured by Lions and Miscarriage are those two. Neither of them actually contain the death and one is both completely accurate for the story it titles, yet isn't the way someone dies or is slated to die.

    The stories are so varied and there are even several from the point of view of the "creators" of the machine. None of the stories in this collection take away anything from any of the others and they all seem to fit very well together. I went in only being familiar with the work of two of the editors and one of the writers in the collection as they all write webcomics that I love and read whenever there is a new one available. Those three webcomics (Dinosaur Comics, Wondermark, and xkcd) showcase the variety of perceptions, views, and entertainment type you can find on the internet and that really translates into the entire book.

    I'm very impressed overall with not only the variety of stories, but the collection as a whole is very well put together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews

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