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Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die Paperback – October 13, 2010


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Frequently Bought Together

Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die + This Is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death + To Be or Not To Be
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Machines of Death; 1st edition (October 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982167121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982167120
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Machine of Death is a lot of fun.... 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 Greenland, Tor.com

But where this collection could have merely skated by on its own cleverness, it turns out to be a lot deeper than that. A lot more intelligent. A lot less predictable... -- Hannah Strom-Martin, Strange Horizons

"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

About 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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By GeoReader on October 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My copy of Machine of Death arrived yesterday, and I couldn't put it down until the last story was read and the last illustration admired. Fortunately, this collection lives up to the promise of its premise (say that ten times fast), offering up 34 unique meditations on a modern, mechanical Oracle of Delphi. Some of them are very funny--"Cocaine and Painkillers" and "Prison Knife Fight" are standout examples, but by no means the only ones. Others are thought-provoking, or poignant, or simply odd. I can't say that every story spoke to me personally, but I can say that the anthology overall was immensely entertaining and well worth reading.

It's kind of amusing that a prominent, wealthy media "personality"--apparently peeved that a tiny bit of attention was diverted from his own book--derided this book as exemplifying a "Culture of Death." If said "personality" had bothered to actually read the book before commenting (something I learned to do in, oh, elementary school), he would have realized that these stories about life, not death. They examine the human condition: love, friendship, hope, doubt, the struggle to make the best of things the face of adversity. This is NOT a book about people who "go gentle into that good night," in the words of Dylan Thomas. It may be in small part about talking dinosaurs, however.
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Hsieh on October 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For a bunch of ragtag webcomic and/or other crazy Internet phenomena authors (HAH!), Ryan North, David Malki! and Matthew Bennardo know how to dig up some crazy good stories. Of course, that should actually be expected from people who create impressively humorous comics on a regular basis--the Internet, after all, probably has some of the harshest critics in the world, and so its creators--because Messrs. North, Malki, and Bennardo do indeed create--constantly step up their game.

Machine of Death is one such creation, and one that has actually burst from the seams of the Internet and leaped into the real world. At first glance, it looks like a bunch of science fiction stories--something few people would claim to legitimately enjoy. And yet these are science fiction stories for the layman--stories that tell of high school romance, of marital troubles, of, as one reviewer put it, existential dread. They're stories that deal splendidly with the idea of the Machine of Death--a tool that tells people just how they're going to die, if vaguely--and oftentimes go far beyond the known realms of what such a machine might entail. Whether it's with a dramatic or humorous look at the Machine of Death--and this book has got both, sometimes in the same story--Machine of Death's stories, however varied, manage to do what science fiction (or just fiction in general) so rarely can, which is immerse readers wholly into their worlds. Obviously, the plot twists inherent in the idea of Machine of Death mean that I'm unable to tell of any shining moments from the stories, especially considering the massive spoilers that even a few sentences would entail--but considering that the first forty pages are available online here ([...]), you can find out for yourself.
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152 of 184 people found the following review helpful By K. Palm on October 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
So, this is a fantastic book. I read some of the stories and they are all top-notch quality. Delightful.

However, one thing bothers me. As soon as I ordered the book, a note was passed through my door by an apparently invisible force. The note simply said, EXISTENTIAL DREAD. Now, I wasn't fazed at first. Except then I was, because I started to read more stories and the machine was right in each case.

I tried to rationalize it away but it gnawed and gnawed at me. I couldn't do anything about it. The machine was like God.

I hope you enjoy this product. 5 stars for accuracy. Goodbye.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By donna troy on November 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Obviously a mixed bag, being an anthology, but don't open straight to the stories by your favorite Internet-famous people. The stories by Randall Munroe (navel-gazing and not very well-written) and Ryan North (Clever, but so enamored of its own cleverness it became a trite expansion of the idea rather than an enjoyable story) are not nearly as good as those by many of the less well-known authors. Some of the ideas were a bit obvious, but the stories well-written, and other ideas were comically brilliant (I loved "Torn Apart by Lions"). Worth the cover price.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin E. Burnes on May 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am about halfway through this book and it is starting to become a slough. I am enjoying most of the stories, but the central theme to them is all so specific they start to blend together.

The writers are (mostly) brilliant and I've enjoyed many of their works, but reading this book all in one go is really difficult. I think this book is best enjoyed a few stories at a time between other books. Otherwise, being hammered with the same narrow theme over and over can get very repetitive.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By OgremanSam on November 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die is one of those just-what-it-says-on-the-cover books. But it's also a collection of stories about people who live in a world where some people are just recently finding out how they'll die, or where everyone knows how they'll die, or where it's illegal to not know how you'll die. Reactions vary wildly, from morbid fascination (Torn Apart And Devoured By Lions) to fear and anger (Firing Squad) to shame (Exhaustion After Having Sex With A Minor) to disbelief (Love). And through each story, the Death Machine dances at the edge of your mind, taunting you with vagueness and shocking you with specificity, mocking the tragedy of death with a grim irony that is at once appalling and undeniable. Each author's unique take on the story is presented with a new artist's representation, tying the whole book together. So go ahead, find out if you sit with the Crashers at lunch, or if you're doomed from homicide or starvation. And when you're finished, pass it on.
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