on July 17, 2013
I have to say, t's been a long time since a story drove me to tears. the last time was when I saw My Dog Skip in theaters as a kid. Or it was, until I opened my mailbox today and read one of the fine selections contained in this book. I'm not going to do my usual binge-read of the rest of this book. This is going to be savored.
Whether you've read Machine of Death or not, this is an excellent buy. I can't wait to read the second story tomorrow.
on July 19, 2013
Being the second collection of short stories themed around a horrific little machine that, given a sample of your blood, tells you how you are going to die.
And it's never, ever wrong.
There are a couple of jokers in the deck, of course. It tells you *how* you will die, but not *when*. Also, the invariably-capitalized Machine of Death is an Oracle in the classical sense: its predictions always come true, but are usually open to interpretation and often more than a little ironic. Example: the Machine predicts you will die from "GUNSHOT WOUND," but it turns out that that fatal wound comes from a hang-fire from the gun you're using to try to kill the person you think is going to shoot you. It's a weird but brilliant concept, and the various authors have a lot of fun with it in this book.
The stories in the first MoD collection dealt mostly with the Machine's impact on peoples' lives (and deaths,) and the often darkly hilarious situations that arose from *sort-of* knowing how one would depart this world. This time around the authors take a more sober, insightful look at the societal and practical potential of the Machine's predictions: "The Test" as a teenage rite of passage; collecting and exchanging prediction slips like trading cards (and the terrifying consequences of trying just a bit too hard to gain peer cred by obtaining a truly unique slip); how the job description of your average workaday assassin changes when he can't simply shoot his targets dead anymore; and lots, lots more.
And it *works*. Both collections are worth reading, but the stories in this one are consistently better written, more interesting and thoughtful, if not quite as funny (although it does have its moments.) These are not just good MoD stories, these are good stories, period. Five stars.
on August 4, 2013
If you read the first Machine of Death book, stop reading and buy this one. It's as good if not better with more twists and turns that we loved in the original.
If you haven't read the first Machine of Death book, stop reading and go buy it. Now. Then come back and buy this one.
If you are still reading this I assume you read both already and you know what I am talking about.
"This Is How You Die" edited by Matthew Bennardo , David Malki and Ryan North is a collection of stories and comics about a world where machine with 100% certainty is able to predict how someone will die. It will need just a little drop of your blood and you will get paper with "Old Age" or "Cancer" written on it without any further details, most importantly when.
This is sequel of very successful "Machine of Death" anthology where the concept of the predicting machine was introduced. But this collection is even better than the last one, because all the writers interpret the idea differently making their worlds around this central idea but with more creativity and few surprises.
The stories are really diverse; some have literary style although for few you will not be sure how to categorize them - in one or more specific genre - as mystery, humor, romance, philosophy, SF... Also main characters are music stars, school kids, police officers, French aristocrats, even aliens.
Beside unusual and very interesting idea, this book is richly illustrated by some of the most famous names in comic world, Aaron Diaz, Braden Lamb. Lexxy Douglass, Carla Speed McNeil to name a few. As bonus, the book also contains exclusive comics made by Kris Straub, Ryan Pequin, Anthony Clark and KC Green. Those familiar with comics will recognize their names.
In the end it's interesting asking ourselves question if a machine could predict how we would die, would we really want to know?
If you want some different reading experience based on intriguing idea, be sure to read "This Is How You Die", you'll enjoy it.
on August 22, 2013
In 2010, there was quite a lot of buzz around a new anthology entitled Machine of Death which collected stories exploring a single premise; a machine that could predict, without fail, the manner in which you would die. All it needed was a sample of your blood and a tiny slip of paper would have your ultimate fate written on it. I myself never read it but definitely had it on the ever growing TBR pile. Then this year, the editors unleashed upon the world a sequel, This Is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death. Word of mouth was that this volume was even bigger, better and not to be missed. So I gave in to the siren song, threw caution to the wind and picked up This Is How You Die.
The collection opens with the heartbreakingly brilliant Old Age, Surrounded by Loved Ones by 'Nathan Burgoine. Burgoine is now on my list of go-to writers that I know will deliver a great story; I have yet to be disappointed. Also, the story wasn't what I expected at all; Burgoine has written an emotional story about sisters that will require tissues after reading it. If you're not teary eyed after this, then you have no heart to break.
Execution by Beheading by Chandler Kaiden is a thriller that features three children who, upon hearing a rumor about someone who is different, go to extremes to collect a rare "Cause Of Death" card from their machine...
Apitoxin is a very clever spin on the book's premise by John Takis, who places his tale right in the hands of none other than Sherlock Holmes. Apitoxin is both a wonderful tribute to the famous detective and a well written mystery that was great fun to read.
Monsters from the Deep, editor David Malki !'s contribution to the anthology, is a weird, creepy tale complete with aliens and a delightful Lovecraftian atmosphere.
Lake Titicaca by editor Matthew Bennardo instantly reminded me of The Body and Goonies, with kids a little afraid of what they're doing but too excited not to go off and have an adventure.
Be warned: This Is How You Die is indeed a long book but the stories are so varied and encompass so many genres that you will continually be pulled along to keep reading, unwilling to put the book down. And with a collection like this, that is exactly what you want; great story after great story that keeps you glued to the page til the last sentence is read.
Then you start over again.
on November 21, 2013
In a nutshell, you will be sucked in to the world of the Machine of Death: a device that predicts, from a sample of your blood, how you will die with 100% accuracy. You will die by becoming so engrossed in this world, told from the points of view of more than fifty fantastic authors and artists, that you will be driven to madness 1. by the idea that this machine does not exist in our world yet [and you desperately want/fear it], and/or 2. by stories churning in your head, waiting to be committed to paper in time for the machine's third anthology. What makes this anthology a work of genius is that, far from being a nonstop gloom-and-doom session of morbidity, is the unique perspective given by each story, stretching the limits of the idea of the Machine of Death and instead providing a fascinating look into the human psyche beyond a mere preoccupation with one's fatality. These are stories of you and me, in our daily lives, and fantastic tales of what could be in our future. The only difference is a little slip of paper with bold letters on it, and how you react to that slip of paper.
on December 7, 2013
I have not yet read Machine of Death, but I plan to once I finish this anthology. I grabbed it on impulse, having had a chance to read the first story, and it does not disappoint. Rarely have I read a book that possesses quantity AND quality among the stories, and this one definitely does. Rather than simply highlight the deaths of its various protagonists, authors chose to frame the tales as morality plays (Execution by Beheading, Shiv Sena Riot)), elaborate hypothetical situations (Conflagration- which is the best story in here IMHO), heart-breaking fables (Old Age Surrounded by Loved Ones), humorous anecdotes (Natural Causes, Lazarus Reactor Fission Sequence) and even real-life events (Cancer- my second favorite). Throw in some classically inspired science fiction, some Lovecraftian evil, a Sherlock Holmes adventure, and a choose-you-path tale, and you get a rich, very readable experience that will grab your attention. And despite the title, very few stories actually focus on the morbid subject- many more choose to explore the impact death has on family members, the general public, the government, and the future. Definitely a must-read for fans of speculative fiction, or just those looking for something new and different.
on October 10, 2014
I loved the first book, but had a harder time getting into this one - it may have just been that the stories in the original book were all about exploring what happens to people when they know and how it changes their lives, where this book was focused on what's possible in a world where knowing how you die is the norm. Not bad necessarily, but a bit more conceptually adventurous, and less in line with what I was hoping for. The writing was good, if a bit less consistent between chapters than in the first book.
Overall, still recommended though - quite a trip to wonder what life would be like if finding out how your died was either something you knew from birth, or a rite of passage you encountered at a suitably young age!
on December 24, 2013
I loved the original Machine of Death short story set and this one delivers just the same. It's incredible how many different angles can be taken on the same premise. Not every story is a gem, but there are definitely enough to keep this fun all the way through.
on August 4, 2015
Great story that really makes you question the concept of fate. Each chapter is a different story with different characters, often in a different timeline, but all have one consistent concept: The Machine. It's a phenomenal look into how different people from different periods might accept (or reject) fate. A very fun, light, existential read.