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This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death (Machine of Death #2)
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This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death (Machine of Death #2)

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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  983 ratings  ·  161 reviews
If a machine could predict how you would die, would you want to know? This is the tantalizing premise of This Is How You Die, the brilliant follow-up anthology to the self-published best seller, Machine of Death.
The machines started popping up around the world. The offer was tempting: With a simple blood test, anyone could know how they would die. But the machines didn't g
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Paperback, 475 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

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Nathan Burgoine
Jul 30, 2013 Nathan Burgoine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
When I found out that the first story was mine, I may have "squeed."

Now I said I wouldn't chat about my own tales in this Short Stories 365 project so onward:

"Rock and Roll," by Toby Rush

In a world where everyone can learn how they're going to die, the results can have a cachet of their own. Some fans of a rock star win a chance to spend time with him, and one girl has a very real reason to want to spend time with the icon. The sheer cleverness of Toby Rush's story blew me away - I loved the ide
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Amy
This is how you die: HEART ATTACK, CANCER, PEACEFULLY, OLD AGE, SURROUNDED BY LOVED ONES. No matter what your slip reads, however, the machine that spat it out is infallible. This is how you die. There is no indication as to when it will happen, and the reading may be frustratingly ambiguous, but there is no escaping it.

In each of these stories, the author examines a world in which a machine has been invented that predicts your death. In some worlds, the machine has been seamlessly accepted and
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Tasha Robinson
Even better than the last collection of stories about the idea of a Machine Of Death, which can tell you how you're going to die, but not when, or what its often opaque predictions actually mean. All the writers interpret the idea differently and make up their own worlds around this central idea, but this time out, the interpretations have a lot more range: more creativity, more playfulness, more surprises. I did a full review for The A.V. Club (not yet published), so I won't go into huge detail ...more
Kate
Sep 21, 2013 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: books
I hadn't read the first volume when I started this, but the introduction sets the premise up pretty clearly.

There wasn't a story in here that I didn't enjoy! The only distinction is which ones I liked most.

Francis's "Lazarus Reactor Fission Sequence" is hands down the top favorite. Hilarious. If you liked Soon I Will be Invincible, pick the book up for that one alone. And then read the rest.

Malki !'s "Monsters from the Deep" both made me glad I no longer fill vending machines at work and convinc
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Tom
In every way this book improves upon the first, Machine of Death. The amount of imagination on display here is mindblowing. The authors take the death-prediction-machine idea and place it into contexts as varied as:

• a military SF setting
• a spy/supervillain setting (hilarious story)
• an alien contact story which introduces weird quantum/parallel worlds concepts
• a murder mystery in Zimbabwe
• a Sherlock Holmes tale
• a clockworkpunk/Victorian-ish fantasy world
• a Lovecraftian horror story
• a stor
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Jeff Raymond
Earlier this summer, I tripped up on the book Machine of Death, edited by Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics), short fiction writer Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki! (of Wondermark). The book is a massive collection of short stories centered around the same premise: an invention that tells you how you will die. Suddenly, you get a bunch of different takes from a variety of authors on the topic, and there really isn't a bad one in the batch. For such a seemingly limiting topic, there's not too much ...more
Matt Stalbaum
First of all, let me mention a minor disclaimer on my star rating: I would prefer to give this 4.5 stars instead of a full 5. Usually in this case, I round down. With this collection, however, there really isn't a single story I didn't like - all of them either entertained me or engaged me (usually both at the same time). For that, it gets 5 stars.

This Is How You Die is the sequel anthology to Machine of Death, both of which collect a number of stories that take place in a world that features th
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Brigita
Jan 08, 2014 Brigita added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I loved the first collection of stories in the series, Machine of Death. I expected something similar of this book. But I was utterly surprised. In a good way!

Where the stories in the first collection focused mainly on humour and surprise twists, this second volume is so eclectic and amazing that it is hard to describe it with just a few words. In a book where all the stories share the same premise one would expect the same topics and themes being repeated ad infinitum. Not so in This is how you
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Jessica
This book is a LOT of fun. I read the Machine of Death collection, and loved it, so when I saw this one go up for pre-order I jumped on it. And I can't *wait* to get my copy of the card game from Kickstarter.

The premise of the stories in the book is fairly simple: there is a machine that takes a bit of your blood and then tells you how you'll die. Except, it's not really straightforward. The machine seems to enjoy being cryptic or poetic sometimes.

The first book focused a lot on stories of peo
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Christian
Sep 18, 2013 Christian rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of short stories, morbid readers, philosophers
Briefly: This is How You Die is based on a card game, the Machine of Death. Maybe the other way around. And I think this is actually volume 2, after a previous book of stories about the Machine of Death. The Machine in question is a philosophic concept: a device is able to accurately predict the means of your demise, rendered in a terse, sometimes wryly ambiguous phrase.

The question this book of short stories addresses is: how would your life change, knowing how (but not when) you're going to di
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Nick
Dec 29, 2013 Nick rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of reading in general
The original Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die was impressive, but as promised, this book is bigger and better in every way. You've got settings from post-zombie-apocalypse to distant-future to high fantasy; genres from humor to mystery (Sherlock Holmes fan fiction, no less); tones ranging from the lightest adolescent comedy to the darkest philosophical thriller. Every story explores something different, whether it's what the machine is, how it wor ...more
Benito Corral
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 ...more
Cheryl
I won this book as a Goodreads giveaway, which I entered because it sounded like a quirky read. It was much different from what I was expecting.

First off, I have to say that I am still not sure if I would want to know how and/or when I am going to die, even if the prediction includes a play on words, as some do. Quite a few of the stories discuss that question in terms of whether it will allow you to be at peace and get on with doing what you want/need to do or whether it will be a burden that c
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Mikki
I'm not a big fan of anthologies, because most of the time the story quality varies and sometimes you plow through a story just to get to the next. Not so in this book. Not a single story fails to draw you into its little world. I'm amazed at how all the writers took a single theme and ran with it, in extremely different directions.

From fantasy tales, to sci-fi adventures, to zombie apocalypse stories, to military accounts -- hell, even the superhero genre gets a shot. There's a choose your own
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The Hardcover Honey
http://www.thehorrorhoneys.com
Twitter: @jbrivard

The title of this one puts me in a mind of Beetlejuice, with the terrific Miss Argentina staffing the Afterlife waiting room and my favorite quote: “This is what happens when YOU die.....and this is what happens when HE dies, and I'll tell you something else (holds up scarred wrists), if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have had my little accident.” Death is so individual, isn't it? Something we know will happen to us all, but how? When? Whe
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Ralph
Imagine a machine that tells you how you will die. It does so cryptically. It is not a direct line from cause to consequence. It has its twists and turns and even backs up in a loop.
So it is with This is How You Die, an anthology of stories whose common denominator is the prediction(s) made by the Machine of Death. Time and location vary from story to story. The manifestation of the machine is also different.
Three stories stood out for me by the way they were constructed, the tale they told and
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Domashita Romero
Just as good as the first collection. As with any anthology, your enjoyment of any given story will depend on taste, but the stories come from such a broad variety of genres, interpretations, and moods that there's a lot of good tastes to try. The one written by editor Ryan North made me cry on the subway. What a JERK. I loved it.
Claire Gilligan
The previous volume was good; this volume was excellent. Each story was wonderful in and of itself, yet the whole presented such variety! I can't even begin to articulate. This book is a fantastic example of taking one theme and fleshing it out in dozens of different ways. Highly recommended!
Chris Wootton
A collection of short stories centered around a common theme: what if a machine could tell you how you will die. The characters many times learn to come to terms with this knowledge and learn to let go of fear and worry. This book helped me find courage in my own life.
Travis
Fun, very creative set of short stories, built around a common theme.

Before you read this one, read some (or all) of the stories from book #1, available free (or for purchase): http://machineofdeath.net/about/books

Book 1 is excellent, but some of the stories can get slightly repetitive -- once you feel that you've gotten the idea and are ready to move on, come back and tackle book #2. Book 2 takes the MoD concept to the next level; short story quality is still slightly variable (after all, it i
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Lindsay
This package of short stories was amazing. I've never read a collection that all centered on a single theme, and it was amazing the variety of stories the authors came up with given a rather specific point to focus on: there is a machine that, with the reading of a blood sample, can predict your death absolutely.

The stories brought up and hashed out every possible question and ramification I could think of. Would you want to know how you were going to die? What might happen if you tried to chang
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Laurali
The first story in this collection will make you weep. I highly recommend this book, the stories are interesting, and often thought provoking.

Book Description From Amazon.com
Release date: July 16, 2013
If a machine could predict how you would die, would you want to know? This is the tantalizing premise of This Is How You Die, the brilliant follow-up anthology to the self-published bestseller, Machine of Death.

THIS IS HOW YOU DIE
Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death

T
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Josephine
As with the preceding collection of short stories, it's an interesting concept, and well-carried out: a machine predicts your cause of death. No time, no explanation, no elaboration. What do you do, and how do you respond? The catch: while the machine is always correct, the causes of death are often open to interpretation, or ambiguous enough to be gravely misleading. Does "Cancer" mean you'll die of cancer or be killed by someone born under the sign of Cancer? Does "Water" mean you'll die of dr ...more
Rebecca
I found this book in the store, and added it to my wishlist on a whim - I was utterly surprised when I found it at the library, but I'm glad as anything that I checked it out.

This is one of those rare anthologies where almost every story in it is excellent. The theme is narrow enough that there's a sense of cohesion, but the writers take it in utterly different directions, so it doesn't get dull. And while there's some good hard SF, no one falls prey to the temptation to over-explain and stray i
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Ryan
This is a fun little anthology. All the pieces here revolve around the same premise: the idea that there's a machine that can predict a person's death from a blood sample, spitting out its answer on a small card. The machine sometimes words its oracular messages in an ambiguous or poetic way, but it's never wrong. If it predicts that you'll die by drowning, moving to the desert won't save you -- you'll just die in the shower or by choking on a drink. Perhaps, like Oedipus, you might even suffer ...more
Sarah
Read this and other reviews at Ampersand Read.

I need to start reading more anthologies, if most of them are as interesting and all-around excellent as this one!

In all 31 stories, there were only a couple I felt indifferent about. Pretty good track record! I loved the different genres and different takes on the "Machine of Death." And most authors incorporated a twist, a different interpretation of the Machine's prediction that changed the character's perspective and/or how they lived their life
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Paul McNeil
At any given time, I'm reading a small pile of books, but I generally have a short story collection or non-fiction anthology in that pile, giving me something to digest in small chunks here and there as the need arises. I nibble here and there over months, sometimes stalling out completely for a bit before coming back. I love short stories, and feel they don't get the respect they deserve, but at the same time it is true that most collections, whether from one author or many, do not maintain the ...more
Tabitha
I really loved the first Machine of Death book, and waited very very VERY impatiently for this one to come out. (Might possibly have been at Barnes and Noble when they opened. No shame.) This collection also fantastic so far, and maybe a tiny bit better in one way: the authors have taken the existence of the Machine as a matter of fact in most cases, unless it benefits the story in some way to do otherwise. No clunky tacked-on backstories this time!
A few favorites (to be added to as I read on, a
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Robert 'Rev. Bob'
(Disclosure: I won a copy of this in a Goodreads giveaway, after I'd already purchased the ebook.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the first MoD anthology (Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die) and am eagerly awaiting the card game, so I dove right into this second volume. I was pleasantly surprised to see that these stories pushed the concept even further; they really took the concept and ran with it. Just as in the first book, an illustration accompanies each t
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Jen
A collection of stories by various authors about a Machine that predicts the manner of a person's death. Thoughtful, humourous, and sometimes esoteric, each story explores a facet of what it could mean for someone to know their own fate.

Old Age, Surrounded by Loved Ones (Burgoine) -- Sweet and sad tale of sisterly devotion.
Rock & Roll (Rush) -- The disappointment of misperceived connection, stealing fate and fame. Her result was the one he'd faked.
Natural Causes (Kelly) -- What if you didn't
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The "Machine of Death Card Game." 1 15 Feb 16, 2013 03:27AM  
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Ryan M. North is a Canadian writer and computer programmer who is the creator and author of Dinosaur Comics, and co-creator of Whispered Apologies and Happy Dog the Happy Dog.

North grew up in Ottawa, Ontario where he studied computer science (minor in film) at Carleton University before moving to Toronto for his Master's degree in Computer Science at the University of Toronto, specializing in comp
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More about Ryan North...

Other Books in the Series

Machine of Death (2 books)
  • Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die (Machine of Death #1)
Adventure Time Vol. 1 Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die (Machine of Death #1) To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure Adventure Time Vol. 2 Adventure Time Vol. 3

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