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Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories about People Who Know How They Will Die
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Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories about People Who Know How They Will Die (Machine of Death #1)

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3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,712 Ratings  ·  725 Reviews
"The machine had been invented a few years ago: a machine that could tell, from just a sample of your blood, how you were going to die. It didn't give you the date and it didn't give you specifics. It just spat out a sliver of paper upon which were printed, in careful block letters, the words DROWNED or CANCER or OLD AGE or CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. It let people kno ...more
Nook, 452 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Bearstache Books (first published October 13th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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seak
I couldn't pass up reading this collection of stories based on the idea that there is a Machine that has been created that can predict how you will die based on a blood sample you give it.

Many are extremely thoughtful and some have a type of ironic twist because you can't always take your card at face value. Although don't look for an ironic twist in all of them, only a few go that route and it's easy to start thinking all of them approach the topic similarly.

At the same time, this anthology do
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Chris
How would you live if you knew how you would die?

The premise for this collection of short stories was introduced back in 2005, in an installment of Ryan North's popular Dinosaur Comics. In it, he presents the following premise: there is a machine which, with only a small sample of your blood, can tell you how you will die. But there are no dates, no details, no explanations. Just a few words, and that's it. The Machine is never wrong, but it is annoyingly vague and has a decidedly un-machinelike
...more
Sunil
Jan 15, 2012 Sunil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2010, favorites
I haven't read a lot of anthologies in my day, so the following statement may not hold much weight, but: THIS IS THE BEST ANTHOLOGY I HAVE EVER READ.

Seriously. Out of the 34 stories in this collection, I was only meh on maybe one or two of them, and I liked all the others. The creativity on display is astounding: the various authors all have different approaches to the concept. How would the world react to the Machine of Death? Would such a machine be banned? Or would it be embraced? Would peopl
...more
Kelly L
Nov 11, 2010 Kelly L rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z_read-2010
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 dea
...more
Noran Miss Pumkin
Dec 16, 2011 Noran Miss Pumkin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2011, ebook
This book is a small subset, of hundreds of short stories submitted, based on a quirky dinosaur comic. A death machine-like a fortune cookie-gives you a slip of paper telling you how you will die. Not when. Not where. Just how, in a few words. Ah, those words can be cruel-for you obvious cause of death, may not be the way you die. Each story starts with a drawing related to the short story-some of these are just awesome. The one for the girl I am not waving, I am drowning-was my favorite. Drowni ...more
Michael
I love the concept of this collection; what would happen if there was a machine that could tell you how you would die.

Flaming Marshmallow - 5/5
Fudge - 4/5
Torn Apart And Devoured By Lions - 3/5
Despair - 3/5
Suicide - 4/5
Almond - 5/5
Starvation - 3/5
Cancer - 3/5
Firing Squad - 3/5
Vegetables - 3/5
Piano - 3/5
HIV Infection From Machine Of Death Needle - 5/5
Exploded - 3/5
Not Waving But Drowning - 4/5
Improperly Prepared Blowfish - 4/5
Love Ad Nauseum - 5/5
Murder And Suicide, Respectively - 4/5
Cancer - 3/5
...more
Jill
Aug 27, 2015 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
FELLOW HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHERS!!!!
Do you have trouble finding high-quality, high-interest, layered short stories?
Do you wanna force your students to talk about dying and fate and whether life has any meaning?
Do you have any desire to broach existentialism, in any capacity?
WELL HAVE I GOT A BOOK FOR YOU.

Premise: there's this machine that -- through time travel and/or blood analysis -- predicts, faultlessly, how you will die. Not when, and not clearly ("boating accident" could mean you crash
...more
Učitaj se!
Jun 25, 2015 Učitaj se! rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
Zbirka je puna originalnih i maštovitih priča različitih žanrova. Iako je tema Stroja smrti o kojoj pišu znanstveno-fantastična, nisu svi autori čije su priče odabrane da čine ovu zbirku nastavili u tom žanru - njihove priče su akcijske, dramatične, fantastične, humoristične, satirične, neke čak graniče s apsurdom, ali svaka, baš svaka priča na svoj je način genijalna.

Priče se, osim u žanrovima, razlikuju i načinom i stilom pisanja, a variraju i u dužini: naći će se ovdje priča od desetak stran
...more
Laura
Apr 03, 2016 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-ebooks
Last week I bought the Humble Bundle e-book bundle because it had two books I wanted: an XKCD collection and Wil Wheaton's "Just A Geek". The 8 others, including this one (and "The Last Unicorn" incidentally), I saw as gravy. Okay, I don't like gravy, so let's say icing on the cake. Actually, I don't really like frosting either. What is my deal?

Anyway. This book was kind of a *bonus*.

And hokey smokes, Bullwinkle... what a bonus it is. I'm about halfway through "Machine of Death" and it is rockin
...more
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
These were kind of weird stories on how people were for sure on how they will and would die. The illustrations were cute and funny. Those were the best part of the book. Not for me.
Brian Sweany
Apr 24, 2013 Brian Sweany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two words to describe this book: ALL BALLS.

A few years ago the editors of this sci-fi anthology conceived of a marketing scheme called "MOD-Day,” one day in which they would encourage everybody they knew to buy MACHINE OF DEATH from Amazon all at once in an attempt to become, for one day at least, Amazon’s #1 best-selling book. The anthology of short stories share a common pretense: they all involve a world in which a machine can predict how people will die. The machine doesn't give too much det
...more
Megan
Nov 05, 2010 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book, not just for its cool premise (it's a book of short stories about what life would be like if there was a machine that could predict the way you would die - but not when, or how), but also for the fact that due to a massive online effort it managed to hit #1 on Amazon, beating out Glenn Beck. Not only THAT, but they went ahead and released a free PDF, which is the way I read it.

The stories are by both pros and amateurs, each with an illustration, and each titled in a manner of
...more
Damon
Quite interesting, if somewhat morbid. This is a collection of short stories so there are some good ones and some bland.
Marleigh
First line: This book, unlike most others, started its life as an offhand comment made by a bright green Tyrannosaurus Rex.

More first lines from the individual short stories:
Flaming Marshmallow: I'm so freaking excited I can hardly stand it.
Fudge: To any of the countless shoppers passing by, the kiss wouldn't have seemed like much.
Torn Apart and Devoured by Lions: "Missus Murphy, I will have you know that I am to be torn apart and devoured by lions."
Despair: They died anyway.
Suicide: The clerk s
...more
Matt
(Cross-posted to Android Dreamer, my science fiction blog.)

The basic premise of Machine of Death is simple enough: there are machines, and they will tell you how you die. There's a pin prick, it analyzes blood, and coughs out a piece of paper with an ambiguous word (or a few) telling you how to die. There are lame answers like CANCER, and there are much cooler ones like TORN APART BY A PACK OF LIONS.

What irritates me most about the collection, more than anything else, is the blatant lack of con
...more
Jakub
Dec 21, 2011 Jakub rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting collection of short series based on a very simple premise: What if there were a machine that could tell you how you were going to die? The prediction would not be precise, but it would be inerrant. For example, "Old age" might mean you'll die of general organ failure at the age of 99, or because a senior citizen will run you down with his car when you are 35.

The stories explore all the various consequences of such a machine, and the places they go are very creative, i
...more
Melanie
Nov 27, 2010 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2010
This collection of short stories and amazing illustrations by some of the best artists doing webcomics and other ventures is an amazing read. The premise, started by T-Rex, the main character in Ryan North's Qwantz dinosaur comics, is that a machine that can foretell your method of death from a small sample of blood is invented. The catch is, that's all it offers -- one cryptic word or phrase -- and the machine has an undying sense of irony.

Fans of the comic started discussing the machine and wr
...more
Andrea Blythe
Apr 06, 2011 Andrea Blythe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
The concept (or gimmick, if you prefer) for this anthology of stories came from an episode of Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics. In a nutshell, each of these stories is set in a world in which a machine has been invented that tells you how you will die. To quote from the back cover: "The machine had been invented a few years ago: a machine that could tell, from just a sample of your blood, how you were going to die. It didn’t give you the date and it didn’t give you specifics. It just spat out a sliv ...more
Kaydern
May 13, 2011 Kaydern rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Machine of Death" is a fiction anthology in a universe where there is a machine that can predict the exact cause of an individual's death. Every short story comes starts an illustration. I haven't enjoyed such a high image/word ratio since I was in elementary school, but this anthology is the exception which changes the rule. As far as the content goes: sometimes the Machine was required for the storyline but usually it was part of the background of the story.

I was surprised by the huge variati
...more
Elise
Jul 24, 2012 Elise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The short stories that make up this anthology encompass genres ranging from romance to tragedy, horror(ish) to (dark) humor, all with a healthy heaping of science fiction as well. All thirty four of them relate to the same basic premise, first suggested by a lime green T-Rex on the internet; they all revolve around the invention, popularization, and/or use of the "Machine of Death," a device that can tell, from a sample of your blood, your manner of death.

As characters discovered in many of the
...more
Adam
Mar 25, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Late last year, Glenn Beck of FOX News was prepared to take the #1 spot on Amazon's bestsellers list with yet another ego-feeding poli-historical confabulation that was, quite honestly, destined someday soon for the 49-cent shelf at Goodwill stores all across the country. (If I were writing an honest, respectable review, this is the point where I'd discuss exactly what the book was about rather than hide behind vacuous adjectives. However, at the time I had quite a bit of self-respect left, so I ...more
Charissa Cotrill
Aug 05, 2014 Charissa Cotrill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't often come across a book that makes me stop and reconsider my life in a philosophical manner, but when I do, I definitely sit up and take notice.

Machine of Death is more than an entertaining collection of short stories revolving around a central theme (a machine that tells you how you're going to die); it is also a treatise on human condition, a commentary on how the same conditions can either destroy us or bring out the very best in us. It also leads you to ask yourself -- what would yo
...more
Brendan
After Ryan North published this comic, the editors of this collection solicited story ideas based on this premise. They picked 34 of them to collect in a single book, which is now available as a free PDF download or can be purchased from their website. It’s a good set of stories, with lovely illustration art and an hilarious premise. Some thoughts:

* The diversity of viewpoint and premises resulting from this comic are pretty breathtaking. There are funny little stories playing on the Delphic na
...more
Maddy
Jan 23, 2011 Maddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting this book to be full of ironic deaths- you know, you get a slip that says "boat" and you spend your life avoiding the water, only to be killed by a dude named Boat or some dumb thing. And sure, it touches on that a bit, but mostly only in passing. The majority of the stories are a thoughtful exploration of how the world would change if we all knew how we were going to die. About fate and inevitability, and how we react in the face of that. The premise is about how people die, but ...more
Lake County Public Library Indiana
Confession time... I didn't get this one from the library. I borrowed it from a friend because the library doesn't currently have a copy. So, if, after reading this review, you want to check it out from the library, you can place a purchase request and we'll get it for you! Costs nothing, and it's rare that we aren't able to put the book in your hands one way or another.

Ok, now that that's over with, what is this book anyway? It's a collection of short stories with a common premise: a machine ex
...more
Gordana Kordić
Oct 25, 2015 Gordana Kordić rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Knjiga sadrži zanimljive priče, ali i maštovite ilustracije raznoraznih načina smrti od gorućeg sljezovog kolačića, povrća ili klavira, a priče su istovremeno tužne, ironične, iznenađujuće i smiješne. Činjenica da se smrt može pojaviti u obliku simfonije ili maloljetne djevojke ne može vas ostaviti ravnodušnima jer upravo su smrti na banalan način nerijetka pojava i zastrašujuć prizor.

Svaka knjiga je posebna, ali ova je posebna na poseban način. Ako ste se ikada zapitali kako se osjećaju ljudi k
...more
Niki
Jun 10, 2016 Niki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
Most of the stories here weren't for me. But I enjoyed a few of them, especially "Torn Apart And Devoured By Lions" by Jeffrey C. Wells, "Almond" by John Chernega, "Aneurysm" by Alexander Danner and "Nothing" by Pelotard.

Surprisingly, the story ideas by some of the more famous authors in the book just fell flat for me. But the overall idea of the collection is interesting.

The illustrations in this book are all quite nice— It's a shame they're only in black and white.
Nikki
An intriguing idea leads to an interesting collection of stories, which in their ambiguities and twistiness make me wonder if I'd use this machine. I mean, I'm scared of cancer, but getting a slip saying I die of a car crash doesn't mean I'm free from ever getting cancer.

Some of the stories are better than others, and there's a bit of repetitiveness if you read it all in one go, but for the most part there's interesting stuff here, and I enjoyed the collection.
Kevin
May 13, 2014 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought a (used) copy of this book after just reading the concept online, thinking "Well, if that's not a writing prompt that lends itself to creative thinking I don't know what is" and it turns out that absolutely not a single one of these stories disappointed me. Well done! That's not to say that every one of them was a winner but all of them were at least solid, and 90% of them were pretty entertaining.

For the first ten stories or so I almost couldn't concentrate while reading because I was
...more
Liz Farrington
Nov 30, 2015 Liz Farrington rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fbc-15
As you might expect with a book of this kind, the quality was spotty, the tone was uneven, and the spelling! grammar! typos! Some stories had multiple misused words, which my heart cannot bear. The illustrations to each chapter were cute but didn't add much more interest for me than a calligraphic first letter would have. Still, I think that my biggest issue with this book was its incredible bleakness. The story's premise came from a webcomic, and personally I found it pretty funny; I was expect ...more
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The Sword and Laser: Any other Machine of Death rejects? 17 109 Nov 07, 2011 10:29PM  
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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)
  • This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death (Machine of Death #2)

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“Might as well ask the once-popular Magic 8-Ball something. It got “Outlook not so good” right. I don’t know if anyone ever asked it about Internet Explorer. ” 0 likes
“The machine captured that old sense of irony in death: you can know how it's going to happen, but you'll still be surprised when it does.” 0 likes
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