Brendan's Reviews > Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die

Machine of Death by Ryan North
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's review
Jan 27, 11

bookshelves: fantasy, fiction, humor, philosophy-religion, scifi, 2011
Read from January 23 to 27, 2011

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 nature of the Machine and there are dystopian wastelands where one’s future death determines one’s life.
* An common theme among many of the stories is the notion that knowing how you die (or thinking you do, since the machine is whimsical) will necessarily short-circuit your life in certain ways. SAILBOAT ACCIDENT keeps you from ever going sailing, for example, but can’t protect you when a trailered boat turns over on the expressway.
* A couple of the stories also toy with the non-scientist’s view of quantum states, namely suggesting that by measuring how we will die we’re locking into place that very fate. If we didn’t ask we wouldn’t be stuck in that loop. It’s a little weird, but makes sense in the stories themselves.

Go check it out, it’s pretty good.
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message 1: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan C. Not surprisingly, you've talked me into reading this book.

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