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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)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,973 ratings  ·  239 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
Paperback, 508 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Grand Central Publishing
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Start your review of This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death (Machine of Death, #2)
'Nathan Burgoine
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (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
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
Tasha Robinson
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Eric Mesa
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was more than just more stories in the Machine of Death world. It was also the Machine of Death in fantasy worlds and science fiction worlds and all kinds of creative new worlds. It was a lot of fun and a great followup to the first book.

As usual with anthologies, here are my status updates (at least one per story) with some possible changes to what I wrote at the time.

Old Age, Surrounded by Loved Ones: I think this was the first of these stories that revolved around this particular f
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Alexa Albert
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. I LOVED this. Each story was totally creative and different, and many had clever twists that I totally didn't expect. Some were funny, and others were very dark. The "prompt" - humans have developed a way to predict how everyone will die, but not when, and without specifics - is interpreted very differently by each author. Some stories were better than others, but all were innovative and fun to read. ...more
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
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
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anth-coll
The original premise and collection of stories were quite good, leading the editors to seek submissions for a sequel. All tolled, 1958 new stories (and 151 art folios) were submitted. This new volume represents the best of those, and is also very good.

Authors branched a little further from the original theme - a machine which can tell you how (but not when) you are going to die. My favorites were “ZEPHYR” by George Page III (Space marines form into fighting units coordinated by the times of thei
Chris Wootton
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 li
Michelle Pawlak
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another amazing set of stories based around the machine of death! Such a great change of stories for this collection as well-- focusing on the lives of the people, the living through the results, etc instead of focusing primarily on the death itself.

Just like the 1st book, this one has many incredible writers & stories as well! Also has just as fantastic artworks as the first book, but with more included this time around.

I sincerely hope there will be more collections, more stories. I'm itching
Benito Corral
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 23, 2012 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
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mikki Crisostomo
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Domashita Romero
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Ralph Pulner
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The most gorgeous arrangement of a short story book I have ever seen. Stories, illustrations, comics, childrens books and choose your own adventure! Every story connected with me, ranging from good to great. Light hearted, whimsical, comedic, to horror, psychological and philosophical. I recommend for anyone who lays awake at night, worried about how they die.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was intense, funny, heartbreaking among many other feelings. A ton of short stories that I wished would have been dragged out for so much longer. Loved this way more than I thought I would!
Claire Gilligan
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff
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! ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Below are the chapters that stood out to me, some more than others. This series was a bit better than Machine Of Death. I just wish all the stories had the same strength. However, it is a nice way to see different writing styles and great introductions to so many different authors; before buying their books. I love the idea of this book it gives you so much to think about.

Old Age, Surrounded by Loved Ones by Nathan Burgoine

Rock and Roll by Toby W. Rush

Shiv Sena Riot by Ryan Estrada

Zephyr by G
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Before starting, I thought this would be like a book version of The Final Destination series. But boy was I wrong. It is a collection of diverse stories from multiple settings, from Tokyo, to Australia to thousands of years to the future, to Medieval times, to a universe where they have a very different machine of death and even to Sherlock Holmes universe.

Some of the stories are short and simple, others deep and almost philosophical, some mysterious and exciting. There are a lot of g
Janet Hood
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
This was a sequel to “The Machine of Death” and was good. I enjoyed it almost as much as the first. I enjoy learning how people think and these stories are an interesting way to do so. This compilation of si-fy stories is a fun read.
The Hardcover Honey
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Edward Amato
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this surprise that I found at the Library book sale in Seattle. The range of talent from the various authors and the inventiveness of the short stories blew me away. I did not realize this is the second book of this idea so looking forward to finding it.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I first saw the title, I brushed it off as somewhat clickbait-y. So much for not judging books by their covers. Once I heard the premise, though, I thought it was pretty cute, and decided to give it a read.

Basically, the prompt is that there exists an infallible machine that tells people how they will die - not when, and not in unambiguous (but always correct) terms. From there, different writers tell stories that come to their mind.

What results are a couple dozen shorts, variations on the
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this book was a really neat compulsion of fiction around a single premise. the comics were interesting, the diversity in story type, length, genre and timeframe was really compelling. I would recommend it to almost anyone who likes any sort of fiction.
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The "Machine of Death Card Game." 1 19 Feb 16, 2013 03:27AM  

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Hi, I'm Ryan! I was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1980 and since then have written several books. You can read my Wikipedia page for more, or check out my author site at!

I'm the author of the webcomic Dinosaur Comics (that's the comic where the pictures don't change but the words do, it's better than it sounds and I've also done crazy things like turn Shakespeare into a choose-yo

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)

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