Machine of Death

Machine of Death


464 pages

I recently bought Machine of Death (“picked up” sounds weird, since I got it for my shiny new Kindle), and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. So, despite this note being out of date to the point where a sequel is on the horizon, I thought that I would talk about it.

I went into the book  cold, so I had a few misconceptions that wanted fixing.  For one, Ryan North did not actually write the book, although he did write a few stories in it. No, it is actually a collection of many stories that were written without connection besides the central idea.

What is that idea? Why, the Machine of Death, of course! The machine can tell you exactly how you will die, although it’s fairly ambiguous sometimes. For example, BULLET could be anything from a gunshot wound to a stray bullet piercing the hull of your airplane, causing it to crash, and anything inbetween. It’s quite a little sadist at times.

Despite the fact that the stories are disconnected, they still do paint quite an interesting picture. Each story paints the Machine in different ways, of course, although you can blame localization of the Machine for the differences if you really want to. A strange flow forms, with a story involving the inventors, advertisers, first patrons, and the future prospects in the world of death. And it’s a blast every step of the way.

You see, the stories don’t focus on the machine itself as much as how people deal with their predictions. How do you respond to someone telling you, without a shadow of a doubt, how you will die? Well, MoD tells you.

In all, let me say this: I don’t read as much as I used to, or indeed as much as I should, simply because I have very little patience for poor (read: boring and tedious) literature. Well, MoD was one of the few books that took me by the collar and shook vigorously, and I loved every moment of the abuse.


2 thoughts on “Machine of Death

  1. Pingback: Machine of Death | Archive Crawl

  2. I never bought the book, but I picked up the PDF they had on their website when the book first came out—fantastic, nothing more to be said. It was clever, creative, brilliant to a fault; the decision to give a drawing on the obverse of every new story was hilarious! I found myself searching for the artist’s stories, since each of them was a web comic creator in their own right (I had to find XKCD’s creator, it was like a compulsion.)

    By the end there were stories that made me sad, many that made me laugh, a few that horrified or shocked me—none that made me think “What a waste of time….” For an independently produced book to reach number one on, it has to be good, and it was.

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