book review: machine of death

Even if I didn’t have a story in Machine of Death I would be a fan of this book. The idea is that each of the writers wrote a story set in a world where the infallible Machine of Death exists. The MoD told people how they were going to die. It was never wrong but was often ironic or vague. Those were the guidelines. The stories that came out were all different, making the book as a whole really good.

The Machine itself is different in every story. In some it’s a gimmick, in some it’s a long-accepted part of life, in some it sparks protests, in some kids are tested in utero, in some no one under 18 is allowed to be tested. I loved that overlappingness of the whole thing. It helped make sure nothing felt too canon. You read a bunch of different origins for the Machine and none of them are “the one true story” which felt right. Right to have the diversity.

I wasn’t sure how funny the stories would be, or how depressing. I mean, there are depressing stories. The one with the guy whose wife had finally become pregnant and then the Machine spit out LABOUR made me want to die a little bit. WHILE TRYING TO SAVE ANOTHER was heart-breaking, but TORN APART AND DEVOURED BY LIONS was funny and optimistic, like NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING.

In any case it was a really good, thought-provoking book about death. I’m really glad to have been a part of it.

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