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Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death

edited by Ryan North ; Matthew Bennardo ; David Malki

Pub Date: July 16th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4555-2939-1
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

In this anthology, contributions from authors across a spectrum of genres yield stories about a fantastical Machine of Death, "which can predict anybody's ultimate fate based on a simple blood test."

This is the follow-up volume to the popular self-published anthology Machine of Death (2010). To recap, in 2007, Bennardo, Malki and North solicited stories from contributors, with one caveat: Each story had to involve the Death Machine, a device that would analyze a drop of blood, then would generate a slip of paper telling the person how he or she would die. In this second volume, the editors narrowed over 1,700 submissions down to 31 stories, punctuated by 13 comics. While readers might expect a wide swath of sci-fi, the entries (with names like "Bite Wound," "Got Too Extreme" and "Massive Blood Loss") are more diverse than that. “Apitoxin” unreels a classic Sherlock Holmes whodunit, while “Lazarus Reactor Fission Sequence” is old-school sci-fi in the flavor of Harry Harrison or Martin Caidin. One of the great stories, “Cancer,” tells the tale of a woman whose cells hold a secret à la Henrietta Lacks, and “Your Choice” offers a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure mortality story. Whether the cause of death is “Screaming, Crying, Alone, and Afraid,” “Blunt Force Trauma Delivered by Spouse,” “Peacefully” or “Old Age,” none of the stories unravel in the way one might think.

Funny, frightening, clever; no one in these stories emerges unscathed.