Machine of Death provides laughs, surprises


What if there was a machine that could tell you, with a simple blood test, how you were going to die? This is the idea that came to life in the form of a short story contest and ended in a collection of 34 stories called “The Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die,” edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo and David Malki.

Predictably, many of the deaths are ironic. If you get “old age,” for example, you might be shot by an elderly person. Or if you decided never to fly because the machine tells you your death will be the result of a “plane crash,” a passenger jet might fall on your house. I figured there would be few true surprises in store for me as a result, but I was very wrong. The collection of stories are superb, ranging from hilarious (“Almonds”) to disturbing (“Suicide”) to sad (“While Trying to Save Another”) to just… wow (“Improperly Prepared Blowfish”).

I give “The Machine of Death” five out of five stars. It is a fantastic read and I believe there is something for everyone in it. Nearly every single story held an unanticipated twist, and nearly all of them took on perspectives and ideas I never could have dreamed of. I also liked the fact that many of the authors and artists were unknowns who show great promise.

Karen Ingram is a junior in English. Please send comments to