Review: This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death

This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death (Machine of Death #2)This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death by Ryan North
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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 family-based twist. I thought the ending was pretty touching.

Rock and Roll: I feel like this guy was mentioned in passing in the first anthology. I liked the twist.

Natural Causes: The MOD arrives in small town USA. Nice twist in that the Machine was a fake.

Shiv Sena Riot: A nice variation on the story that last time had a tech’s log. This time it’s a call center woman in India. Enjoying it so far. Great juxtaposition of the Machine of Death vs the predictive arts in that part of India. I loved the ending, even if the title leads one to speculate on what happens

Zephyr: Very different than anything in the other book. Space Marines have figure out a parabolic curve of when you’re most likely to die. If you are far from it – you have 0% chance of dying. If in it, you can die at any time. I’m going to guess that perhaps they’re lying to these soldiers and they don’t all die on the 4th. But I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.Zephyr: I was somewhat right in my prediction, but the twist was still a really good one.

Death by beheading: a tragic look at how kids often fail to see the consequences of their actions when peer pressure is on the line

Lazarus Fusion Reactor: A great story told from the point of view of Supervillain Henchmen. I would love to read more in this universe.

Drowning Flying etc: I guessed the multiverse twist right away. Waiting to see if the ending has a further twist. OK ending

Conflagration: I like the idea of a psych office who’s job it is to convince you that you don’t actually want to know your results. Quite a different world from the kiosk death machine world. What if you could somehow prevent mass-scale deaths by changing the situation before people are born, and, therefore, tested?

Screaming, Crying, alone…: A murder mystery in Zimbabwe. Very nice and I didn’t catch the killer early.

Apitoxin: A Steam-Punk Machine of Death and Sherlock Holmes! I love it! A great argument for the cultural value of public domain characters

Blue Fever: What seems like a fantasy steampunk world in which the King is entertained by songs of his death based on his death prediction. Blue Fever: Nice twist with the queen’s death. Also, good world-building. I’d read a novel in that world.

Tetrapod: Ex-Pats (Americans?) in Japan teaching English. Interesting setup.

Machine of Death: A Sorority Party where people guess how someone dies based on the nondescript MOD slip. Twist vice other party stories – it’s another dimension from the one we’ve been reading about. In this one it just seems like a game.

Monsters of the Deep (or something like that): Potentially someone is going crazy…we’ll see. Continues to be a crazy, nightmare fuel world. The ending did not disappoint.

…Bus Accident: Seems like a variation on some of the stories in the last collection where certain deaths have to do to internment camps. What made it different from other internment camp MOD stories was the focus on the developing world and the perfume statement the author was able to make.

Cancer: lots of neat and unexpected twists for why a woman keeps getting different readings

216: love the motherhood aspect and the mathematical mind aspect. Whoa! Did not see that ending coming!

Blunt Force from Spouse: Super depressing story about spousal abuse”

Meat Eater: Hilarious parody of a Homeland Security pamphlet to explain MOD testing to a 6 year old

Turned into Delicious Cheeseburger: Meh

“Your choice: choose your own adventure. awesome!”

In battle, alone and soon forgotten: Interesting Tolkienesque world with a MOD. Not a bad ending. I was able to predict it like 80% through the story.

Lake Titicaca: a fun story of kids who brave the machine to prove their bravado

In Sleep: Weird story that maybe takes place in a computer?

Cecille: Neat little story in which the lover is the killer, but it doesn’t seem to affect things too much

[french title]: nice ending!”

Not applicable: crazy future, MOD, and time travel”

Peacefully: crazy zombie apocalypse world

Old age: incredibly sad

Furnace: A fun look at a world in which all the future knows about us is that we loved porn.

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Author: Eric Mesa

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