Ok – not the most cheerful of titles I agree – but something just a little out of the ordinary. This is a truly fascinating and largely funny collection of short stories and artwork. Each work revolves around the central premise of the existence of a “Machine of Death“. By a simple blood test an individual can discover the cause of their death (but not the time or place). Unfortunately the machine only spits out short answers – often vague and ambiguous. OLD AGE could mean dying in an armchair in your dotage or it could mean being run down by an octogenarian in a mobility scooter. However, the machine is always right and taking the test again will not change the result.
The stories explore different cultural and social possibilities of such a machine – when teens hang out together in groups of the same fate who do you sit with if you’ve got FLAMING MARSHMALLOW? How do you create an infomercial to sell a shipment of instructionless Chinese gadgets when you have no idea of what they actually do (although experiments on colleagues suggest they test for narcotics use)?
The stories were submitted to the website http://machineofdeath.net/ and most are under a creative commons license. The editors are currently looking for stories for volume 2 although the deadline is midnight 15th July – so you’d need to be quick!