It was an interesting premise. What would happen if you knew how you would die? And no matter what you did, you would still end up dying the way the machine predicted? Ironic this machine may be; wrong, however, it is never.
“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” – Jean de La Fontaine,
I thought Oogway from Kung Fu Panda said this!? I digress.
This is how the short stories works: a machine takes your blood and tells you how you will die. Pretty straight-forward you’d think? It isn’t. The answers you usually get are ironic, confusing and vague at best. “You’ll die by: potato” could mean you could choke on it, have a million tons of potatoes fall on your head while walking down the street, or be stabbed to death by a man dressed as a potato. Most stories went about finding the most interesting solutions to these ambiguous death sentences (pun totally intended). Other stories focused on sociology and psychology. They focused on either the society as a whole or on the individual and the effect it had on them. Very interesting.
As all anthologies go, some stories were great, some were alright and some were just bad. “Vegetables” by Chris Cox was my favorite. It was totally whacky and twisty and just the sort of story I love. I won’t elaborate since all the stories are shorts and I’d feel like I’m giving away too much by talking about it but if you don’t have the time or the inclination to go read the entire book, take my advice and go read just this one story.
I don’t think I’d take the test if the Machine of Death existed. I like to think I’m a rebel. Although some would argue that taking the test is rebelling. I wonder though (for real) how many people WOULD take the test? Would it really become a sensation like most of the stories claim it’ll be? Or would people avoid it? What effect would it have on our lives besides the mental and emotional aspect? Would people start hiring and firing employees? Would it become a government mandate to have each and every child tested? Would this change the face of our planet? Reading the book though, I don’t think that a lot of people should get interesting deaths. It just isn’t likely that half the world will die such interesting deaths. Most people just die due to heart failure. But I guess there is no way of making organ failure more interesting and glorified and special is there?
Overall the book was great and strangely cohesive. I guess the editor picked the stories most in line with the concept. It would have been interesting to see some stories change it a bit here and there but oh well! It was a tad long for my liking and I found myself skipping pages in the last few stories but it was pretty interesting overall.