This Is How You Die (edited by Ryan North)
Genre: Short stories
I’m not a huge fan of short stories: I like to really get into the characters lives and the anticipation and the crescendo of a novel. Short stories, to me, feel like I’m thrown into a story, see a snippet of it, and am then jerked out. But one thing that really helped this collection not feel like that was how all the stories were about the same thing. Not the same plot, not the same people… but the same concept. A machine that tells you how you will die, and is absolutely never wrong? That’s a sticky situation. And each person had to figure out how to deal with it and it revealed a lot of humanity.
I was very pleased with this collection as a whole. I didn’t read the first one, and I don’t think you’d need to in order to enjoy it. I definitely liked some stories and some writers better than other, but all in all, it was very satisfying.
If a machine could predict how you would die, would you want to know? This is the tantalizing premise of This Is How You Die, the brilliant follow-up anthology to the self-published best seller, Machine of Death.
The machines started popping up around the world. The offer was tempting: With a simple blood test, anyone could know how they would die. But the machines didn't give dates or specific circumstances - just a single word or phrase. DROWNED, CANCER, OLD AGE, CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. And though the predictions were always accurate, they were also often frustratingly vague. OLD AGE, it turned out, could mean either dying of natural causes, or being shot by an elderly, bedridden man in a botched home invasion. The machines held on to that old-world sense of irony in death: You can know how it's going to happen, but you'll still be surprised when it does.
This addictive anthology - sinister, witty, existential, and fascinating - collects the best of the thousands of story submissions the editors received in the wake of the success of the first volume, and exceeds the first in every way.