17 May, 2011

Review - Machine of Death - Part 1 (of 3)

I have always had a hard time with anthologies. I enjoy them, but I have a short attention span and therefore get through only a few before I move on to something else. This in no way means I don't like what I'm reading. Therefore, this is part 1 (of 3) of my review of Machine of Death [US] [UK]. I hope to get to the rest soon...ish. :)

I couldn't pass up reading this collection of stories based on the idea that there is a Machine that has been created that can predict how you will die based on a blood sample you give it.

Many are extremely thoughtful and some have a type of ironic twist because you can't always take your card at face value. Although don't always look for an ironic twist, only a few go that route and it's easy to start thinking all of them approach the topic similarly.

As with most anthologies I read, I'll take them a few stories at a time, as the mood strikes. Below is what I've read so far:

• “FLAMING MARSHMALLOW,” by Camille Alexa. This takes the Machine of Death idea to High School. Not bad, but nothing great either. 3/5

• "FUDGE," by Kit Yona. Didn't seem to go anywhere. I wasn't a huge fan. 2/5

• “TORN APART AND DEVOURED BY LIONS,” by J. Channing Wells. I really liked this story, it took a pretty funny look at the situation where the main character becomes obsessive about his death card. It talks about the insurance industry declining because of this, but I didn't buy it. A) The "when" is still unpredictable, and B) Avoiding your death can lead to it just as easily as not - this is sort of a refining of (A). 4/5

• “DESPAIR,” by K. M. Lawrence. I was captivated with the ideas in this one. It involves doctors making choices with the death cards in mind. 4/5

• “SUICIDE,” by David Michael Wharton. Can the future predicted on the cards be changed? That's what this story asks...and answers. 4/5

• “ALMOND,” by John Chernega. Almost a history of the "machine" told in a series of journal entries. Interesting and nice twist at the end, but almost too long for what it was trying to accomplish. 3/5

• “STARVATION,” by M. Bennardo. Two soldiers are stranded in the jungle. What would you do if you knew how your were going to die and you were stranded? Would make anyone crazy I think. Great story and idea. 5/5

• “CANCER,” by Camron Miller. This story adds to the world, but only slightly. Otherwise pretty worthless. 2/5

• “FIRING SQUAD,” by J. Jack Unrau. I loved this story...at first. The suspense is addicting, and then the ending wraps up terribly. 4/5 stars changed to 2/5 stars in an instant.

• “VEGETABLES,” by Chris Cox. Really funny tale, great addition. 4/5

• “PIANO,” by Rafa Franco. Very interesting tale with an ironic twist. Knowing how he's going to die, the main protagonist becomes fearless toward anything else. 4/5

• “HIV INFECTION FROM MACHINE OF DEATH NEEDLE,” by Brian Quinlan. I've already written more words than this story contains. Classic. 4/5

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher