The Machine of Death is collection of short stories which were all written around one idea. There is a machine that can tells you how you are going to die, but nobody knows how it works, and the answers are frustratingly vague. So if you get ‘Old Age’ then you could die when you are 90 in your sleep, or you can be run over by an old man.
To be honest, this is my favorite type of book to read. I love short stories, and I love it when collections of stories have something tying them all together rather than a collection of random stories.
When I first started reading I expected there to be a lot of stories built around corny puns and ironic twists of fate, but there were only a few. Each story is surprisingly unique and a good number of the stories don’t even focus on the predictions themselves as much as the impact of the machine on society in general. Some of the stories are sad, some are funny, but almost all of them are good and enjoyable. There were only a few I actively disliked, but one is a single page story so they didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the book.
A few of my favorites were ‘Not Waving but Drowning’ and ‘Vegetables’ and if you liked this book you should check out Azazel by Isaac Asimov