A review of
Machine of Death
Edited by Ryan North,
Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki !
Given a sample of blood, a machine prints out the cause of a person’s death on a small piece of paper. But the results are brief and deceptive: OLD AGE can mean getting killed by an elderly person. The story “Almond” is narrated by a lab technician in Cleveland who begins to record a maintenance log for a machine of death (as the device is called), but who is soon so overwhelmed by the monotony of the job that he spends the year contemplating, say, how a word so seemingly innocuous as ALMOND could be fatal. When a man receives JOY as a readout from the machine, the technician envisions a death from intense ecstasy, only to discover later that the man has died when struck by a car driven by a woman named Joy. Horrified, he wonders why the machine would choose this detail over something more appropriate, like CRASH.
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