This Is How You Die
Ed. by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki !
Some ideas have a way of taking on a life of their own, becoming fictional mini-memes that self-replicate and evolve in all kinds of weird directions. One such recent invention is the Machine of Death, a device that takes a small blood sample and then infallibly predicts how (but not when) you will die. The MoD, as it’s affectionately known, gave its name to a self-published 2010 anthology of short stories that, with the help of a shrewd online marketing campaign, went on to become a surprise bestseller. This Is How You Die is the delightful follow-up, featuring more stories and comics about people trying to cope with the terse and sometimes ironic fates they’ve been dealt by the mechanical oracle.
What makes the humour even darker is the thought that the MoD might not be as far removed from reality as it at first seems. Let’s face it: the insurance industry already makes use of similar, if less precise, techniques for determining our expiry dates. And they’ll probably be able to do more as science gets better at unlocking the mysteries of what’s written in our genetic codes. The MoD is not a total fantasy.