Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Machine of Death- good or bad?

I'm enjoying the book so far and I hope everyone else who is able to read it feels the same.

For this first discussion, anyone can respond regardless of whether you are reading the book or not. What I'd like to know is how you feel about having a machine that can tell you how you will die? Do you feel strongly that said machine would cause more harm than good, or are you apathetic? Are there advantages to knowing ahead of time how you will die, or will knowing prevent you from fully experiencing and enjoying life? Share your thoughts and opinions.

For those who are not sure what a "Machine of Death" is, it as a machine that can tell how an individual will die. The machine can give some vague cause of death like "love," or can give something more detailed like "torn apart and devoured by lions." However, the machine does not provide any time or date for when said death will occur. An individual who is said to die by "crack" might stay away from the drug only to die when a crack in the sidewalk causes him/her to stumble and crack his/her head open.


  1. I'm really liking the book. It's such a great concept. I don't think knowing is a good idea, especially since the cause of death is often so vague. It can come to define who a person is, rather than allowing her to form her own identity. More thoughts to follow...

  2. i'm loving this book so far. i'm only about 80pgs in, but i especially love the "torn apart and devoured by lions" story. That kind of enthusiasm is probably how I would approach my death card. But like Amanda said, that kind of defines you, which is lame. I think the one kid in another story who knows he's getting burned to death but still keeps smoking has the right idea. You're going to die anyway, so why avoid things that you'd usually like to do? (not condoning smoking!)

    In any case, if a machine were in our world.....I would most likely get tested. I'm too curious.

  3. I have only been able to get the sampler on my phone but can't wait to get the book. I think the social reaction is remarkable. I think a lot of people would want to know but it doesn't make a difference. I think people fear death and want to be in control and knowing makes you feel like you are in control. I don't think I would get my death card because it would constantly be avoiding living life even though I know I can't avoid the cause in the end.

  4. I finished the book already and I totally love the different issues each story brings up. Such as the social/political ramifications: would we require all politicians to get tested, and would that influence our vote? What would happen if a bunch of people drew "Terrorist attack" or "viral outbreak"? Would the government take action; should they? When would we allow people to get tested, say at 18? How would that effect how we treat one another?

    Because the machine (except in one story) does not give time of death, I think it would bring about unnecessary paranoia and fear and since (spoiler alert, maybe) none of the stories feature a person "beating" the machine, I don't see it really adding anything positive to one's life.

    Also, just an fyi, you can get the book for free from machineofdeath.net

  5. Just finished the book. Wow, it covers so many different ways of framing the issue! I look forward to our discussion this weekend. I'm curious to hear what you thought of the format of this book, as a collection of stories that sometimes conflict in their explanations. Which version of the story did you like the best, in terms of the circumstances of when/where one gets tested? The role of government? Cause of death as freedom versus entrapment? Focus on young people in so many of the stories? The role of irony, and the inherent ambiguity of words? Just some thoughts for our pending discussion...