Friday, September 13, 2013

Machine Of Death

I finished reading This Is How You Die today. It's got some great stories in it, which I discovered because my friend 'Nathan Burgoine is the author of the first one in the collection. His is, of course, one of my favourites.

I do however have one big complaint, and that is how some of the stories obsess over the death-cards impact. While I grant that people fear death, I assert that they fear pain more and therefore claim that a death-card contains no real information.

If your card says "in bed when you're old", it doesn't say that you won't be the prisoner of a sadist for the next sixty years. Consider sloth from se7en. Thus it's totally unreasonable for a character to prefer or fear one prediction over another. It's equally unreasonable to imply life contribution based on death-card. How you die says nothing about how you've lived, so it's insane for a group to outcast an individual based on their death-card prediction.

Another thing that drives me crazy is when characters jump to conclusions about their card's meaning. Take for example Cecile, where the narrator believes that her lover will kill her because her name is on her death card. The card could just as easily indicate another Cecile, or more likely a choice Katherine makes for Cecile, such as pushing her out of harm's way.

Anyway, some of these stories are fantastic. Here's my favourites.

Old Age, Surrounded by Loved Ones
'Nathan Burgoine

Artfully done. Emotionally gripping. I really appreciate how he doesn't spell things out for you. The delayed realization of the implications of what you're reading really adds to their effect.

Lazarus Reactor Fission Sequence
Tom Francis

Creative and hilarious. I love a piece that's both engaging and helps me take the world a little less seriously.

Monsters from the Deep
Davad Malki!

This one was just the right amount of creepy.

Two One Six
Marleigh Norton

I love the abstract style and how the information is let bit by bit. Also, math is beautiful.

In Sleep
Ren Warom

When I started this one, I didn't like the unusual language, but by page two was swept into a foreign and fantastic place. Great writing.

Not Applicable
Kyle Schoenfeld

Aside from being a good story, this piece has an unusual literary property that I didn't notice until around page three. Well done.

M.J. Leitch

I very much liked the characters in this one. Plus I'm a sucker for zombies.

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