Machine of Death Anthology: Amazon #1 Ranking, But Does It Live Up to the Hype?

"Existentialism was never so fun. Makes me wish I could die, too!" - Cory Doctorow

Perhaps Machine of Death editors Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki should have subtitled their self-published anthology "The Resurrection" or "Not Dead Yet!" Pursuing an aggressive guerilla PR and marketing campaign, they recently managed, through strength of fan/reader support, to shoot to the top of Amazon's book ranking system. Along the way, they dislodged heavy hitters like John Grisham and Glenn Beck, creating a maelstrom of discussion, chaos, and discussion in places like the Atlantic Wire.

Now that the dust has settled, what about the anthology itself? The premise is simple: it's a collection of speculative stories about a machine that can tell you the cause of your eventual death, but not the time or place. The book also contains copious illustrations/comics.

Personally, I found Machine of Death a lively, self-assured, and diverse read. The stories aren't as similar as you might think from the premise, the editors have done a good job of breaking up the text with the art, and the whole enterprise has an air of subversion and energy that supports the outrageously cool way in which they managed to get the book world's attention. This is DIY publishing at its best, and a perfect example of the way in which creative, clever editors can use to their advantage the new leveling of hierarchies, existence of more accessible means of distribution, and diversity of ways to make a project visible to readers.

But, when it comes down to it, you have to have the quality to back up the hype. You have to bring the heat, and Machine of Death does bring the heat. Not only that--it showcases a lot of talented writers you might not have encountered before. I know I have a few more "check out their other work" names after reading the anthology.

          Machine-of-Death cover 

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Comments (6)

Amazon has just published my first novel for young adults called, The Seventh Wish. It's a coming-of-age story about priorities, common sense and compassion.
Synopsis: Julian captures a magical horseshoe. He is assigned by the Leprechaun Council the responsibility of granting a selfish wish to six strangers. The last wish, the seventh wish, must be his selfish wish. Not only must he choose who receives the wishes, he must also keep the golden horseshoe away from the evil trolls. Julian and his leprechaun companion, Lawrence, travel from coast to coast to fulfill the ancient legacy of the wishes and learn the many powers of the golden horseshoe.

Posted by: Toby O'Day | Sunday November 21, 2010 at 6:47 PM

The Seventh Wish is available in Amazon's Kindle Store!

Posted by: Toby O'Day | Sunday November 21, 2010 at 6:48 PM

Jeff: It's nice to see that a book can rise out of the slush pile without Clarion-esque pay-to-play schemes.

Posted by: Paul | Sunday November 21, 2010 at 9:43 PM

@Toby O'Day: You just guaranteed I won't buy your book. Stop spamming.

Posted by: Telanis | Monday November 22, 2010 at 7:40 PM

read the first chapter online free-what a hoot! I think I'll wait until its a little cheaper to read the rest though

Posted by: Lorraine | Tuesday November 23, 2010 at 5:26 AM

@Lorraine. There's a free pdf version of the book in its entirety on the Machine of Death website.

Posted by: Tony | Wednesday November 24, 2010 at 9:28 AM

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