Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Free Reads!

First up is Machine of Death, an anthology of speculative short stories all based around the question: what if there was a machine that could accurately predict your cause of death? The resulting stories are hilarious, touching, disturbing, and not surprisingly, philosophical.

Yes, the book inspired by the above Dinosaur Comic is philosophical.

Also, you can read the entire thing for FREE right here! Looks like the internet is good for something, right?

My fav stories from the collection are "Flaming Marshmallow", "Torn Apart and Devoured by Lions", "Almond", "Not Waving But Drowning", "Prison Knife Fight", "While Trying to Save Another", and "Heat Death of the Universe". All of the titles are predicted deaths. Death by flaming marshmallow sounds like an interesting way to kick the bucket. And death by bucket kicking would just be ironic.

Here are some passages:
From "Almond", by John Chernega:
I'm a little intrigued by the idea that someone in town knows he is going to die. The rest of us are going on with our lives, worrying about paying bills or finding a good school system for the kids, but this one guy is nervously eyeing the mixed nuts aisle in the grocery store, or whatever. He's got that little insight that no one in town (except me) knows about. I'm Alfred to his Batman, except I don't know what's on his card. Just that he knows what's on his card. Unfortunately, I can't think of anyone in comics who knows that someone has a secret identity, but doesn't know what it is.

From "While Trying to Save Another", by Dalisa Chaponda:
"I don't believe in fate, God or anything. It's all random. Sure, the Death Machine can punch a hole through time and can predict the result of the randomness. That doesn't make it any less random."

From "Miscarriage", by James L. Sutter:
The city is beautiful at night. Long after the sun goes down, when the last rays have left the horizon scorched and aching, the buildings show their true shapes, silhouettes against the black with lights that twinkle orange and red. These are not the buildings, not anymore--rather, they're the buildings' ideas of themselves, the barest sketches. The burned-in after-image of a skyline put to bed.

With the fall of dusk, things simultaneously expand and contract. The streets open up, and familiar drivers can run like rabbits in warren, every turn practiced a thousand times and unimpeded by hesitant outsiders. It's a delicate dance. The people thin out, and suddenly the extra interactions--the vacant smiles and nods that mean nothing--are stripped out as well, and every meeting becomes one of significance. You see only who you want to see, and if you see someone else, it's because you wanted to see them and just didn't know it. Or they wanted to see you.

From "Heat Death of the Universe", by James Foreman:
Too much order is worse than too much chaos. We evolved in chaos. We survived chaos. Life thrives in chaos.

From "Cassandra", by T.J. Radcliffe:
"...knowledge can't be created out of nothing, and in this case the price of knowing one thing is the inability to do anything about it."

But most hilariously (if that's not a word, it is now), an organized internet campaign on October 26th managed to skyrocket Machine of Death to the #1 position on Amazon, beating out Glenn Beck's new POS. And of course Beck was furious. Har! This is what he had to say about it on his show:
And then, the #1 book - TODAY, at least - is Machine of Death. And it's a - collected stories about, you know, people who know how they're gonna die. Haowww!

So you have DEATH - I know it's called Life, but what a life it is, really! It's a culture of death! OR, 'How do we restore ourselves?'

These are the - this is the left, I think, speaking. This is the left. You want to talk about where we're headed? We're headed towards a culture of death. A culture that, um, celebrates the things that have destroyed us. Not that the Rolling Stones have destroyed us - I mean, you can't always get what you want. You know what I'm saying? Brown sugar. I have no idea what that means.

I have no idea what Gleen Beck means. I don't think anyone does. But he speaks loudly so whatever he's saying must be true, right?


I wrote it in large capital letters, so it must be true.

In other free literature news, you can read a poetry chapbook by Steve Roggenbuck entitled i am like october when i am dead for free right here.

Here are some of my fav poems:
i dont care about reading a poem

who do you think i am, robert frost?

i have never been in the woods and i hate walking

i have two sunflowers wilting on my bookshelf

thats it

thats all

the poem is done, get out

if you call me, i wont answer

i am sitting under the moon inside of a wheelbarrow

And that is all for Free Literature day here at Virtual Margin.


  1. Love the dinosaur comic strip! And, I think such an anthology would be very cool to read...and write for actually.

  2. Yeah, actually while I was reading it I thought to myself, "Cherie would be great at writing one of these stories!" :-) It's such a great premise to develop a story from.