Machine of Death!

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Machine of Death

Postby Роберт » Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:34 pm UTC

A real book with a short story by Randall Munroe, and a lot of other short stories, is at #5 in Amazon's list at the time of posting. Congratulations Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics), Randall, and everyone else in it!

It's called "machine of death". http://machineofdeath.net/a/
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Machine of Death!

Postby Kewangji » Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:36 pm UTC

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

Guys, guys. This is possibly the coolest book coming out this year. It's about a machine that predicts people's deaths. I've only read uhm, two of the stories that are up on the internets, but it is pretty sweet. We should all buy it.

The book includes a story by Randall Munroe, even. Some of the stories are up on the site, and they'll release a totally free PDF version in a month or so, so buying it isn't necessary to enjoy the awesomeness.

Would you guys use a Machine of Death?
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Re: Machine of Death

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:36 pm UTC

We’re going to make the Kindle version available in the future; it won’t be by tomorrow though. It won’t have the illustrations, because the Kindle’s screen will just ruin 75% of them, but it’ll be the full text. We’re going to make it a paid download like anything else in the Amazon store, but if you forward us your receipt from a purchase of the printed book we’ll send you a Kindle-compatible file for free! (As soon as we finish formatting the file; might be a week or so.)

Awesome. Ordering now.
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Re: Machine of Death

Postby Роберт » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:49 pm UTC

I do like the idea of selling a real book and it coming with the eBook - like selling records and giving you the mp3s.

It's at #2 on amazon's list right now.
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Re: Machine of Death

Postby Hitaro0 » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:23 pm UTC

It's currently #1 on Amazon. Am probably going to get this.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Роберт » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:49 pm UTC

There's a thread about it in the News section, btw, since it is #1 on Amazon's book list today.
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=65474
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Zohar » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:58 pm UTC

I'd like to buy it, but shipping from Amazon is more than 10$, for that single book. Which really sucks. I'll look if I have any other books I'm interested in.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Jorpho » Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:07 am UTC

I decided to jump on this bandwagon, even with Amazon's outrageous shipping - especially to Canada. I felt that I needed to support the work of all these awesome artists whose work I enjoy so much.

If you can't think of something else to order, Mogworld is one idea.

Also, don't forget that the PDF version will be released for free to one and all in a matter of days, so you don't have to miss out if you're short of funds.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:20 am UTC

I bought this. Partially because I like the concept, partially because I like the authors. Partially because I like that it pissed off Glenn Beck.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Kewangji » Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:07 pm UTC

Heh, my review is at the top of the review list, which must mean it's the best one. :o

I read some excerpt of Mogworld and I didn't fall terribly in love with it, so I don't think I'll be buying that any time soon. It was certainly witty and funny, however.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby wisnij » Sat Oct 30, 2010 5:22 am UTC

I love the Machine of Death concept. When the project was first announced I considered writing a story for it, but I never got past the initial-premise phase. Premises I'm good at, it's fleshing them out with realistic characters and settings that I still need to work on. -_-

My copy is still shipping so I don't yet know whether or how any of the stories address these points, but for fun I've been thinking about how the Machine would work. If it's 100% accurate even in the face of active defiance then it has to be an acausal effect -- information from the time of death has to be traveling back to the time of prediction in order to keep the two synced up. I'm imagining a Larry Niven-style feedback loop, where the event sequence keeps rewriting itself until it arrives at a self-consistent solution, one in which the prediction and actual death match. (Come to think of it, that could even explain why the predictions are so vague -- the loop effectively terminates at the first prediction that's "close enough", so it never gets a chance to zero in more precisely.)

That then raises the question of what happens if you set up a situation in which there is no self-consistent outcome. Say, three men in a room, one tied down and tested with the Machine, one with a gun, one with a syringe of poison. If the prediction says "POISONED", the man with the gun shoots the victim; if it says anything else, the other one injects the victim. Seeing what the Machine does in that circumstance could be interesting. (Or maybe it just prints "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME". :lol:)
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Kewangji » Sat Oct 30, 2010 3:36 pm UTC

wisnij wrote:I love the Machine of Death concept. When the project was first announced I considered writing a story for it, but I never got past the initial-premise phase. Premises I'm good at, it's fleshing them out with realistic characters and settings that I still need to work on. -_-

My copy is still shipping so I don't yet know whether or how any of the stories address these points, but for fun I've been thinking about how the Machine would work. If it's 100% accurate even in the face of active defiance then it has to be an acausal effect -- information from the time of death has to be traveling back to the time of prediction in order to keep the two synced up. I'm imagining a Larry Niven-style feedback loop, where the event sequence keeps rewriting itself until it arrives at a self-consistent solution, one in which the prediction and actual death match. (Come to think of it, that could even explain why the predictions are so vague -- the loop effectively terminates at the first prediction that's "close enough", so it never gets a chance to zero in more precisely.)

That then raises the question of what happens if you set up a situation in which there is no self-consistent outcome. Say, three men in a room, one tied down and tested with the Machine, one with a gun, one with a syringe of poison. If the prediction says "POISONED", the man with the gun shoots the victim; if it says anything else, the other one injects the victim. Seeing what the Machine does in that circumstance could be interesting. (Or maybe it just prints "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME". :lol:)

"EXPLOSION" and the gun accidentally explodes, killing the three of them. :P
or, "PENETRATION"* meaning either the penetration of the bullet into the skin, or the syringe into the skin.
or, "KILLED BY JOHN" and John is the guy in charge of the experiment.

DO NOT MESS WITH TIME would be awesome though! :D

*snigger.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby seabee » Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:34 pm UTC

Ryan North's story, "Murder and Suicide, Respectively" can be read, along with the rest of the book, at [url]machineofdeath.net/pdf/MachineofDeath_FINAL_SPREADS.pdf[/url].

North's story explores the manipulation of the Machine's apparent future-telling abilities to send a message back in time. But I don't really understand how. I'm hoping somebody else who has read this might be able to tell me if I'm getting this right.

Spoiler:
Okay.

So they codify and classify a bunch of different deaths. For example, deaths by fire might = A; water/drowning = B; suffocation/choking/asphyxiation = C; and so on.

The vehicle for the message in this story is a group 300 rats. Blood samples are taken but not, I think, run through the machine. The rats are then "put into storage" in "little life support boxes" for a number of years. The boxes are numbered and there are several rats to a box in case one or two die in the meantime. The idea now is that in the future, if the scientists want to send a message back to their past selves, they can systematically kill the rats, one from each sequential box, in particular non-overlapping ways, causing the blood samples to contain, hopefully, particular death messages.

Is that the gist of it?

The story ends before the idea is really spelled out. Is the assumption that the scientists are going to go back to the lab, come up with an alphabetic classification of death messages, then run tests on rats until they see a recognizable pattern like "HEYTHEFUTUREISGREAT?"

If there are three rats to a box though the coded death could be any one of each group of three. There could be two or even three messages, from different points in the future, received upon running the samples.

So the real twisty part comes in what one might consider a useful message to the past. Usually one would communicate a warning to the past, right? Like, instructions on how to avoid a catastrophe. So then you're running blood samples through the death machine, which are on the surface telling you how the subject will die, but then you're getting additional apocalyptic warnings encrypted in the death messages!

And then of course there's all the time between the running of the samples and the willful killing of the rats to send the message. Assuming it works at all. Maybe every blood sample will return "Mad Science."

This book is fun and good, and I'm enjoying it. This is Sci-Fi/fantasy of a great variety because each story has left me a-swim in a "What If.." kind of daze. This story was the first one that made me immediately put down the book and try to find an online discussion of the book. This is so far the only story in the collection that I think could be heavily elaborated on and drawn out into a book or film.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Kewangji » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:32 am UTC

Sounds like you've understood it. It was a very long explanation and the vagaries of language may mean that I missed something in it, though.

More concisely: Give each rat a number. Make enough deaths in a chart to have an alphabet. Run the tests – filter out the natural deaths, put them in order, read the message. In the future, kill the rats that are still alive to make the message you want to send.

Of course, the results could be all Mad Science. But why kill them like that if it doesn't yield results?

What would the plot be to this movie/book? :)


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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby seabee » Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:42 pm UTC

The plot would have to consist primarily of Weird Time Shit. Weird and terrible enough that one of the scientists goes all "ME GO TO FAR! ME AM PLAY GODS!" and then does a murder/suicide.

But before that there'd have to be tons of rat killing. And then somebody could go crazy and start encoding messages in people deaths!
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Belial » Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:10 pm UTC

wisnij wrote:That then raises the question of what happens if you set up a situation in which there is no self-consistent outcome. Say, three men in a room, one tied down and tested with the Machine, one with a gun, one with a syringe of poison. If the prediction says "POISONED", the man with the gun shoots the victim; if it says anything else, the other one injects the victim.



"METEOR"
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby wisnij » Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:17 pm UTC

Belial wrote:
wisnij wrote:That then raises the question of what happens if you set up a situation in which there is no self-consistent outcome. Say, three men in a room, one tied down and tested with the Machine, one with a gun, one with a syringe of poison. If the prediction says "POISONED", the man with the gun shoots the victim; if it says anything else, the other one injects the victim.

"METEOR"

Or per Niven's "Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation": "SUPERNOVA". 8)
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:27 pm UTC

wisnij wrote:That then raises the question of what happens if you set up a situation in which there is no self-consistent outcome. Say, three men in a room, one tied down and tested with the Machine, one with a gun, one with a syringe of poison. If the prediction says "POISONED", the man with the gun shoots the victim; if it says anything else, the other one injects the victim. Seeing what the Machine does in that circumstance could be interesting. (Or maybe it just prints "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME". :lol:)

Considering the ending of, for example, HEART ATTACK, I'm sure that a prediction like PREDICTION or EXPERIMENT would be easy.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Magnanimous » Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:28 pm UTC

I just ordered a copy, and I'm reading the pdf right now. Hooray!
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Kewangji » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:08 pm UTC

http://machineofdeath.net/mod2

Let me be the first to say fuck yes.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Magnanimous » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:44 pm UTC

Awesome! It'd be neat if your story got accepted. :P
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Kewangji » Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:15 pm UTC

Magnanimous wrote:Awesome! It'd be neat if your story got accepted. :P

It would! Thank you.

I fear my writing is less … light-hearted than they're looking for, usually, so I might have to write all-new, more upbeat, stories. Have some concepts floating around and squeee this feels awesome.

Anyone else planning on submitting stories? :3
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Czhorat » Thu May 05, 2011 5:30 pm UTC

The problem with submitting to something like this is that it requires a story with a very specific premise which wouldn't likely fit anyplace else. If a given story isn't accepted for the MoD anthology there's not much else one can do with it.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Kewangji » Thu May 05, 2011 6:03 pm UTC

Czhorat wrote:The problem with submitting to something like this is that it requires a story with a very specific premise which wouldn't likely fit anyplace else. If a given story isn't accepted for the MoD anthology there's not much else one can do with it.

I don't really see your point here. Please elaborate? :)
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Magnanimous » Fri May 06, 2011 6:47 am UTC

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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Czhorat » Fri May 06, 2011 3:45 pm UTC

Kewangji wrote:
Czhorat wrote:The problem with submitting to something like this is that it requires a story with a very specific premise which wouldn't likely fit anyplace else. If a given story isn't accepted for the MoD anthology there's not much else one can do with it.

I don't really see your point here. Please elaborate? :)


My point was more at the enthusiasm for submissions. I read the first MoD and found it entertaining and confess a temptation to take a stab at the next one myself, but writing a nice, polished short story is a fair amount of work. After the labor of putting together a Machine of Death story, one has... a Machine of Death story. It might have a one or two percent chance of getting accepted to the anthology (most paying markets get nearly a hundred submissions for each that they publish), and if not... then what? It'd be very hard to shop around to other markets because it's not the kind of story that would really make much sense outside the context of an MoD anthology.

I'm just wondering if the reward is worth the effort. I think I'd rather put my writing time into something else.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Kewangji » Fri May 06, 2011 5:47 pm UTC

Ah, right. I calculated that last time it was about a 4% chance of getting in, if the stories were randomly picked. (730 entries or so, I think? and 30 got in). But they weren't randomly picked, so if you wrote something really awesome and unique, you probably got in!

I don't write with money as a goal. One day I'll write for a living, is my goal, if only because that would be the sweetest job ever. If the story doesn't make it… you could just post it on the Internets and let people enjoy it. That's what I'm planning on doing with the stories that don't make it.

Oh well, to each their own. :)
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Jorpho » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:30 pm UTC

Well, I'm taking a swing at this. I was just looking at the Approaches to Avoid, though, and suddenly I'm all antsy about whether I have selected, well, an approach best avoided.

If you'd like to volunteer to properly savage this thing once I'm done with it, could you please send me a PM? Methinks it might help my motivation to know that someone is expecting something from me.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:58 pm UTC

I didn't realize they were publishing a sequel. Now I need to read the first one so I don't submit a story whose premise has already been published.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Jorpho » Sun Jun 12, 2011 5:20 am UTC

Well, I'm not going to read the first one until after I'm done. I think my premise is original enough, for now.

Thank you to those who have PM'd.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Kewangji » Sun Jun 12, 2011 12:54 pm UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:I didn't realize they were publishing a sequel. Now I need to read the first one so I don't submit a story whose premise has already been published.

Check out the Approaches to Avoid page: http://machineofdeath.net/mod2#avoid

Also, feel free to PM me also, people, if you want to read and comment or make fun of the story I'm writing. *nods*
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Czhorat » Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:32 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:Well, I'm not going to read the first one until after I'm done. I think my premise is original enough, for now.

Thank you to those who have PM'd.


I'd advise reading the first one before you write. It's always better to research a market before subbing to it; especially if you're writing a story you can't likely sell elsewhere.

Without reading the original, how do you know that your story is unique?
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby TheAmazingRando » Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:50 pm UTC

Czhorat wrote:I'd advise reading the first one before you write. It's always better to research a market before subbing to it;
I agree with this, but...
especially if you're writing a story you can't likely sell elsewhere.
I really don't think amateur writers should be worried about how easily their stories will sell, in general. Amateur writers should be writing, and if they end up with something they can publish, great! But it's important for writers to be writing, because they love to write and because they want to get better at it. If something like Machine of Death is going to push them to get writing, I really don't see the benefit in discouraging them with how unsellable the final product will be on the general market.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby WaterToFire » Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:19 am UTC

I'm going to submit my portfolio as an illustrator, but I have a problem. This seems like an extremely stupid question, but I can't figure out how to email them. The email address is listed only as "machineofdeath dot net". As far as I (and gmail) can tell this is not a proper address, and neither is "machineofdeath.net" or "machineofdeath@net", and they don't make any sense either. Does anyone have a bit of insight?

EDIT: Soooo...Turns out my brain snipped the first part of the address off. Makes sense now.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby TheAmazingRando » Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:27 am UTC

the site wrote:Send an email to submit at machineofdeath dot net.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Jorpho » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:06 pm UTC

Whaa! Writing is hard. ;_;

By the way, there's another short story contest here that might interest you:
http://www.paulmalmont.com/contest
Finish the story begun by one of the characters in the new novel. Start your version with “The robot felt…” Finish with “In the end, the robot felt nothing. He wasn’t programmed to.” The up-to-2000 words in between are all yours.

Then get friends and fans to vote for your story...

Contest Ends July 04, 2011 @ 11:59 pm (EDT)


Getting people to vote sounds like almost as much work as writing a story, unfortunately.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Czhorat » Tue Jun 21, 2011 2:53 pm UTC

Fine! You all talked me into it.

Halfway through the first draft of "SHAME". I hope it makes as much sense during the day as it did at three in the morning.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby TheAmazingRando » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:02 pm UTC

I've got a first draft done of my story, "Special K With Strawberries," if anyone would like to read/critique PM me. I already have some major changes I plan on making in draft #2, but I've been a bit lazy about actually starting it.
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby no-genius » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:22 pm UTC

I'm happy to read stuff, my gmail account (.com) is johnred23

I'm writing a story for the robot one, it's like a post-apocalyptic version of 'Jed the Humanoid'
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Re: Machine of Death!

Postby Jorpho » Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:52 am UTC

Welp, the die is cast for "Light". There's a handy countdown clock up now; note that the deadline is midnight on July 15 (give or take a few hours depending on your time zone, of course).

It's probably too late now to make any difference either way, but if you want me to read something, I'm up for that.

Did any of you submit a story to that robot contest for which you would us to jump on the vote button?
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