Review: This is How You Die – Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death

‘Is there anything you want to do before we put our heads in plastic boxes for two days?’
I thought about this for a second, then held the side of her face and kissed her.
We both zipped up our suits just in time to see the reactor blow: a column of green radioactive fire, belching black smoke. Di squeezed my hand, our big boxy heads knocked clumsily together, and I tried to think of something romantic to say.
‘Well, I guess that’s why they all die of cancer.’
~Tom Francis, This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death

Plot summary

“If a machine could predict how you would die, would you want to know? This is the tantalizing premise of This Is How You Die, the brilliant follow-up anthology to the self-published best seller, Machine of Death.

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Review: Neuromancer by William Gibson

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
~William Gibson, Neuromancer

Plot summary

“The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus- hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace.

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Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“If you strip away all the trappings of personality and lifestyle, what are the core components that make me me?”
~Blake Crouch, Dark Matter

Plot summary

“Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

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Review: The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

“In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.”
~Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

Plot summary

“Who could read the programme for the excursion without longing to make one of the party? So Mark Twain acclaims his voyage from New York City to Europe and the Holy Land in June 1867. His adventures produced The Innocents Abroad, a book so funny and provocative it made him an international star for the rest of his life.

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Review: Will Save the Galaxy for Food by Yahtzee Croshaw

“Originally it had had two settings: Stun and Kill. These had proved inadequate against the ridiculously well-armored skin of monsters from particularly rough planets, so I’d found a way to tinker with the built-in limitations. The dial now had a third setting, labeled with the handwritten words ‘Solve All Immediate Problems.”
~Yahtzee Croshaw, Will Save the Galaxy for Food

Plot summary

“A not-quite epic science fiction adventure about a down-on-his luck galactic pilot caught in a cross-galaxy struggle for survival!

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Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

“The past is so much safer, because whatever’s in it has already happened. It can’t be changed; so, in a way, there’s nothing to dread.”
~Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last

Plot summary

“Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately.

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Review: Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov

“The past believed in dates. And everyone’s life consisted of dates, giving life a rhythm and sense of gradation, as if from the eminence of a date one could look back and down, and see the past itself. A clear, comprehensible past, divided up into squares of events, lines of paths taken.”
~Andrey Kurkov, Death and the Penguin

Plot summary

“Viktor is an aspiring writer with only Misha, his pet penguin, for company. Although he would prefer to write short stories, he earns a living composing obituaries for a newspaper. He longs to see his work published, yet the subjects of his obituaries continue to cling to life.

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