The Machine of Death anthology began as a joke in one of Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics strips but became one hell of a success story last fall. Following on the heels of that success, the crew behind it all, David Malki !, Ryan North, and Matthew Bennardo, have just announced a second anthology.
And you can be a part of it.
For those unfamiliar, the concept behind Machine of Death is simple. There is a machine capable of telling you, from just a sample of your blood, how you are going to die. It doesn’t say when, and it doesn’t even necessarily say how, depending on how cheeky the machine feels, but it’s never wrong.
The idea captivated the regulars at the Dinosaur Comics forums and soon that excitement spread to others in the online fiction and comics field. The editors held an open submission for stories in early 2007 and received over 700 stories in only three months.
That submission window is now open once again for Machine of Death 2. Read below for details and some tips from editor David Malki !.
The Machine of Death has had an interesting path to success. An anthology with no proven marquee names involved? Publishing houses loved the idea, loved the book itself, but turned it down. Anthologies are a tough sell in the first place and an anthology full of unknowns is considered impossible by publishers and booksellers alike.
The editors ended up self-publishing the book and asked their fanbase for one favor: a #1 ranking in the Anthologies list on Amazon on its day of release. For only its day of release. You can read Tor.com’s coverage of it here, along with an interview with the creators.
The reading public came through in a big way, catapulting the book to #1 on Amazon’s overall book list within a few hours of its release and keeping it there for a day and a half. Most notably, Machine of Death denied Glenn Beck’s newest book, also released that day, the same glory. Beck responded with some amusing gibber and Machine of Death appeared on bookstore shelves shortly afterward.
Some Questions for Machine of Death Editor David Malki !:
So, first things first...any relation between the Machine of Death 2 logo and the Ghostbusters 2 logo?
David Malki !: No idea what you’re talking about.
The answer is always Ghostbusters 2....
The submission guidelines have grown in detail substantially since 2007. Is
it safe to say that you have a definite idea of what you’d like to see
explored in the second anthology?
DM: I think it’s more that now we can predict what the low-hanging fruit will be. Midway through the first submission period, we put up an “Approaches to Avoid” page (linked below) that we kept adding to as we kept seeing more of the same types of stories. And it’s fair to say that the premise leads in particular directions, at least at first. But we (and, we think, the readership) will be most excited by stories that go deeper, that explore areas we haven’t seen yet. So the guidelines are one of the areas where we can exert specific editorial control.
Are you hoping to see more genres come in? Not just SF, but fantasy,
romance, steampunk, pulp, and so on?
DM: Yes, absolutely! The first anthology wasn’t “hard” SF anyway, though the SF audience seems to have embraced it and it’s now found on SF shelves in bookstores. But breaking out of genre is one of the great ways we hope to see folks broaden the content of the second volume.
When would you ideally like to have the second anthology available by?
DM: Right now we’re looking at a late summer 2012 release!
Anyone who buys the book or other cool stuff through your store now gets a free Machine of Death card...how many of the three editors know how they’re going to die?
DM: Ha ha! Ryan was first in line. Matt won’t ever do it. I’m the guy who saw his card accidentally and was like, “Eh, sounds about right.”
Submitting for Machine of Death 2
For the second anthology, Malki !, North, Bennardo, and company are once again opening submissions to anyone interested in submitting a story. From the site’s submission guidelines:
There are only two eligibility requirements: any story you submit must be written in English, and you (or a legal guardian, if you’re a minor) must be willing and able to sign a contract if the story is accepted. That’s it!
Stories should be a recommended length of 1500 to 7500 words. The submission window is open from May 1 to July 15 of this year. If the story is accepted, the author will be sent a flat payment of $200. Stories should be sent by email only. They can be pasted into email or sent as a .txt, .rtf, or .doc files. (No PDFs or other formats.) Interested writers can send as many as three stories.
There are very detailed guideliness regarding submitting and formatting on the Machine of Death site. Definitely take a careful read through their Approaches to Avoid section.
All stories will have accompanying art, as well, so if you’re interested in drawing for the anthology, the editors ask that you follow their guidelines for sending portfolio samples.
Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com