The Countdown Clock


This is the introduction to a series of posts regarding an experimental project I began earlier this year. Updates will be released over the next few weeks. -SpaceBass

Perhaps you have heard of the Machine of Death, an anthology of short stories edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki !, those stories gleaned mainly through a public submission process and contest. Each story is based on the same shared concept, that there is a Machine that can predict the exact nature of a person's death. This past Spring, a second iteration of the contest was launched in order to compile a second volume of stories.

Several aspects of the contest and guidelines inspired me to write and submit my own, albeit by taking a slightly unusual tack. I prepared eight stories and began a ninth, which I will need your help to complete.

It would have been nice – although unexpected – to have been accepted to the volume but alas, I did not win. However, that fact allows me to present my project to you sooner rather than later. While the contest rules provided me with a set of constraints within which to work, my intended audience from the start was the Unfiction community.

One of the submission rules required an arbitrary formation of the title of a story: it had to be a death prediction. Tomorrow I will begin posting a download link to my story submissions (in PDF format) and over the next few weeks, I will provide updates with each title. For the time being, I will ask that you not redistribute the downloaded text and instead link others to this page if you wish to share the experience, as context is important. I may release the text later under a Creative Commons license, after this experiment has run its course.

I hope that this series will spark some interesting talk on the forums and I am excited to be able to discuss it with you as it progresses. Links to the current discussion (if any) will be provided with each update in the series (look for the trout icon, as below). It should be noted that while I consider this project to be more than a few short stories, it is not an Alternate Reality Game. However, its construction and themes should resonate with our community.

One of the contest guidelines instructed authors to assume that their readers would already be familiar with the underlying concept. Since you may not be, I encourage you to read up on it, via the contest's about page, the submission guidelines, and perhaps a couple of their posts about story direction and submission considerations. None of this is required reading but it may help to begin establishing the context of this project as a whole.

If you enjoy this series, please consider making a donation to Unfiction to help support the continuation of our site and services.

Big thanks go out to my friends Krystyn, Andrea, Jon, Cary, and Dina, whose assistance was invaluable in constructing this series. Thanks also to the guys at the Machine of Death for the inspiration.