The really fascinating thing about Machine of Death is the idea of predestination. It's a shitty observation about a book that's about predestination, but I'm talking about ubiquitous predestination. Predestination for the masses.
Our lives, for the most part, are fairly smooth lines of daily routine with a few jagged edges for the occasional car wreck or marriage. However, there come times when by surprise or design we reach massive changes made on something as small as a few words of commitment, action, or inaction. These are some of our most real moments. I'm sure that the moment in 2008 when Barak Obama first saw the results that made him president was the single point that massively changed everything that came after that in his life. There wasn't a gentle turn on either part of it and while the previous months lead up to it, the difference from "should happen" "actually happened" could have been nothing less than monumental. For the rest of us, no moments are more pivotal than death and near death moments. They are all the difference between something and nothing. There's a story, "Torn Apart and Devoured by Lions," that deals with this rather well. The central character's life revolves around the most important and exciting thing to ever happen to him; his death.
What Machine of Death talks around, but never quite about is the default role that so many people play in their own lives: the casual observer. There's this almost cynical view that the everyday paradigm of humanity is one in which we have little individual control of our fates, much less the world at large. Even an intelligent, interrogative, independent work like Machine of Death perpetuates this version of reality where we are simply passive observers waiting for something to come along and make us strong enough to change the world, whether that's a predestination, a bite from a radioactive spider, our wife being held in The Nakatomi Tower by Hans Gruber, or Gandalf telling us we have to help some dwarves buy new conditioner for their amazing, dwarven hair (I never read The Hobbit, so I'm just guessing.), is left up to the powers that be, but I can never quite shake the feeling that everyone around me is just as vague on the details, but still eagerly anticipate its arrival.
With the need for a catalyst and its prerequisite for fucking delivery to your door, I feel the collective consciousness would do good and believe in their ability to overcome challenges, but only if given the opportunity, and granted the power needed to be confident of their success. It's not noble, but it is reasonable, after a fashion. It does interest me in reconciling all of the worlds' irritating "special snowflakes" with the unspoken masses waiting for an authority to lift them up and tell them they're special enough to make a difference.