View Full Version : The Machine To Kill

03-26-2005, 04:29 AM
I read a novel many years ago that I think Liggoti fans might enjoy; especially, those interested in the puppet aspect of his work. The novel is "The Machine To Kill" by Gaston Leroux. Yes, the same guy who wrote the famous "The Phantom of the Opera". "The Machine To Kill" was published fourteen years after the Phantom, in 1924. It is about a man who builds a 'living automation' or a 'clockwork man' and implants it with a human brain. The brain of a murderer! (no, not Abby Normal). This may sound like a familiar theme to some of you, but let me assure you, it is quite a different novel than Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Is it as deep? No. Is it as frightening? Not really. But it is entertaining. This automaton does more than play chess; he runs amok in Paris wreaking havoc and scaring the bejesus out of the cityfolk - and the reader too. Actually, it is more thrilling than frightening, but it does have its moments. Leroux also knows human nature very well, and uses it to humorous effect. I like humor in fiction, regardless of how frightening the overall story is - in this way, it more closely mirrors life. If I had a complaint about this novel, it would be that it was too short and not as scary as it could and should have been. But I would say the same thing about the novel "The Phantom of the Opera" - and I would be wrong, because it was a major success. Also, this is probably just as much of a 'golem' story as it is a 'puppet' story.
The book is fairly expensive online, as it hasn't been reprinted, to my knowledge, since 1935. If this sounds of interest, I would recommend getting it through the interlibrary loan system of your local library. I recommend it, but not to the tune of more than ten bucks.

Speaking of golems, I wish I could remember my impressions of Gustav Meyrink's novel "The Golem". But I read it so long ago, and I can't find the friggin thing. I remember 'liking it' but not 'loving it'. I also faintly remember some mystical scenes that defined the eerie reputation of the Ghetto of Prague. To say the novel is similar to Ligotti may or may not be true. I simply can't remember. Maybe I should try that brain transplant thing.

03-27-2005, 12:03 AM
sounds like interesting books. Right now I'm bogged down with Candide for my AP Lit class....rather violent

03-27-2005, 06:30 AM
The books I mentioned above are entertaining, but nothing like Candide. Voltaire is one of the best. I loved the way he lampooned Leibnitz and his ridiculous statement "We live in the best of all possible worlds." This statement can't be ridiculed enough in my opinion. After every over-the-top tragedy, Dr Pangloss (Leibnitz) would say "Well, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds". lol. Actually, this is a very funny novel. Be sure to ask your teacher to explain why those two girls were crying after Candide shoots those monkeys.

03-27-2005, 11:08 AM
yeah...well...I sort of understood the monkeys part

and we all know what happened to Dr. Pangloss!

03-27-2005, 01:10 PM
My suggestion about asking the teacher was more in the way of putting the teacher 'on the spot'. I knew a few kids in high school that used to live for putting teachers in awkward situations. This one kid used to wipe a booger on the end of his nose, and then go up to the teacher and ask a lot of questions. Always considerate, he would whisper so as to not disturb the class - and it also allowed him to get precariously close to the teachers face. lol. Pure genius, however infantile.

Why am I using words like 'booger' on Thomas Ligotti Online? I really need to reread a story and post something a little more relevant.