Where to Find the Ingredients for Your Next Death Scene

Illustration for article titled Where to Find the Ingredients for Your Next Death Scene

Now you can add to your stack of Star Wars tomes a new volume of factoid porn from George Lucas Books called Cause of Death: A Perfect Little Guide to What Kills Us. Why is Lucas publishing this book full of stats about how many people die from bad breath (lots) vs. how many die from hormones (way more)? Apparently the guy just has death on his mind. Could this be a secret hint about certain events to come in the Clone Wars series and August movie?


Sadly, no. In the introduction to the entertainingly morbid volume edited by Jack Mingo, Erin Barrett, and Lucy Autrey Wilson, Lucas says expansively, "Death is all around us." He also mentions that "death is truth," as well as that it is "undeniably fascinating, " strangely troubling," and that it will "come to every single one of us." OK, so old George was dialing it in and probably didn't even read this book to find out that the United States has the highest infant death rate of any so-called developed nation (23 babies out of 100,000 die per year, 6.7 more than in Russia). He also probably has no idea where the "world suicide belt" is. Apparently, most of it is in Lithuania, where 51.6 out of 100,000 people die of suicide every year (Belgium trails the suicide belt zone, with only 24 suicides per 100,000).

Though most of the book is just light "book of lists" kind of stuff, it still manages to be satisfyingly morbid most of the time. A set of blurbs about how your teeth can be related to death or disease is accompanied by a picture of somebody's yanked tooth, though mercifully the section on colon-related death is picture-free. I can see this book being useful for people creating fiction where they need somebody to die, and fast. But realistically! I suggest that the writers for Fringe keep this tome around, and the writers on Infinite Crisis too. If you're going to a lot of killing, do it by the book.

Cause of Death: A Perfect Little Guide to What Kills Us [via Amazon]


Annalee Newitz

@bonniegrrl: The germ chapter was completely paranoia-inducing. I think my favorite aspect of the book was the way the authors would throw in Harper's Index-style stats that weren't just entertaining but also made you realize that there are hard numbers to back up the idea that it's harder to stay alive in the U.S. than it is in Europe (just to give one example).