The Hot Zone

Preston compares viruses to a machine. What rhetorical device is this, and why does he use it?

"Once the cells in a biological machine stop working, it can never be started again. It goes into a cascade of decay, falling toward disorder and randomness. Except in the case of viruses. They can turn off and go dead. Then, if they come into contact with a living system, they switch on and multiply." (254-255)

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That would be a metaphor.