Free Science Fiction

Hi, my name is Vincent and I’m a science fiction addict.

I love science fiction and I love books, my home is full of books, games, toys, blu-rays, dvds, and other media. Most of it science fiction related. This also represents a serious part of my income.  As a result I’m always looking for ways to lower the amount I end up spending (no Comic-cons for me). And anything free is great. Who doesn’t love free?

Recently I jumped into ebooks by purchasing the Kindle Paperwhite. It’s an amazing ereader, but I’m glad I waited to jump in because the technology has gotten to the point where a device like the Paperwhite makes really good sense. Especially as the page turns are much less annoying than they used to be. And what could be easier than clicking a button and downloading a new book? It’s really quite thrilling.

That is until the credit card bill shows up. Whoa! Those little clicks can add up in a hurry. Fortunately there is a lot of really great science fiction available for zero (or very little) cost.

First of all, install Calibre on your computer. This program is a must for anyone that uses ebooks. Calibre is an all-in-one ebook management tool that has the ability to convert from one format to another very easily. And it’s free (although if you like the software you can make a donation to help with the project).

Your first stop should probably be the Gutenberg Project. For those of you that don’t know the Gutenberg Project has been working for several years converting public domain texts into ebook formats. From the Gutenberg site you can download authors like H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arthur Conan Doyle, Kurt Vonnegut, and Philip K. Dick. And as works come into the public domain they work to put them into electronic format. Don’t have an ereader? At Gutenberg you can read the stories online or download them and read them in your web browser of choice.

Next up I would recommend Baen Books’ wonderful ebook library. They have provided a selection of books from their stable of authors that you can download for free. Baen has adopted the view that if they offer a little for free, you’ll end up coming back to buy. It

Cover of Star Soldier by Andre Norton from Baen Books. Image source: Baen Books
Cover of Star Soldier by Andre Norton from Baen Books.
Image source: Baen Books

must be working because instead of packing the whole project in Baen continues to add books to the library.

Books that are available from Baen’s library include titles such as On Basilisk Station and The Honor of the Queen by David Weber, Star Soldiers and Time Traders by Andre Norton, or The Tank Lords by David Drake. There are many titles available from authors you might not normally have taken a chance on, but with no cost to you, download away and see if anything grabs you.

It is undoubtedly shrewd thinking that Baen has taken the position they have regarding ebooks. It shows a great deal of forethought on their part and it certainly contributes to reader loyalty. It would be nice to see publishers like Orbit, Tor, and Del Rey adopt a similar practice.

Then there are the authors that provide free books. Cory Doctorow is such an author. If you visit his website craphound.com, you can follow the links to his books and download every single one of them if you want. Cory Doctorow seems to realise that providing his fine books for free is by no means a deterrent to making a living as a writer.

Cover of Little Brother (UK edition) by Cory Doctorow. Image source: craphound.com
Cover of Little Brother (UK edition) by Cory Doctorow.
Image source: craphound.com

I would highly recommend taking advantage of Mr. Doctorow’s offerings by downloading one or two of his novels. The ebooks are licensed under the Creative Commons License and are ad supported with small ads at the beginning of each chapter. But lets face it, with all the ads on the internet they’ve become white noise and barely register any more.

Many authors, and their publishers, take the view that offering books for free is bad for business, but as electronic piracy is a legitimate concern, offering his books the way he does eliminates the chance of electronic pirates profiting from Mr. Doctorow’s work. Rather he protects the revenues he receives from the ads embedded in ebooks by offering them freely.

I’m sure that after you’ve read one or two you’ll have no trouble at all paying for either the ebook or the printed editions of the books.

The next place to look for free science fiction is Amazon. It might sound odd, but Amazon offers many free and very low priced options for science fiction. Also Amazon offers daily deals on books for up to 80% off their regular price. If you sign up for the daily alert you’ll know when a science fiction book has been reduced to a really great price.

Lastly do a web search for free science fiction. Sometimes randomly searching the internet brings up hidden treasures, especially if you go beyond the first few pages of results. You never know, you might find something really, really great.

While I will never stop spending my hard earned money on science fiction, there are a lot of places to go where we can get new and interesting science fiction for little or no money. I plan to take full advantage.

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