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Best public domain SFF books

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message 1: by Tom, Supreme Laser (new)

Tom Merritt (tommerritt) | 689 comments Mod
Hey there, on the forthcoming episode of Sword and Laser (just recorded, publishing probably Monday) we get this note from Bini -

"It's quite hard for me to get copies of books cuz most of the books haven't even been translated into Korean(except for the universially famous books like Harry Poter or Lord of the Ring series).
So the only chance I've got is to get the e-book copy from the internet.
The reason I brought up this matter is that it might be good to have an episode about classic SFF books you can get free on the internet(Project Gutenberg and stuff)."

So let's let loose. What public domain scifi/fantasy can you recommend. Who knows? We might even do a Celebration of Public Domain SCiFi/Fantasy as our next book pick!

My favorites? Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. But I'm sure y'all can come up with more awesome stuff than that.


message 2: by Gord (last edited Mar 05, 2011 05:35PM) (new)

Gord McLeod (mcleodg) | 345 comments Baen has released a significant number of SF books into the public domain in a variety of eBook formats.

http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/

Edit: Oops! My mistake. They're not actually in the public domain as such. These copies of these editions of these books are freely available, but Baen still retains rights to them.


Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 1623 comments H. Beam Piper left his estate in a mess and most of his novels ended up in the public domain. My favorites are The Cosmic Computer and Space Viking. There's also a great (but short) novel by Robert Bloch (author of Psycho) called This Crowded Earth on Gutenberg.

Other authors with a significant number of works on PG include Andre Norton, Randall Garrett, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Murray Leinster.


Nanikore | 11 comments Peter Watts' "Blindsight" is Creative Commons (if we're counting that). It's a great read (don't forget the afterword which is hilarious).

http://manybooks.net/titles/wattspoth...


message 5: by Tamahome (last edited Mar 06, 2011 07:22AM) (new)

Tamahome | 4256 comments Aren't Tolkein, Howard, & Lovecraft public domain?

Not Tolkein: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/a...


Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 1623 comments Tamahome wrote: "Aren't Tolkein, Howard, & Lovecraft public domain?"

Tolkien is not -- The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and his lesser works were written after 1923 and had their copyrights renewed properly.

Lovecraft and Tolkien are in a grey area -- they have a few stories published before 1923 that are indisputably in the public domain, but everything else was renewed. There is some debate about whether the copyrights were renewed properly -- with Lovecraft I know the issue is that August Derleth bought the rights from Lovecraft's aunts assuming they were his literary executors, when in fact they were not, and the actual executor never did the renewals. Not sure what the deal is with Howard except that it's similar. However, no one has tested the issue in court and posting Lovecraft or Howard stories on the Internet runs a risk of an expensive lawsuit.


message 7: by Kate (last edited Mar 06, 2011 01:31PM) (new)

Kate O'Hanlon (kateohanlon) | 769 comments All of Lovecraft's works that were published in his lifetime have been unambiguously public domain in the EU since 2008. I have no idea how that would effect works posted on sites hosted in the EU if they are in copyright elsewhere... does any one know of test cases in the area?


Elie Harriett | 56 comments I second Gord's recommendation of the Baen Free Library. You have to download the files and place them on your ereader yourself, so you can't use Amazon's Whispernet or iBook's syncing, but it is a small price to pay for both free and international access. These aren't 80+ year old books, either. Some of these are among the most successful sci-fi series of all time. If Bini wants some new reading without having to resort to piracy (and don't, it isn't worth it), I'd start at Baen.


Tamahome | 4256 comments Sfsignal has a ton of 'free fiction' posts. Plus most of the shorter nebula nominees are free.

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2011...

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2011...


message 10: by aldenoneil (last edited Mar 07, 2011 09:12AM) (new)

aldenoneil | 999 comments Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga is freely available here. Links are on the left.

Not public domain, but free, and what Elie said about manual placement applies. I didn't realize that, and I'll be super-angry about it when I remember it a few months from now while reading Bujold's free works on my Kindle and trying to sync them with my phone.


Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 1623 comments aldenoneil wrote: "Not public domain, but free, and what Elie said about manual placement applies. I didn't realize that, and I'll be super-angry about it when I remember it a few months from now while reading Bujold's free works on my Kindle and trying to sync them with my phone."

This is why god invented Calibre. Just set it up to email files to your Kindle account and all should be good.


message 12: by aldenoneil (last edited Mar 07, 2011 11:31AM) (new)

aldenoneil | 999 comments Sean wrote: "Just set it up to email files to your Kindle account and all should be good."

I'm learning so much. Thank you.

But emailing is different than just sending it via USB?


Tina (javabird) | 336 comments Elie wrote: "I second Gord's recommendation of the Baen Free Library. You have to download the files and place them on your ereader yourself, so you can't use Amazon's Whispernet or iBook's syncing, but it is ..."

You can add the epub books to iBooks, however.


message 14: by Elie (last edited Mar 07, 2011 02:46PM) (new)

Elie Harriett | 56 comments Yeah, the ePub thing is a bummer on the Kindle. But you still can't sync between devices on iBooks unless you buy it from their iBookstore either -- same problem as Amazon.

And the Baen Free Library offers their free books in ePub, PRC, and PDF. So that takes care of the major ebook readers, I believe (for those who are unaware, PRC and AZW are the native Kindle book formats).


Tamahome | 4256 comments Oh, I thought Kindle was mobi.


Elie Harriett | 56 comments According to Kindle's docs (at least mine - 1st gen DX user's guide) MOBI and PRC are both listed as mobipocket files.

I looked through the backups I've made of all my Kindle downloaded books from Amazon. Most are AZW and a few are PRC. I have not downloaded anything with a .MOBI file extension from Amazon. I am not computer savvy enough to know what the difference is between .MOBI and .PRC.

Until you said something and I went back to look, I didn't notice the difference.


Eric | 60 comments Even if you get something in a format that's not compatible with your reader you're fine. The fore-mentioned Calibre can convert files from one format to another. http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howt...


Tamahome | 4256 comments Elie wrote: "According to Kindle's docs (at least mine - 1st gen DX user's guide) MOBI and PRC are both listed as mobipocket files.

I looked through the backups I've made of all my Kindle downloaded books from..."


I think mobi = prc, and azw is an amazon-hacked version of prc with drm.


message 19: by AndrewP (last edited Mar 09, 2011 09:13AM) (new)

AndrewP (AndrewCa) | 1196 comments I found that the .PRC files lock up the Kindle App on my iPad, but the .MOBI ones work just fine. There is another free reader called Stanza that seems to work well with many different formats. At least one of the formats from Baen is sure to work with whatever reader you are using if you experiment a bit.
Incidentally, how do you manually add books to iReader?

Edited > Opps I meant iBooks, not iReader.


Patrick (HalfAdd3r) | 89 comments I'd put in a vote for The Time Machine. It's a quick read, but VERY concept dense.

I think the black thing in the water at the end is the result of Severian's Fulgent Cloak and the Moldies (Freeware) getting together. Just saying....


Elie Harriett | 56 comments Andrew wrote: "I found that the .PRC files lock up the Kindle App on my iPad, but the .MOBI ones work just fine. There is another free reader called Stanza that seems to work well with many different formats. At ..."

Haven't tried a prc file on the kindle for iPad app yet, I shall have to attempt it. Got my iPad last night and I'm still taking it for a spin (typed this post on the iPad-takes a little getting used to)


Tamahome | 4256 comments Andrew wrote: "Incidentally, how do you manually add books to iReader?

Edited > Opps I meant iBooks, not iReader."


Just drag n drop epub's or pdf's to the device in itunes. It will go in the book section.


message 23: by Micah (last edited Mar 10, 2011 10:01PM) (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1046 comments Patrick wrote: "I'd put in a vote for The Time Machine. It's a quick read, but VERY concept dense."

I second this one. And it makes for a GREAT audio book, since the story is told from a narration perspective. The story seems to made for an audio experience. Also somebody mentioned Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a recommendation. It would also be a great choice. Very classic fantasy in my opinion. Although since they are both very short maybe we could read both in 1 month.


Basil Godevenos (basilgodevenos) | 147 comments I go to the public domain when I feel like some good, old fashioned adventure fiction. And nothing is better than adventures on Mars (back when people still thought it was inhabited by intelligent beings).

John Carter of Mars: The Collection - A Princess of Mars; The Gods of Mars; The Warlord of Mars; Thuvia, Maid of Mars; The Chessmen of Mars

I loved this whole series (and I hear there's a movie coming out!) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Car...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401729/


Mnchur | 24 comments dont ever forget that there is a lot of H.P. Lovecraft that falls into the public domain as well. His are some of my favorite works.


Scott | 9 comments The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare

"The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare" by G.K. Chesterton is an amazing, public domain SFF book. Chesterton influenced some the best fantasy authors of the 20th Century (e.g. Neil Gaiman and C.S. Lewis) and is well worth reading. "The Man Who Was Thursday" is fascinating and a great book. I highly recommend it!

-Scott


Philip (heard03) | 379 comments For free public domain audiobooks, there's Librivox. They even have hundreds of non-english projects in about 30 different languages. You can also read their site in over 10 languages with an easy click. It's really a great site, check it out: http://librivox.org/

Another public domain suggestion is L Frank Baum. Also Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, perhaps a bit steam-punkish. It's a really fun book.


Elie Harriett | 56 comments Librivox can be pretty good too. I like them a lot.


message 29: by Tamahome (last edited Mar 11, 2011 08:58PM) (new)

Tamahome | 4256 comments Rudy Rucker's 4 book Wetware series is free to download:

http://manybooks.net/authors/ruckerr....

and he has a free webzine: http://www.flurb.net


Oh, here's sfsignal's entire free fiction list:

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/cat_...


Elie Harriett | 56 comments Thanks for the recommendation on many books.net. They have some interesting titles


Dominik Lukeš (dominiklukes) | 12 comments One thing I would recommend to anybody looking for great free reads is Fan Fiction. It doesn't have the best of reputations but there are some incredibly talented writers there taking the original worlds in many exciting directions (one could argue that all of Fantasy is just a take on Tolkien - and mean it in a good way).

Here's one of my all time favorite Buffy fics - Sidestep Chronicle - I've read it three times: http://thekittenboard.com/board/viewt... and reviewed it in a mainstream Czech literary journal.

But a good place to start is http://fanfiction.net - most of the fics that are over 100,000 words are decent - some amazing. The advantage of FF.net is that you can use http://www.fanfictiondownloader.net to get them into your Kindle via Calibre. It's dead easy and I've gotten hours and hours of great free reading out of it, that way.

I would even go as far as to suggest that a FanFic could be a book to read on the show.


Rick P. | 53 comments One of my favorite science fiction authors is H. Beam Piper. He was a contemporary of Robert A. Heinlein, and I believe he may have become as prolific if his life had not been cut short. His family never renewed his copyrights, so all of his work is now public domain.

I'd recommend three of his most famous works:
- Little Fuzzy
- Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen
- Paratime

All of his books were ahead of their time. Paratime predates all manner of fiction involving parallel universes. Lord Kalvan helped kick of many of Jerry Pournelle's works. The popularity of Little Fuzzy, in fact was the reason that David Gerrolds had to change the names of his Star Trek creatures to "Tribbles" instead of "Fuzzies." (Gerrolds mentioned this during his talk with Sword & Laser at DragonCon)

These books are from the 1960s, so if you are put off by outdated ideas of the future you may want to steer clear. On the other hand, if you love classic science fiction in the vein of Asimov or Heinlein, I think you'll love H. Beam Piper.


Bruce (Grymoire) | 14 comments Agreed. Little Fuzzy is a fun read. You can read it on line here


message 34: by Ed (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 167 comments Mnchur wrote: "dont ever forget that there is a lot of H.P. Lovecraft that falls into the public domain as well. His are some of my favorite works."

Indeed. You can download the Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft from the following URL:

http://cthulhuchick.com/free-complete...


Bryan (blyoung) | 20 comments For those users in Australia, you can get the prominent works of Olaf Stapledon at Project Gutenberg Australia.

(Sorry US users - not available on Project Gutenberg USA).

http://gutenberg.net.au/plusfifty-n-z.html

Scroll down to about half-way down the page - authors are listed alphabetically.


Bryan (blyoung) | 20 comments Gutenberg Australia famously has the George Orwell titles...

And also has a lot more Stanley G. Weinbaum than the US Gutenberg site...

And an extra Philip Francis Nowlan story (three in total).

Download the html version and then drop into Calibre to convert to the ebook format of your choice.


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