Rude Mechanicals: Free audio version at SubPress

Rude Mechanicals by Kage Baker

I love pretty much everything that Kage Baker wrote — her concise to-the-point style, the ironic way she looks at the world, and her wry subtle sense of humor suits me perfectly, more so than any other author I know save Jack Vance. I’m sure that if I’d ever met Ms. Baker while she was living that she would have been one of my favorite people on Earth. I say this because I feel the need to warn anyone reading this review that I’m unlikely to ever think any of Kage Baker’s stories are bad... So do with that what you will.

Rude Mechanicals is a novella set in Baker’s well-known futuristic COMPANY world. The Company is a group of cyborg time-travelers who work for Dr. Zeus. He sends travelers back in time to fetch or hide objects that will be valuable when they’re “found” and sold by the Company in the fut... Read More

The Mahatma and the Hare: A real charmer

The Mahatma and the Hare by H. Rider Haggard

The Mahatma and the Hare was first published in book form in 1911, and is one of H. Rider Haggard's rarer titles. The idea for this short novel came to Haggard, he states in the book's preface, after he had read a newspaper account of a hare that had swum out to sea to avoid being captured by pursuing hounds. In Haggard's story, the self-called mahatma — a spiritual man who is able, when asleep, to view "The Great White Road" on which the souls of those recently departed enter heaven — encounters the hare of the title after that animal's death. The hare tells the mahatma of the hardships and cruelties of his recent life: of how his entire family had been hunted to extinction; of his narrow escapes from hunters, greyhounds, and other hunting dogs; and, finally, of how he met his end. The hare also gets to debate the issue of animal rights with his chief hunter/enemy, near the book's end. T... Read More

The Ghost Kings: A very fine novel from Haggard’s middle period

The Ghost Kings by H. Rider Haggard

Free Kindle Version.

The Ghost Kings was H. Rider Haggard's 32nd novel, out of an eventual 58. Written during the years 1906 and 1907, it first saw book publication in September 1908. This novel was penned immediately before Haggard set to work on another African adventure tale, The Yellow God, but of the two, The Ghost Kings is the superior creation. It is more exciting and more detailed, with a greater emphasis on fantasy elements and the supernatural. Indeed, with the exception of its South African setting and the inclusion of such real-life characters as the Zulu chief Dingaan (brother of Chaka) and councilor Mopo (both of whom also featured prominently in Haggard's 1892 masterpiece Nada the Lily), the tale could almost be a novel of hard fantasy.

The book cleaves fa... Read More

Montezuma’s Daughter: Rip-roaring historical adventure

Montezuma's Daughter by H. Rider Haggard

Free Kindle version.

Written between June 5 and September 3, 1891, H. Rider Haggard's 16th novel out of an eventual 58, Montezuma's Daughter, was ultimately published in October 1893. The previous winter, Haggard and his wife Louisa had been in Mexico hunting for treasure and, on February 8th, the author had learned of the death of his 9-year-old son "Jock" back in England. The grieving father wrote Montezuma's Daughter as what his biographer D.S. Higgins calls a "therapeutic act" and, following and preceding two of the author's greatest works — 1892's "Nada the Lily" and 1894's "The People of the Mist" —demonstrates that the author, despite his bereavement, was then at the very top of his game.

Montezuma's Daughter takes the form of a memoir ... Read More

The Wizard: A wonder-filled entertainment

The Wizard by H. Rider Haggard

Free Kindle version.

The Wizard, H. Rider Haggard's 21st novel out of an eventual 58, was initially released as a serial in a publication called The African Review and then in its complete form in the October 29, 1896 Arrowsmith's Christmas Annual for Boys. It was the third of four African novels that Haggard wrote from 1895-97, the others being Black Heart and White Heart, Swallow and Elissa, all of which I can highly recommend, by the way, especially Swallow.

The Wizard tells the story of Thomas Owen, a British missionary who ventures into the wilds of south central Africa to bring the Good Word to a tribe called the Amasuka, or the Children of... Read More

Free audiobooks: Horror

FanLit thanks Seth Jones of Free Listens for this contribution!

In my previous column, I introduced you to some free audiobooks of fantasy and science fiction classics. This month's article features horror. As with last time, a link in the book or story title will take you to a full review at my blog, Free Listens. You can download the audiobooks by either clicking on the link to the publisher’s webpage or by right-clicking and saving the mp3 file in brackets.

To get ready for Halloween, there's nothing better than a well-told scary story, unless it's a free well-told scary story. Happily, plenty of good free horror audiobooks are readily found.
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Free audiobooks: Science Fiction classics

FanLit thanks Seth Jones of Free Listens for this contribution!

In my last column, I introduced you to some free audiobooks of fantasy classics. This time, I'll do the same with fantasy literature's kissing cousin, science fiction.  As with last time, a link in the book or story title will take you to a full review at my blog, Free Listens. You can download the audiobooks by either clicking on the link to the publisher's webpage or by right-clicking and saving the mp3 file in brackets.

The roots of modern science fiction can be traced to a few authors in the 19th century, notably Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.  A good introduction to Verne's work, though not as fully science fiction as some of his larger novels, is Read More

Free audiobooks: Fantasy classics

FanLit thanks Seth Jones of Free Listens for this contribution!

A number of free audiobooks are available for legal download on the Internet, but finding the good ones takes some effort.  I write Free Listens, a blog focused on reviewing the best free audiobooks and audiostories available in all genres, from science fiction space operas to literary classics.  I've been asked to write a series of occasional guest columns for this site, focusing on the best free fantasy audiobooks.

For this introductory post, I'd like to point out some of the acknowledged classics of the genre. In the blurbs that follow, my full review at Free Listens can be found by clicking on the book's title, while a link to the publishing website in parenthesis is followed direct link to download in brackets.

First up is a s... Read More

The Great God Pan: A horror classic

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen

Written in 1894, Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan is a short novel which was highly influential to H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. King, in fact, said The Great God Pan is “…one of the best horror stories ever written. Maybe the best in the English language. Mine isn’t anywhere near that good…” The Great God Pan used to be hard to find, but is now available free on the Kindle (and at other public domain e-book outlets) and is easily read in one dark and rainy evening.
... Read More

Travelers’ Rest: He came, he saw…

Travelers’ Rest by James Enge

Travelers’ Rest is short and sweet. (Much like myself except the sweetness of Travelers’ Rest is Morlock Ambrose’s dispersion of justice, and the sweetness of me is, well I’m just freakin’ adorable). Also, Travelers’ Rest is a free e-book from Pyr  in honor of The Wolf Age, the latest MORLOCK AMBROSE novel, being their 100th book. Just in time for Christmas too. So a sincere thank you to Pyr is in order. They are already my favorite publisher, so they really didn’t have to, but it’s nice they did. (Click here for free ePub).
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The Well at the World’s End: Important piece of fantasy literature history

The Well at the World's End by William Morris

Notes: Because the copyright has expired, you can get The Well at the World's End for free on the Kindle at Amazon or at Project Gutenberg. Make sure you have the entire book. Some publishers have divided it into two installments.

William Morris, a textile artist, was enamored of medieval chivalric romances, so The Well at the World's End, published in 1896, is his contribution to that dying literary genre. Thus, you’ll find heroic knights on quests, damsels in distress, and scary beasts to slay. The novel is even written in archaic language. What’s different and no... Read More

The Big Time: A concept novella

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber

Available free on Kindle.

The Place is a recuperation station outside of space and time where Spider soldiers in The Change War go for rest and relaxation between operations. This war has been going on between The Spiders and The Snakes since the beginning of time and Soldiers have been drafted (resurrected) into "The Big Time" from many points in history. From outside of time, they can plunge in at crucial moments and manipulate events to serve their cause, or they can change things ex post facto, which is why sometimes memory and history don't quite match.

All of the story happens in The Place, which is sort of like a cosmic Cheers except that it's run by an Elizabethan bard instead of a washed-up baseball player. The soldiers and entertainers at The Place spend their time drinking, dancing, singing, and discussing world eve... Read More