Tom Marcinkco's wonderful sf, free for Kindles

My friend and oft-times workshop mate Tom Marcinko, a very talented writer and critiquer, has just put seven of his previously published sf stories into the Kindle store for what he calls "the amazingly low price of absolutely nothing." He's getting back to work on new fiction after a long hiatus, and this is his way of marking the occasion. How can you resist a free sf collection with a story in it called "The Nixon Wrangler's Tale"?

An ardent missionary beams to another galaxy--but finds his convictions and personality altered in transmission.

A bounty hunter pursues a replicant from out of history. This is not called termination. It is called “impeachment.”

Aliens invade a globally depressed Earth with a sinister weapon: A new line of curiously addictive consumer products.

Superheroes must control their powers. Or a shadowy government agency will do it for them.

Plus the Second Coming, with a special guest appearance by the Patron Saint of Television.

Welcome to seven adventures in space, time, and from under the floorboards.

These stories were previously published in Realms of Fantasy, Interzone, Rosebud, Science Fiction Age, and other respected venues.

Tom is the person who introduced me to Mystery Science Theater 3000, and is a very happy mutant indeed.

Astronauts and Heretics


  1. “Aliens invade a globally depressed Earth with a sinister weapon: A new line of curiously addictive consumer products.”

    Spoooo-kee.  Just this afternoon I had a similar thought while walking passed the campus Apple store adverts for the new ipads.

  2. I would love to read this. Is there any way I can get this book in epub, which is compatible with the rest of the non-Amazon reader world? I just flat-out refuse to participate in Kindle in any way. Also, I would be willing to make a high-quality epub of this title, if I could get it in a format I can read.

    1. Looks like this book is currently free as a Kindle Digital Publishing Select promotion- if so, that means the author has given Amazon exclusive rights to sell the digital edition for at least 90 days.  

      1. Ok, but does this help me to get it? Looks like I need some Kindle something or other to get the book at all, free or whatever, right? I think this is still FAIL for me.

      2. Well, I tried to download the thing. I need Kindle for PC to get at it, which I don’t have, as I run linux.  No direct download of the file, so I can’t test if this is  convertible. I’m willing to bet “no”, though, as Amazon’s ebooks are DRM’ed, and Calibre won’t convert DRM’ed files without a plugin that’s illegal.

        1. Well, my apologies, Mr Marcinko. Forget free, a recommendation from Cory Doctorow is more than enough to get me to pay you for a book on the spot. But the fragmented proprietary ebook world is a disaster that I can’t get involved with.

  3. Once again reminding authors and/or publishers that there are other ebook sellers than Amazon (and B&N). Kinda remarkable how many times folks forget that… 

    1. None of them are anywhere near as easy to deal with as Amazon is, nor do they have the market share to make the roadblocks they throw up worth traversing.

      For example: Barnes & Noble requires you to provide them with a line of credit (only from a US financial institution), establish a US post office box, run through an IRS process that costs a few hundred dollars and takes several months to complete, and will only pay royalties through an esoteric electronic transfer system that only works with a few, rather shifty financial institutions. They won’t even mail out cheques.

      Apple has similar requirements, and in addition will only accept ePubs uploaded from a Mac. (Yes, seriously.)

      I believe Kobo is a bit better, but still a bit of a nuisance and negligible market share.

      1.  Believe it or not, I had a (very brief) Twitter conversation with an author who said he didn’t know of any other sellers.
        I’m curious as to the roadblocks to selling through For me, the roadblock to *buying* from Amazon is the small matter of being forced to spend around $80+ for the privilege of reading an ebook from And, so long as authors and/or publishers continue to treat them like the only game in town, they will continue to *be* the only game in town.

        1. Well, taking a quick look at them you can’t actually upload an epub/mobi file. You have to use their proprietary web based editor.

          It looks like their business model (at least with respect to indies) isn’t as an independent retailer, but as a tech-illiterate conduit to Amazon. With a generous cut to them, of course.

          That’s all well and good if you’ve got a book of poetry that your mother might buy, but if you’ve got something that’ll actually generate any revenue then Smashwords, Feedbooks and such aren’t a very good proposition. Further, by not allowing indies to just upload their existing ebooks to them, they make themselves not even worth bothering with as a “why not” market.

          Note also that there is no technical reason your B&N, Sony or whatever ereader cannot read mobi files. They’ve made a business decision not to support that format which is just as open as ePub and significantly predates it. While Amazon says you’re not ‘allowed’ to read books sold by them on other readers, the DRM is optional to the publisher.

          I agree with you that some effort should be made by authors and publishers to encourage competition in ebook retailing, but some has to be made by those retailers, too. The latter just isn’t happening at all right now.

          1. Is this a MOBI file? Because most ebooks through Amazon are .azw files, readable on Kindles only. I know I can get .mobi files from feedbooks, gutenberg, etc., but I have yet to see anything sold through Amazon that isn’t a .azw file.
            ETA: And anyway, it’s only downloadable with Kindle or Kindle for PC, not direct. As I run Linux Mint, the file type is a non-issue, as I can’t even *get* it.

          2. azw files are just mobi with (optionally) Amazon’s DRM. I run Linux too, and I keep a VM for that sort of thing.

            But as I pointed out, Feedbooks/Smashwords won’t accept ebook uploads from indies, so they’re rather irrelevant.

          3.  @boingboing-87eb9d4eaa03cf39630cf48a920d1920:disqus  Then maybe I’m a bit confused. I know that azw files are mobi, but it was my understanding that azw can only be used on Kindles. Is this not the case?
            I know that I could probably run kindle for pc in wine… it’s just that, dammit, I shouldn’t have to. But, if you run linux, you share my pain.
            Even assuming that I could download the azw file, I can’t convert it in Calibre, as it’s DRM. The only way to convert it is getting an illegal plugin.

          4. The only difference between azw and mobi files is a very slight difference in the DRM implementation. They can only be used on Kindles in the same sense that Barnes & Noble’s epubs can only be read on nooks; the DRM is proprietary, but the underlying file is standard.

            If the publisher has opted to forgo Amazon’s DRM, then the difference is moot.

            I’m reasonably certain you’re wrong about the legality of that Calibre plugin. The DMCA has an exemption to the anti-circumvention section for non-infringing uses. The exemption applies only to the use, not the distribution of circumvention methods, but so long as the distribution isn’t being done by Americans the DMCA doesn’t apply.

            So it would be illegal for someone to deliver the plugin to your door, but not for you to download it from outside the US.

      2. There’s more than B&N. Publishers and online stores who do not do any DRM at all. Two that I buy from frequently are Weightless Books and  Baen Ebooks  And once again, for the record, I would be willing to make an actually well-made epub of this book. Not just the sad mess that Calibre auto-generates.

        1. Neither of those will do business with indies at all.

          As someone else pointed out, the way this is structured tells us that the author has opted in to an exclusive arrangement with Amazon.

          Now, there’s some reasonable criticism to lay at someone’s feet for that, but the fact that Amazon can make an attractive offer for exclusivity by buying $6 million in ebooks for their existing customer base should tell you something about how terrible the offers from everyone else in the industry are for indies.

  4. Kudos to whoever wrote the sales blurb!  Those story descriptions snagged my attention and would not let go.   (More writers need to learn that this kind of teaser is like the catchy hook in a hit single.)

  5. Since this is free, is there any chance it’s DRM-free as well?  (In which case presumably it could be legally converted to epub?)

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