Here are two lists of e-books being made freely available on-line. Please add more in the comments!
PublicBooks.org's Public Books Database
This is a list of academic presses making their books and research freely available.
Jim C. Hines' list of Free and Legal Science Fiction and Fantasy
Hines has collected a list of authors providing their work online for free.
Naturally, your public library is a great resource and the Libby app is my best friend for e-books. We will also find that the public library gives incredible access to movies, music, and periodicals via the series of tubes we all know and love. Read the rest
Osprey Games has made the PDF version of their popular game, Frostgrave, free in a gesture of support for self-isolating gamers who might be interested in the award-winning skirmish-level fantasy miniatures game.
Frostgrave is normally a two-player game of wizards and their warbands duking it out over treasure and other spoils in the ruins of the frozen city of Frostgrave. But there have been some solo adventures in the Dark Alchemy supplement and the recent Perilous Dark supplement. As part of their shut-in bundle, Osprey is also giving away Dark Alchemy for free, along with the three solo scenarios from Perilous Dark. You use the code FGV2020 on check-out to get the free deal.
Frostgrave is one of my favorite tabletop miniature games and I can't say enough good things about it. I've never played solo, but I became tempted when Perilous Dark was released. Now that we're all trapped in our wizard's towers, under siege from tiny, glowing invisible monsters, it seems like a good time to give solo Frostgrave a roll. I've got an Explosive Rune spell with "COVID-19" written all over it.
Here's a bit more about the free PDF deal from Frostgrave's creator, Joseph McCullough.
Image: Cover art for Frostgrave: The Wizard's Conclave Read the rest
CBS All Access has announced that they are making the entire first season of Picard free to non-subscribers of the streaming service. You get it for free if you register and use the coupon code: GIFT.
There are nine episodes in the season so far and the season finale will air this Thursday.
Update: The coupon code unlocks all of CBS All Access, free for a month.
Image: YouTube Read the rest
We're sheltering in place with my sister-in-law's family while COVID-19 continues to rip humanity a new asshole. I love my family, but my nine year old nephew, who's been home from school for two weeks, is driving me insane. He's watched every episode of Captain Underpants at least twenty times. I've given up on wondering why anyone's cool with nearly naked middle-aged man hanging out with a couple of kids and have started reciting lines from the show.
I've been desperate for something, anything to fill the air while my noise-cancelling headphones recharge. Happily, Jeff Bezos has answered my prayers.
Amazon is making a selection of family-friendly and programming for kids available for free streaming on Prime Video as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, which has people trapped at home. The content is available to all Amazon customers, and includes a mix of Amazon Original kid and family shows as well as select third-party family movies and TV series licensed from studio partners.
Amazon says it’s continuing to work with content partners to widen the selection over time.
While we apparently can't expect the world's wealthiest man to pay his front line employees a decent wage (although Amazon will soon pay a premium for its employees to continue to risk their ass) or guarantee their income if they get sick serving the rest of us, but hey: free cartoons.
Image via Wikipedia Read the rest
A customer who chose the no-payment option for a store item was pursued out the door by a relentless employee who apparently holds the quaint notion that transactions involving the exchange of goods should be beneficial to both parties. The ideologically rigid employee got his way this time, but I'm sure the gentleman with the big pickup will be back again before Christmas.
UPDATE: It looks like the employee was fired for not letting the thief get away with it. (Thanks WCityMike in comments)
A terrible attempt at stealing from r/funny
Read the rest
I've been hooked on hard-boiled crime novels and Film Noir since I picked up my first copy (there have been many) of Dashiel Hammett's Red Harvest back in the mid-1990s. It's bleak, entertaining stuff that I find to be a hell of a lot more honest in its portrayal of human desperation, motivation, rage and lust than most of the drivel that's spoon-fed to us in films, television and a whole lot of books these days.
My personal tastes lean towards stories where the bad guy, or at least, a pretty lousy guy, wins. Richard Stark's (a pen name of the late, great Donald E. Westlake) Parker series, anything written by Lawrence Block or Raymond Chandler, and movies like The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye or more recently, The Drop scratch my need for fatalistic media. Despite their being a glut of crime and detective films out there, set in the city, country or even the future (I'm looking at you, Looper), finding new books to read or movies to veg out to can be a daunting task. Fortunately, the good people at Open Culture have made the latter a whole lot easier.
Open Culture's curated a fine collection of 60 Film Noir gems that are free to watch online, and in some cases, free to download. I won't lie to you, there's a number of stinkers in the movies that they've included on their list, but even a bad film can be worth watching. If nothing else, it'll make you appreciate a good movie that much more. Read the rest
I love low-rent pulp magazines from the 1920s right through to the early 1980s. Trashy, flashy and a constant pleasure to read, I used to own a ton of the things in varying conditions. If I saw it and it was still in a condition where I could read it, I’d fork over folding money for the privilege of inhaling the smell of rotting, low quality paper and the sweet sense of abuse one can enjoy at the mercy of ham-handed prose. Unfortunately, I had to unload my collection a few years back: there was just no room for it in the nomadic lifestyle that my wife and I are currently living—paying for a storage space to keep stuff I just don’t need is an entanglement that I’m not OK with.
Thankfully, the good people at Open Culture discovered that a cache of over 11,000 pulp magazines has been digitized and posted online where pulp geeks like me can access them for the low, low price of free.
The Pulp Magazine Archive contains treasures printed on low-quality paper that have publication dates ranging from the late 1800s through to the 1950s. Each magazine in the Archive can be viewed online using the website or downloaded in a number of formats to be read offline, including options for use with tablets, Kindle and Kobo e-readers.
I don’t know about you, but my downtime for the next few years is spoken for.
Image via The Pulp Magazine Archive Read the rest
For a limited time (until midnight Thursday PST), Michael D. Sellers' book about the making of the giant flop John Carter is free in the Kindle format. I can't wait to read it. I hope it's as fun as Julie Salamon's The Devil's Candy: The Anatomy Of A Hollywood Fiasco, about the disastrous story of making Bonfire of the Vanities into a movie.
It took 100 years to bring Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars to the big screen. It took Disney Studios just ten days to declare the film a flop and lock it away in the Disney vaults. How did this project, despite its quarter-billion dollar budget, the brilliance of director Andrew Stanton, and the creative talents of legendary Pixar Studios, become a calamity of historic proportions?
Michael Sellers, a filmmaker and Hollywood insider himself, saw the disaster approaching and fought to save the project – but without success. In John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood, Sellers details every blunder and betrayal that led to the doom of the motion picture – and that left countless Hollywood careers in the wreckage.
John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood examines every aspect of Andrew Stanton's adaptation and Disney's marketing campaign and seeks to answer the question: What went wrong? it includes a history of Hollywood's 100 year effort to bring the film to the screen, and examines the global fan movement spawned by the film.
John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood
(Thanks, Sparky Santos on BB G+!) Read the rest
Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother, comes out on Feb 5, and as with my previous books, I'm going to be making it available as a free CC-licensed download. Whenever that happens, lots of people write to me to tell me how much they enjoyed it, and ask if they can just send me some money to say thanks.
I don't want their money (don't want to cut my publisher, who does so much to make the book happen, out of the loop), but I do want to help them share the love. So instead, I publish a list of librarians, teachers, and other people at similar institutions who would like free copies of my books, and ask people to express their gratitude by buying a copy of the book and sending it to one of them. It's paying your debts forward in real-time. You do a good deed. The recipient gets to share my book with patrons, students, and other people who are looking to read it. My publisher gets the sale. The bookseller gets her margin. I get the royalty, and credit for the sales number (which improves my future advances, my position on the bestseller list, and my chances of making foreign translation sales). Win, win, win.
That's where you come in. I want to launch the book's website with a long list of people who want free copies of the book. If you're a teacher, librarian, halfway house worker, shelter worker, etc, and you're interested in getting your name on that list, please email my assistant Olga Nunes at firstname.lastname@example.org Read the rest