Rot the eyes right out of your head with this collection of 60 free Film Noir classics

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

Free pulp sci-fi, mystery, crime and fantasy magazines? Yes please!

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

John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood - free Kindle edition

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

Teachers, librarians, etc: sign up for free copies of Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother

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 freehomelandbook@gmail.com, and include your name, institutional affiliation, and its address and phone number (for shipping info). Read the rest

Rapture of the Nerds giveaway

Charlie Stross and I have a forthcoming comic novel called Rapture of the Nerds (we'll be touring it in a couple of weeks, and to celebrate, our publisher Tor Books is giving away ten copies. Read the rest