Category Archives: free science fiction ebook

Free Science Fiction ebook: “The Memory of Mars” by Raymond F. Jones is a long short story that rises above the space opera of the early 1960s


Imagine this: You first met your wife way back in grade school, in the third grade. You grew up together in a small town. You were high school sweethearts, then married and shared years of a happy life. Your wife is suddenly seriously injured in a car accident. The surgeons in the operating room are shocked to discover that she is not a human being. Inside, they find no heart, lungs, stomach, but a mass of weird green organs — she’s an alien.

Sound like a sizzling scenario for a great science fiction yarn? It is, and RAYMOND F. JONES takes a great idea and leads his readers through a confounding mystery that will have you turning the pages, believe me.

THE MEMORY OF MARS (CLICK TO GET FREE) is an example of early 1960s pulp science fiction that rises above the standard space opera schlock that filled many of these publications, in this case, the December 1961 issue of Amazing Stories.

This story preceded by five years Philip K. Dick’s masterful short story, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Both stories bear a similar premise – a man who is struggling with real or unreal bizarre memories of events that occurred on a vacation to Mars – that may or may not have happened!

In the hands of Philip Dick the story is a bona fide work of genius. In the case of The Memory of Mars and author Raymond Jones, the story is good – but, well it doesn’t rise to that exulted level.

Although The Memory of Mars is a terrific piece it falters badly in the denouement. It almost seems like the author realized that he had written himself into a corner by spinning an extremely cunning tale.

Thus, to resolve the mystery of the story – he punts. He opts for a standard plot gimmick – he introduces a new character near the end of the story who conveniently steps in to explain everything. For me, it was a letdown.

Instead of the hero using his intelligence, bravery and cleverness to wrench a solution to his problem through intense action, everything is finally handed to him on a plate. Furthermore, part of the explanation – of how his wife could be an alien and why he has strange memories — is a science fiction cliché – I won’t tell you what it is because I don’t want to spoil the ending for you.

Certainly some may disagree with how I feel about the ending, and there is an additional final twist that is wonderful. The Memory of Mars is an example of sci-fi pulp that rises well above the standard of the genre. It’s more than worth your time and a read.

Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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“Human Sister” by Jim Bainbridge Is A Brilliant Re-telling of the Promethean Myth and Should Be a Contender For Science Fiction’s Hugo Award


Mary Shelley’s paradigm-busting 1818 novel, Frankenstein, is subtitled “The New Prometheus,” referencing the theme of man’s constant striving to overreach himself and play god, which always seems to bring disastrous results. Prometheus was chained to a rock by Zeus to have his liver pecked out by an eagle. Victor Frankenstein’s monster murdered his creator’s young bride and brother. Then the monster kills the man who gave him life before lumbering off in self-loathing to the North Pole to destroy himself in flame.

The first known writing of Prometheus dates to about 800 B.C. It was made more famous by Aeschylus in his play, Prometheus Bound, circa 500 B.C. – and so onto Shelley’s Frankenstein in the 19th century – and all the way up to today in many incarnations, including this marvelous novel, HUMAN SISTER.

In the ancient past, we needed the archetype of Prometheus to deal with the spiritual schism between ourselves and the transcendent gods. But since the dawn of rational, empirical, materialistic science, we still grasp at Prometheus, but now it’s to help us deal with the relationship between man and science. It’s painfully obvious that many of our brilliant advances have turned out to be double-edged swords. Think about nuclear power. It was supposed to usher in a new age of prosperity and unlimited energy – but it has also pushed us to the edge of total annihilation.

So this scenario is played out yet again by JIM BAINBRIDGE in Human Sister, except this time the Frankenstein monsters are androids – and also bioroids – robots that are getting ever closer in make-up to human beings.

Instead of Victor Frankenstein, we have Professor Severn “Grandpa” Jensen, who might have been modeled on the physicist Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb.” Like Oppenheimer, Jensen is a brilliant scientist much used and abused by the paranoid machinations of the U.S. government and military – only to be cast aside when he outlasts his utility and becomes less than cooperative.

The viewpoint character is Professor Jenson’s granddaughter, Sara Jenson – our titular “human sister” — given over by her distracted parents to be raised by her grandparents.

Sara is the ultimate symbol of humanity, human warmth, human love. She is innocent, a poetic soul, incredibly generous, loving, kind, pure of heart, altruistic – but she is callously used and manipulated (or not, you decide) to become the experimental bridge between the lifeless, cold materialism of science and everything that is naturally alive, spiritual and beautiful.

My fellow readers, make no mistake — Human Sister is an absolutely wonderful novel. It is beautifully, artfully and even poetically written. It masterfully retells the Promethean tale for us in just the way it urgently needs to be retold today – addressing all of the fears, anxieties and hopes that computer technology is thrusting upon us at a frightening pace.

Bainbridge has made ancient mythology exactingly relevant to our modern times – the current political climate, the world’s “war on terrorism,” the rights of privacy, to torture or not to torture, the influence of fundamentalist religion on American politics – and more.

For those of you who might shy away from a book that sounds like a hyper-intellectual study of post-modern society and technological determinism – don’t!

This works just fine as a fun science fiction read, populated with cool robots, moon bases and Mars colonies, fascinating high-tech gadgets, and, best of all, vivid characters that are both heroic and complex, all of whom readers will eagerly cheer on, right up to the end.

I can’t imagine that Human Sister won’t be a contender for science fiction’s highest honor – the Hugo Award. It’s that good.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

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Free Science Fiction eBook, “Vector” : Strong Writing Saves Hackneyed Plot Elements From Being Just Another Zombie Offering


Vector is one among a collection of science fiction short stories in THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL ANTHOLOGY by a group of writers calling themselves DANGEREYE. It’s something of a miracle that I read Vector at all. That’s because after reading one of the other selections in this anthology, I was appalled by the truly amateurish, low quality of the offering – and I shall not name that story or its author here.

Thus I was pleasantly surprised when I read Mark Aragona’s piece which is a twist on the extremely pervasive zombie meme that is infecting so much of our entertainment culture today. Normally I would consider that a bad thing – yikes! yet another tale of the undead trying to eat the living! — but Aragona is a strong writer with a good sense for the plot and pacing of a short story. The characterization is skillful, the action never drags, the imagery is vivid and this tale even has a theme and message.

I would say Vector is written as well as any story you might find in one of today’s venerable science fiction magazines, such as Analog, Asimov’s Science Fiction or Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The only reason I’m not giving it my top recommendation is that it lacks originality. As I said, it leverages the zombie element, something we have seen in movie after movie and book after book in recent years. While this story is well handled, armies of ravenous, stumbling undead is soooo hackneyed — played! Worn-out! Done to death! (Pardon the pun).

The other reason I knock off points is for a certain lack of plausibility – such as the aliens taking great care to be immunized themselves against earth microorganisms that might be harmful to them – but somehow forgetting that their own germs and bacteria would infect the people of earth. That’s a pretty ridiculous!

But still, this story is well done. Aragona is a talented writer, believe you me. Overall, Vector is entertaining, fun, punchy – definitely recommended.


“Divine Misconception” by T.D. Kaschalk Starts Strong But Then Gets Abducted By Bizarre Alien Plot Devices


Of all the books I have reviewed this year, Divine Misconception comes out on top so far for something I call “Ken’s Biggest Book Meltdown Award.” The award is for a book that starts out strong, well-written, promising, interesting and headed for a rave review – then falters, derails, goes off track and crashes, burns and disintegrates into a catastrophic fictional fireball.

While I was reading the first five chapters of Divine Misconceptions, I was thinking things like: “This is great!” “Wonderful strong character!” “I’m in love with the protagonist!” “This is a wonderful story!” “Well-paced!” “So vivid and real!” “I wonder what is going to happen next!”

But then, Chapter Six and – KA-BLAM! – it takes an agonizing, crunching literary wrong turn, goes careening into a ditch, never to be towed back out again.

The central premise of the book is based on theories of the late writer Zecharia Sitchin, who published a number of popular books proposing that the origin of the human race was engineered by a race of ancient aliens called the Anunnaki. They came from a planet called Nibiru, and landed in ancient Sumer thousands of years ago. Sitchin contends that the Anunnaki biologically constructed the human race to work for them as slaves, but later freed them to go their own way – and thus the origin of all of us today! This is not fiction, mind you, but what Sitchin proposes as fact.

In the tradition of ancient astronaut theorist Erich von Däniken, Sitchin’s books found a wide audience and continue to sell extremely well. Author T.B KASCHALK credits Sitchin as her inspiration in the dedication of this book.

Hey, I’m all in favor of fringe theories. I’ve read and enjoyed Sitchin, von Däniken and others who have proposed ancient astronaut scenarios. It’s also a terrific idea for a book of fiction. The problem here is in the execution. In Chapter Six – ground-zero of the meltdown – Kaschalk introduces a new character, who proceeds to spend the entire chapter lecturing our hero – the sweet Native American school teacher Lisa Jenkins – on the ancient astronaut theory. Even Lisa herself is struggling not to fall asleep in the backseat of the car as he drones on and raves about the Anunnaki!

Then the downhill slide of the narrative really gains steam. The last six chapters are action-packed to be sure, but involves absurdity piled on top of absurdity. All sense of fictional plausibility completely flees the page. There is one ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous, situation after another. And I mean – really ridiculous – and not because of the fringy premise of the book – but because of the 100% unbelievable way the events are handled in their detail.

(The Vatican Secret Service employing a few Joe Six Pack blue-collar construction workers to find the only object on Earth that can save the entire planet from destruction? Come on! And with three days until the end of the world – they still dutifully take their lunch breaks? Yow!!!)

We all know that when reading science fiction/fantasy the reader agrees to “willingly suspend disbelief” so that he or she can enjoy the story. But there is a limit to what we can or should expect the reader to accept. Even when the tale is strange – it still must at least have that sense or aura of plausibility – and, I’m sorry, but this yarn has none.

I end with a heartfelt plea to the author: Please, please, please write another book bringing back this extraordinarily wonderful, real, vivid, highly sympathetic character, single-mom and small-town school teacher Lisa Jenkins! She’s wonderful! I fell in love with her! I’m serious! Put her into a new situation – it can even have a paranormal aspect – but make it much milder, more subtle and more grounded in reality and more plausible – perhaps a strange situation that maybe only haunts the background of Lisa’s life. You’ve really got something here! You’re a greater writer! Now go the extra mile!

Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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‘Chupacabra’ is a Free Science Fiction eBook That Reads Like A Script For A Made-For-TV B Horror Movie


You know the way sometimes you’re flipping channels and you get to the Science Fiction station and notice they’re running some obviously super low-budget made-for-TV movie with some ludicrous premise – and you settle in to enjoy watching an extremely bad movie?

It’s that well-known “it’s-so-bad-it’s-good” phenomenon. A couple of years ago I happened upon a Sci-Fi Channel offering about a guy who turned into a giant mosquito! Ha, ha! Did you see that one? Boy, it was so screamingly dumb! But it’s fun to watch goofy crap like that occasionally because – well, I’ll just leave it to some psychologist to score a government grant to explain to all of us the why-we-like-bad-entertainment phenomenon.

But I mention this because I have just finished reading the short novel, CHUPACABRA, by DALLAS TANNER. I’ll come right out with a theory I have about this offering: I’m thinking that Mr. Tanner may have first attempted to write a script for a made-for-TV B movie, shopped it around, got no bites, and so decided to turn his script into a short novel.

As the title suggests, this is a yarn with the legendary CHUPACABRA– the goatsucker – of mostly Latin American legend, at the center of the premise. Chupacabra is a crypto-zoological beast with vampire-like tendencies that preys on farm animals. It sucks its victim dry of blood – but leaves the meat.

Unfortunately, reading a bad science fiction novel does not deliver the same pleasure as watching a bad movie. I think it’s because you have to work harder – you know, with the reading, and all. When you watch a terrible TV movie, you just sit back with a beer and a bag of Cheetos and let the dreck come to you. When you read a B-novel, there’s all that effort with the squinting at words and turning of pages, and such.

As fiction, Chupacabra makes every conceivable literary mistake a writer can make to ensure that this will be a truly terrible piece of writing – cliché-cardboard characters, blocks of exposition without action, absolutely no original concepts, and supremely poor editing.

Consider: One of the characters is a lovely Caribbean-born scientist who is something of an expert on the Chupacabra. She is alternately identified as: “an astronomer,” “an astrologer,” “an astronomist,” and “a technician.” I take pains to point this out to show you that I am not merely being purposefully mean and snarky in my review, but that I am only applying the unfortunate credit to where the unfortunate credit it due.

You might be surprised that I am going to say now that this author is almost certainly a far, far better writer than this novella suggests. I’ve been making my sole living as a freelance writer and editor for almost 30 years, and one develops an instinct for those who have “got it” and those who never will. Dallas Tanner has what it takes to be a genuinely fine writer, believe me — I can just tell – but no one will be able to tell from reading this book.

Note: You can get Chupacabra free ebook here: FREE SCIENCE FICTION EBOOK

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