Category Archives: free science fiction ebooks

Free SF ebook “Creatures of the Abyss” by Murray Leinster is abysmal

Review by KEN KORCZAK

Oh hey, let me tell you: CREATURES OF THE ABYSS by MURRARY LEINSTER is truly some putrid pulp. This novel by one of science fiction’s greatest masters is not as bad as it gets – it’s worse than “as bad as it gets.”

Even in a genre where high quality was not often a prerequisite, here is a piece of work that provides abundant ammunition for all those bookish snobs who relegate science fiction to “the urinal of literature.”

Leinster has been dead for almost 40 years, but I feel like I should conduct a séance so that I can demand back from his soul the hours I spent dragging my eyes across this work of fiction, which not so much qualifies as writing, but as a bizarre waste container for writing.

What I mean is: This book stinks. It’s depressing that a man who spent his entire life writing as much as he could and selling everything he produced to dozens of top-line publishers should have such bland contempt for his own craft, and his readers.

Pulp fiction writers were famous for cranking out “one-run-only-through-the-typewriter” schlock, but in this case, Leinster evinces an “I’m-on-automatic-pilot-cranking-out-crap” sense of entitlement that displays scorn for his readers, and who knows, perhaps a dollop of self-loathing thrown in.

Life is strange. There is great beauty in our world, blissful works of art, soaring achievements in literature, but sometimes, when you least expect it, you step in a pile of shit.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

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Free Cordwainer Smith Kindle ebook: “The Game of Rat and Dragon” Marvelous!

Review by KEN KORCZAK

CORDWAINER SMITH was more than a science fiction writer in many ways. His writing is a strangely shimmering, stand-out phenomenon within a genre that prides itself on innovation and creativity. His style was not only strikingly distinctive, but at once weirdly disturbing yet enchanting. Behind every story, the reader could sense a larger, fully envisioned fictional universe – which indeed there was.

Smith wasn’t only a science fiction writer – in fact, this was merely a minor, part-time hobby for him. His real name was Dr. Paul Linebarger. He was a Ph.D. scholar of Eastern Asian studies, and a deep government insider. Smith, or Linebarger, was known to be an expert in propaganda. His book, “PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE” published in 1948 is considered a classic in the field.

Cordwainer Smith came to the attention of the science fiction community when he published his short story, “Scanners Live in Vain” in an obscure publication, Fantasy Book, in 1950. It created a sensation, if not among a lot of reader, but within the community of science fiction elites. Great writers and editors, especially Frederick Pohl, recognized “Scanners” as a work of genius.

CORDWAINER SMITH

Scanners Live In Vain” also set off a something of a vexing mystery among the science fiction insiders. Who was he? Cordwainer Smith was obviously a pen name. Many believed he was – must be! — one of the old masters. Among the most popular theories was that Cordwainer Smith might be Jack Vance. Of course, the reality turned out to be even more interesting.

So — this free Kindle ebook (AND AVAILABLE HERE FREE IN MOST FORMATS), The Game of Rat and Dragon, is a short story which is a superb introduction to the charm and intelligence of this enigmatic writer. It’s a far, far future tale in which space travelers have developed an extremely peculiar method of interstellar space travel that requires the use of cats. Smith was known to be an ardent cat owner and lover (before it was universally cool).

Hope you love it as much as I did.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

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Free Science Fiction eBook: “Castaways” by Stephen Huff is a Thin Gruel That Will Leave Robust Appetites for Science Fiction Unsatisfied

Review by KEN KORCZAK

CASTAWAYS is one of numerous short stories offered for free in the Amazon Kindle store by prolific author STEPHEN HUFF, PH.D. This is one of only two of Dr. Huff’s pieces I have read, so keep in mind I have not made an extensive review of his work. But based on the two I have read, I must admit that I am distressed.

This story involves a distant planet on which a spaceship crash landed, perhaps centuries ago. Many generations later the people who continue to eke out an existence now possess only a mythical memory of their space-faring past. Their leader (and head cook, I guess) is Ulgi, whom everyone refers to as a SynMan – which I presume stands for Synthetic Man – meaning he is a robot.

As it happens, Ulgi has a dire warning for his people – that some kind of “Darkness” is about to descend upon their world. He asks them all cryptically if they are ready to “stock the freezer.” None are willing to oblige Ulgi’s strange suggestion.

The meaning behind “stocking the freezer” is what serves as the lynchpin or payoff of this story – but in my mind, it’s not a lot to hang one’s literary hat on.

The central plot elements of the story are also not terribly original. Crash-landed star travelers who only vaguely remember their origins has been done gazillions of times in science fiction. The concept of “The Dark” is also extremely similar to the scenario made famous in Isaac Asimov’s widely-read short story “Nightfall,” and is also a central factor of the movie “Pitch Black,” to name just two.

So, not high marks for this offering from Mr. Huff, but I plan to sample more of his work.

Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS