Free Book

Erik Ryman

We haven't had a Free Book Friday for a couple of weeks, so here's one to keep you going.

Straight from Ryman's blog:

I think I said a while back we were going to do this, but if you fancy a free eBook of the full text uncorrected proof of Erik Ryman's Doggone, pop along to his blog and help yourself. HERE

It has had a few reviews, the latest being from Authortrek, but if you do download it and want to have a go at writing one yourself, we'll love you forever, or at least until I'm plugging something else...

If however paper is your bag, you can pre-order a beautiful hardback edition HERE and we can eat, damn you, we can eat and put shoes on the bairns feet and generally LIVE, and have hope for a future out of penury, a chance to ... etc.

If you like Eric Ryman's work then check out these other free downloads:

The Tsetse Fly Chronicles

The Recidivist


Roadside Picnic

Matt Hill is a fiction writer living in Manchester. His first novel, 'Colin & The Strimmer Men' will be published in Spring 2009. You can read his blog here.


I'll admit I was tentative to read a 'Russian science fiction novel' at first -- my perception of the genre at the time apparently coloured by escapist hero stuff or by space operas and laser beams. But I'm hugely glad I went in for the recommendation, and it seems apt to pass it on.

Roadside Picnic picks up thirty years after an extraterrestrial visit, when the world's been left pocked with landing sites of curious debris, and where mercenaries called 'stalkers' are being sent into no-go quarantine 'zones' constructed around each contact. These men, risking their lives, are paid to retrieve these physics-defying artifacts for scientists and military men, who in turn hope to understand and exploit all 'The Visitors' have left behind. Narrated over ten years by one such stalker, a cynical chap called Redrick Schuart, the reader follows his experiences of a zone that threatens to destroy not only his health but his homelife.

Essentially Roadside Picnic's a thoughtful piece on the way humans might react to an alien presence that arrives without the flashing lights, explosions and general apocalypses that a lot of science fiction would have us fretting about. I mean, so far, so unexpected -- it's a common idea. But what makes this book different -- perhaps what made it so tangibly different to the Western European/American stuff I was used to -- is that it's not so much about the aliens' visit, or indeed about how we're meant to kill 'em all, but what happens afterwards; in their wake; how we try to apply our apparently primitive theories to a new science we can barely understand. It's also become something of a parable for Chernobyl, which happened a few years after its release.

It's a short, humane and brilliantly written novel that exposes and laments our need to tinker with things we should leave well alone, and it's easily one of my favourites.

  • Wiki page for Roadside Picnic is here.
  • Wiki's author page is here.
  • A bit about the film adaptation here.
  • Amazingly you can download a free copy here.
  • If you fancy a new copy then here or second hand here.

A video of the game, loosely based on the film that is loosely based on the book...

Free Book Friday: Roald Dahl

Dahl I imagine that there are few readers that have not come across Roal Dahl in one form or another. If it’s not through the film remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (or the much better original), then it may well be through such excellent kid’s books as The Twits or Witches. However, for me there is a much darker side to Dahl’s work and this shows up in his short stories.

Unlike most of Dahl’s work his short stories are aimed firmly at adults. Most of his early tales were written for magazines with them appearing in Ladies Home Journal, Harper's, Playboy and The New Yorker. In total Dahl wrote more than 60 short stores, with most being collected and published in anthologies. These were later adapted for TV as the excellent Tales of the Unexpected.

The story I have chosen is The Landlady, whose TV adaption won an Edgar award. The story tells of 17-year old Billy Weaver’s encounter with an unusual landlady. Throughout the story Dahl uses a skilful literary sleight of hand to direct the reader away from the truth that is always in plain view.


  • To download a copy of the text or listen to an audio version go here.
  • To find out more about Dahl (and please do) go here.
  • This is the official Roal Dahl website.
  • To find out more about his short stories go here.

This is not related to the short story but remains wonderful...

Free Book Friday: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Homes may have become a cliché but Arthur Conan Doyle's detective remains the father of the modern crime novel.

Adventures_of_sherlock_holmes The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his famous detective and illustrated by Sidney Paget. These are the first of the Sherlock Holmes short stories, originally published as single stories in the Strand Magazine from July 1891 to June 1892. The book was published in England on October 14, 1892 by George Newnes Ltd and in a US Edition on October 15 by Harper. The initial combined print run was 14,500 copies. The book was banned in the Soviet Union in 1929 for occultism, although the book shows few to no signs of such material. Later, the embargo was lifted.

I first read this collection of stories as a teenager, but have recently re-discovered their elegant genius whilst re-reading with my 10 year old son. Some of the stories have not worn well, but The Speckled band remains a masterpiece.

  • Click here to download the book or here for the free audio version.
  • Go here to find out more about the collection of stories.
  • This link will tell you more about Doyle.
  • You can download more classic Holmes for free from here

Free Book Friday III

Free Book Friday this week unleashes the horror that is HP Lovecraft.

Wiki gives us the following insight into one of the unsung heroes of the modern short story, but for me without Lovecraft we have no King - that simple.

 CoverAt the Mountains of Madness"Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror: the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fictions featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of Enlightenment, Romanticist, and Christian humanism. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality."

This page contains a collection of most of Lovecraft's work, though I would suggest At The Mountains of Madness as a good starting point. 

  • Go here to read more about Lovecraft.
  • This site gives an in depth study of Lovecraft's work.
  • If you fancy a free audio copy of The Call of Cthulhu then this is the place for you.

Oh yeah and below is the first part of a five part documentary - essential watching and Neil Gaiman's thought's on the writer. 

Free Book Friday II

The second Free Book Friday brings you Seth Godin's - The Bootstrapper's Bible.
8.01.BootstrappersBible Seth Godin is a marketing/internet Guru, whose blog is one of the top ten most read blogs in the world. Seth describes himself as "a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change. He is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world. His most recent titles include The Dip and Meatball Sundae. Free Prize Inside was published in early May, 2004 and All Marketers Are Liars was published in 2005. His books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. Permission Marketing was an Top 100 bestseller for a year, a Fortune Best Business Book and it spent four months on the Business Week bestseller list. It also appeared on the New York Times business book bestseller list."
The Bootstrapper's Bible is a must for anyone even vaguely interested in starting a business. It looks at the essentials of all trades and reveals in the power of the small over the large.

  • Go here to download the book.
  • To read Seth’s blog go here.
  • Here is a site that will tell you more about Seth Godin.
  • Go here to see Squidoo a company set up by Seth.

Free Book Friday

Welcome to the first Free Book Friday.

This week's free book is the classic children's book - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice_in_woncerland “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) is a work of literary nonsense written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, considered a classic example of the genre and of English literature in general. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit-hole into a fantastic realm populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures.

The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends (and enemies), and to the lessons that British schoolchildren were expected to memorize. The tale plays with logic in ways that have made the story of lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of the genre of literary nonsense, and its narrative course and structure has been enormously influential, mainly in the fantasy genre (see Works influenced by Alice in Wonderland).”

Find out more about Alice in Wonderland.
Find out more about the controversial life of Lewis Carol (Dodgson).
You can download it from here.

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