Most of the works offered here are from points in history that are a few social revolutions behind our ever-so-advanced time and contain racist and sexist ideas and language. Follow Rule 5 and try not to take them too seriously.
My ebook device is a Bookeen Cybook. The Cybook handles several formats but I stick to Mobipocket. I’m reasonably happy with it but I recommend waiting a couple of years for something sturdier and more user-friendly.
Jane Austen is one of the most beloved authors in English literature because smart chicks dig her. Smart chicks are hot. Profess a liking for Austen and, dude, you are in. Ms. Austen’s books are ironic, even subversive, commentary on the culture she lived in and her use of language is wickedly clever. Smart chick…hot. Biographic material on her is scarce in large part because her sister burned most of the thousands of letters Ms. Austen wrote and censored what wasn’t burned. Makes you wonder what the little minx was up to. After all, smart chicks are hot.
Persuasion – As much as I enjoy ironic comedies of manners, I can’t help wondering if a couple of years in a US junior high wouldn’t do all of Ms. Austen’s characters some good. Almost every problem could be resolved with a simple “He likes you. Do you like him?”.
“She did all that I wanted. I knew she would.”
Sense and Sensiblity – Two sisters don’t understand each other and one learns a Very Important Lesson. I’m sure if she were around today Marianne would be a goth. It’s amusing that the Dashwoods impoverishment includes three servants.
“They had in fact nothing to wish for, but the marriage of Colonel Brandon and Marianne, and rather better pasturage for their cows.”
Captain Gardiner of the International Police by Robert Allen – Over sixty years after
World War I the Great War, the International Federation of civilised nations has been snuck attacked by an unholy alliance of Asian and Mohammedan nations (they’re not in the International Federation because they’re not, y’know, “civilised”) who have also sent agents to foment rebellion amongst the savage tribes of Africa. The white race International Federation wins the day, of course, through the clever use of CAVALRY FREAKIN’ CHARGES. Oh, and the Yellow/Brown/Black Peril Axis of Non-Christendom was able to get the drop on the International Federation because women got the vote. Captain Gardiner is an equal opportunity offender.
“Every race is represented here, from the fairest of the Saxons to the darkest of the Latins, for these are the High Commissioners of the International Federation of civilised nations — the men who rule the world.”
The Revolt of Man by Walter Besant – Written in 1882, The Revolt of Man takes place in a future England (much like Victorian England) after the Great Transition; a new religion has been founded, the monarchy abolished, and women rule over men. But this unnatural order cannot last and finally the men, led by the rightful heir to the throne, revolt! That’s why it’s called The Revolt of Man.
“It is because the natural order has been reversed; the sex which should command and create is compelled to work in blind obedience.”
OF MARS! by Edgar Rice Burroughs – OF MARS! contains the full texts of A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Warlord of Mars, Thuvia, Maid of Mars, and The Chessmen of Mars.
"…she emerged and gave herself into the hands of the slave girl, who rubbed the body of her mistress…"
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad – English wasn’t Conrad’s first language, more like fifth or sixth, but he took to it like a chicken to gumbo. This is a novella, less than 40K words, but there’s so much going on here that I can’t synopsize it without commiting a mortal sin against Western literature.
"And this also,” said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth."
“Moreover, we have a faith in Roon and Slid.”
The Doctor Kinney Tetralogy by Homer Eon Flint – The Tetralogy includes The Lord of Death, The Queen of Life, The Devolutionist, and The Emancipatrix. A group of earthpeople travel to Mercury, Venus, Capella, and Arcturus. On Mercury they discover a civilization based on the Highlander films and find a cross-dresser. On Venus they very nearly encounter hot girl-on-girl action, borrow books and don’t return them, and learn how to make telepathic long-distance conference calls. Using the long-distance calling skill they lead a workers’ rebellion on a planet orbiting Capella and indulge in planetary engineering. Around Arcturus they find the Planet of the Apis, really big fish, and use Flintstonian technology to overthrow another government. Since the books were written pre-Watergate, women are called girls and don’t seem to mind.
“Billie–I’m not what you thought! I’m not a man–I’m a woman!”
The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster – The Machine Stops was the first piece I converted into an ebook. It was chosen because it’s interesting and short…mostly short. It’s an Edwardian story about the dangers of overdependence on technology. On the internet. In a machine readable format. The drôlerie prétentieuse never stops here at Mala Fide dotcom.
“An air-ship had sailed in through the vomitory into a ruined wharf.”
George Griffith was a British science fiction writer and noted explorer. His work was very popular in Britain, but never caught on in the US supposedly due to Griffith’s socialist stance. Griffith’s version of socialism involves the world being ruled by educated, well-bred Anglo-Saxons…so maybe it’s, like, national socialism. Griffith’s work is silly, but usually a ripping yarn.
The Aerians – This is an omnibus volume of The Angel of the Revolution: a Tale of the Coming Terror and its sequel Olga Romanoff, the Syren of the Skies. The Aerians is the story of a successful Griffithian revolution, the attempt to overthrow it 125 years later by Russians with a genetic grudge, and the near destruction of the Earth by a well-timed comet. To fully describe the plot would make my brain melt so that’ll have to do.
“Among the nations of Anglo-Saxondom the change had manifested itself by a swift decadence into the worst forms of unbridled democracy.”
The World Peril of 1910 – The perfidious continental powers have invaded Britain with the help of a treacherous Irishman. The world, or at least the really important parts of it, is wracked by war. Oh, and a giant comet is on it’s way to destroy the Earth…all of it, not just the bits where white English speaking people live. ‘The World Peril of 1910′ recycles a lot of ‘The Aerians’.
As another reviewer says, while all this is going on “our heroes go motoring about the countryside to their manor homes and observatories, munching on sandwiches and being manful and cheerfully can do and objectionably British”.
“There has never been an instance in history in which democracy did not spell degeneration.”
City of Endless Night by Milo Hastings – In the middle of the 22nd Century all the world is a peaceful democracy except for the black cancer of Berlin, the last vestige of the evil German empire that had threatened the world a century before. Protected by “The Ray”, a mysterious and terrible weapon that destroys oxygen in the blood, the German horror clings tenaciously to life. Lyman de Forrest, a chemist from Chicago, finds himself trapped in Berlin by a series of unfortunate coincidences. Assuming the identity of Karl Armstadt, his German doppelgänger, he must not only survive, but prevent the German terror from being loosed on the world again. No, really.
‘Night’ is very different from the other WWI era anti-German novels here in the Mala Fide dotcom eLibrary in that it was written by a bloody Yank and not an Pommy bastard.
CHAPTER IV – I GO PLEASURING ON THE LEVEL OF FREE WOMEN AND DRINK SYNTHETIC BEER
“And they didn’t give me pills; they gave me clumps on the side of the head.”
The Red Planet by William J. Locke – I began reading the book waiting for Mars to show up and it did…allegorically. Allegory really bugs me. Despite the title, this isn’t an SF novel, it’s a jingoistic British WWI melodrama, a Georgian (V) soap opera. It’s easy to spot the bad guy, he’s the “atheistic”, possibly pro-German, socialist. His daughter was raised in a British boarding school and thus “believed in God and Jesus Christ and the Ten Commandments”. There’s a backup villain, but he reforms himself because he’s a British gentleman and can only fall so far. And the heroine gets the hero…three heroes in fact, she’s a hardworking gel.
I was hesitant about adding this book to the Mala Fide eLibrary but since it’s being sold as science fiction at a few sites my contrarian worldview compels me to offer it free of charge and correctly labeled.
“But suppose you’ve bitten a specky bit by accident?”
Armageddon 2419 AD – The Airlords of the Han by Philip Francis Nowlan – From the August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories:
Here, once more, is a real scientifiction story plus. It is a story which will make the heart of many readers leap with joy.
We have rarely printed a story in this magazine that for scientific interest, as well as suspense, could hold its own with this particular story. We prophesy that this story will become more valuable as the years go by. It certainly holds a number of interesting prophecies, of which no doubt, many will come true. For wealth of science, it will be hard to beat for some time to come. It is one of those rare stories that will bear reading and re-reading many times.
Heh…scientifiction. These are the adventures of Tony Rogers in the 24th century. His name was changed to Buck and he became Buster Crabbe.
“Heaven-Born, the Nu-Yok fleet has been destroyed, the city is in ruins…”
E. Phillips Oppenheim wrote genre fiction at the turn of the 20th century. I’ve developed an appreciation for E. Phil. With the evil Germans (some of their operas can last for days), the women with masses of red-gold hair, and all the ‘What the mischief!’s, what’s not to like? A caveat, E. Phil is a dead white Anglican Briton and writes that way; non-whites, non-Anglicans, and non-Britons are poorly dealt with.
The Great Impersonation – This First World War spy novel is a string of clichés…evil Germans, identical non-twins, the revenge of spurned lovers, ghosts, family curses, loyal retainers…but it’s a well made string of clichés. One of the characters says that the plot ‘but for its serious side, would provide all the elements for a Palais Royal farce’; I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought so. There’s also a (an?) Hungarian princess with massive red-gold hair.
“I am part of a great machine,” was the somewhat evasive reply. “I have nothing to do but obey.”
The Zeppelin’s Passenger – I was disappointed because the evil German zeppelin never actually appeared in the book. However, the rather inattentive lady the eponymous passenger “makes love to” has massive red-gold hair.
“People who travel in Zeppelins don’t wear things like that.”
Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo – Grex has got a lot in common with Zepp, but I think that was the secret to Oppenheim’s success. Volume. In addition to the standard evil Germans, E. Phil has added proud and deluded (by evil Germans) Russians, vain and deluded (by evil Germans) French, and plucky and smitten (by hot Russian chicks) Americans. E. Phil thought that Americans were the future of the Anglo-Saxon race, y él estaba absolutamente correcto.
“The wolves sleep in the daytime,” Selingman replied.
The Profiteers – What do you call a man who kidnaps his business rivals, tortures them to death, and marries the subsequent widow (an accomplice in the kidnap/murder)? A hero, of course.
“I love American millionaires who do things in Wall Street and fight with billions. If he’s really nice, he may take me off your hands, Jimmy.”
The Kingdom of the Blind – TKOTB takes place during WWI…I mean, the Great War and features a spy who has an English father and a German mother. There are a few brief struggles between his light (English) and dark (German) sides, but his evil Germanity wins out. He attempts to kill a romantic rival with a submarine and blow up Buckingham Palace with a zeppelin, the cad. He’s nearly done in by an old maid (28 and still unmarried, the poor gel) but the bounder is never tried for his heinous crimes by the temporal authorities and has to be done in by the writer…I mean, a higher court.
“I should have behaved just like any other stupidly and properly brought-up young woman–waited and hoped and made an idiot of myself whenever you were around, and in the end, I suppose, been disappointed.”
Anthem by Ayn Rand – The US copyright on Anthem has lapsed, quite by accident I’m sure, and it’s in the public domain here in the land of the free, the home of the brave only. If you’re not in the US or its posessions, you may not download this ebook…and you’re a goldurned foreigner. One of La Rand’s books in the public domain? You can cut glass with the irony.
“But I am done with this creed of corruption.”
The Second Deluge by Garrett P. Serviss – This book, published in 1912, shares a basic plot with the film 2012 (cue theramin coinkydink music); astronomical phenomenon cause global catastrophe, boats are built to save humanity, and the Eiffel Tower is destroyed dramatically. Sadly, that hot chick from Star Trek doesn’t make an appearance in the book, making the movie the superior work.
“And then good-by to the human race…unless…unless…I, Cosmo Versál, inspired by science, can save a remnant to repeople the planet after the catastrophe.”
In the Year 2889 (La Journée d’un journaliste américain en 2889) by Jules Verne – Although it was written by Jules’ son Michel, it was based on Verne pere‘s notes. The French title covers it: “Day of an American journalist in 2889″. It’s an interesting short story, I love the overwrought 19th Century prose, and that fact that it’s about as accurate as The Jetsons.
…[T]he progress of hygiene…has lifted the mean of human life from 37 up to 52 years…
Candide by Voltaire – As my loquacious sister says, satire doesn’t age well, but this book does have that cool line about killing admirals It’s fun to say pour encourager les autres in a low and menacing tone.
“Cunegund and Candide slipped behind the screen. The miss dropped her handkerchief, the young man picked it up.”
More sources for free ebooks.
Baen Free Library – Free, current SF in multiple formats from Baen Books.
WebScription Ebooks – The commercial side of the Baen Free Library. Current SF and fantasy from Baen and Tor. The Baen Free Library is available on the site.
Munsey’s (formerly Blackmask Online) – Pulp e-fiction, free and cheap.
chugnutt – Jon offers free Palm eReader ebooks.
E-Book Library at the Univerity of Virginia Electronic Text Center – A large collection in multiple formats.
Project Gutenberg – One of the oldest and largest, if not the oldest and largest, etext libraries in the Solar system.