10 Recommendations for Your New e-Reader
Monday, December 26, 2011
Well, according to everything we've read (mostly from the Amazon News Corps), something like 112% of humanity just received some sort of digital e-reader thing for the holidays.
In the off-chance you're one of them: congratulations! If there's one thing that eBooks are great for, it is enabling the discovery of new and wonderful books, books you never would've stumbled upon otherwise.
To help get you started, here are ten great books that we've found recently - and never would have, if it weren't for our digital toys.
Black Wings (edited by ST Joshi). PS Publishing, one of the UK's finest small presses, stuck its theoretical toes in the digital water in 2011. As well as a series of e-shorts and e-tales (novella reprints and original shorts), they've re-released several of their anthologies in the digital format. This is a great way to find hard to get books for a very reasonable price. And Black Wings, which earned well-deserved nominations for a zillion awards, is a corker - some of the best contemporary Lovecraftian fiction in decades. (£3.99 from the publisher)
"The Cop on the Corner" by David Goodis. Or any of the other noir short stories on Munsey's. The site collects old pulp fiction - out of copyright and out of print. There are some amazing titles on there (also some complete rubbish). Like Project Gutenberg, the organisation (or lack thereof) can be a little daunting. It is better for searching than browsing. But be prepared to lose hours in early Goodis, Willeford, Howard, Craig... etc., etc. (The site is great for old SF as well.) (Free)
The Cultural Gutter (edited by The Cultural Gutter team). E-readers are a great way of catching up on the longer essays and blog posts from your favorite sites, and The Cultural Gutter have made it easy. Their book collects fifty of the best articles from this website devoted to "thoughtful articles about disreputable art". Topics include James Gurney, Stephen King's Dark Tower series, Georgette Heyer, Twilight, Batman and mummies. Also? Amazing design work - check out all the gorgeous diagrams. (Between "free" and "almost free" depending on format.)
Last Call by Tim Powers. The Gollancz-powered SF Gateway is bringing a half-century's worth of great science fiction and fantasy back to readers. There's now no excuse for having not read books like Powers' Last Call (easily one of the best fantasies ever written - like American Gods with teeth), Frank Herbert's Dune (much more portable in digital format) or Pat Cadigan's Mindplayers (still as edgy and perception-bending today as it was when first published). Granted, the concept of the gateway has a touch of the Lovecraftian about it as well. This is expressed by a few resurrected horrors from John Norman and Piers Anthony, shambling through the portal, goozing slime and blinking at the light of day. (Currently most books are £2.99 in all formats)
Masterpieces of Mystery in Four Volumes (edited by Joseph Lewis French). Project Gutenberg is the greatest thing ever - the only hard part is knowing where to start. This four volume set (originally from 1922) of classic short stories is a good beginning. Divided into four topics (from "Detection" to "Ghost Stories"), the series brings together Poe, Doyle and Collins, as well as Machen, Twain, Hearn, Blackwood and James. A great grounding in genre classics. (Free)
Paintwork by Tim Maughan. A stonking collection of three near-future SF stories that prove that cyberpunk isn't dead - just quietly installing system updates. We've reviewed "Havana Augmented" in the past, but really, augmented reality war-robot-gaming-motorcycle-battle-things on the streets of Cuba? What else is there to say? (£2.14 through Amazon or Wizard's Tower)
Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse (edited by us). It'd actually be a little disingenuous not to plug our own book. The goal with "Panda" was to create an anthology that we'd like to read, and since we succeeded, it belongs on the list. 18 original tales of the end of the world, from award-winners, Pornokitsch favorites and amazing debut writers - Lauren Beukes, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Sophia McDougall, Scott K. Andrews, Archie Black, Tom Pollock, etc. etc. (£2.49 via Amazon)
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Just think about this as self-defense. Burroughs has just gone out of copyright. That, coupled with the upcoming movie(s) means that 2012 will be the year of the Burroughs. Barsoom and Tarzan will be everywhere. Granted, movie tie-in covers are pretty foxy (Taylor Kitsch) and plether-bound limited editions always look good on a shelf, but, as of now, you already have all the actual content for free. Kind of fun, isn't it? (Free)
The Reef by Mark Charan Newton. Another early work from a now-established name. The Reef is a wonderful little New Weird scamper - a group of "freelance explorers" trying to solve a mystery, topple an empire and raise a really, really big squid. Digitisation allows readers access to these lost early works. Although less than six years old, the book was already impossible to find before Tor re-released it as an eBook. (£1.59 on Amazon)
Thy Kingdom Come by Simon Morden. I know I recommend this one a lot, but this collection of post-Apocalyptic vignettes is absolutely amazing. Mr. Morden's just signed another deal with Orbit, and has gone from "name to watch" to "name that's out there". This book, one of his early works, goes a long way towards explaining why he's so impressive - they combine the imagination with emotional power, telling a sweeping SF story with a sequence of character-driven narratives. (Free from the author's site.)