Some Terrific Free Books and Music

Every time I turned around this past week someone else was offering a free book or musical track. The best part of these offers is most of them aren't one off deals, they are part of a continuing, if limited series, so if you jump on the bandwagon now you can end up in the proverbial catbird seat. (For those of you who don't speak that particular dialect I will translate; you can get enough free stuff to last you until the cows come home.)

My two favorite publishers, Tor and HarperCollins, are giving away free e-books, I believe with the idea of getting you addicted to the authors, so you'll zoom out and get a bunch more, plumping up their balance sheets nicely. If you go to the Tor website you'll find a splash page with this message:

Something new is coming. Register to be one of the first to join us, and receive free digital books from bestselling and award-winning SF and fantasy authors. This is just the beginning.

Once you register, you'll receive our newsletter and a link to download a digital book. And you'll receive a link to another new book every week.

The first week's free book is Mistborn, by rising fantasy star Brandon Sanderson. Next week's will be Old Man's War by John Scalzi, 2006's winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Over the next several weeks, other books still.

So sign up. Stay in touch. And watch the skies.

Long time readers of this column will remember that Old Man's War was my favorite book of 2006. I haven't had a chance to read Mistborn yet but I hear nothing but good things about Brandon Sanderson. This is definitely a deal you're going to want to get in on. So hop to it, sign up and come back and read the rest of the column. I'll be waiting for you.

On Wednesday, when I wrote this, there were three books available on HarperCollins' front page. Unlike Tor, which gives you the books as a download, HarperCollins is offering their books as a read on their site special only, as part of their "browse inside" program, although in these cases you can browse the entire book, for one month. The official press release states:

In the “Full Access” Program, HarperCollins is working with individual authors to test how free access affects books sales. For a one month period the following books will be available in their entirety on Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello; I Dream in Blue: Life, Death, and the New York Giants by Roger Director; Mark Halperin’s
The Undecided Voter's Guide to the Next President: Who the Candidates Are, Where They Come from, and How You Can Choose
;Mission: Cook!: My Life, My Recipes, and Making the Impossible Easy by Robert Irvine; and
Warriors: Into the Wild
, the first volume of the bestselling children’s series by Erin Hunter.

I imagine you're going to want to use those links because I could not find the free version of some of the books while at the site. Perhaps my search fu was just not any good.

This isn't all that HarperCollins is doing. They plan to release one free new book by Paulo Coelho every month for a year. And they're going to add at least one Neil Gaiman book. Which one you say? Well that's up to us. Neil has asked us to go to his journal and vote for which of eight books you would choose as a gift for a friend, to introduce them to Neil's writing. You can vote here and when the results are tallied HarperCollins will pop the winning entry up at their site. If you're new to Neil's website be sure to take a look at his Cool Stuff page, where you can find loads of free things, including five stories, one of which is a favorite of mine, I Cthulhu.

Horror writer Douglas Clegg, (Vampyricon Trilogy) is also offering a variety of free e-books, available to subscribers of his newsletter. If you’re not already subscribed you can join at his site by clicking the member's only link. You'll find wallpaper, videos, screensavers and a variety of short stories, novellas, excerpts and novels, including his very first novel ever published, Goat Dance. You can also read a short story by clicking this link. Douglas releases one free story per month for everyone, subscribers and non-subscribers alike, some brand new and some previously published. This month's story is called The American and is excerpted from Wild Things: Four Tales.

One Ring Zero, a really interesting band featuring one of the few claviola players in the world, is giving away an MP3 a week until their ten year anniversary show on March 7th. I downloaded S.O.S. on Valentines Day, a surprisingly cheery melody for a song with a title crying out for help. It's an instrumental cover of the ABBA song, and yes, its lots of fun. If the name One Ring Zero isn't ringing a bell, you may remember them from their Author Project, As Smart as We Are, a really terrific album where authors, including one mentioned already in this column, wrote songs and One Ring Zero put them to music. One of my favorites is Margaret Atwood's Frankenstein Monster Song, but then I like just about all the songs on the CD. If you missed it when it came out you should give it a try.

One-Paragraph Review
This week's one-paragraph review is from Jameshjr, who comments on a new show running on ABC, saying, "If you haven’t caught the first two episodes of Eli Stone, I’d recommend you look out for the next entry, coming up on Thursday. The first episode was for me the best written, best acted, most refreshing and best produced TV I’ve seen in years. I don’t know if it can sustain itself, but it is truly wonderful. And I normally hate lawyer shows." Have you got a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me and I'll run the most interesting ones. You can reach me at .