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More Free Classic Reads‘s latest batch of science fiction titles includes some revered classics:

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

At a moment when Europe is in danger of a catastrophe worse than that of 1914 a book like this may be condemned as a distraction from the desperately urgent defence of civilization against modern barbarism.

Year by year, month by month, the plight of our fragmentary and precarious civilization becomes more serious. Fascism abroad grows more bold and ruthless in its foreign ventures, more tyrannical toward its own citizens, more barbarian in its contempt for the life of the mind. Even in our own country we have reason to fear a tendency toward militarization and the curtailment of civil liberty. Moreover, while the decades pass, no resolute step is taken to alleviate the injustice of our social order. Our outworn economic system dooms millions to frustration.

The Ultimate Weapon by John W. Campbell, Jr.

The star Mira was unpredictably variable. Sometimes it was blazing, brilliant and hot. Other times it was oddly dim, cool, shedding little warmth on its many planets. Gresth Gkae, leader of the Mirans, was seeking a better star, one to which his “people” could migrate. That star had to be steady, reliable, with a good planetary system. And in his astronomical searching, he found Sol.

With hundreds of ships, each larger than whole Terrestrial spaceports, and traveling faster than the speed of light, the Mirans set out to move in to Solar regions and take over.

And on Earth there was nothing which would be capable of beating off this incredible armada–until Buck Kendall stumbled upon THE ULTIMATE WEAPON.

Scrimshaw” by Murray Leinster

Pop Young was the one known man who could stand life on the surface of the Moon’s far side, and, therefore, he occupied the shack on the Big Crack’s edge, above the mining colony there. Some people said that no normal man could do it, and mentioned the scar of a ghastly head-wound to explain his ability. One man partly guessed the secret, but only partly. His name was Sattell and he had reason not to talk. Pop Young alone knew the whole truth, and he kept his mouth shut, too. It wasn’t anybody else’s business.

Cry from a Far Planet” by Tom Godwin

He listened in the silence of the Exploration ship’s control room. He heard nothing but that was what bothered him; an ominous quiet when there should have been a multitude of sounds from the nearby village for the viewscreen’s audio-pickups to transmit. And it was more than six hours past the time when the native, Throon, should have come to sit with him outside the ship as they resumed the laborious attempt to learn each other’s language.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

1 Comment on More Free Classic Reads

  1. Anyone who has not read STARMAKER might be prompted by curiosity to see what science fiction from 1914 looked like. Considering that this was a time when kings and princes still ruled Europe, and the Industrial Revolution was only as old then as the Internet is to us now, more or less, the sheer breadth and scope of the author’s imagination is powerfully impressive.

    The main character is merely a viewpoint; this is not a novel, it is an imaginary history book. The human is carried as a disembodied mind first from the world of the Other Men, through their tragic end, to more distant worlds and more alien psychologies. He is joined in the mental quest first by one mind, and then many, and a new being comes from the union of minds, part of a system of minds that unite, first our galaxy, then all galaxies, embracing intelligences as various as mobile plants, crablike symbiots or insect hives that dwell on the superheavy flattened surface of immense, dead stars. Also included eventually are the intelligences that live in stars and nebulae.

    This story is nothing less than the history of the cosmic all, not merely of our own galaxy, from the current time to the end of time, and then beyond, to explore the many parallel universes created by an astronomically distant and uncaring god-being, the Star-Maker of the title.

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