Sometimes you might find yourself sitting at a computer, wanting to read something. But you don't want something long. You're thinking, what about a short story, and possibly something in the fantasy or sci-fi realms? You're in luck! Here are four collections, for your reading pleasure: Apex Magazine short fiction | Baen Ebooks Free Library, which includes some short story collections | Eclipse Online, from Nightshade Books | Strange Horizons fiction archive, including podcasts of many stories. If this is overwhelming, io9 has a pick of 5 short stories from January, with synopses. [Previously: Plane of the Ecliptic, on the Eclipse series | This isn't your grandfather's science fiction, where "Exhalation" is from the Eclipse series]
"THE CLOUDS stretched across the Texas sky like a highway. And soaring along those lanes, lofted nearly 8,000 feet by the hot air rising from the earth, two hang gliders raced in tight pursuit of the most prized feat in this high adrenaline niche sport: farthest ever flown." The NY Times on breaking the hang gliding long distance record.
"Edlinger began to climb. As the last competitor, everyone at Snowbird knew how high he must get to beat his rivals and win the event. With apparent ease, he climbed past their high-points, until pausing beneath a huge overhang that had defeated all-comers. At that moment, a narrow shaft of sunlight pierced the cloud cover and illuminated Edlinger. When he completed the route, the only one from the world's best to do so, the crowd erupted. Until this point, American climbers had been unsure about competition climbing. After Edlinger, they were converted." - Patrick Edlinger, age 52, died on December 10, after years of battling depression following a near-death fall in the nineties that prevented him from climbing at the same level. [more inside]
Decay is a free, downloadable zombie film set entirely at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. [more inside]
‘On May 24th, 2012, I set out on a musical and physical challenge. My aim was to find inspiration for the recordings on this album. I cycled to the four furthest points of mainland Britain, a journey of more than 2000 miles.On my bike I carried a mobile recording rig and, as I discovered locations along the way that provided inspiration for my songs, I was able to record (free-tracking) performances you can hear on these tracks.’
In honor of the release of their new album, the experimental instrumental hip-hop group 3:33 (a side project of Parallel Thought) have released the free album 7 Sets of 7, an amazing series of surreal/atmospheric/old-school remixes of various hip-hop artists including Del The Funky Homosapien, Bone Thugs N Harmony, and MF DOOM. They're also offering for free their horror-influenced album The First Thousand Days. [more inside]
For about three years, the A.V. Club ran Sawbuck Gamer, a regular column reviewing the week's most notable free and cheap games across all platforms, from web games to handhelds to console downloadables. It's a treasure trove of content, especially since more literary sister site The Gameological Society took the helm, and it's publicized great desktop projects like the luscious platformer Frogatto (previously), feature-rich Super Mario Bros. X (previously), the evocative faux-web Digital: A Love Story (previously), interactive fiction gem Rover's Day Off, and the hyperkinetic RunMan: Race Around the World (previously). But if you're in the mood for something more immediate, why not start with a list of all the original column's free A-rated online titles? [more inside]
Here's a bit of noise for your Friday: three free EPs from the duo known as Flosstradamus. As the three X EPs are presented with minimal information and blind links to zip files, here are three links with more text and streaming versions of the song. Two more bonuses: Major Lazer's Original Don remixed by Flosstradamus, and Certified Trap, a 20 minute mini-documentary on Trap Music.
Jonathan Strahan’s acclaimed Eclipse series of anthologies is coming to the web as Eclipse Online. The first story is The Contrary Gardener by Christopher Rowe, from Eclipse One.
Books on the Knob, Pixel of Ink, and iReader Review are three blogs that feature free & bargain ebooks daily. If you want to start simple there's OpenCulture's 375 Free eBooks list but if you don't mind doing some footwork then there's this very comprehensive 614 Places for Free eBooks Online post (with divisions of content by genre) on Gizmo's Freeware. [more inside]
Rock diva and Kickstarter heroine Amanda Palmer asks local musicians/fans to come on stage to perform a few songs with her. But professional musicians are outraged at this blatant act of exploitation. [more inside]
BEOWULF: A new translation Many modern Beowulf translations, while excellent in their own ways, suffer from what Kathleen Biddick might call “melancholy” for an oral and aural way of poetic making… The sense of loss or nostalgia for the old form seems a necessary and ever-present shadow over modern Beowulfs. What happens, however, when a contemporary poet, quite simply, doesn’t bother with any such nostalgia? Michael Davidson: "Tom Meyer’s Beowulf reenacts the dark grandeur of a poem that is as much a story of vengeance as it is of courage and loyalty. Meyer brings the poem’s alliterative, inflected line in concert with post-Poundian lineation to give the reader a vivid sense of our oldest poem’s modernity." Free download from independent publisher Punctum Books. [more inside]
Lisa Kristine, a photographer, gives a thoughtful and very moving talk on the extent of modern day slavery in this TEDx talk. The photos she shows are absolutely beautiful and the bare-bones stories behind them are exceptionally hard to hear at times. The group she is working with, Free the Slaves, seems to be doing a lot of good work and working on real solutions for the people involved (such as the one example she gives where the slaves that were freed carried on doing the same work, the only work they had ever known, but rent the quarry themselves and are now the recipients of the profits etc). She has published a book with these photos as well and it's available on her website.
Telephone Free Landslide Victory (side A): Border Ska, The day Lassie went to the Moom, Wasted with quality shut us down, Yanqui go Home, 9 of disks, Payed vacation greece, 1985 footage of Camper Van Beehtoven singing WTHiB and Cowboys from Hollywood. [more inside]
George Watsky ("Pale Kid Raps Fast") has released a new free 16-track mixtape. First single: Rich Girl, based on the Hall and Oates song of the same name.
Adrift in a bleak economy and our isolated urban bubble, in 2010 my sweetheart and I set out to see the world the old-fashioned way: by bicycle. We did it on the cheap and without any itinerary, gadgets, or training. We moved south with the sun as the seasons changed, cooked food we found at local markets, and slept in fields or on strangers’ couches. [more inside]
Free online graph paper generators: variations of squares, triangle, rhombus, and hexagonal, circular and polar, for drawing, gaming, writing, note-taking and much more. Blank Sheet Music (Flash) for all arrangements (PDF). Create and edit your own grids, probability and logarithmic graphs, petri-dish inserts and storyboards. Also, multilingual monthly and yearly calendars. Plus, more than you ever wanted to know about ISO paper dimensions and printable paper models of polyhedra. Prev-ious-ly.
Ektoplazm is now the world’s largest distributor of free (and legal) psytrance music specializing in high-quality Creative Commons-licensed content from netlabels and independent artists, all released in MP3 and lossless CD-quality FLAC and WAV formats.
Is liking a post on Facebook protected by the First Amendment? A US District Court says no. [more inside]
Free Comic Book Day is back again! (Previously.) It's the one day a year when comic book stores in North America and around the world will be handing out free books -- mainly as an attempt to lure new readers to the genre. Some shops do signings, too. See you at the comic book shops on May 5th!
"Hi, my name’s Terry Cavanagh [previously], and I’m an indie game developer. I started this blog in March 2012 to talk about the sort of freeware games that I find interesting, and to share those games with more people. Thank you for reading!" [more inside]
Proof that libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries
Build Your Own Little Free Library. Check out some others. These too. The scoop and the FAQ. "Question #1: Won't People steal the books? No. You can't steal a free book. And if you have a good steward and lots of active users, eventually someone who tries to "steal" books will realize that it's not a good thing to do."
Psychonaut by The Cosmic Dead is free psych rock. Going Up, Coming Down by Sudden Death of Stars is free French psych with sitars. Kosmonaut 1 by Kosmonaut is free Tangerine Dream-style space rock. Sedan by Sedan is free hypnotic piano and drums. Ouroborus by Hypatia Lake is free stoner rock. Watch Your Back by Butchers is free slacker noise psych. Tumbleweeds by Across Tundras is free prairie rock. Concrete Light by Luger is free neo-kraut in a Stereolab vein. Born to Deal in Magic: 1952-1976 by Shooting Guns is free instrumental stoner doom. You Can't Win by The Runnies is free female-fronted organ trio psych. War of the Giants by Axxicorn is free stoner metal. [more inside]
Gizmo's Freeware is a non-commercial community website staffed entirely by volunteers. Our primary function is to help you select the best freeware product for your particular needs.
100 Free Photoshop Podcast Tutorials — While many Photoshop instructors focus on features and tools, Richard Harrington covers both the specific skills and techniques you'll need. [requires iTunes]
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these. The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth -- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect," a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger. More: Table of Contents - Publishing history - Technical discussion - Buy a paperback copy - Podcast interview - Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace" - possible sequel discussion
Here is Dungeon Squad! A simple, free role-playing game intended for younger players (but enjoyable by older ones), with lots of dice rolling and action. Here's a couple of adventures for it, here's an expansion, and here's a more complex version. Here's the expansion Adventure Squad, in three PDFs: Core - Abilities - D&D 3E Classes. Here's yet another expansion. [more inside]
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
2011 marks the 15th birthday of Tummy Touch Records (Discogs) and 10th birthday of Bastard Jazz Recordings (Discogs). To celebrate, the two record labels labels teamed up and are giving away a 10 track remix album, crossing artists from each label, resulting in a happy blend of diverse house music.
Treasure Adventure Game is a free 2D game of exploration on the high seas from independent developer Robit Studios. Dig, sail, fight, and dive across dozens of islands in search of a lost treasure. Download link here.
Try one of over 600 courses available through the Open University's Learning Space. Get to know the meaning behind the making of kente cloth of Ghana or learn the mathematical modelling involved in analysing skid marks. Lose yourself in art and design or simply learn a new old language. All you need is a device with a browser and internet access. Bonus: OU on the BBC's Frozen Planet series
Stealth Bastard: Technical Espionage Asshole is a sidescrolling stealth game for Windows that is part puzzle platformer and part Super Meat Boy. It also has a level editor and is inexplicably free. Go play! [more inside]
Daily Racing Form: from nags to doping! Horse racing is one of the oldest pastimes, with wagering on the nags following closely after. Betting intelligently requires either a good eye or an available record of past performance. Originally a Chicago newspaper, this periodical gives the tout the inside scoop on past performances. The monumental digitization of this paper brings a new light on racing sport. And they're off and running...
Treshr makes it easy to give things away, or, the other way around, find free stuff. Everyone has stuff they don’t need anymore. Maybe your child outgrew their old clothes, or you moved to a new place and have old furniture to get rid of. Whatever it is you’re looking for, someone somewhere is trying to throw it away. Treshr is basically a search engine for Freecycle, a nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. [via] [more inside]
We are making journal content on JSTOR published prior to 1923 in the United States and prior to 1870 elsewhere, freely available to the public for reading and downloading. This includes nearly 500,000 articles from more than 200 journals, representing approximately 6% of the total content on JSTOR.
Sciweavers' free online productivity tools include an international virtual keyboard, OCR, image format conversion, and just about every manner of PDF manipulation imaginable.
Novelist, frontman, economist, pig stealer, and man from Ireland, Julian Gough invites you to join him on an adventure in "a love-based mutant version of capitalism."
It’s extremely lo-fi and tricky to find your way about, but it’s startlingly atmospheric for a game of so little content. It’s a clunky, grainy first-person game set at night in a snowy wood, under distant searchlights and sirens. The object of the game is find five locations, and read the five plaques, before the thing that is searching for you – some kind of disturbing mobile searchlight thing light – manages to find you. Sprint and you’ll get out of breath and need to stop to recover. It’s extremely lo-fi and tricky to find your way about, but it’s startlingly atmospheric for a game of so little content. Via Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
Dead Cyborg has the heart of a text adventure within the body of a 3d engine (youtube trailer). Caveats: donationware - future episodes dependent on donations. burster plug-in required for browser play
The Indie Game Legend! Save the indie developers from an alien world full of vicious inhabitants in this meaty top down shooter. (via Pixel Prospector. You might have heard of PP when he made the video compilation 235 Free Indie Games in 10 minutes. He's followed it up with 75 Free Indie Games in 5 minutes and 93 Free Arena Shooters in 10 minutes.)
The official Google Earth plugin is one free download that makes all sorts of cool stuff possible in your browser. There's a full screen version of the program (complete with underwater views and 3D buildings) which can be searched by entering queries at the end of the URL. There's a framed version with support for layers, historical imagery, day/night cycles, and the Google Sky starmap. Less useful but more fun are Google's collection of "experiments" demonstrating the possibilities of the Earth API, including a "Geo Whiz" geography quiz, an antipode locater, a 3D first-person view of San Francisco, a virtual route-follower, and MONSTER MILKTRUCK!, a crazy fun driving simulator that lets you careen a virtual milk truck through the Googleplex campus, ricochet off the Himalayas, or explore any other place you care to name. Lots more can be found in the Google Earth Gallery -- highlights include a look at mountaintop removal mining, a real-time flight tracker, a guide to trails and outdoor recreation, a 360 panorama catalog, geotagged Panoramio photos, and the comprehensive crowdsourced Google Earth Community Layer. And while it's too large to view online, don't miss loading the Metafilter user location map into a desktop version of Google Earth! [more inside]
Claire L. Evans is half of the music group YACHT. She also writes two thoughtful blogs: the science blog Universe, and the science fiction blog Space Canon. The latest post on Space Canon is her sci-fi infused hour long dance mix Fly On, UFO. (direct mp3 link, 111mb) It promises "to travel to disco dystopias and far-flung cosmic boogies." Groovy.
The Root of Knowledge - "Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at 'Philosophy.' " (via) [more inside]
Marvel.com now has many animated series (all episodes, in their entirety) available to view online at their website including The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Superheroes, X-Men, The Animated Series, X-Men Evolution, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, and Spider-Man (1967) (Full list inside) [more inside]
Elfinspell is a garishly painted trunk stuffed with rare old books. You can browse the collection by timeline or by Muse.
NationStates is a free political simulation game founded by author Max Barry back in 2002 (previously). Loosely based on his dystopian corporate thriller Jennifer Government, the game starts by asking players to provide some national trappings and answer a few civics questions, then generates a virtual country with a matching political outlook. Periodic policy decisions like mining rights and compulsory voting allow players to further modify their country along axes of social, political, and economic freedom, arriving at one of twenty-seven colorful government types like Tyranny By Majority or Scandinavian Liberal Paradise. There's also a healthy roleplaying community -- players can discuss current events in the General forum, practice wargaming in International Incidents, form cooperative Regions to debate internal affairs (many of which form their own communities), and elect Delegates to send to the World Assembly (so renamed after an amusing cease-and-desist from the real-world U.N.). Their collective history is thoroughly recorded in the 35,000-article NSWiki, which provides a detailed legislative record, gameplay guide, and profiles on many of the 90,000 active nations, 8,000 player regions, and countless characters that currently make up the game world.