eBook Recommendations – November 2010

Although I’m loving my Kindle, I’ve been collecting sources for e-books for a while, from reading some on my old Palm III and even my old Windows 95 PC and Mac Powerbook 190cs. I thought then, since e-texts are now more accessible, to recommend a few every now and then, which I’ve found to be worth the time. I’m trying to pull them from different genres, but also sources, so people can look around the sites to see if there’s anything else which interests them.

Of course, everyone should go and check out the awesome resource which is gutenberg.org for their unrivaled collection of public domain and otherwise legally available downloads. If you want to go back and read true classics, that’s the place.

Also, these aren’t reviews, just general recommendations. Maybe I’ll get to write quick reviews in a few months.

Blindsight by Peter Watts

This is hard Sci-Fi novel available for free online, or for purchase, and a former Hugo Award nominee which is impressive in it’s own right. It deals with a near future first alien contact scenario, and like 2001 and other encounter tales, looks to see how much such an experience will tell us about ourselves as well as the aliens.[download]

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

This was Cory Doctorow’s real breakout work, of a fantastical future with no money – only whuffie – no death and the world of the Bitchun Society, woven into which is a murder mystery. It’s a well written tale, and has always been a free download which Doctorow is a big proponent of. It’s also a good introduction to some of Doctorow’s other works, some of which have received several awards, as well as the respect of other contemporary writers. [downloads]

The Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling

This is a true story as such, or rather a documentary in print of some of the hacker exploits of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, not just about the hackers, but also the police and government forces charged with tracking these -often kids, down. It’s fascinating to read after the fact, about the obsession of these kids, the complete lack of coverage under law, and the poor funding and support keen law enforcement agents received. I actually liked this enough to buy a print copy too having read it digitally, in about 1998. I’m also a fan of Bruce Sterling’s other works, especially ‘Global Head’, a collection of short stories, and his journalistic work. [download]

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

A literary classic from 1899,  set in Africa against a background of Imperialism and racism in a dangerous time and place. It follows the story of Marlow, an ivory trading riverboat captain as he seeks to return another trader back to civilization from upriver. The book is probably better known as being the loose basis for the film ‘Apocalypse Now’ and is contentious by today’s standards for racial and religious viewpoints, which is perhaps why it’s still so widely read, reflecting the standards of another not-too-distant time. [download]