Recent English sci-fi at Project Gutenberg

verne-lune.pngNot too long ago Project Gutenberg started publishing sci-fi books from the Golden Age of science fiction (1950s - 1960s); we can do this because of non-renewed copyrights. Authors include H. Beam Piper, Andre Norton, Terry Gene Carr, Ray Cummings, Lester Del Rey, Murray Leinster, Carey Rockwell, and more. You'll discover a completer list with links at The Thunder Child, a web magazine for Sci-Fi and Fantasy, named after the famous ironclad from Wells' War of the Worlds. If you need hard-copy, Wildside Press has started printing a number of these (I have seen Piper and Wells); never having ordered there, I don't know what the quality is like, though.

Non-renewed copyrights: until recently, holding a copyright in the US required registration with the copyright office. If you failed to do so, no copyright for you! And if you registered, and wanted your copyright to last longer than 28 years, you had to renew your copyright after 28 years. The books referred to above were not renewed, and are therefor in the public domain.

Project Gutenberg (PG) has only recently started republishing these books in earnest, because it is harder to prove their public domain status. Instead of relying on the information printed on the title page alone, the project needs to be able to rely on the records of the Copyright Office too.

As with most of PG’s e-texts nowadays, most of these novels have come through Distributed Proofreaders. If you would like a sneak preview of your favourite fifties sci-fi, why not proofread a few pages?

5 Comments on Recent English sci-fi at Project Gutenberg

  1. Useful other link to go along with that one, that has a broader coverage list for those interested in that sort of thing :-

    http://www.gutenberg.net.au/sfproject.html

  2. This is just the kind of post I’d like to see more of. Many thanks, Branko! We know that sci-fi is a major genre within E-Book Land.

    Meanwhile let me repeat an earlier invitation. We’re looking for more contributors to the TeleBlog. Here’s a possible chance not just to write about the technology but also about the e-book efforts of valuable group such as PG. E-mail me. – David

  3. “Publishers Weekly” says that Howard Phillips Lovecraft was “the most important U.S. horror writer since Edgar Allan Poe and a big influence on nearly every major figure in the genre after his day.” His works appear in the canon-forming “Library of America” series. Many of Lovecraft’s horror stories were also science fiction stories because he carefully constructed a speculative scientific explanation to replace the traditional supernatural justification within his tales.

    The majority of his important works were written after the traditional copyright cutoff date of 1923. So I was enjoyably surprised to find that the Wikisource website has the full text of an extensive collection of Lovecraft’s stories that were written after 1923. The archive contains well known stories that have been made into movies and television shows such as “Herbert West: Reanimator”, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, “Dagon”, “Pickman’s Model”. Unsurprisingly, the movies are loose adaptations of the stories – very loose.

    The Wikisource webpage argues that much of Lovecraft’s oeuvre is in the public domain because copyright renewals are missing from the relevant records databases. Project Gutenberg (U.S.) currently does not have any items listed under Lovecraft. The link provided by Rupert Packer lists a small number of pre-1923 items by Lovecraft. However, Project Gutenberg (Australia) currently does have a large number of post-1923 stories by Lovecraft. Perhaps these stories can now be moved to the U.S. server if the analysis presented by Wikisource is accurate. Also, perhaps the stories with SF content can be added to the Thunder Child website.

  4. Useful other link to go along with that one

    Keep in mind that for Americans it may be illegal to download from PG-AU.

    The Wikisource webpage argues that much of Lovecraft’s oeuvre is in the public domain because copyright renewals are missing from the relevant records databases. Project Gutenberg (U.S.) currently does not have any items listed under Lovecraft.

    We discussed this at Distributed Proofreaders; a reason that was brought forward (if I understood things correctly) is that the copyright clearable editions that we should use are incredibly rare, whereas publishers of later versions claim copyrights on the text.

    False copyright claims generally do not deter us, but we need to be able to prove these claims are false.

    However, Project Gutenberg (Australia) currently does have a large number of post-1923 stories by Lovecraft. Perhaps these stories can now be moved to the U.S. server if the analysis presented by Wikisource is accurate.

    Project Gutenberg is as much a organisation for legal analysis as it is for disseminating books. PG will not take on texts for which it has no proof of its copyright status. That sounds more like a thing for the World Ebook Library, or whatever its nom du jour is. PG-AU is a separate entity, and may have other ideas about what constitutes legally valid proof. Also, the PG-AU versions may be based on books printed in Australia, and that comes with a diminished likelyhood that PG will clear these texts.

  5. For more free ebooks, just go to our site at http://www.bookyards.com
    Our science fiction site is small, but we have an extensive list of other ebooks.

    For a list of free online libraries that specialize on science fiction, just go to the following link
    http://www.bookyards.com/search_results.html?category_id=1801&type=links

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