[Free Audiobooks] New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson & Fake by Eric Simonson [Award-Nominated Science Fiction Novel & Science History Hoax Drama]

AudioFile’s SYNC Summer of Listening 2020 promotion for young adults offers 2 free audiobooks per week—1 classic or modern, 1 non-fiction or speculative—available worldwide for a limited time courtesy of participating major publishers, and you can see the planned release schedule here.

This week’s two selected titles, which have a theme of questioning past and future scientific assumptions and the associated status quo, will be available to claim until 11:59 PM Eastern Time on July 22nd.

  • New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, read by a full cast, from Hachette Audio. A standalone science fiction novel set in a future New York City partially submerged due to climate change, focusing on the various persons and factions living there as they try to survive and interact with each other despite the class divide between the wealthy in their secure skyscrapers above sea level, and the less privileged who live in the vulnerable low-lying tidal areas. This was a Best Novel finalist for the 2017 Hugo Award, and also placed 3rd on the annual Locus Award list for Best SF Novel.

  • Fake by Eric Simonson, performed by a full cast in front of a live audience, from L.A. Theatre Works. A science history drama alternating between the 1910s and the 1950s, exploring the discovery and impact and eventual debunking of the famous Piltdown Man fossil, a “missing link” debated over by many luminaries of the time, including Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who participates as a character in the play. This audiobook version also includes an interview with University of Chicago professor Russell H. Tuttle, a distinguished palaeoanthropologist, discussing the hoax in retrospect.

This year, they’ve switched over to requiring the Overdrive Sora app available for iOS and Android (previously, these were available as DRM-free MP3s with a time-limited download period to your computer/device), but once added to your in-app library, these will remain permanent titles that you can re-download at any time at your leisure.

You’ll need to signup with a valid email address on AudioFile’s front page for the promotion, and then enter the setup code audiobooksync in the Sora app when asked, and then claim each week’s featured title using the Borrow function on its page in the app, more details available on their FAQ page for the promotion.

Offered until just before midnight Eastern Time on Wednesday, July 22nd, available worldwide.

[Free eBook] The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal [Award-Winning Alternate History Science Fiction]

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, a puppeteer and recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (now the Astounding Award), is the 1st novel in the Lady Astronaut series of alternate history science fiction, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Macmillan’s Tor Books.

This is their featured free eBook of the Month Club offer for June, won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Sidewise Awards, and is being offered free to help promote the upcoming 3rd novel, The Relentless Moon, due in July.

The series takes place in an alternate 1950s where a global disaster prompts international efforts to accelerate and expand space exploration with the aim of colonizing the Moon and beyond to preserve humanity, and provides the prequel backstory to the Hugo Award for Best Novelette winning short “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” (readable free online at the Tor.com website).

This installment sets up the realization of the long-term effects of the initial meteorite strike and the ensuing efforts of talented women to take an equal role in the future as astronauts themselves, as seen from the viewpoint of a US mathematician and former pilot turned “calculator” for the new space program as she struggles against public and professional prejudices as well as her own disabling personal anxieties.

Offered through Friday, June 26th until just before midnight Eastern Time, available DRM-free to Canada & US only directly from the publisher.

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[Free eBook] Artificial Condition by Martha Wells [Award-Winning Science Fiction]

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells is the 2nd novella in the The Murderbot Diaries series of science fiction robot adventures, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Tor Books.

This is part of their featured Free eBook of the Month Club offer for April and also won the Hugo and Locus Awards for Best Novella, and is being offered alongside the its other series companion novellas over the course of the week at 1 per day for 24 hours each, to help promote the upcoming 1st full-length novel, Network Effect, which will be published in May.

The series is set in a spacefaring future where planetary exploration missions must be accompanied by security androids supplied by the Company, and stars one beginning to develop its own self-awareness as it hacks the modules which control its behaviour, unknown to and scornful of the humans around it.

This story has investigative mystery elements as the “Murderbot” begins exploring more of its newfound freedom on a journey of self-discovery while also looking into the hidden depths of its namesake past industrial incident and reluctantly becoming acquainted with other AIs.

Offered through for a 24-hour period from April 21st to 22nd until just before 6 AM morning Eastern Time, available DRM-free to Canada & the US only directly from the publisher.

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[Free eBook REPEAT] All Systems Red by Martha Wells [Award-Winning Science Fiction]

All Systems Red by Martha Wells is the 1st novella in the The Murderbot Diaries series of science fiction robot adventures, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Tor Books.

This is their featured free eBook of the Month Club offer for a 24-hour period from April 20th-21st (again, having previously been offered in 2018) won the Alex Award and has also won the Hugo and Nebula Awards for various parts of the series, and is being offered alongside its 3 sequel novellas over the course of the week at 1 per day for 24 hours each, to help promote the upcoming 1st full-length novel, Network Effect, which will be published in May.

The series is set in a spacefaring future where planetary exploration missions must be accompanied by security androids supplied by the Company, and stars one beginning to develop its own self-awareness as it hacks the modules which control its behaviour, unknown to and scornful of the humans around it.

This story has investigative mystery elements as one of the exploring groups on a distant planet suddenly loses contact with the other missions, leaving the scientists and the secretly self-named “Murderbot” to figure out what’s going on.

Offered through for a 24-hour period from April 20th to 21st until just before midnight Eastern Time, available DRM-free to Canada & the US only directly from the publisher.

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[Free eBook] Planet of the Damned by Harry Harrison [Award-Nominated Science Fiction]

Planet of the Damned by the late Harry Harrison, a recipient of the SFWA’s Grand Master Award for Lifetime Achievement, is the 1st novel in the Brion Brandd series of science fiction adventures, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Open Road Media.

This is Barnes & Noble’s Free Fridays selection for the weekend. The novel was originally serialized in 1961 under the title “A Sense of Obligation” in Analog magazine, and was a Hugo Award finalist in that form.

The series is of the “planetary romance” type with adventures set on exotic planets with distinctive features and cultures, following a super-intelligent athlete as he travels between them and deals with assorted problems. This story features a deadly conflict between two planets orbiting the same sun, one of which harbours a surprising secret responsible for the aggression of its war-mongering ruling class.

Offered in the US only, available at multiple retailers.

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[Free eBook] Infomocracy by Malka Older [Award-Nominated Science Fiction Technothriller]

Infomocracy by Malka Older, a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, is the 1st novel in the Centenal Cycle trilogy of political science fiction technothrillers, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Macmillan’s Tor Books imprint.

This placed 3rd in the 2017 Locus Awards in the Best First Novel category, and is the featured B&N Free Fridays selection for the weekend, presumably to help promote sales of the 2nd novel, Null States, which is currently discounted to just $2.99 at all North American retailers in anticipation of the release of the 3rd novel later this year and also in recognition of the Centenal Cycle’s finalist nomination for the current Hugo Awards in the Best Series category.

The trilogy is set in a post-cyberpunk future world where information technology has radically altered the political landscape from dominant nation-states to global micro-democracy. This story focuses on an upcoming election where the new status quo may be due for its own upheaval, as various political players seek to once again change the game.

Offered in Canada & US (possibly also other countries worldwide), available DRM-free at multiple retailers.

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[Free eBook] The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi [Award-Winning Science Fiction]

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi, a frequent nominee for various awards are more importantly, the inventor of Schadenfreude Pie, is the 1st novel in the The Interdependency series of far future galactic science fiction, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Macmillan’s Tor Books.

This is their featured free eBook of the Month Club offer for March This was a finalist for the Hugo Award last year, and also won the 2018 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. The series is set in a galaxy-spanning far future where humanity has spread out among the stars, colonizing planets and outposts thanks to “The Flow”, a cosmic phenomenon which allows faster-than-light travel between regions linked by its pathways, dominated by an imperial government founded by the family of the religious prophet who discovered it.

This installment sees the empire’s newly-crowned leader discovering she has inherited a catastrophic crisis, as decades-old secret research reveals an unexpected change in the stability of the millenia-old Flow streams, threatening the existence of the empire and civilization itself as resource-dependent space stations and planets are cut off from trade and supplies, which she must deal with it revealing to the public and helping her people transition to a radically-altered future, even as she herself must adjust to her new role and fend off the machinations of disbelievers scheming for political power.

Offered through March 15th at 11:59 PM Eastern Time, available DRM-free to Canada & US only directly from the publisher.

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[Free eBook] The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang [Award-Nominated Sci-Fantasy]

The Black Tides of Heaven by Singaporean author JY Yang is the 1st novella in the Tensorate series of hybrid science fiction/fantasy exploring social and revolutionary issues, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Macmillan’s Tor Books.

This is their featured free eBook of the Month Club offer for November and was a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. The series takes place in an East Asian-inspired hybrid science fantasy setting, where a ruthless Protector uses magic to maintain her dominance in a society where children grow up genderless until making their choice at adulthood, and suppressed Machinists turn to technology in the hopes of undermining the regime.

The story stars the twin children of the Protector, traded as infants to a monastery for political gain, one of whom begins displaying a gift for prophetic visions, which causes a deepening rift between the growing twins as they experience divided loyalties upon realizing the truth of their mother’s rule and make different choices at adulthood, leading one towards the rebels’ path as their sibling bond becomes increasingly strained.

Offered through November 16th until midnight Easter Time, available DRM-free to Canada & US only directly from the publisher.

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[Free eBook] The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle [Award-Winning Lovecraftian Historical Horror]

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle is a standalone historical horror remix novella, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Macmillan’s Tor Books imprint.

This is their featured free eBook of the Month Club offer for October and won the 2016 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novella, and was also a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards, and is apparently in development for an AMC television series. I read it for Hugo Voting last year, and rather liked it; enough so that I bought some of the author’s unrelated sfnal novels when they went on sale.

The story is a subversive riff on H. P. Lovecraft’s 1927 tale The Horror at Red Hook about the dark occult underbelly of a Brooklyn neighbourhood, retelling its events from the perspective of a young black street musician from Harlem who becomes involved with the plans of an eccentric white millionaire seeking to raise the Great Old Ones.

Offered through October 12th at 11:59 PM Eastern Time, available DRM-free to Canada & US only directly from the publisher.

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[Free eBook] All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders [Award-Winning Science Fantasy]

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders is a standalone contemporary science fiction/urban fantasy hybrid novel, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Macmillan’s Tor Books.

This is their featured free eBook of the Month Club offer for September and won the 2017 Nebula, Locus, and William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, as well as being a Hugo finalist. It’s being made free to help promote Anders’ upcoming standalone science fiction novel, The City in the Middle of the Night, due early next year. I read this for Hugo voting last year and it’s a charming, quirky light humorous tale.

The story takes place in a near future with both advanced technology and magic in it, featuring the conflict between a secret society of witches and an ambitious think tank of genius inventors, which is played out via the changing friendship between two young students who eventually join the different factions as they grow up, and the world begins to experience the Unraveling which threatens to destroy it.

Offered through 11:59 Eastern Time on September 21st in Canada & the US only, available DRM-free to 21st directly from the publisher.

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