For this week’s e-book our recommendations move away from imagery back to text and back to fiction.
Science fiction and fantasy authors, as a group, seem to “get” the idea of the Creative Commons and the public domain far more than allegedly legitimate writers. It’s not surprising that many of the e-books one can find via the Creative Commons’ own search page fall into the realm of speculative fiction.
John Kessel’s book The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories is an intriguing entry. The stories vary widely in theme. Some of them read straightforward. Some of them can uneasily be categorized with that stupid word “slipstream.” Others are parodies. None quite belong to the more clichéd realm of science fiction, even the four stories that are set on the moon. On the contrary, the lunar setting, like the rural settings of other tales, simply offer an environment in which to discuss whatever the writer wants to discuss: race relations, gender politics, utopianism, libertarian markets, cinema history, and all the rest.
The title story extends the well-known Wizard of Oz story into a most bizarre treatment–a kind of Bonnie and Clyde tale. Mr. Kessel, too, tips his hat to Flannery O’Connor, Orson Welles and even Chuck Palahniuk, always creating interesting work from simple premises. Anything is grist for the storytelling mill, and this is a collection by a very fine storyteller.
Upon its initial release, Small Beer Press released the paper edition and the free e-book simultaneously, invoking the same old question about Creative Commons work: How can you make money if you give things away free? Obviously they did, and obviously they continue to do so, just like Cory Doctorow, Andrew Sullivan and others do on their terms.
It’s a good thing writers in the field continue to challenge ideas of what is possible, not only in terms of the future, but also the present–and not just what is possible within a story, but also what is possible right now, in this world right here.
Download The Baum Plan for Financial Independence EPUB here.
Download The Baum Plan for Financial Independence PDF here.