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By: George Manville Fenn (1831-1909)

Book cover Peril Finders

In California settlers are trying to make a living working as fruit-growers. Problems with blights and insects mean that the crops are failing. A prospector arrives and tells stories of ancient cities where there is a lot of gold. He then dies. Some of the settlers decide to go and search for the gold. They have long distances to travel and meet many challenges along the way. They eventually reach one of these cities and find evidence that it has been abandoned by invaders hundreds or thousands of years ago...

Book cover Cutlass and Cudgel

Based around the crew of cutter HMS White Hawk, this is a tale of smuggling in the early 19th century off the coast of Wessex. The midshipman of the cutter is taken hostage by the smugglers and is befriended by a farm-boy, son of one of the smugglers. His friendship is rudely rebuffed, the midshipman eventually escapes and the farm-boy gets his long-held dream of becoming a seaman on an Excise vessel.

By: Philip K. Dick (1928-1982)

The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick The Variable Man

Predictability has come a long way. The computers of the future can tell you if you’re going to win a war before you fire a shot. Unfortunately they’re predicting perpetual standoff between the Terran and Centaurian Empires. What they need is something unpredictable, what they get is Thomas Cole, a man from the past accidently dragged forward in time. Will he fit their calculations, or is he the random variable that can break the stalemate? – The Variable Man first appeared in the September, 1953 issue of Space Science Fiction magazine.

Second Variety by Philip K. Dick Second Variety

Early victories by the USSR in a global nuclear war cause the United Nations government to retreat to the moon leaving behind troops and fierce autonomous robots called “Claws”, which reproduce and redesign themselves in unmanned subterranean factories. After six bloody years of conflict the Soviets call for an urgent conference and UN Major Joseph Hendricks sets out to meet them. Along the way he will discover what the Claws have been up to, and it isn’t good… - Second Variety was first published in the May 1953 edition of Space Science Fiction Magazine.

The Crystal Crypt & Beyond the Door by Philip K. Dick The Crystal Crypt & Beyond the Door

Two early science fiction stories by the wonderful craftsman, Philip K. Dick. In the Crystal Crypt, taken from the 1954 Planet Stories, the war between Mars and Terra is about to erupt and earth has only merchants and salesmen to fight; can they carry out their mission? Beyond the Door is a story that asks and answers the question: what lives beyond the door? And is it dangerous?

The Defenders by Philip K. Dick The Defenders

The terrible destruction of total nuclear war between the Western and Eastern Blocks has succeeded in sterilizing the surface of the earth. No living creature can now exist there and all humans on both sides, have fled to the hives built miles below the surface where they constantly work to produce the war materials necessary to carry on the battle. For 8 years now, the actual fighting between these super powers has been conducted by robots known as Ledeys since only they can sustain the terrible levels of radiation caused by the constant bombardment...

Book cover Beyond Lies the Wub & The Skull

Two stories in the inimitable Philip Dick style. What is a Wub? A 400 pound slovenly, fat, ungainly, drooling animal that looks like a cross between a walrus and an enormous hog? Well, yes that is pretty much what he looks like and for 50 cents, a good bargain no matter how he tastes. The hungry spaceship crew expect to find out. Of course the Wub may not entirely agree but it doesn't have much to say about it. The second story, The Skull, is a skilful mesh of time travel, unscrupulous governments, prisoners, and religion. With an assassin thrown in for good measure. Enjoy!

Book cover The Eyes Have It & Tony and the Beetles

Aliens have invaded the earth! Horrible one celled creatures disguised as normal human beings ! Well, at least that is what it seems to the author. Yes, The Eyes Have It is a whimsical story, making gentle fun of certain writing styles, but only a topflight science-fictionist like Philip Dick , we thought, could have written this story, in just this way. Tony and the Beetles takes place far in the future when Earth's enormous colonial empire is well established but the question is, how long can it last? 10 year old Tony grows up fast when history catches up with the human race. A sobering look at human history .. and our probable future. Two very different stories but both entertaining.

By: Ivan S. Turgenev

First Love by Ivan S. Turgenev First Love

The title of the novella is almost an adequate summary in itself. The “boy-meets-girl-then-loses-her” story is universal but not, I think, banal – despite a surprise ending which notoriously turns out to be very little of a surprise. “First Love” is given its originality and poignancy by Turgenev’s mastery of the piercing turning-point (akin to Joyce’s “epiphanies”) that transforms the character’s whole being, making a tragic outcome inevitable. Even the nature symbolism is rescued from triteness by lovely poetic similes – e...

Fathers and Sons by Ivan S. Turgenev Fathers and Sons

The fathers and children of the novel refers to the growing divide between the two generations of Russians, and the character Yevgeny Bazarov has been referred to as the “first Bolshevik”, for his nihilism and rejection of the old order. Turgenev wrote Fathers and Sons as a response to the growing cultural schism that he saw between liberals of the 1830s/1840s and the growing nihilist movement. Both the nihilists (the “sons”) and the 1830s liberals sought Western-based social change in Russia...

The Diary of a Superfluous Man by Ivan S. Turgenev The Diary of a Superfluous Man

Turgenev’s shy hero, Tchulkaturin, is a representative example of a Russian archetype – the “superfluous man”, a sort of Hamlet not necessarily dignified with the title Prince: an individual of comfortable means leading a dreary existence, without purpose and led on by events which may, as in this story, engulf him. The novella takes the form of a diary started by Tchulkaturin in the shock of being diagnosed as having a terminal illness. The journal entries cover a period of two weeks, leading to his death...

By: H. G. Wells (1866-1946)

The War in the Air by H. G. Wells The War in the Air

War in the Air was written during a prolific time in H. G. Wells's writing career. Having withdrawn from British politics to spend more time on his own ideas, he published twelve books between 1901 and 1911, including this one. while many British citizens were surprised by the advent of World War I, Wells had already written prophetically about such a conflict. War in the Air predicted use of airplanes in modern war.

In the Days of the Comet by H. G. Wells In the Days of the Comet

William ("Willie") is a student living in the British town of Clayton. As a Socialist, he tries to move power from the upper class to the working class. Interestingly, in a fictitious confrontation Britain declares war on Germany. Willie falls in love with Nettie, but when she elopes with an upper-class man, Willie resolves to kill them both. Throughout the novel there is present in the sky a large comet which gives off a green glow. As Willie prepares to shoot the lovers, two battleships appear and begin shelling the coast, causing Willie to nearly lose his targets...

The History of Mr. Polly by H. G. Wells The History of Mr. Polly

A funny and touching account of the imaginative Mr. Polly who, bored and trapped in his conventional life, makes a U-turn--and changes everything.H.G. Wells’ early life as the son of a semi-insolvent shopkeeper and as a draper’s apprentice fueled his novels of the lower middle class: The Wheels of Chance (1896), Kipps (1905), and The History of Mr. Polly (1910). These works evoke the desperation of apprentices, clerks, and small traders in their monotonous toil behind shop counters. And, like Mr...

Tono-Bungay by H. G. Wells Tono-Bungay

Tono-Bungay is a realist semi-autobiographical novel. It is narrated by George Ponderevo, a science student who is drafted in to help with the promotion of Tono-Bungay, a harmful stimulant disguised as a miraculous cure-all, the creation of his uncle Edward. The quack remedy Tono-Bungay seems to have been based upon the patent medicines Carter's Little Liver Pills and Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People.... As the tonic prospers, George experiences a swift rise in social status, elevating him to riches and opportunities that he had never imagined, nor indeed desired...

A Modern Utopia by H. G. Wells A Modern Utopia

H. G. Wells's proposal for social reform was the formation of a world state, a concept that would increasingly preoccupy him throughout the remainder of his life. One of his most ambitious early attempts at portraying a world state was A Modern Utopia (1905). A Modern Utopia was intended as a hybrid between fiction and 'philosophical discussion'. Like most utopists, he has indicated a series of modifications which in his opinion would increase the aggregate of human happiness. Basically, Wells' idea of a perfect world would be if everyone were able to live a happy life...

Book cover Sea Lady
Book cover Passionate Friends

H. G. Wells is best known for his science fiction, but some of his greatest works were in other genres. The Passionate Friends is a love story. It also is a story about dreams, despair, jealousy, sex, the struggle against social convention, the future of civilization, and much much more. It is written by a father to his son, "not indeed to the child you are now, but to the man you are going to be." He writes it so that one day, perhaps when he is dead, his grown son can read it and rediscover him as a friend and equal...

By: Thomas Bulfinch (1796-1867)

Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Fable

Bulfinch’s Mythology, first published in 1855, is one of the most popular collections of mythology of all time. It consists of three volumes: The Age of Fable, The Age of Chivalry, and Legends of Charlemagne. This is a recording of the tenth edition of the first volume, The Age of Fable. It contains many Greek and Roman myths, including simplified versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey, as well as a selection of Norse and “eastern” myths. Thomas Bulfinch’s goal was to make the ancient myths accessible to a wide audience, and so it is suitable for children.

The Age of Chivalry, or Legends of King Arthur by Thomas Bulfinch The Age of Chivalry, or Legends of King Arthur

Thomas Bulfinch (July 15, 1796 – May 27, 1867) explains the his work is “an attempt tell the stories of mythology in such a manner as to make them a source of amusement. We have endeavored to tell them correctly, according to the ancient authorities, so that when the reader finds them referred to he may not be at a loss to recognize the reference. Thus we hope to teach mythology not as a study, but as a relaxation from study; to give our work the charm of a story-book, yet by means of it to impart a knowledge of an important branch of education...

Book cover The Legends of Charlemagne

Bulfinch (July 15, 1796 - May 27, 1867) explains the his work is "an attempt tell the stories of mythology in such a manner as to make them a source of amusement. We have endeavored to tell them correctly, according to the ancient authorities, so that when the reader finds them referred to he may not be at a loss to recognize the reference. Thus we hope to teach mythology not as a study, but as a relaxation from study; to give our work the charm of a story-book, yet by means of it to impart a knowledge of an important branch of education...

By: Sax Rohmer (1883-1959)

Bat Wing by Sax Rohmer Bat Wing

Private detective Paul Harley investigates a mysterious case involving voodoo, vampirism, and macabre murder in the heart of London. The first book in the Paul Harley series, written by Sax Rohmer, author of The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu.

The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu

Burmese Commisioner Nayland Smith and his faithful friend Dr Petrie continue their fight against the evil genius of Dr Fu-Manchu when they seek to save the good doctor’s lost love and protect the British Empire from disaster when their malignant enemy returns to England.

The Hand of Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer The Hand of Fu-Manchu

Further adventures of Nayland Smith and Doctor Petrie as they continue their battles against the evil genius, Dr Fu-Manchu.

Book cover The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu

The first of the Fu-Manchu novels this story follows the two characters who are set against the machinations of the insidious doctor.

The Quest of the Sacred Slipper by Sax Rohmer The Quest of the Sacred Slipper

Cavanagh becomes involved in the adventurous search for a precious relic in the mysterious East. (Introduction by Laineyben)

By: Émile Zola (1840-1902)

L'Assommoir by Émile Zola L'Assommoir

Émile François Zola (French pronunciation: [emil zɔˈla]) (2 April 1840 – 29 September 1902) was an influential French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism. More than half of Zola’s novels were part of a set of twenty novels about a family under the Second Empire collectively known as Les Rougon-Macquart. L’Assommoir (1877) is the seventh novel in the series. Usually considered one of Zola’s masterpieces, the novel—a harsh and uncompromising study of alcoholism and poverty in the working-class districts of Paris—was a huge commercial success and established Zola’s fame and reputation throughout France and the world.

Therese Raquin by Émile Zola Therese Raquin

An unsatisfied wife kills her weak husband in order to carry on a sordid affair with another man. However, her selfish plans are spoiled when her husband continues to haunt her. This is often said to be Zola's first great novel.

The Flood, trans. by an unknown translator by Émile Zola The Flood, trans. by an unknown translator

A well-to-do French farm family is destroyed by a flood. The story, thrilling to the very end, is told from the point of view of the family’s 70-year-old patriarch. The story speaks of the helplessness of mankind in the face of the forces of nature.

By: Aphra Behn (1640-1689)

Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave by Aphra Behn Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave

Aphra Behn was the first woman writer in England to make a living by her pen, and her novel Oroonoko was the first work published in English to express sympathy for African slaves. Perhaps based partly on Behn’s own experiences living in Surinam, the novel tells the tragic story of a noble slave, Oroonoko, and his love Imoinda. The work was an instant success and was adapted for the stage in 1695 (and more recently by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1999). Behn’s work paved the way for women...

By: Philip Jose Farmer (b. 1918)

The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer The Green Odyssey

Alan Green is a space traveler stranded on a barbaric planet who has been taken slave and made a consort to an insipid and smelly queen. His slave-wife, though beautiful and smart, nags him constantly. He’s given up hope of ever returning to Earth when he hears of two astronauts who have been captured in a kingdom on the other side of the planet, and sets out on an action-packed journey on a ship sailing across vast grasslands on rolling pin-like wheels in a desperate scheme to save them and return home. Due to the non-renewal of its copyright, this book is in the public domain.

Rastignac The Devil by Philip Jose Farmer Rastignac The Devil

French colonists on a planet ruled by reptiles and amphibians are forced to wear living “skins” that subdue aggression and enforce vegetarianism. As children, Rastignac and his reptile friend Mapfarity force themselves to become carnivores and begin a protein fueled journey that causes Rastignac to develop a Philosophy of Violence. When a spaceship from Earth crashes in the ocean, Rastignac and company must put their philosophy to the test. - Rastignac The Devil was first published in the May 1954 issue of Fantastic Universe Magazine.


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