a note in time

Via a note on Teleread, I came across freely available versions of Rudy Rucker’s Ware Tetralogy, all downloadable in nice formats. I own the first two in print (both of which have received the Philip K. Dick award) though I’ve only read the first and it was very good. While you can get the titles from Rucker’s own site, I’m really liking the site I did download them from, manybooks.net. It pulls in freely available works from a variety of sources and makes them available for download. The bit I really like is that there is a dropdown menu on the book’s page from which you can choose your preferred format. There are lots of formats supported including .mobi (good for kindles, though it supports the native kindle format too), epub, html, plain text – all up there are 25 formats available. Select the one you want and hit download. Even better, it remembers your selection as you go on to download more and more books.

Consequently I have downloaded lots with a mix of science fiction, literature, history and even an Australian Dictionary, Austral English by Edward Ellis Morris. This one was a nice score as I also have it in print, having happened upon it in Berkelouw’s secondhand section in Newtown. Though it’s over 100 years old, it does at least mean I have an Australian English dictionary on my kindle to balance the US dictionary it came with. I’d be tempted to delete the US one but it’s nice having a more recent dictionary at hand. Other curiosities include a short story by Frederik Pohl, “The Tunnel Under The World” which I read many years ago, and was then reminded of a few years back upon seeing Dark City. There’s even a couple of tracts published by the Society for Pure English, some members of which were involved in the development of the first edition of the OED. I actually own a few of the tracts in print too, having found them in a massive bookshop, in a town of bookshops in Wales, called Hay-on-Wye – which I think has more bookshops per capita, than any other town in the world. The first booktown; I will return one day…preferably with a large, empty suitcase…or two.

However, despite this afternoon’s happy wanderings through archives of legally free books, I remain in something of a quandary. There’s an Australian book I want, that being Truth by Peter Temple, especially as it’s recently won the Miles Franklin. It is available via the Borders ebook store, however that’s in epub format, which my kindle doesn’t support (one of the kindle’s several shortcomings). According to Borders, they don’t support the kindle at this stage, though they do say that their epubs will run on many devices that support the epub format. This suggests that they’re using standard epub rather than DRM-heavy epub, but I don’t know for sure. If they’re using standard epub, that means I’d be able to convert it, via calibre, to the .mobi format which the Kindle recognises. However, I don’t want to spend $21 to find out either way. To that end, I have just sent Borders an email on the matter and will report back here as to their response.

In other news, there’s been a new development in the study of the works of Plato. Dr Jay Kennedy (Uni of Manchester) has been examining the original texts and eventually worked out that there was a code hidden within the text, based around musical scales known to Plato’s comtemporaries. Kennedy has set up a page on the topic including a link to the recently published article [PDF 155k].

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