Your Weekend Goodie: Free Metatropolis Story

Next Tuesday will mark the official release of Metatropolis, the audio book anthology featuring stories written by Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder and yours truly. I know you’re probably just counting the seconds until the release, so to tide you over, the excellent folks at have decided to offer up the opening story free for your listening pleasure: Jay Lake’s “In the Forests of the Night.” This is (he said, with absolutely no bias whatsoever) a really excellent story, and its excellent is made into awesomeness by the fact it’s read by Michael Hogan (aka Colonel Tigh on Battlestar Galactica). Check it out and know that the rest of the anthology is just as good.

Other little Metatropolis goodies for you to amuse yourself with can be found at this special promotional page, which, in addition to featuring audio samples of each story, also includes a conversation with me and Toby Buckell about the whole project, and how writing for audio is different than writing for the page. Cool stuff. Go there. You’re welcome.

29 Comments on “Your Weekend Goodie: Free Metatropolis Story”

  1. Audible refuse to offer it in a format I can listen to, and I refuse to break the law by stripping off the DRM, so I guess I’m not going to get to listen to this :(

  2. John, it’s impossible to even download the file on Linux, as far as I can tell. I registered with, so I’m counted as a listener for the free download, but will never be able to _actually_ listen.

    I’m not advocating piracy of your works, or anyone else’s, as I’m perfectly happy to pay for things I want. It’s when there is no legitimate mechanism for doing so that I become terribly frustrated. And yes, I’ve copied illegal files in cases like this, and also sent the artist a couple bucks. Not legal, but by my standards ethical.

    Don’t worry, I shan’t do that here. At least you get to count me as a listener.

  3. John: According to the DMCA “No person shall circumvent a technological protection measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.”

    By coping an Audible file to audio CD, I am stripping off the DRM from that file; DRM which seeks to effectively control access to the content. Regardless of the fact that Audible says that they don’t mind if I copy it to CD for my own use, it is in fact illegal for me to do so.

  4. Holy crap! It’s like my two favorite past times (reading great sci-fi and watching BSG) have merged into a totally tasty awesomesauce!

    I will have to recreate my audible account again.

  5. John: It’s cute how you think that US copyright law makes sense. But, no. Even if a distributor tells you it’s OK to strip out their DRM, it’s still illegal to do it.

    I’ve spoken to copyright lawyers about this (I work with a few), and they seem quite convinced that it’s that simple. Of course, it’s possible that they’re mistaken, but absent something more than a blind assertion, I’m going to assume that they’re right.

    It’s highly unlikely that such an infraction would ever be prosecuted, but that’s not the point.

  6. Wintermute:

    “Even if a distributor tells you it’s OK to strip out their DRM, it’s still illegal to do it.”

    Oh, that’s complete crap, Wintermute. Read the actual statute, in particular the part on Circumvention of copyright protection systems. Allow me to excerpt a relevant portion:

    to “circumvent a technological measure” means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner;

    The operative phrase here is “without the authority of the copyright owner.” If the copyright holder says unambiguously that it’s okay to download a DRM’d work onto CD, and indeed gives you explicit instructions on how to do so, then you are not running afoul of the DMCA in doing so. Basically, the law is not stupid; it is responsive to the desires of those controlling the copyright of the material. The law here is very clear.

    So, to restate again: It doesn’t break the law to record the stuff to CD.

    Beyond this, please note that your condescension regarding my understanding of copyright law falls flat when it’s evident you haven’t read the law yourself.

  7. To add my voice the choir here – I’m not necessarily annoyed by drm in and of itself. I haven’t looked at their terms in particular, but if they aren’t overly cumbersome, it doesn’t bother me.

    What does bother me, however, is that there is apparently no way to listen to audible content on linux. Searching for linux in their help forum turns up nothing. Since I live in ubuntu, this is a deal breaker. If their commitment to drm is forcing them to use formats that aren’t broadly portable and therefore lose potential buyers, they are doing something wrong.

  8. Noted, ccasin.

    On another note, I am becoming extraordinarily bored of every comment thread about the audio book devolving into a referendum on DRM, so I hereby unilaterally declare by the power vested in me as tinpot dictator that there is to be no more discussion of that particular topic in this thread. Please take the hint, everyone.

  9. *sigh*

    I’d gladly talk about the story and not drm or format, but I’m another Linux user. Can’t download, won’t listen or buy. So, sorry. Chalk one more to the “Annoyed by Audible” brigade.

  10. Do you have stats you’re willing to share on what percentage of whatever readers are on linux? I imagine your web stats package picks this up. I’m curious because I suspect linux users appear in greater-than-average proportions among readers of your blog and many like it, for obvious reasons, but I wonder by how much.

    Sorry to get so off topic – would that I could comment on the story instead! :)

  11. Cromulent. Love it.

    Love me some Jay Lake, too. Great stuff. I am now reading his short stories with passion and excitement. “Jack’s House” is very good.

    Thanks Mr. Scalzi!

  12. Listening isn’t hard. Reading an entire stack of comments before posting to get some kind of “Don’t give your over-long opinion about DRM” doesn’t necessarily happen though. There wasn’t anything in there that I would have considered trollish or offensive or otherwise violating your comment policy, but clearly in context it could be taken that way and I apologize for that.

  13. John wrote: “Kvetching about no Linux support is perfectly cromulent. It’s what Linux folks do, from time to time.”

    Well, of course. That’s the only reason any of us use Linux- so that we can complain about how we’re ignored by large companies like

    That, and so you have an excuse to use words like “cromulent”.

  14. Oh wow. I normally don’t buy audio books (my local library has a good collection), but this I might have to splurge on. Two of my favorite BSG actors-McClure and Juliani-reading two of my favorite authors.

    From the sample, it sounds like Juliani does a fantastic job with your story, John. What’s it like, hearing another’s voice reading your words?

  15. After you sign up on the site and download the file, it shows up in your “Library” on Audible. There is a streaming link there that currently doesn’t work (in VLC, Winamp or Windows Media Player on Vista). If they could be convinced to fix that, it would likely be listenable on Linux. If it’s just my computer, then it would likely already be listenable. Someone should look into that, if they’re annoyed enough to complain. (I would submit the help ticket myself, except that I’m just willing enough to sign up for a new web site and download the annoying one-off software required to listen to it. And I’m not currently booted into Linux.)

    I’ll listen to the story when I have 2:15 hours free…. (I am torn between a general dislike of audio books and an entirely platonic love of Jay Lake.)

  16. John,

    You probably don’t know, but I don’t know who else to ask… are you aware of any effort to make this available in dead-tree format?

    The whole package looks stunning, and I *adore* every author involved, but I happen to be one of those weird people who can’t listen to audiobooks. I’ve tried, many times, but they just irritate the crap out of me. My own problem, yes, but I’d love to read these stories and I’d love to support the authors.

    I’m pondering buying the audiobook and running it through voice to text software, but would rather buy an official print version should that be in the pipeline.

    And by the way, I run Linux, but also have a windows partition for things that Linux doesn’t do. Two of them, in fact, as older versions of windows have their uses as well. I love Linux, but whiney Linux users piss me off and they give the O/S a bad name.

  17. Alas, thanks for the answer. Guess I’ll work on experimenting with audio to text conversion.

    It’s a cool project, i must say. My own idiosyncrasies aside.

  18. Wow, free story. I just downloaded it to my Itunes and will drop it on to my Ipod shortly so I can listen to it in my van pool on the way to work. (no, I’m not driving this week)

    I’m sure that this free taste will make me buy the whole thing when it’s available. Ah, the various addictions that are made by the “first one is free” marketing ploy. In my case, libraries were my first, now websites. Who knows where it will end… 8D

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