A Pre-Hiatus Gift to You: A Free E-Book!

Before I head off for my six-week hiatus, I thought I’d leave you a little reading material. A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries which I called “That Was The Millennium That Was,” chronicling what I thought were some of the best, worst and weirdest things of the last millennium. It was a pretty good series — good enough that I was able to repurpose some of the essays for resale and featured a couple others in Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded. But the whole run of the series has been off the site proper for over seven years, which means that many of you haven’t seen most of these pieces.

So, as a parting gift, here’s the whole series as a free e-book, DRM-free.

Click here for EPUB format

Click here for MOBI format

Clicking on the link should download the thing to your computer, and then you can transfer it to the e-book reader of your choice. Between EPUB and MOBI, I think I’ve just about covered every current e-book reader out there, and if you have an e-book reader that doesn’t read either of those formats, well, I guess I don’t know what to say to you, except, possibly, here’s the free MobiPocket reader for your computer.

Two notes:

1. This is an amateur e-book, created by me cutting and pasting the entries into an RTF file and then running it through a format converter. So a) it is very lightly copy-edited and you may run into a few flubs here and there, b) it’s not a brilliant work of e-book formatting. Hey, it’s free, and I think I caught 95% of the misspellings. You can handle the rest. No, I don’t want you to send me an e-mail telling me when you find a flub. I’ll be on hiatus, remember?

(Update, 5:20pm: Whatever reader Béranger has been kind enough to add a table of contents to the epub version; I’ve updated the file with the new version. Thanks, Béranger!)

2. Feel free to share the e-book on a non-commercial basis (i.e., one-on-one with friends, etc), and to mention it on your blog, in tweets, and so on — and if you do, thanks very much. But do me a favor and link to this post when you tell people about it, because that way I can have a reasonable gauge of how many copies have been downloaded, which is information I would actually find useful for thinking about free e-books in the future. Please don’t upload it to repository sites like Scribd, or to torrents or other such things, again, so I can have a reasonably clear idea how many people are checking the thing out. Thanks.

One final note — this e-book is offered for free, as a gift, with no expectation of payment. I’m good for now, thanks. That said, if after reading it you feel moved toward compensation one way or another, I would be pleased if you took a dollar or two (or three, or five, or ten) and sent it to a literacy charity of your choice. Two that I like are Reading is Fundamental and First Book. Literacy is a good investment for everyone, and helping kids and adults learn to read is one of the best ways to “pay it forward.” So give it some thought, if you enjoy what you read. Thanks.

65 Comments on “A Pre-Hiatus Gift to You: A Free E-Book!”

  1. As a pre-hiatus gift, this is pretty excellent. You gave us a book! Just what we wanted!

    How could you possibly know?

  2. Thanks for the free book. Funny so far (read the coffee bit). Hate Adobe Digital Editions, though. Suppose I’ll have to download yet another reader and get Mobi.

  3. The MobiPocket reader linked to is not available for Mac, Linux, Android, or iOS devices. However, Stanza (http://www.lexcycle.com/) is a .mobi reader which is available for Mac and iOS, and I’m sure there are similar Android and Linux options out there.

    Thank you for the gift – I’ll enjoy it!

  4. and… Uh, and by the way, you should probably remove the .txt extension from the .epub. Causes it to download as text which is unreadable and then my computer has no idea what it is. It’s alright once the .txt extension is removed.

  5. Just a reminder, you can read mobi books on the Kindle For PC reader (full disclosure: I am on the team that builds that software here at Amazon)


    Once you’ve installed it, just double-click on that mobi file. :)

  6. Off to search the Android market for a reader that handles one of these formats. Praise be unto the Scalzorc!

  7. You sir are a gentleman and a scholar. Thank you for continuing to provide me with reading material.

  8. ‘No, I don’t you to send me an e-mail telling me when you find a flub.’

    So does that mean you don’t want me to make a comment on your blog when I find a flub in your post about finding flubs in your e-books, which you just gave me for for free for absolutely no good reason since I’m just a long winded pain in the neck that likes finding typos?

  9. Ah, well perhaps the .txt extension is an iMac/Safari thing or who knows what. Glad it’s working (apparently) for everyone else.

  10. I’ve made it a policy for years to donate money monthly to The Dictionary Project:


    which provides dictionaries to third-graders as a way of encouraging literacy. I’ll add a few bucks to the usual this month.

    Thank you, John.

  11. @Eric, I’m using Aldiko, which works well.

    Many thanks for this John, I never fail to be amazed by the generosity of some authors today.

  12. See how you are. I thought – say this is a good reminder to figure out a reader for my new android x. And it turns out Kindle is free on Android. Life is looking so much more expensive now. Because your free ebook is wonderful but clearly its lonely on the e-shelf so I must buy it many, many friends.

  13. If you think you can buy my loyalty in your absence with a free ebook, well you are so totally right. But I don’t have to be happy about it. Okay, I am.


    Sorry. I’m having some trouble with my allergies. It’s strange; they make me prone to irrational outbursts of emotion. I’m going to go chop onions in the rain. As they say. I know it’s sunny.

    Ohhh, ELO time.

  14. Ok, I having major frustration about this time. I have an EVO, and all the ereader apps I’ve tried have told me that I can get books from the internet by downloading them onto my computer and then putting them in the “ebooks” folder on my SD card. Which is problematic, because my SD card doesn’t appear to have an “ebooks” folder. And even though several of the readers promise me that if I click on the epub link from my phone’s browser, then I can download it straight to the ereader, well, that’s not happening either. I’ve tried Kindle, Aldiko, and Wordaholic. Help?

  15. Thank you! I’m always short on cash over summer months, and that’s always when I need the most reading material. This is awesome!

  16. No, I don’t you to send me an e-mail telling me when you find a flub.

    Found a flub.


  17. I would recommend Calibre to anyone looking for a solid, open source e-book library system.

    It does a great job of converting ebooks to pretty much whatever formate you need and allows you to easily send it over to a number of devices.

  18. Jesi@25 – I use Astro File Manager to see the contents of the SD card on my Android phone. That let me create the ebooks directory (and a sub-directory called “import”) that Aldiko likes. Put new .epub files in the import directory, then chose Aldiko’s Import menu option. It finds the books that you put in that directory and loads them into the bookshelf very nicely.

    When I need to copy multiple files I connect my phone to my computer and mount it as a drive. Then I can create directories, copy files, etc. right from Windows.

    John – Thanks much. I’m looking forward to reading this.

  19. thank you for this. i’m finally getting a nook and have an entire folder of ebooks and pdf books to drop into it. then i can curl up with my newest gadget and read myself into a coma. now i have another book to add to the pre-coma list. :)

  20. Dear Scalzi Guy,

    It would appear, based on this evidence that you are full of awesome. I also have strong reason to suspect that you are made of WIN, or at least a WIN/ZOMG blend.

  21. First of all, thanks for this! It’s now sitting on my iPad, waiting to be read.

    Second, a weird technical note. The .epub file clearly shows as an ePub file when I mouse over the link. But when I downloaded the file onto my XP computer, it downloaded as a .zip file. After a bit of dithering, I tried renaming the extension to .epub, and after that I was able to import it into Stanza.

    @MikhailBorg: I don’t know about Stanza for the Android, but Stanza for iPad doesn’t read .mobi files directly — I have to convert them with Calibre. It does well with ePub files, though.

    @Kenshin: I know this isn’t a Kindle for PC question, but since you’re a Kindle maven — is there any way to get .mobi files onto Kindle for the iPad/iPhone? I ended up having to install Stanza because I utterly failed to find a way to anything but purchased files onto my Kindle for iPad app.

  22. As a Linux user, I discovered that Okular will read the .epub file. Formatting is screwy (many blank pages inserted, etc.) but am not one to complain about a free program on a free OS having problems reading a free ebook, esp. given the author’s caveat 1b above.

    That said, a humble request: perhaps at some point in the future you might consider also releasing the .rtf text file as such?

  23. [Deleted because I’m wary of sending people to a version of a file bearing my name I haven’t checked out myself, and also, you know, I’ve asked people not to direct away from here because I want to track how many downloads there are. Béranger, I’ll check out the version you made and if I like it and I get your consent, I’ll update the file here with it, with attribution for your changes. OK? — JS]

  24. you are awesome & kind! I had the epub version downloaded onto my Palm Pixi in minutes and am happily reading! Thanks much!

  25. John,

    Please check the file, it’s genuinely the same contents.

    You can even rename epub to zip and unzip it, so you could check the stories individually.

    I hope you’ll prefer to have a TOC, hence to use it as an alternative to your original Calibre version.

    I normally have the tendency to “fix” all the ePub e-books I own, especially with regards to the TOC.

    Thanks, and thanks.

  26. Béranger:

    Oh, I’m not doubting you’ve improved it. When I check it out (which will be fairly soon), I’ll switch over with attribution.

    Update: And, indeed, have switched over with thanks to you!

  27. Hi John,

    Thanks for the gift :)
    I really hope you have an awesome hiatus which is relaxing and productive. We will miss you but you left us awesome guest bloggers, I look forward to getting to know them better!!

    HAVE FUN and don’t think about us too often were good and we will make it without you for a little while just promise you’ll come back… K… come back???

    Best regards,

  28. Apache, if it doesn’t know what type a file is, will claim it’s text/plain by default. While quite a few browsers try to determine by themselves what sort of file the misconfigured server is offering, Safari won’t since it’s a source of security exploits.

    However, if you’re familiar with .htaccess files used to control Apache, this behavior is easy enough to fix. While application/octet-stream may not be the most accurate way to describe these files, it will suppress boneheaded behavior such as

    displaying binary files as text
    slapping a .txt extension to downloaded files
    changing newline style, which can corrupt binaries

    Add these lines to your .htaccess:

    AddType application/octet-stream .epub
    AddType application/octet-stream .mobi


    Something called the MobileRead Wiki says that the mimetype of .epub files is application/epub+zip. I don’t have a good way of checking whether it’s really official, or just claiming to be.

    I wrote an unordered list, and it looks like the bullet points aren’t showing up. Perhaps there’s a list-style-type: none; with a selector that’s a bit overly broad?

  29. Very cool stuff. Just read the article on the Mongols, and still chuckling. Spot on about them being disciplined and organized. A great book on this, if anyone is interested, is The Mongol Art of War. Goes into a lot of detail about the Mongol methods of warfare.

    Back in university I did an essay for my East Asian history course focused on the Mongol weapons. I even found a book that stated the Mongol composite horse bow could out perform the English longbow.

  30. Eric (# 11) – the .mobi version can be read with the Kindle reader, and yes, there’s an Android version! (along with a version for just about anything else with a screen, including iPhones, etc)

  31. I can’t wait to read it, but first I’ll have to convert it to the humble and oft-overlooked .txt format (so it’ll work on my hacked DS)

  32. Many thanks, John, a fascinating follow-up (even if the articles are actually earlier) to “Your Hate Mail … “. Not even that much overlap or duplication between the two. Thanks too for the link to the free MOBI reader.

    Speaking of the latter, re your #46 … pardon my ignorance, but what e-book reader is supposedly already inherent in one’s computer?

  33. I didn’t suggest one is inherent, merely that if one has a computer one can easily get software (and free software at that) to give it ebook capabilities.

    And you’re welcome!

  34. I have an older Sony e-book reader (the PRS-505). Being an early adopter is tough because I can’t read either of these files! So, I wanted to remind people like me who can’t use either of these formats that there is an online converter for them: http://www.2epub.com/

  35. @45 Nathan: Ah! This is why Elaine and I (and no doubt others) get an extra .txt extension from Safari. If I just click on the link, I see the binary junk in my browser; I have to right-click the link to save it. (Depending on how I do that, Safari either detects the .epub and asks to add a .txt…or else it just does it without warning.)

    This presumably also explains why someone downloaded it on Windows XP and found a .zip filename (epubs being a ZIP file with a different extension, and the browser–I’m guessing–detecting the file type). “Helpful” browsers, all…. ;-)

    Hopefully Apache will start recognizing .epub by default (and the billion Apache installations will be updated–yeah, right ;-).

    @John: Thanks for the book! :-) A nice “parting” gift. If you see Nathan’s note and want to make his change, it’d make it slightly smoother for (a few?) folks.

  36. Mr. Scalzi,

    Thank you very much for the great collection.
    Much appreciated and enjoy the time away from the screen.


  37. Just wanted to say, Thanks, John!

    For the geeks, @Nathan (#45):

    Something called the MobileRead Wiki says that the mimetype of .epub files is application/epub+zip. I don’t have a good way of checking whether it’s really official, or just claiming to be.

    It was submitted to IETFtypes in 2006, but as best I can tell, is still languishing as a draft standard. Which is about par for the course – it will become official about the time we begin reading EPUB on our neural implants.

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