Six of Doris Piserchia's sf novels are now on Kindle for $3.99. (You'd think Hachette could afford to give them covers.) Piserchia is one of those writers who would probably be more famous if she had been male, or written under a male pseudonym. Then she might have been considered ground-breaking and innovative, rather than merely weird. Her books are wild space adventures with a distinctly hallucinatory atmosphere, often starring young women who go for what they want, whether it's sex or adventure, with no regard whatsoever for the proper place of women or what others might think of them. Sadly, that attitude is still rare.

Typical summary (minus female protagonist): It all began when someone tried to push Creed into the flesh pool to be ingested. The assassination failed, but Creed was never the same again. Because it launched the new cliff-dwellers of Creed's colony onto a new course of life - which could lead to humanity's re-emergence as Earth's masters.

In those far future days, Earth's masters were two trees. Not trees as we know them, but two Everest-high growths, whose sentient roots and fast-growing branches dominated every living thing on the world. Men lived between their arboreal combat.

A few quotes from Goodreads:

Levi: Pretty much as bizarre as I remember. I think another reviewer called Piserchia's work dreamlike, and I'm going to second that description. The kind of dream where everything is extraordinarily complex but it all makes perfect sense at the time and it's only when you try to describe it later that you realize you don't quite know where to start.

Vroom: Still delightful, decades later. I remain convinced Piserchia was either heavily medicated or using recreational pharmaceuticals when writing this. My favorite of her writing.

I remember enjoying Spaceling and Star Rider.

My next mention is not a rec per se given that I have not yet had a chance to read it, and it is less easy to obtain than one might expect from an e-book. But this is the sort of thing that I bet a small but select few of you might really, really like.

Graydon Saunders was one of the most interesting posters on rec.arts.sf.written and .composition back in the Usenet Cretaceous Period. Every now and then, he would post excerpts of his fiction. It was completely obvious to me that he was a very good writer, and also that he was way too strange of a writer to ever be published by a major publishing house. His excerpts, which were always quite evocative and beautiful, tended to read as if they were written from an alternate dimension in which fantasy had taken a completely different direction than it did in our world, and the ur-influences were not Tolkien and Lewis, but Beowulf, Njal's Saga, and "Uncleftish Beholding."

He finally self-published his book. Here it is! The March North, by Graydon Saunders Read the comments to this review for an explanation of how to obtain it. I'm sure Graydon would send a copy if you ask.

ETA: Explanation of how to purchase it is now in the comments of the LJ entry.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)

From: [personal profile] rmc28

I found Star Rider in the mobile library when I was a teenager, in the distinctive Women's Press cover. I loved it; much later I found a second-hand copy which I still have. It is quite mad and weird, but I still liked it when last I read it.

(The other books I remember getting out the library repeatedly, also from The Women's Press, were The Planet Dweller and The Watcher, both by Jane Palmer. The former has a protagonist going through menopause and the latter a very bright young woman.)
ar: Kay and Julius Eaton reading a manuscript. (ds9 - farverse reading)

From: [personal profile] ar

...Okay, I'm intrigued. :D Thank you for the recommendations!
ar: A closeup of a painting: a white girl with blue eyes, dark hair, and red lips looks at the viewer a little insolently, (misc - sophie gray)

From: [personal profile] ar

Both, actually--but let's be real, it's Piserchia's work that sounds like it'll be most necessary for me. I'm a sucker for forgotten female badasses, and her books sound pretty badass.
lilysea: Serious (Default)

From: [personal profile] lilysea

It's possible that the lack of cover has to do with the ongoing fighting between Hachette and Amazon: I wouldn't be surprised if the books *had* a cover and Amazon removed it, given some of the other things Amazon have done in the Amazon/Hachette conflict...

(eg listing books as unavailable when they were in print as leverage to get a better % of the purchase price...)
lilysea: Serious (Default)

From: [personal profile] lilysea

Ok, that makes sense. I'd read what you'd written and thought you'd meant that there were no covers at all.
kore: (Default)

From: [personal profile] kore

Wow, these do sound neat!
intothespin: Drawing of a woman lying down reading by Kate Beaton (Default)

From: [personal profile] intothespin

I just discovered the Piserchia reprints earlier this week! She is someone I haven't read before.

The covers are the standard for the Gollancz SF line -- I think they are a reproduction of a "classic" line of UK SF, which, seriously, if they've all got to be the same cover, I wish they'd pick a different color.
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)

From: [personal profile] sovay

I remember enjoying Spaceling and Star Rider.

Yes! I discovered her with Star Rider, of which my parents had a copy in the house when I was small, and then when I was older I pursued her mercilessly in used book stores. It kind of blows my mind that DAW-era Tanith Lee was huge and Doris Piserchia was not.

From: [identity profile]

I just bought Graydon's book from Google Play. The review comment you link to says "(_The March North_ is self-published as an e-book. If you buy it from Google Play you can download a DRM-free EPUB file. I think it's in the Kobo store too.)"

However, I am now totally failing at how to download said DRM-free ePub file. I can read it online (which I don't want to do) or get the Google Play app (which I don't want to do).


From: [identity profile]

Ask Graydon. I know nothing about Google Play - it's so complicated that my own books aren't on it. I think he'll be emailed if you leave a comment in the thread to the review I linked. Since you already paid for it, if all else fails he could email you a copy.

From: [identity profile]

While I have met Graydon in person a couple of times, and connected a lot online in the past, I don't actually have his e-mail address. And I don't think I can leave a comment at Goodreads without having an account there, which I don't.

I am currently fulminating at Google, because apparently the way -- the only way -- to download books from Google Play is to install Chrome. Given that I already have IE, Firefox, and Opera installed on my computer, I really don't see a need for a fourth browser. Had I realized that little fact first, I'm not sure Google would have ever got my $3.85.

Fucking feudal Internet.

(I understand that this is all from the land of Not Your Problem, but if I'm having these issues, probably other people will as well -- so if there's a solution, I'd rather it were public.)

From: [identity profile]

I'll leave a comment on your behalf.

The truly remarkable inaccessibility of the e-book somehow seems emblematic of the probable reasons why it was self-published.
ellarien: Blue/purple pansy (Default)

From: [personal profile] ellarien

It works in Firefox for me. In the Google Play Store, go to My Books, then hover over the top-right-hand corner of the book cover and click on the three dots that appear. That should get you a popup menu in which the last entry is 'download epub.'

(Having done that, I promptly converted it to mobi and sideloaded it on my Kindle ...) It's worth the bit of extra hassle.

From: [identity profile]

THANK YOU VERY MUCH. (Yes, I'm yelling. Politely.)

That works in IE as well. I don't know how I ever would have discovered that on my own.

I use an ePub reader by default, so I'm set now that I've downloaded the file.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)

From: [personal profile] rmc28

Thank you for that! I now have the epub on my phone without having to install yet another ereader app. (And when I next use the computer that has calibre on it, I can backup to mobi and my kindle)

From: [identity profile] graydon saunders (from

If it's any consolation, the "hover the cover" part of the process has stymied a couple of experienced programmers of my acquaintance.

Ellarien's instructions are correct for how one downloads from Google Play Books.

From: [identity profile]

Whoa, I do think I remember Graydon Saunders from, uh, my days lurking on rasf*. I would happily buy his book if there were a way to get a mobi file (or, really, anything DRM-free that I could then convert to mobi), but I don't know him at all and would be uncomfortable commenting to ask this.

From: [identity profile]

The ePub file that I finally downloaded from Google Play -- without installing the Google Play reader or Google Chrome, yay -- is DRM-free, so that's one option.

From: [identity profile] graydon saunders (from

So the way this works, for people (such as myself) in Canada, is that Amazon can only do direct deposit if you use one of a short list of financial institutions (the chartered banks), and they do so via international wire transfer.

Getting an account at one of those chartered banks is expensive; one either deposits a lot of money and doesn't touch it, or pays high monthly fees. I don't want to do that. (It would be notably income-negative with respect to the already income-negative book, and I like my credit union.)

If you aren't using a financial institution that Amazon knows how to do direct deposit to, Amazon mails you a cheque IF and ONLY IF you've passed a sales threshold in some distinct sales territory. That sales threshold is (or was, when I looked this up in the spring) 100 USD. Below that, Amazon just doesn't cut you a cheque. (I phoned them to confirm this.)

I'm not ever going to pass that threshold some of the places people have bought copies of The March North. (It's lovely knowing someone in Denmark and someone else in Taiwan bought a copy. But another fifty people in either of those places is surpassingly unlikely.) It's far from clear that I'd ever pass that threshold in the US, or the UK, or Canada.

And then we get to the thing-like-a-contract. So I'm not going to be using Amazon.

Google, on the other hand, does direct deposit, monthly, for whatever amount happened to sell worldwide, they do real DRM-free with reasonably canonical EPUB suitable for download to your own long-term archival storage if you want to do that, and they don't randomly give the book away.

The downside is people have a dickens of a time figuring out how to make the download work, something which I wasn't expecting.

ellarien's instructions are correct; hover the cover, click the stack of three squares, pick "Download EPUB" and there you go.

Sorry it's such a pain!

From: [identity profile]

Hi! Thank you for the explanation!

I have now bought your book and I eventually managed to download it after a large number of 404 errors.

(On the off chance that anyone else has this exact problem with Google Play, it is apparently the case that when you have multiple Google accounts -- I have a primary fannish account and a secondary RL one -- and you choose to purchase a book from your secondary account, it looks like the actual EPUB download process attempts to authorize through your primary account even if you have selected to be logged in as the secondary account and therefore it will always 404 -- because the primary account does not own the book -- until you log out and log in again so that you're only logged in with the account that owns the book when you try to download it. Whew. That was a mess.)

I look forward to reading your book!

From: [identity profile]

The one time I considered buying a (different) book off of Kobo, it appeared that Kobo wanted to send it directly to my Kobo device. Since I don't own such a device, I aborted the purchase.

Is it possible to download ePub files via Kobo if I don't own a Kobo?
ellarien: Blue/purple pansy (Default)

From: [personal profile] ellarien

It should be - I have several books in my Kobo library and I've never owned a Kobo, though I do have a Kobo app on my android devices. (It's patronizing and clunky, so I don't use it much.) On the Kobo site, go to 'My library' and if it's non-DRMed there should be a nice friendly 'download epub' button. If it is DRMed you need an Adobe Digital ID and a suitable app (not necessarily the Kobo one) to do whatever you normally do with DRMed epub files.
ext_6284: Estara Swanberg, made by Thao (Default)

From: [identity profile]

Yes. I have a Sony ^^. They simply open them in Adobe Digital Edition and then you sideload them. I do that via Calibre.

ETA: As long as they are drm-free or ADE .epubs, mind you. Kobo has some .epub version of its own, but all the books *I* have bought from them, which are a lot because they often have quite good coupons, have worked just fine.
Edited Date: 2014-09-27 12:54 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile]

I very much am enjoying "The March North", and would like to buy any other related books. Do you have any suggestions how? Kobo Books doesn't list any others.

From: [identity profile] graydon saunders (from

Oh, and in the interest of something --

The books I would have been talking about on rec.arts.sf.* are the Blessed Novel ("Ravens In A Morning Sky", just rejected by Tor's new novella/short novella imprint) and the Doorstop. ("The Human Dress", which might be an ebook someday).

This one, The March North, is relatively new and meant to start a series; Commonweal #2 ("A Succession of Bad Days") and Commonweal #3 are written, and I hope they will be ebooks in their turn. The Commonweal is more of an unholy intersection between the ideals of the French Revolution, Glen Cook, and systems theory than a product of the Northern World. (Which Ravens intensely is and The Human Dress somewhat is.)

From: [identity profile]

I am not an e-book reader yet, so reading this saga, from one side, makes me reluctant ever to try getting into reading e-books, but from other side makes me wonder is there a silver lining. The silver lining of people, who like to hunt for their pleasures being more likely to try when it is hard to bag the book they want.

You see, getting books used to be so HARD here - first you had to learn a foreign language and THEN you had to try really hard to get your hands on the books. I know people did - when I started to read SF in English, I found out some books in the public library had autographs of authors. I always wondered - did the recipients get their books, but then got old and poor and had to sell their books to the library? Or were the books taken away for the state before they even reached the people, who had managed to contact the authors? As the Soviet state did keep taking away private property at whim right to its end - as citizens themselves were considered property of the state, so why not?!

Sorry about the off topic pondering, but it just came to my mind.

From: [identity profile]

The good thing about this whole process is that it's a category win -- rather like a class break, but in the other direction. Now I know how to download ePub files for any book I may purchase from Google Play in the future, not just this book.

From: [identity profile]

I haven't bought many e-books but I've never heard of difficulties like this one is having. Baen, Smashwords, and drivethrurpg (for RPG books) have all been easy. All DRM-free too, apart from watermarking of RPG PDFs.

From: [identity profile]

That must have made reading seem very fraught.

Regarding this book, I read e-books constantly and these issues are unique to this particular book.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)

From: [personal profile] larryhammer

I remember Graydon. Snagged from Kobo.


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