A couple of free e-texts I learned about in the past couple days:
1.) Pyr–an imprint with very sound judgement–has decided to make Sean Williams’ The Crooked Letter available as a free e-book. Although the book has cover art so beautiful it makes you want to buy it (I speak from sad experience), the book itself is so engaging that reading it makes you want to buy the second one (repeat above parenthesis), so it’s a great choice for a “first hit is free” marketing approach.
2.) Priscian’s Institutiones Grammaticae is now available, in something like its entirety, at a great site The Logic Museum. This either sets your pulse pounding wildly or it doesn’t. But he has lots of interesting stuff there, including a bilingual edition of Francis (“No-I-Have-Never-Been-Taped-To-John-Scalzi’s-Cat”) Bacon’s Novum Organon. I was reading down the aphorisms, thinking how central these are to scientific thinking, so much so that no one thinks about them anymore… then I thought, “You know, you could write some pretty interesting fantasy by turning these aphorisms on their heads and assuming the opposite.” It also seems to me that Aphorism 35 partially explains why so many disputes burst into futile flame wars these days: People are using weapons instead of chalk.
It was said by Borgia of the expedition of the French into Italy, that they came with chalk in their hands to mark out their lodgings, not with arms to force their way in. I in like manner would have my doctrine enter quietly into the minds that are fit and capable of receiving it; for confutations cannot be employed when the difference is upon first principles and very notions, and even upon forms of demonstration.
Dixit Borgia de expeditione Gallorum in Italiam, eos venisse cum creta in manibus, ut diversoria notarent, non cum armis, ut perrumperent. Itidem et nostra ratio est, ut doctrina nostra animos idoneos et capaces subintret; confutationum enim nullus est usus, ubi de principiis et ipsis notionibus, atque etiam de formis demonstrationum dissentimus.