Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Freebie: Everyone Wants to be Ambassador to France by Bryan Hurt, Flings by Justin Taylor, and Press Start to Play (edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams)

Congratulations to Carl Scott, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie contest: the new Penguin Classics edition of Emma by Jane Austen.

This week, I have a trio of short story collections to give away to one lucky reader: Everyone Wants to Be Ambassador to France by Bryan Hurt, Flings by Justin Taylor, and Press Start to Play, an anthology edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams. Read on for more information about each of the books.

An astronaut quits NASA to paint pictures of the moon; a man builds a star in his basement; an astronomer falls in love with a moose and loses his nose in a sword fight; and an aristocrat adopts two teenage girls in the hopes of raising one to become his perfect wife. Bryan Hurt’s stories depict a world of wonder, magic, humor, sadness, and compassion. Wildly imaginative and meticulously researched, Everyone Wants to Be Ambassador to France is the debut of a new and exciting talent. “I have been a longtime fan of Bryan Hurt’s stories and what a joy to have them all together now in this book! They are a soup pot of the funniest dry sentences plus unusual facts that he unearthed from who knows where, and an understated humanity tucked inside those facts, and a constant eye on the oddness of culture and the lilt of a well-placed phrase and a carrot. In our endlessly data-packed world, Hurt’s keen spareness is a welcome addition to the bookshelves.” (Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake)

From the acclaimed author of Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever and The Gospel of Anarchy comes a piercing collection of short fiction that illuminates our struggle to find love, comfort, and identity. In a new suite of powerful and incisive stories, Justin Taylor captures the lives of men and women unmoored from their pasts and uncertain of their futures. A man writes his girlfriend a Dear John letter, gets in his car, and just drives. A widowed insomniac is roused from malaise when an alligator appears in her backyard. A group of college friends try to stay close after graduation, but are drawn away from—and back toward—each other by the choices they make. A boy’s friendship with a pair of identical twins undergoes a strange and tragic evolution over the course of adolescence. A promising academic and her fiancée attempt to finish their dissertations, but struggle with writer’s block, a nasty secret, and their own expert knowledge of Freud. From an East Village rooftop to a cabin in Tennessee, from the Florida suburbs to Hong Kong, Taylor covers a vast emotional and geographic landscape while ushering us into an abiding intimacy with his characters, Flings is a commanding work of fiction that captures the contemporary search for identity, connection, and a place to call home.

You are standing in a room filled with books, faced with a difficult decision. Suddenly, one with a distinctive cover catches your eye. It is a groundbreaking anthology of short stories from award-winning writers and game-industry titans who have embarked on a quest to explore what happens when video games and science fiction collide. From text-based adventures to first-person shooters, dungeon crawlers to horror games, these twenty-six stories play with our notion of what video games can be—and what they can become—in smart and singular ways. With a foreword from Ernest Cline, bestselling author of Ready Player One, Press Start to Play includes work from: Daniel H. Wilson, Charles Yu, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, S.R. Mastrantone, Charlie Jane Anders, Holly Black, Seanan McGuire, Django Wexler, Nicole Feldringer, Chris Avellone, David Barr Kirtley,T.C. Boyle, Marc Laidlaw, Robin Wasserman, Micky Neilson, Cory Doctorow, Jessica Barber, Chris Kluwe, Marguerite K. Bennett, Rhianna Pratchett, Austin Grossman, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, Catherynne M. Valente, Andy Weir, and Hugh Howey. Your inventory includes keys, a cell phone, and a wallet. What would you like to do? [The answer is, of course, Read the Book!]

If you’d like a chance at winning all three books, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Oct. 15, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on Oct. 16.  If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.

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