Locus Online



Fiction on the web
12 May 1998

Alexandria Digital Literature
Dave Howell, Principal Manager

Both an online repository of fiction and a reading recommendation service. The fiction Marketplace offers a hundred or so stories available for purchase and download. Included are notable works by Vonda N. McIntyre, William Sanders, Robert Silverberg, and others. AlexLit is actively soliciting authors for World Wide-Area-Network distribution rights -- by hosting teas at SF conventions, including the forthcoming WorldCon, among other ways -- so its Marketplace is actively expanding.

Reading recommendations are provided by Hypatia, the site's personification of a friendly librarian, using a database of nearly 30,000 book and short fiction titles. You start by ranking several dozen titles according to your tastes, on a subjective scale from 'dreadful' to 'fabulous' (with 'haven't read it' also being an option). Then Hypatia correlates your rankings with others in its database, and supplies you with recommendations of other titles that you should like -- that is, titles that were liked by people who liked the same titles you liked. Got it? Hypatia can also rank the the stories available for purchase based on your indicated tastes.

You can register for a free 'library card' to tour the site (though as you move between sections of the site, you may find yourself entering your nickname and password several times). The site design is clean and elegant, with simple icons instead of flashy graphics (and no ads!) and an inviting, enthusiastic manner. It's as close to a friendly neighborhood library as anything on the web is likely to be.

Infinity Plus
Keith Brooke, webmaster

A ''Science Fiction & Fantasy Archive'' of short fiction, novel excerpts, and nonfiction features -- all available for free. The stories are all previously published but several have new introductory material. Among the several dozen stories are Stephen Baxter's Hugo-nominated ''Moon Six'', Terry Bisson's ''England Underway'', Greg Egan's ''TAP'', James Patrick Kelly's ''The Propagation of Light in a Vacuum'', and Ian R. MacLeod's ''Starship Day''. There are also original reviews of current books, background on the authors, and plenty of links. Managed by SF writer Keith Brooke, the site started last year as a home page for him and few friends, and just kept growing. Now it's a first-rate reprint SF webzine.

Mind's Eye Fiction
Ken Jenks, editor-in-chief

A pay-per-view site for new and reprint fiction, online since 1996. At Mind's Eye you can read the first part of each story for free. Then you pay a small amount, or read a (full-page) ad, to see the ending. The available selections include original stories as well as some classics of SF -- Harlan Ellison's '''Repent, Harlequin', Said the Ticktockman''; Larry Niven's ''Inconstant Moon'' and ''Neutron Star''; Spider Robinson's ''Melancholy Elephants''; and Lawrence Watt-Evans's ''Why I Left Harry's All-Night Hamburgers'' -- all Hugo winners. Plus works by David Brin, Michael A. Burstein, Bud Sparhawk, Bud Webster, and others. Stories are categorized by genre. There are several options to buy: using a subscription account with or without SSL security, or using MEF tokens available from bookstores and conventions. Mind's Eye has a number of new features in work, including a PalmPilot interface and JavaScript novel reading software.

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