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Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for May 13, 2022

By Maria KorolovAlex Korolov, and Amira Loutfi
Top ten free sci-fi and fantasy e-books on Amazon for Friday, May 13.

Did you know that Amazon has a list of the top-selling and free sci-fi and fantasy books?

The list changes constantly — authors set their books to free temporarily to promote their work, and, of course, books move up and down in the rankings. But are any of the books actually worth reading? Well, I read the first few chapters of each to find out, so you don’t have to.

This week’s list is completely different from those of the previous weeks. So if you’re a fan of free books, it looks like there are going to be new things to read all the time.

There are a lot of books to go through, so this week I’m being helped out by Amira Loutfi, our reviews editor, and our news editor Alex Korolov.

I’ve noticed that if you try to open the list on a mobile device, it will take you to the listings that cost money, instead. I’ve found that by switching to the “desktop site” in the mobile browser, the free list comes up.

Oh, and if there’s a book that catches your eye, grab it quickly, since the books are often free for only a short time. And, Amazon allows you to lend your e-books, for free, to your friends. Even free e-books. Here are the instructions.

Most of these books are the first book in the series, and in each case I’ve checked to see whether the rest of the books are free as well, or whether they’re in Kindle Unlimited. Learn more about Kindle Unlimited here.

The list is accurate as of the time of writing, but may have changed since the story was posted.

1. Displaced by Stephen Drake

This is the first of three books in the Displaced post-apocalyptic science fiction series. The other books are $2.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.

From Alex Korolov:

Displaced is a sci-fi story about a small group of humans who wake up from suspended animation in a transport pod and now have to survive on a strange new planet.

If you like stories of survival or sci-fi where humans explore alien worlds, this book is for you. I liked it, and I would keep reading to learn about the new planet. Also, the characters are interesting enough, so I’d want to know what ends up happening to them.

The first few chapters are about the people getting to know each other, and how two people, in particular, don’t get along.

Kevin Murdock is an outdoorsy survivalist type who knows how to hunt and fish, and he quickly learns that the animals on the new planet are like earth’s creatures, but bigger.

James Whittier was a politician on earth, and he quickly takes charge of the small group of colonists and at the same time, becomes Murdock’s enemy — the two just don’t get along.

Get the ebook free from Amazon here.

2. The Culling by Ramona Finn

This is the first of three books in The Culling teen and young adult dystopian trilogy. The other two books are $3.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.

From Alex Korolov:

If you like stories about cybernetically enhanced humans and potentially evil super computers, you might enjoy this.

The Culling is a dystopian sci-fi book about a cybernetically enhanced young lady named Glade Io who’s being trained to do a nasty job — killing people on different colony worlds who are deemed unworthy by the Authority Database, which is some kind of supercomputer that is linked to her brain and tells her who can live or die.

I read the first couple of chapters, and though I find the premise of a computer controlling our lives and deciding who lives or dies really depressing, I’d keep reading to see if the main character Glade realizes how crazy her job is and maybe even finds a way to stop the Authority.

I hope this is one of those dystopian books where the hero realizes how messed up the system is and overcomes it, so I plan to finish it and find out.

Get the ebook free from Amazon here.

3. A Dream of Fire by J.R. Rasmussen

This is the first of three books in The Dragon Queen sword and sorcery fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.

From Maria Korolov:

Griffin is teaching Mundane Matters at a magical academy when there’s an incident and an army of small, venomous vividrakes attack the students and bite Griffin. I’m not usually a fan of magical academy books, but I like the fact that this one is told from the point of view of the teacher. Plus, it moves at a fast pace and is extremely readable.

Griffin gets treatment for his bite, is warned to watch out for side effects, and then goes out to try to hunt the rest of the vividrakes down. To capture them, not to kill them. Apparently, they’re rare.

While out searching, he comes across a mage who’s also been bitten. Griffin shares what’s left of his medicine, though the mage refuses to show his face. In return for his help, he gives Griffin a warning — the vividrake attack was no accident, but deliberate. The mysterious mage urges Griffin to leave the academy before it gets even more dangerous. The mage refuses to say more, so Griffin approaches him closer, to see who it is. And it’s not a mage at all. Griffin’s been talking with a dragon.

Or maybe he’s hallucinating from that vividrake bite.

I might come back to this one. I like all the characters I’ve met so far, and the idea of a non-magical teacher at a magic school is an interesting new angle for me.

Get the ebook free from Amazon here.

4. The Coursodon Dimension Series Bundle by M.L. Ryan

This is the first three of seven books in The Coursodon Dimension urban fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited.

From Maria Korolov:

The book starts out ridiculously slowly. Almost as if the author was trying to hit every novel opening cliché.

Our protagonist, Hailey, is woken up by an alarm clock playing an oldies radio station. She is annoyed about having to wake up before the sun is up. She makes coffee. She feeds her cat. She does a bit of online shopping. She goes for a run, showers, checks herself in the mirror then describes what she sees to us, the reader.

At least her job is interesting. She milks free-range chinchillas for a living.

Other than that — I’m having a really hard time getting into the book.

I know there’s going to be action at some point. The prologue hinted at a trans-dimensional being of some kind. So I kept reading. She goes home. She makes dinner. She watched television. She goes to bed. She goes back to work the next day. Finally, something else happens — the Kindle she ordered way back in chapter one finally arrives. She sets it up. She downloads “Pride and Prejudice” and starts reading it.

The next day is Saturday. She makes coffee and has oatmeal for breakfast while listening to “Car Talk” on National Public Radio. Then she sits outside on the patio with her Kindle. In the evening, she orders a steak sandwich to be delivered and does her laundry. Oh, and her cat hisses at her.

The next day, she goes for a hike, then goes out for fast food.

Then it’s back to her, where, of all things, she puts cream and sugar in her coffee instead of taking the black the way she usually does.

It’s not until chapter four that she hears a weird voice telling her that she needs someone’s help.

This is moving way too slowly for me. But, despite the pacing, the writing is very readable and engaging. I am not getting into it, but I can see that other people might enjoy the slow build.
Get the ebook box set free from Amazon here.

5. Almond City Ashes by Connie Chappell

This is the fifth and last book in the Wrenn Grayson Mystery paranormal mystery series. The other books are $2.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited. This is the second time this book has made this list. We previously reviewed it last month.

From Maria Korolov:

Historian Wrenn Grayson has a day job as the mayor’s assistant in Havens, Ohio, but due to the economic crisis her hours have been cut in half. So she’s picking up extra income from freelance gigs.

In particular, her friend Clay, who retired from being the town’s police chief, has bought the old Rosemont house and has hired her to research the estate and its previous owners.

There’s some backstory happening that I’m trying not to pay too much attention to because I’m already planning to go back and read the first four books.

It’s a slow beginning but I love the writing style and the pacing. It reminds me a little of a Murder She Wrote mystery. There’s small town politics, and the historical research assignment turns out to be something bigger, and more interesting, than Wrenn expected. And, of course, there’s a murder.

I’m planning to keep reading, though I’m not sure why this book is on the science fiction and fantasy list. Maybe a ghost shows up later on? I’ll have to read on and see.

Get the ebook free from Amazon here.

6. The Last Gifts of the Universe by Rory August

This is a debut novel of hard science fiction.

From Maria Korolov:

It’s thousands of years in the future and Scout, Scout’s brother Kieran, and their cat Pumpkin are on a ship exploring the universe for signs of intelligent life. Or, more accurately, for any artifacts or information intelligent life may have left behind. Because all they find are dead planets.

They live in a future where the common cold has been cured — but the cure is too expensive for most people. There are 63,000 other archivists out there, hunting for technology, for information, for anything that could tell them what happened to everyone else, and keep the same thing from happening to them.

They find an emergency beacon on one dead planet and follow it down into a tunnel. The signal leads them to a data cache. An old recording of an alien tells them that the people who died on this planet knew what was coming for them, and had a plan to fight it. But before they can get the data, two corporate pirates show up, grab the find away from them, and teleport out.

The corporations plans to copyright and patent whatever they find, and make everyone pay through the nose in order to use it. I take it that copyrights and patents no longer expire?

Fortunately, Scout and Kieran were able to get some of the data downloaded before the pirates stole the cache out from under them. And they have a lead to where the dead aliens went to try to hide from whatever was attacking them.

This is a thoughtful book that reminds me of the golden age of science fiction. I plan to keep reading.
Get the ebook free from Amazon here.

7. Sacred Embrace by AJ Ryder

This is the first of three books in the Lightbringer Trilogy urban fantasy series. The other books are $1.99 each and are both in Kindle Unlimited.

From Amira Loutfi:

This tale is not about a lightning mage, as I initially hoped. It’s a romance between an angel and a demon princess who seem to be breaking all the rules.

Lucifer and his demons were angels at one time, but they rebelled and were banished from heaven into the underworld. Bedayal had been Lucifer’s best friend before he turned sour. Bedayal refused multiple invitations to join Lucifer’s rebellion, and when he was finally banished to the underworld, he made it a point to grab Bedayal and trap him in hell with his evil horde.

Bedayal is falling in love with Lucifer’s daughter, Filia. She loves to flirt with Bedayal, but also loves to see mortals get tortured. I’m not sure I’d encourage that match! Bedayal believes that there is goodness in Filia, and that she doesn’t belong in hell. He wheedles an invitation out of her to visit earth. She decides to bring him along, not knowing that his true intention is to rescue her from hell. She doesn’t seem interested in leaving, though. She seems instead to really enjoy causing misery to others.

At the end of chapter three, we get a nice surprise.

There is a lot of exposition in the first two chapters, but it’s intriguing. The tone is gloomy and sarcastic. It’s been entertaining for sure, but I can see some weaknesses of the author. I.e. she repeats a lot of what she told us in the exposition in dialogue that occurs on Earth. Despite technicalities like that, I can see why people enjoy this book.

I will probably be back because I like how the plot moves forward at the end of each chapter. Even though I can see the flaws, the author is doing a lot of things right and I am enjoying it.

According to the blurb, this is a reverse harem romance. Yikes! But the blurb also makes it sound like a redemption arc is going to be the main plot thread. And redemption is one of my favorite plot threads! If I really do get around to finishing it, I’ll update my review. Oh, and I highly suggest NOT reading the blurb. It spoils the book a little. Just order it for free if you think it sounds good.

Get the ebook free from Amazon here.

8. Uncaged by Amber Ella Monroe

This is the first of eight books in The Uncaged dystopian future series. The other books are $.99 to $2.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited. The eighth book isn’t out yet, and is scheduled to be released next March.

From Amira Loutfi:

The premise of this story is interesting. America has fallen apart and fractured into a couple of dictatorships. Karis is an orphan girl from a powerful family that increases its hold on power every couple of years. Her uncle is the governor and wants to marry her off to the governor of a neighboring faction. Neither of them seems nice at all. There are also a bunch of dangerous gangs and tribes milling about.

Axil belongs to a tribe, and he is on a mission to kidnap Karis. As soon as he sees her dancing in the rain, he is smitten. He tries to focus on his mission, but she’s just so hot.

There is a lot of exposition in the dialogue. One of the characters, Cai, comes in just to say things like, “As you know, Karis, you are still royalty. And those governors are so evil. You’re getting jipped by your uncle.” She then gives Karis a bottle of forbidden alcohol from a mysterious territory.

I prefer the other fated mate alien romances out there. I won’t be back.
Get the ebook free from Amazon here.

9. Awaken the Daughter by Jeremy Flagg

This is the first of three books in The Dawning of Superheroes alternative history urban fantasy series. The other books are $.99 each and are both in Kindle Unlimited.

From Maria Korolov:

The book starts in 1942. Eleanor can see ghosts, ghosts who show her the future. Alcohol keeps the ghosts at bay. She lives in New York, where she shares an apartment with a friend, a church-going nurse, whose presence doesn’t trigger any ghostly visions.

In addition to drinking, she gambles, and she boxes at a local gym for war veterans, run by an old friend of her dead father.

Eleanor’s visions always come true, though she can change things to some degree. Then she sees a future in which she herself is dead. Not that she can do anything about that.

The book is very atmospheric. It reminds me a little bit of old-fashioned, hard-boiled detective novels, except with a supernatural element. There’s a serial killer loose in the city, and Eleanor decides to see if she can use her powers to track him down.

This is one of my favorite books today, and I think I’m going to keep reading.

Get the ebook free from Amazon here.

10. Time of Death by Nathan Van Coops

This is the first of two books in Paradox P.I. a sci-fi time travel mystery series. The other book is $2.99 each and is in Kindle Unlimited. This is the second time that the book has been on this best seller list. We previously reviewed it last November.

From Maria Korolov:

I like this book from the first line. It has a film noir kind of private eye feel to it, but set in the present day. Gayson Travers, the private eye, has an AI assistant named Waldo and lots of cool gadgets. You would too, I guess, if you were a time traveler.

A wealthy, beautiful woman comes in and hires him to prove that her husband didn’t kill himself. He can’t stop the death, because it already happened, but he can go back in time and get the real story.

I love this book. Travers is cynical and funny, knows his job, and doesn’t agonize over it.

I will enjoy spending time with him this weekend. In fact, I’m having a hard time putting the book down to go on to the next one.

Get the Kindle e-book free from Amazon here.


See all the Free Friday posts here. Do you have other free books for us to check out? Comment below or email me at [email protected].

Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!

And watch Maria and Amira discuss all these books in the video below:

 

Edited by Melody Friedenthal

MetaStellar news editor Alex Korolov writes about AI and virtual reality. His stories have also been published at Hypergrid Business, Network World, and Data Center Knowledge. Find him on line at AlexKorolov.com and on Twitter at @KorolovAlex.

MetaStellar reviews editor Amira Loutfi writes nonfiction by day and fantasy by night. You can join her newsletter where she discusses writing, marketing for authors, and relevant epiphanies along the way.