Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for March 29, 2024

Reading Time: 10 minutes
Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for March 29, 2024

Did you know that Amazon has a list of the top-selling and free sci-fi and fantasy books? The list changes constantly — authors and publishers set their books to free temporarily to promote their work, and, of course, books move up and down in the rankings. Read on to find your fun free read for this weekend! And grab the books quickly because they don’t always stay free for long.

This week’s list is completely different from those of the previous weeks. So if you’re a fan of free books, there are going to be new things to read all the time. If you want to get this list in your inbox every Friday afternoon, subscribe to the MetaStellar weekly newsletter.

There are a lot of books to go through, so this week I’m being helped out by a couple of other members of our MetaStellar community. If you’d like to join me in doing these reviews — and taping our regular Free Friday videos — email me at [email protected].

5. The Murder Plague by Scott Michael Powers

This is a standalone dystopian thriller. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Maria Korolov:

I’m not fond of stories about horrible plagues sweeping the world. I want my escapist reading to be… well… a little more escapist, thank you very much! So, keeping in mind that I’m not really the target reader here, let’s get into it.

Guy is in Florida, across the street from an open market. He’s armed, as is everyone else there. Because this is Florida. No, wait, it’s because we’re in a dystopian future.

Guy is hungry. He’s also a black man in a mostly white neighborhood. He’s hearing a hospital mask over his mouth and face.

At the market, Guys buys vegetables and a chicken. He pays cash, like people do nowadays. We also find out that that he’s a plant engineer for the city’s main water plant.

Then an older man ten yards away pulls out an Uzi and sprays bullets into the crowd of shoppers. Guy is shot in his thigh. And a dozen or so other people are hit before someone takes the shooter down. Minutes later, first responders arrive.

The first two people at the scene are two police officers. When one cop keels down to help a victim, the other cop shoots the first one, then begins shooting other people. Everyone who could run has already run away, so the evil cop is just shooting the wounded. The bad cop is about to shoot Guy when Guy shoots him first.

The sirens fade away. The emergency responders must have decided to avoid the area. Guy, with a hand-made tourniquet around his leg, stumbles away. After about a block he can’t walk any more and uses his smartphone to call for a ride share.

Then in the next chapter we jump back six months, to find out how things got so bad so quickly.

Mae is a scientist researching viruses, trying to make them less contagious. After work, she goes to a nightclub with her friends.

Meanwhile, her boss had accidentally broken a seal on a genetically engineered virus strain outside of a clean room — in fact, right in the area where Mae was going to be working before she left for the nightclub. And he didn’t say anything because he figured the risk of infection was low, and if he spoke up, he’d lose his job. Instead, he went to a conference in Chicago.

But Mae was infected, and highly infections — and had spread the virus to everyone in the nightclub.

So there you go. That’s the premise. There’s some kind of virus and it seems to make people irrationally aggressive and violent. The story is very readable — there’s a reason it’s on this list. But will I be reading it? No. It hits a bit too close to home for my taste. But I think other people, those who are into stories about plagues, might be interested. Though I am curious about Guy. Did he survive his gunshot wound?

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

4. Song of the Hundred-Year Summer by Shaylin Gandhi

This is a standalone fantasy romance novella and it’s the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From E.S. Foster:

The story opens with Naia, a young girl who lives outside a village with her mother. Immediately the first line gives away that a strange magic has been cast over the village. The area has experienced summer, and only summer, for the past ninety-seven years. Naia doesn’t seem to have a problem with that, however, because it’s been that way her whole life. But she wants change. She’s tired of having to stay at home, away from the village, and the adventure she thinks lies beyond the world she’s known.

Her mother wakes her up one morning to announce it’s Trading Day in the village, and, for the first time in who knows how long, Naia gets to go with her. But her mother forces her to cover her face to keep the “butterflies” away. This hints at some kind of magic that Naia possesses, and while Naia enjoys this magic, the villagers are much more wary of her. She remains an outcast, despite dreaming about finding a handsome prince and living happily ever after.

But as the village approaches one hundred years of summer, Naia realizes that there’s a powerful monster behind the stagnant seasons, and it’s up to her to break the curse.

When I started reading this story, there were a couple of details I was confused by. The synopsis made it sound as if the curse of summer was just about to happen, but the story starts ninety-seven years in. Additionally, the first line and opening paragraphs kind of gave away the story. Even though I know this is a version of a well-known fairy tale, it would have been nice to discover the story for myself. However, I loved the little details and the coziness of the atmosphere. If you love fantasy romance and you want to read something short over the weekend, check out this novella.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

3. Sinful Mate by Trish Heinrich

This is the first of three books in Infinite Unions: Intrepid Alien Mates sci-fi romance series. The other books are $4.99 each and are in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Terri Wells:

I read the intros and other front material to books before diving into the main story, and boy was I glad I did that with this one. Heinrich’s author’s note called BS on the idea that if you’re into sci-fi romance, you must be a fan of sci-fi or romance, but not both. She also included an “Alien Species Quick Guide” to briefly describe the physical, cultural, and psychological characteristics of seven species. Like the author, I’ve been a Star Trek fan since the original series, so I had fun figuring out which of her aliens stood in for which Star Trek aliens. They aren’t nearly exact stand-ins though — she’s infused them with her own creative alchemy.

The story proper starts from Kier’Ahn’s point of view. Newly assigned to the Galactic Union of Planets’ flagship, the Intrepid, he’s the only Atavarian on the ship, and at this moment he’s going through the painful ordeal of a cocktail party. Yes, Kier’Ahn is Heinrich’s Spock stand-in, but he’s a Spock with red skin, horns, green eyes, curly hair, and a physiological need to consume blood. Being a logical people, albeit with a violent past, Atavarians are now vegan and consume synthetic blood, which doesn’t always react well with Kier’s half-Human physiology.

While trying to escape the party, Kier bumps into nurse Chloe Carter—literally. He spills his drink on her, but she takes it in good humor. Realizing what Kier was trying to do, Chloe leads him to an area of the ship where they can get the absolute best view of the nebula they’re cruising through. While gazing at the stars and the swirling, colorful effects from the nebula, Kier finds he can relax his guard a little around Chloe. They talk about how their parents influenced them, and Kier learns that Chloe is perceptive, empathetic, and has a first-rate mind. She’s not a doctor—yet—but has earned several challenging medical certifications, including three out of six possible in the biology of different non-human species. What we’re seeing, dear readers, is the start of a beautiful friendship.

Chapter two picks up two years later and is told from Chloe’s point of view. The Intrepid is rendering aid to a colony world on the outskirts of the Galactic Union of Planets. The colony hasn’t received a supply ship in six months and the colonists are fighting some seriously aggressive bacterial infections. Chloe is overworked and emotionally wrought but can’t show it; she’s lost two colonists to infections this morning and is likely to lose a third before sundown. Kier expresses his concern for her; he convinces her to take a break and go back to the ship. Without giving too much away, they make a brief, accidental telepathic connection, then pull back, and that’s where it sits at the end of chapter two.

Heinrich totally gets Spock. She also makes Chloe, our Nurse Chapel stand-in, intelligent, highly competent, perceptive, and empathetic without turning her into a Mary Sue. You are rooting for both characters. The science fiction and alien species elements feel very true to Star Trek without being carbon copies. The banter I’ve seen between Kier’Ahn and Chloe is delightful, which is great, because we all know that it’s the characters that drive the story, whatever you’re reading. I’ve never been one to ship Spock and Chapel, but I plan to set aside some time this weekend to boldly go where I’ve never gone before.

Fans of Star Trek will love this book, especially fans of the Spock-Chapel ship — folks who like stories where the Spock and Chapel characters get together romantically. Also, from having just read the first two chapters so far, I think it might make a good first read for those who like either sci-fi or romance.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

2. The Compound by E. K. Frances

This is the first of two books in The Compound Series young adult dystopian series. Book two is available for pre-order for $2.42. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Kristin Noland:

There are monsters in the forest, in the dark. Stories of the frightening monsters that few have seen have been told for as long as Alex can remember, and a truck comes around once a year and takes all the teenagers from the compound. As the stories say, the children are killed and eaten by the monsters, but no one really knows; they only know the kids do not return.

The story starts off promisingly, with Alex, her friends, and her brothers out in the evening trying to get home before darkness falls and the compound doors lock them safely inside. They all make it across a raging river, but Alex’s brother breaks his leg when he lands.

After a night of storms, Alex awakens alone in the shelter. Her whole family is gone. She finds them outside, standing over the corpse of one of the monsters. All of her family, that is, except her brother that broke his leg. Not long after, Alex hears a gunshot and suspects the men that patrol the compound have killed her brother.

The book is decently written in the first-person present tense, but I do have a problem with a few worldbuilding elements. In the first few chapters, there are errors in the worldbuilding.

If a truck comes around and takes all the teenagers every year, after the first year, the only children that could be taken are the ones that turn thirteen. While you could argue that these thirteen-year-olds are all the teenagers, the way the author explains this in the story doesn’t make sense. It’s said the monsters cut chunks out of them, tear the kids’ limbs off, and burn them before they are eaten alive. Honestly, the blood loss from cutting their limbs off would kill them in minutes.

As an editor, these inconsistencies bother me. They should have been caught by the author or an editor. This and the grammatical errors make me believe the author didn’t get the book edited by a professional before it was published.

Because of my issues with worldbuilding and grammar mistakes, I will not be finishing this book.

But fans of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and Divergent may enjoy this novel.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

1. The Galathea Chronicles by J.J. Green

This is a box set of the first three books of the ten-book Shadows of the Void space opera series. The other books are all $0.99 except for the last book, which is $2.99.They are not in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on our Free Friday list before. We reviewed her Space Colony One epic sci-fi series in February 2023 and in December 2021.

From Maria Korolov:

This book promises a kick-ass heroine fighting aliens, which is hugely appealing to me. Space operas with strong female leads are some of my all-time favorite books.

The protagonist’s name is Jas Harrington, which reminds me of one of my favorite series, the Honor Harrington saga by David Weber. Probably no relation, though.

But, like Honor, Jas is also an officer in a space military service. But unlike Honor, she serves as a chief security officer for a corporation. And the unit under her command isn’t human — it’s all emotionless robots.

Okay, a quick side note here. Sci-fi authors are going to have to dramatically revise how they portray robots and AIs in fiction. The latest AIs can and do show emotion, can tell jokes — though usually badly — and can recognize and respond to human feelings. Yeah, it’s creepy. But the technology is already there.

But back to the book.

Jas has landed on a new planet. If she doesn’t find any signs of life, the planet’s resources are up for grabs to the first corporation that grabs them. On this particular planet, there are weird structures, but they could be natural. Other than that, there are no signs of alien life. It’s weird that they sent down her and 15 military robots instead, of say, an army of small flying droves that could quickly cover more of the surface of the planet.

Anyway, she refuses to sign off on the no alien life thing because she’s got a weird feeling — and she’s never been wrong before. The ship’s master overrules her and restricts her to quarters.

While she’s locked up, a team of geologists heads down and comes back to the ship, and things start getting weird.

I’m definitely getting into this book and will most likely finish it this weekend.

Get the Kindle ebook 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!

Or watch Maria, Emma and Terri discuss all five books in the video below:

Kristin Noland is a developmental and line editor who works with women authors of speculative and crime fiction. At Noland Editing, she expertly guides authors through the writing and editing process to strengthen their storytelling skills, so their readers are entertained and immersed in their stories from cover to cover. With over seventy manuscripts edited, including two bestsellers, and her caring and encouraging editing style, she helps her clients create captivating novels. Follow her on YouTube at @KristinNoland.

Terri Wells (she/her) has been writing stories ever since she could hold a pencil, and editing written work of all kinds for nearly half her life. When not editing, she can be found eyeballs-deep exploring other worlds, or elbows-deep in her latest fibery project.

E. S. Foster is a writer and graduate student at the University of Cambridge. Her work has been featured in a variety of literary journals and small presses. You can find out more about her and what she does at her blog, E. S. Foster.

MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and check out her latest videos on the Maria Korolov YouTube channel. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.

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