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Your scifi lunch is here

06/06/2008. Contributed by Jessica Martin

Buy Hal Spacejock in the USA - or Buy Hal Spacejock in the UK

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There may be no free lunch for scifi hero Hal Spacejock, but his readers worldwide are about to be served a big helping of science fiction - for nothing. Fremantle Press and Western Australian author, Simon Haynes, are giving away online copies of the novel Hal Spacejock 1 to coincide with the release of the fourth book, Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch.

Author Simon Haynes says there is a method to his madness: he is keen to build an international following but in some countries his books were only available as an expensive import.

"Science fiction readers are typically technologically savvy and familiar with E-books. They are often bloggers with many online connections and the spread of information across the online community is incredibly fast," he said. "Hal Spacejock 1 is now on its third reprint and I've proved there's an audience for my particular brand of offbeat humour. By giving away the first novel as a free online download, I hope to reach a wider, international audience and, with any luck, get them hooked on the whole Hal Spacejock series."

Although the practice is rare in Australia, free online books in the science fiction genre have been given away by overseas publishers such as Tor Books, HarperCollins and Baen with interesting results. Initial reports indicate that releasing freebies can lead to increased book sales.

According to Sales and Marketing Manager, Clive Newman, Fremantle Press was at first resistant to the idea of releasing a free online version of the novel. "Giving away a free book, especially one that is on its third reprint, is not something we would normally contemplate. But this is a science fiction series and overseas readers aren't going to buy the fourth novel, Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch, if they haven't even read the first."

The four Hal Spacejock books are a comic science fiction series that are aimed at those that like books by Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt or Jasper Fforde.

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