Science Fiction Stories by Keith Laumer in the Public Domain

If like me you found yourself very excited by the news on Boing Boing that possibly as much as 80% of the books published between 1924 and 1963 might now be in the public domain thanks to their copyrights not being renewed, then like me you also clicked on the links to the New York Public Library’s explanation as well as Leonard Richardson’s discussion. What was most exciting, to me, to discover was that a fair amount of science fiction from that period, which includes the so-called golden era, might be in the public domain.

That’s the good news. The bad news, or the news that requires patience, is that you still have to track down that work, much of which hasn’t been scanned. Some of it has been scanned, and is possibly available through the Hathi Trust, but it hasn’t been OCRed and curated into clean digital versions. But some of it has, and in the case of some work by Keith Laumer, a favorite of mine, it’s available on Gutenberg.

The list of texts is all sitting on one page, and it’s only 12 works, so writing a BeautifulSoup script seemed like overkill, especially when my preferred plain text note application, [Bear][], does a terrific job of turning HTML into easily edited markdown. From there, I edited the URLs following the pattern I gleaned from one of the texts using Textmate’s block edit functionality. I got the following list:

http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/51258/pg51258.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/53132/pg53132.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/51509/pg51509.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/51712/pg51712.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/51267/pg51267.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/26782/pg26782.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/51781/pg51781.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/21627/pg21627.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/23028/pg23028.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/52844/pg52844.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/52855/pg52855.txt
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/21782/pg21782.txt

I saved it to a file, cded into my texts repo and ran wget:

wget -w 2 -i ~/Desktop/laumer.txt

A half minute later it was done:

FINISHED --2019-08-14 19:01:18--
Total wall clock time: 24s
Downloaded: 12 files, 1.2M in 1.4s (874 KB/s)

You can do the same, or you can grab the collection of plain text files out of my GitHub texts repo: Laumer stories.