People think up the craziest stuff to write about (such as books with ice hockey, talking bears, and yet no talking bears playing ice hockey). And that's all to the good.
I have been spending a fair amount of time on Twitter lately just getting familiar with that universe and figuring out what use it is. There I found notice of the following book:
"The Termite Queen" by Lorinda J. Taylor blurbs itself thusly (edited for space):
In the 30th century, an off-world expedition returns to Earth with a specimen of giant termite whose behavior suggests intelligence. Kaitrin Oliva, a strong-willed and ambitious young linguistic anthropologist, is charged with finding a way to access its unique form of bioelectric communication. However, the insect dies and the team members realize too late that they have unintentionally murdered an intelligent lifeform. A second expedition is mounted with the purpose of making first contact and reparations... Meanwhile, civil discord is brewing on the termite planet. Mo’gri’ta’tu, the Queen’s Chamberlain, resents the power of the Holy Seer Kwi’ga’ga’tei and plots to assassinate her... At the very moment that the murder is about to be committed, the second expedition arrives at the planet …
Can you see a New York agent bouncing up and down with excitement over this?
No? But can you see a science fiction fan eating this up?
Happily, there's no obligatory New York, sales-conscious imagination filter on books anymore. That doesn't mean that every individual book is good, and there are a lot of indie authors out there who could use a bit more seasoning and maturity in their writing.
But there is a lot more possibility. And I've always been passionate about possibility.
I have also found through Twitter word of dozens of new independently-published novels on a website dedicated to helping independent authors: Indie Author Land.
Authors fill out an "interview" questionnaire with a number of questions normally asked of them. They send it in to the website with a .jpg of the cover of their book, and the website owners post the cover and the interview with links on how to get the book.
Right now by my count there are a few hundred books on the site in a number of different genres. I've clicked through several dozen and am just astonished. There are a few predictable things, like a series with dragons. But much of it is crazy weird.
So, no guarantees of quality. But lots of choice. Of course, with mainstream books, you aren't guaranteed a good read, either. And in conventionally-published shelves you tend to get lots of books that are like other books already published that have sold. Predictable, maybe even comforting, but not always good.
Are you like Flannery O'Connor, who, when asked if creative writing courses stifle would-be writers, replied "Not enough of them"? Or are you excited about the independent publishing revolution?
I'm excited. After all, independence is quintessentially American.