Could the Amazon Kindle Revitalize Science Fiction?

Have you heard of Alien Assassin: The Human Chronicles Book Two by T.R. Harris? Or The Galactic Mage by John Daulton? Maybe not. But they're among the top 10 bestselling science fiction books on the Amazon Kindle right now. The list of the 100 bestselling Kindle science fiction books is full of authors who've never appeared on the Locus Magazine bestseller list, many of them self-published or published by tiny presses. And the list of the 100 most popular free science fiction books for the Kindle is entirely full of unknowns, not surprisingly.

The Kindle seems to have opened up opportunities for a number of authors who wouldn't have gotten a shot with traditional publishers, even small presses. Author James W. Harris thinks this could be a really good thing for the genre:

There's more new science fiction, and dare I say, more exciting sounding science fiction by the unknown authors at the Kindle store. Big publishers push blockbusters and name authors, and media related books, so the unknown writer doesn't have much of a chance, but that's not true in the wild west gold rush of self-published ebooks. Something is happening here, and we don't know what it is.

The press has been full of stories for the last two years about how ebooks are impacting traditional publishing, but I don't think they imagined the paradigm change that self-publishing is making on bookselling. Self-published ebooks are becoming the universal slush pile for all readers to work through to find that gem they want to make a success. Discovering a new author and promoting her can become a new form of social networking. ...

I've thought science fiction has lost most of its vitality in recent years. Writers have become obsessed with series, trying to build their book sales by pushing a popular character. That's comfortable for some readers, but I liked when science fiction writers were always trying to top each other with far out ideas. I don't know if the self-publishing revolution will bring back those days, but maybe.

[James W. Harris via Teleread]

Top image: Cover art for Galactic Mage by John Daulton.