Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen

One Small Step is the perfect title for this anthology of stories by some very prominent Australian speculative fiction authors. It offers hope for the future and suggests the possibility of things that mere years ago seemed impossible. When taken in context of the famous quote ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’, there is the sense that though the hope may only be a glimmer, it will grow.

Given the original context of the title, I was expecting an anthology of sixteen science fiction stories. Instead, it is a more eclectic mix of the many genres under the speculative fiction banner. Fantasy and sci-fi dominate, but some of the stories might be classed as horror. The genre differences keep this anthology refreshing as each story is very different in content and context, even if they uniformly take a small step towards something better. There are some incredible stories in this selection and while some are merely a good read, I can’t imagine anyone who would not find that many of the stories in here will stay with them.

The steps that are taken are not only within the stories, I am glad to say. The anthology itself is taking steps away from the comfort of its usual perceived market and target audience. All of these wonderful tales are by women writers and many of them revolve around a female character. The ones that don’t are still markedly female-centric. For a genre that is improving but still lacks women-centred tales, One Small Step is a welcome addition. Stories with people of colour as main characters also feature heavily in the anthology, and not in a way that makes race the central or only focus.

There are too many stories that I loved to discuss them in as much detail as I would like, but Morning Star by DK Mok was one that I wished would go on forever. I would want a whole novel out of it; and then perhaps a trilogy. After that; a movie franchise. Two robots and a boy on a ship, searching for any other sign of human life should not be as hauntingly, achingly beautiful as Mok has made it. While the writing is simple and understated, the story is raw and painful yet almost lovingly gentle. It took me hours after that story, to pick the anthology up again; and I needed every minute of that process time.

Aside from that, you can expect stories of time-travelling party hosts with one very unusual trick up their sleeves, dolls that change the luck of the village they come from, and a new way to greet death within these pages. The ideas are fresh and intriguing; and without fail, incredibly well written. For anyone who loves fantasy or sci-fi or is trying out the genre; One Small Step will be a welcome addition to your library.

One Small Step: and Anthology of Discoveries – ed. Tehani Wessely

FableCroft (May 1, 2013)

ISBN: 9780987400000

How Do You Do It?

One of the questions I get asked a lot is  “how do you do it? How do you juggle writing books in different worlds, and the short fiction, and the freelance, and all of that?”

My joke answer is “carefully, and with a lot of caffeine.”  And the joke is that it’s utterly true.  But, on a more serious note…

Once upon a time, I was a book editor, running an imprint that published 50+ books a year.  I loved my job –the chance to work on so many different projects, each with their own voice and personality, was what got me out of bed and into the office every day.  But, eventually, the stress of the job, plus the growing number of hours I spent nights and weekends with my own writing, required a change.  I couldn’t keep giving 100% to both careers, not without something taking the hit (and that thing would probably have been me).

So in 2003 I bid farewell to the 8-6 routine of the office, and went boldly into the 8-6 routine of…well, the office.  Because, the truth is, the change in my work habits has mainly been that my commute is shorter, and I don’t have to close the door when I take that 15 minute power nap.  But from the very beginning I knew that the only way this career would work, for me, was to treat it with the same mindset: this is my job, and it has structure.

Yes, I can work anywhere, and do.  But the structure comes with me.  There is coffee in the morning, to jumpstart my brain.  There are the stretches, so I don’t cramp up from sitting too long.  There’s the usual procrastination of internet-browsing and email checking, and the quick conversations with my fellow freelancers on Skype replacing the traditional water cooler.  I get dressed – not as formally as officewear, but I don’t work in my pjs, either.

And then I chose a project to work on.  Usually, it’s on the basis of What’s Due First, but if I’ve had a sudden thought about a project, then I’ll get to that first.  If a deadline is looming, I may spend all day on it; if there are a bunch of things I need to get to, then I spend time with each. Prioritize, schedule, and begin.  It’s all pretty basic… or so I thought.

“But how do you switch between them?” people ask, certain that they would not be able to stop working in one world/project and move to another.  The only way I can answer that is to ask in return – how did you switch between classes, in school?  How do you stop working on one project when a more urgent one hits your desk at work, and then go back to the items still waiting?

But my interrogators are certain, somehow, that it’s not the same.  Oh, but that’s not creative, they reply, dismissing the effort their jobs require far too easily– and giving far too much weight to the demands of  ‘creation’ versus ‘work.’

And I think that people do themselves a serious disservice, with that.

When teachers teach, they have multiple classes, filled with kids that have different needs.  A reporter or a cop doesn’t investigate only one case or story at a time (far from it!).  A carpenter or plumber is rarely working on only one job, and an office worker of any stripe is often juggling not just projects but multiple bosses!  And meetings, let’s not forget all those meetings…

Me, I wonder how YOU do it.

Bio:

Laura Anne Gilman started her professional life as a book editor for a major NYC house, fitting her writing into the remaining available hours. In 2004 she switched that around, becoming a full-time writer and freelance editor.

Laura Anne is the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus books for Luna (the “Retrievers” and “Paranormal Scene Investigations” urban fantasy series), and the award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy from Pocket,as well as the forthcoming story collection DRAGON VIRUS.  A member of the on-line writers’ consortium BookView Cafe, she continues to write and sell short fiction in a variety of genres.

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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