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)