Book Review: Kaleidoscope by Alisa Krasnostein & Julia Rios (eds.)

June 18th, 2014 at 1:13 pm (Reviews)

I don’t usually review books here on the FableCroft site, but like to periodically do so when it’s a book by one of the authors we have published in the past or is something so brilliant from another small press that it deserves to be shouted from the rooftops! Like this one:

kaleidoscopeKaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories

ISBN: 978-1-922101-11-2

August 2014, Twelfth Planet Press

Alisa Krasnostein & Julia Rios (eds.)

Kaleidoscope is one of the best anthologies I have read for a very long time. It’s not just the concept, which is both necessary and overdue; it’s not just the stories, which are engaging and beautiful and thoughtful and brilliant; it’s not just the way the authors explore science fiction and fantasy from perspectives all too frequently unseen in fiction; it’s all of these things, and that it seems so natural. In this anthology, every story takes a character (or two or three) who is often “othered” in fiction (and life), and makes their differences a part of the story. Readers will see themselves, they will see their friends, they will see their families, their cultures, their religious beliefs, their sexuality, their physical and mental states and they will see them as normal, as okay, as special. Not othered. Important and relevant and very very good, Kaleidoscope offers a powerful message to our society about difference, and about what we, as readers, want (and need) to see in our stories.

Some pieces, such as Tansy Rayner Roberts’ “Cookie Cutter Superhero”, offer a biting commentary on popular culture, couched in humour and teen spirit; others, such as “Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon” by Ken Liu, take a gentler approach, examining first love with a fantasical twist. Some stories shade darker, as with “The Legend Trap” by Sean Williams (set in his Twinmaker universe, an added bonus for fans) and “Kiss and Kiss and Kiss and Tell” by E.C. Myers; still others take a familiar trope and turn it sideways, like Faith Mudge’s “Signature” and “The Lovely Duckling” by Tim Susman. Some of my favourite works in the book were those that embedded the story in the protagonist’s nature, like the magic of Jim C. Hines’ “Chupacabra’s Song” and Karen Healey’s astonishingly good “Careful Magic”. There are so many wonderful stories in the pages of Kaleidoscope that every reader will find a favourite (or two or three), and every reader, teen or adult, will find at least one that speaks to them in deeper ways.

Thank you to the publisher for my review copy of the book. Kaleidoscope will launch on August 5, 2014 and can be preordered here.

Review cross-posted to Goodreads.

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Book Review: Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres

April 2nd, 2014 at 6:00 pm (Reviews)

I don’t usually review books here on the FableCroft site, but like to periodically do so when it’s a book by one of the authors we have published in the past.

PeacemakerI first encountered Peacemaker protagonist Virgin Jackson in de Pierres’ story “Gin Jackson: Neophyte Ranger” (first published in the Agog! Smashing Stories anthology in 2004, and I liked it so much I reprinted in FableCroft’s Australis Imaginarium in 2010). I was delighted to read Peacemaker in graphic version in 2011, and was a bit sad when that format was unable to continue, so it was with huge anticipation I started on the novel version! And I have not been disappointed.

Virgin Jackson is a senior ranger in a themed conservation park; odd things have started to happen to her, and not just finding herself saddled with a US Marshall who is himself just a little strange. When she first finds a dead body where it’s almost impossible for anyone to be, she is essentially accused of the murder, and then is attacked in her home. Not one to stand idly by and let things happen, Virgin starts to investigate for herself, with the help of friends in useful places, and the odd Marshall Sixkiller. What she finds is not at all what she expects…

There are several changes that have occurred from the original short story to the novel-length edition. Focus is by necessity shifted for the longer form, and while the book is still (in my eyes) very Australian, I can also see where some elements have been altered to give the story a more international tone, and that both works very well on a plot level as well as being a sensible move in terms of audience.

In another incarnation, de Pierres writes crime fiction, and her experience in both a science fictional setting and a mystery one offer a deftness of touch here. Peacemaker rollicks along at a cracking pace, and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation at times, which is always a good sign! The character of Virgin is vivid and wonderfully acerbic, and I found both she and the supporting cast so well realised they really bounced off the page. With that combination, I got to the end of the book and flipped the last page in disappointment, because while the story ended well (albeit definitely set up for the next volume), I simply didn’t want it to stop. Bring on the next instalment!

Thank you to the publisher for my review copy of the book. It is available in ebook from your favourite e-tailer or ask your bookstore about the paperback.

New reviews!

March 22nd, 2014 at 8:06 pm (Reviews)

We’ve been fairly focused on Cranky Ladies for the past few weeks, but of course there is always more going on behind the scenes!

Firstly, we’re almost halfway through the first round of reading for Insert Title Here, and hopefully will have responded to all authors within the next fortnight.

Secondly, new reviews! We love seeing these appear around the ridges, so please let us know by email or Twitter if you write a review of a FableCroft book!

BoneChimeCoverDraftBlack Static #39 has a great round up of recent Australian short fiction anthologies and collections, and Joanne Anderton’s The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories is part of that. The reviewer calls Jo an author “who deftly blurs the lines between horror, fantasy and science fiction”, and looks at each story. Of particular interest, the two original stories have thoughtful comments, and the reviewer calls “Mah Song” rich in detail and says of “Fencelines”, a slowly burgeoning mood of unreality settling over the text as the narrative unfolds. Nice!

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Reviews and news roundup

February 24th, 2014 at 6:30 pm (Reviews)

1890436_10202652074879534_690952886_oA few bits and bobs for linking!

  • Cheryl Morgan congratulates FableCroft and Twelfth Planet Press on their Aurealis Awards shortlistings, and links to the books for sale in the Wizard’s Tower Books store.
  • Over at 13 O’Clock, Alan Baxter reviewed Path of Night, calling it, “excellently written and very well paced” – thanks Alan!
  • Speaking of reviews, Ink Black Magic by Tansy Rayner Roberts was reviewed in the February edition of Locus! Can’t link to it, unfortunately, but Carolyn Cushman said the book is, “a fun fantasy adventure with considerable satire…that brings to mind Terry Pratchett’s Discworld” – thanks Carolyn!
  • Tansy and other Aussies Alex Pierce and Gillian Polack, along with several other well know folks were mind-melded over at SF Signal, on the topic of “secondary characters who take center stage” – some interesting thoughts presented!
  • We’re looking forward to our big Book Party in Hobart on March 9 – who will be there to celebrate with us?
  • While we’re on the topic of parties, don’t forget that tickets to the Aurealis Awards ceremony (and the preceding Conflux Writers’ Day) are on sale! It’s going to be a blast!
  • And finally, submissions to Insert Title Here close on February 28 – have you got your story in?

 

Book Review: The Other Tree by D.K. Mok

February 2nd, 2014 at 12:47 pm (Books, Reviews)

I don’t usually review books here on the FableCroft site, but like to periodically do so when it’s a book by one of the authors we have published in the past. D.K. Mok appeared in One Small Step in 2013 with the story “Morning Star”, a novelette length, far reaching, space-based science fiction story that is thoughtful and exciting by turns. The Other Tree is D.K.’s 2014 debut novel, from the publisher Spence City, and while I’ve seen it noted as urban fantasy, I’m not sure it quite fits that genre marker – it’s one of those books that is tricky to classify as anything but “put it on your to-read list”!

17314951If Seanan McGuire had written The Da Vinci Code, the outcome might have been a little like The Other Tree! Given I adore Seanan’s work and think The Da Vinci Code could have been quite fascinating in the hands of a different author, this is definitely a compliment.

I don’t know much about the heritage behind this story but the religious, scientific and geographic elements, whether real or invented, are believably written, and underpin an action packed yet inherently character driven story.

The book rollicks along very nicely, maintaining tension and gradually unpacking characters along the way. I absolutely loved cryptobotanist Chris and conflicted Luke, and their personal journeys are as important to the novel as the overarching plot. Even the secondary characters are multi-faceted and interesting, although I have to say if I have one nitpick, it was with the random head hopping of perspective in a couple of places. Otherwise though, an impressive debut for a very talented writer! Mok is most definitely on my “want more” list!

Thank you to the publisher for my review copy of the book. It is available in ebook from your favourite e-tailer or ask your bookstore about the paperback.

Ink Black Magic is nearly at the printer!

October 20th, 2013 at 8:19 pm (Ink Black Magic, Mocklore)

Liquid Gold Cover LASTThe final book of Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Mocklore series, Ink Black Magic, will be released just as soon as we finalise the very beautiful cover (soon…!). While this book is an excellent standalone novel, it does have ties to Splashdance Silver and Liquid Gold – have you read them yet?

What people have said about the Mocklore Chronicles (some of these reviews are from when the books were first released in paperback, 15 years ago!):

“…made me laugh out loud on a bus full of people…” (Fran, Goodreads)

“…an undiscovered gem in my opinion. Funny, intricate and exciting – Kassa and her band of merry pirates are such a wonderful team of misfits in a world for misfits.” (AlexEatsBooks, Goodreads)

“Magical. Such detail. A bloody blast.” (Lisa Gormley, Goodreads)

“…this is comic fantasy, and very much in the Pratchett vein. There are witches and pirates, eccentric characters, and other odds and ends – the novel even opens with a view of Mocklore from space ala Pratchett. What is important, though, is that Roberts entertains. This kind of fiction depends upon inventiveness and timing – the author has to be able to produce a non-stop flow of new and interesting characters and situations, while never forgetting that the point is to make us laugh. It is something that Terry Pratchett had made his stock in trade, and it’s a skill that Roberts is clearly learning.” (Jonathan Strahan, Eidolon)

“Tansy Rayner Roberts should be a name we’ll be hearing for a long time to come.” (Jonathan Strahan, Eidolon)

Lovely new reviews

October 6th, 2013 at 8:49 am (Books, One Small Step, Reviews, The Bone Chime Song, To Spin a Darker Stair)

OneSmallStepCoverdraftA couple of lovely new reviews around the ridges recently. 

Mieneke over at A Fantastical Librarian gave a comprehensive look at One Small Step, saying (among lots of other very nice things): “a very strong collection of stories showcasing the talents of eighteen very talented women.”

Tsana at Tsana Reads & Reviews took advantage of our super World Fantasy Awards discount on To Spin a Darker Stair (just $5 including postage anywhere in the world! Ends 31 October!) and very generously then reviewed the book, saying it “punches above its weight class.”

And although this is a little while ago, I wanted to point out Michelle E. Goldsmith’s glowing review of The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories at Vilutheril.Michelle is very definite about her recommendation: “I urge anyone who loves dark, strange and beautifully written stories to read this collection.” Thanks Michelle!

New reviews and more guest posts

August 17th, 2013 at 5:16 pm (Miscellaneous)

OneSmallStepCoverdraftA few days ago, DK Mok (whose excellent story “Morning Star” closes out the One Small Step anthology), wrote a guest post for SF Signal. We have such knowledgeable and talented authors here at FableCroft! DK’s post looks at humour in fantasy, and why it is so tricky to do well but why it’s good to do!

Humour can be a tough sell. It might take a reader several chapters to realise that a dramatic novel isn’t to their taste, but in a light-hearted novel, the first pun can be a dealbreaker. It’s the exquisitely subjective nature of humour that makes it such a tricky element to handle. A reader who loves Hogfather might loathe Red Dwarf. Someone might find Douglas Adams thigh-slappingly hilarious, but Piers Anthony leaves them cringing. Reading a mediocre drama might be boring, but reading a mediocre comedy can be excruciating.

In other news, Dave Versace gave One Small Step a great review on Goodreads – among other things, he says: Smart, heartfelt and a little bit otherworldly. Thanks Dave!

Cool stuff round up

May 13th, 2013 at 3:33 pm (Books, Reviews)

OneSmallStepCoverdraftWhile the publisher has been relocating (again – second move this year, but hopefully the last for a goodly long while!), there have been some cool things said about our books around the place. I’ve been putting links to reviews on our new FableCroft Books in Review page, and it’s been really exciting to see the books getting talked about in places like Locus Online, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus, as well as by fantastic book bloggers and reviews website!

It was with great pleasure we published “Flower and Weed” by Margo Lanagan on Kindle a little while ago. This short story was first available in audio from Coeur de Lion, but this is the first time it’s seen “print”. It is set in Margo’s Sea Hearts (Brides of Rollrock Island) world, and gives you a taste of what was left out so the book could be classifed as YA! Just 99 cents from your Kindle store.

Another groovy thing that I saw last week was Rabia Gale and Joanne Anderton (writers of “Sand and Seawater” in One Small Step) blogging about collaboration – separately! If you’re interested in how they did it, their posts are worth a read (Rabia / Joanne). I wonder if Lisa Hannett and Angela Slatter would also like to blog about their OSS collaboration…

And while things have been delayed slightly by the intervention of the move, I promise the ebooks for One Small Step and The Bone Chime Song will both be available soon!

It’s Epilogue day!

January 14th, 2013 at 4:16 pm (Epilogue, Reviews)

Epilogue-CoverToday is a big day for Epilogue, it seems! It is now, at long last, available on the Kindle store, which is very exciting. And to follow that up, a review by Cat Sparks of the anthology just went live at Cosmos, which is very nice! Among other things, Cat says:

If, like me, you find something compelling in post-disaster scenarios, try Epilogue for an Australian-flavoured take on the end of the world. 

Stay tuned for more exciting FableCroft news over the next few days!

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