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

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.

On indie press: Alisa Krasnostein

I’ve invited a number of people who have worked in indie press to write about their experiences. Today, Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press talks about her ongoing indie journey.

I fell into indie publishing by accident. A friend of mine where I was doing postgrad, Barbara Robson, was getting her first publications in places like AntiSF and ASIM and that was how I first found out we even had a scene here in Australia. After finding out more about it, I joined the ASIM cooperative. I’d been noodling around writing and editing science nonfiction and was really interested in learning how to edit fiction and also to see how a magazine worked. I slushed for about a year at ASIM before I coughed up my entry fee to the cooperative and spent another year seeing the backroom secrets of running ASIM. In the meantime, I’d started up ASif! as a means to provide more dynamic criticism of the local scene.

I always look back nostalgically at the time I spent at ASIM. I made some lifelong friends in the cooperative, several of whom have had large roles and influence in the founding and evolution of Twelfth Planet Press. After learning the ropes and the obstacles for small press during my time at ASIM, I wanted to have a go at it myself and see what was possible. And so without ever having edited an issue of ASIM, I had a go at publishing myself with two electronic projects – New Ceres and the YA magazine Shiny (coedited in various combinations with Tansy Roberts, Ben Payne and Tehani Wessely). I learned a lot from both of these projects and I’m very proud of the work that they produced. But back then epublishing, whilst promising to be something, was still too out on the cusp and didn’t really get much circulation.

And so the Twelfth Planet Press label was born and our first anthology 2012 which I coedited with Ben Payne, was printed. And from there it has been one wild ride. In a blink of an eye we’re now working on getting our 15th book in four years to the printers! I think a major highlight for me was having a booth at Worldcon last year in Melbourne and having so many of my friends, mentors and supporters come by to say hi and stand in under the Twelfth Planet Press banner. Because it hasn’t just been my labour of love. And that’s probably what I love most about small press – it’s so personal. I love the synergy of working with other editors, designers and writers and interacting with our readers first hand at the sales end.

I have made so many lifelong friends and found so much to energise, inspire and challenge me in indie publishing. I love the freedom I have to take an idea and run with it. And I am always humbled by how generous people are with their time and expertise. Because without the in kind investments that others have made, and continue to make, in Twelfth Planet Press, it wouldn’t be where it is and wouldn’t have produced what it has.

Sure there’s the downer parts of indie publishing – I’m still yet to see most of the money I have invested come home again. Distribution is hard. It’s a bumpy and challenging time for publishing as an industry. And the short story is a niche market. But those also work to make better products, sharper plans and a clearer vision. And, I love a challenge.

Alisa Krasnostein is an environmental engineer by day, and runs indie publishing house Twelfth Planet Press by night. She is also Executive Editor at the review website Aussie Specfic in Focus! and part of the Galactic Suburbia Podcast Team. In her spare time she is a critic, reader, reviewer, runner, environmentalist, knitter, quilter and puppy lover.