One Small Step is an anthology comprising 16 stories of discovery from some of Australia’s best female writers. Each story in some way addresses the idea of discoveries, new beginnings, or literal or figurative 'small steps.'
When humans land on and begin colonise a seemingly beautiful planet full of lush green grass they initially celebrate their luck having found a world seemed so rich and abundant. 'But the dazzling green turns out to be razor edged, and every day the colonists need to cut back the Grass in order to survive. Then it turns out that an alien species has laid claim to the place' (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
'A story about motherhood and magic and things going horribly wrong' (Tsana Dolichva, Tsana's Reads).
Set in the same universe as Bad Power, Kaneko is a reporter whose boss has sent her out to make a story out of the nutcases who call the paper to say they have secret powers. Some of them say they were indigo children, meant to be the next wave of human evolution. If so, evolution hasn’t worked out for most of them very well. Kaneko has, however, a superpower of her own - a tenacity that leads to discoveries (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
Leah is spending her mid-life crisis touring the world and finds Andy, an Australian guy, while in Malaysia. When he takes her down river on his boat and shows her fireflies she falls for both. Later, however, she finds herslef standing on the riverbank looking for Andy but can’t find him. The she remembers what has really happened and discovers where she is.
An 'postapocalypse world of hierarch and privilege contained in a tall ancient building where Topsiders rule in the sunlight and the most privileged daughters of Downbelow, those without defect, can be chosen to ascend as Birdman brides' (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
The narrator’s parents came from the Old Country where giants and [fairies] live, and one might call him a refugee. Here, he lives a reclusive life in a place that regards him as a freak, spending a lot of time on the internet, where he finds a woman who says she’s looking for a tall guy. He tells her his life story, starting a couple generations back (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
A time traveller and her automaton companion encounter a strange visitor who is more than she seems.
Mary is time-tripping with Charlie, her tiny automaton partner, and very much enjoying 1923. Although ultimately from the future, their travels have taken them everywhen, to all the most special moments.... But they are there on business, not just time tourists, and their clients pay with a small amount of their time (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
'The shadows have always been there, but only Lena can see them, not her parents. At least, so she believes. She also believes the shadows had nothing to do with her mother’s recent disappearance. They seem to be almost benign.' Then Lena finally discovers the truth (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
'In a far future when extreme body modification is common, Tek’tek signs up for Anthropology 404 because Sarah is in the class, not because he has any idea what’s going on. As Professor Xi explains with some exasperation:
"For the benefit of those who haven’t done their reading — Sara, you may keep sorting — the purpose of this class is not to study aliens but to study ourselves, our origins, with an anthropological survey of the Originals. The Originals rejected modern technology. The latest they accepted was the steam engine, a contraption so outdated I doubt you’ve heard of it."
Now, most of the Originals live isolated on a reservation, but now, for the first time in centuries, one of them has come to the university. Communication with Enoch is difficult. But he has come because of a dire situation: centuries of inbreeding has doomed the population to death. To find a solution, they have to descend to the Old Stacks. But Enoch’s religion forbids him to accept it' (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
'Toman, son of the chief of the Pale People, is born into a time of famine, when tribes make war over scarce resources. When they prevail against invaders, he realizes, “It was technology which had defended the tribe. Our tools had been better suited to the task at hand.” But Toman and Doya share a vision of even more effective technology, and he leaves home to discover it. His journey does not prosper' (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
The narrator is a snow woman, animated by the white witch she calls her mother. When the mother leaves her she is left alone in the house with the stone horrors that seem to talk to her. Then comes the thaw, and the woman must save herself.
'A world in which some girls are marked at birth with the Wyrding sign. The Warlord’s sons took the narrator captive in a raid and call her Sun-Fire because she won’t give them her true name. Now they want to force her unborn child to carry the dead Warlord’s soul, and the ancient Wyrding Woman of the Warlord’s clan is too powerful for her to overcome. She vows to resist. Yet she can’t resist the lure of the knowledge that the old woman offers her' (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
'Meriel was once a princess married against her will to a king she didn’t want. So she paid a wizard to remove her heart. Now, pregnant with a child she can’t love, she has come to ask the sorcerer Forsythian to find it, but he doesn’t seem to be at home. He’s there, of course, and another denizen of the place assures her that she will eventually see him if he wants to be seen. Meriel eventually gives birth with no sight of the sorcerer. She does, however, finally hear him after he notices the baby crying' (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
'The dollmaker came to the island as a young woman and vowed to make it a paradise. For all the children she made bad luck dolls that would absorb all the misfortunes to befall them. She animated the dolls with the soil of the island’s volcano. But the dolls removed the children’s capacity to feel anything, not only pain. She has created an island of zombies. The islanders had thrown the dolls into the sea to wash the bad luck away, but now they are returning, very much like zombies' (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
'The people of the nameless town are afflicted by a persistent drought and blame the inhabitants of the green cottage, who appear to be witches or fairies or something of that sort, for failing to alleviate it, or perhaps for causing it, or simply for having good fortune that they refuse to share. A mob gathers to do what they call justice. The three sisters are prepared to die, but they are concerned for their child, Ella. A sort of magic happens, which may be what is discovered' (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).
'After the Apocalypse, Ven the android is sent away with the last surviving human child. Almost a century before, a scientist named Arvel Hem speculated that humans suffer from a “chronogenetic species-wide pathology” that has now caused mass die-offs. The boy named Solomon may be the exception. There may be others. Ven’s quest is to find Hem, who took off across the universe to avoid the conflagration he knew was coming to Earth. On the ship, Sol grows up, Ven slowly deteriorates, and so does their vessel' (Lois Tilton, Locus Online).