January 2, 2013
In four issues Arc Magazine has established an ethic of not only providing great, thought provoking fiction but also interesting, forward looking non-fiction. Usually the non-fiction in magazine of fiction consists of reviews, of commentary on media and random columns, Arc instead retains a focus and provides non-fiction that stimulates the mind, not just fills out the issue. In issue 1.4 the non-fiction (or Fact as it's labelled in the contents) comes from Frank Swain, Madeline Ashby, Sumit Paul-Choudhury, Kim Stanley Robinson, Simon Ings and Smári McCarthy and covers topics such as the ultralite back-packing movement and what it means for other aspects of our life, the future of drones, border security in the modern world and the plans for Iceland to become a free data state.
The fiction comes from Robert Reed, Liz Jensen, Nancy Kress, Romie Stott, Bruce Sterling and Jack Womack. It's difficult to type that list without adding an exclamation mark to the end of it. They're good stories too: visions of a future post-oil city where the citizens are part of the city, an alternate future (with snatches of the history) in a post nuclear networked world, a story dealing with altering the last thoughts before death, a story about cheating death and dealing with the consequences in the future, a story about falling in love with a robot and a story about hoarding 20th Century junk. All of them are good, but of course it's a particular delight to read anything new by Bruce Sterling, pushing the boundaries as usual.
There's plenty to read at 185 pages, which includes some nice artwork, it definitely feels like a substantial magazine. My only moan is that I'd love it in print, but the print edition is a bit pricey at $30. Instead you can buy a selection of digital editions (Kindle, Zinio, Google Play, Nook) for £4.31 (last time I checked) which feels like pretty good value.
Recommended if you like intelligent Science Fiction and Science Fact.