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Data theft, internet memes, advertising, terrorism, indigenous sovereignty, drone warfare, opium addiction, syphilis, the moon landing, mining, oil slicks, climate change, giant octopuses: nothing is spared in this collection. Nic Low’s stories go beyond satire, aiming for the dark heart of our collective obsession with technology, power and image.
Set variously in London, an Indian village, remote Mongolia, the West Australian outback and mountainous New Zealand, these are prescient visions of the future and outlandish reimaginings of the past. Arms Race is an arresting debut from a fierce, playful new voice in Australian writing.
‘Nic Low’s stories are like controlled detonations. Arms Race is machete-sharp, politically engaged and thematically fearless. Australian short fiction just got lobbed into the twenty-first century.’
‘Outrageous, clever, passionate: a must read. These stories delight on so many levels and are written with a singular energy and skill.’
‘[Low’s] writing is fierce and uncompromising, bringing contemporary anxieties to the surface…This collection fights and grapples with language, counter-culture and consumerism, the characters inhabiting a plastic-elastic world being reshaped in the mould of whoever gets to the gold first…Seductive and frightening.’
‘[Nic Low’s] voice is natural and bitterly compelling. He never attempts to soothe us with easy answers, but instead enjoys posing difficult questions. If some of these tales might darken your mood, most of them will excite your imagination and alter your perception of the world.’
‘Tales that explore the dark psyche of human nature in an often playful and hilarious fashion. This debut collection is one of those that rewards being dipped into, with fine writing and arresting images on a diverse and fascinating range of subjects.’
‘There’s a bristling, playful energy to Nic Low’s writing. The sentences in his stories are short and punchy - as though he can’t wait to get them out. Hence the narrative fairly pulses along at a cracking pace with unexpected detours.’
‘There’s a bristling, playful energy to Nic Low’s writing…the narrative fairly pulses along at a cracking pace with unexpected detours.’
‘Each of these [stories] is offered to us in incisive text and dialogue and challenges comfort zones. Such a challenge is worthy of consideration.’
‘Low moves seamlessly between his host of characters and their individual voices, as much as he does between countries and events. More broadly, he paints a dark—sometimes funny—picture of our future…If Arms Race is anything to go by, we can expect more from this emerging writer.’
‘I would not be surprised to rediscover these stories thirty, twenty, even ten years from now, and remark at their prescience.’
‘In addition to cleverly executed ideas and Low’s pitch perfect balance of humour and humanity, core to the appeal and success of these alternate histories/realities are their strong links to the here and now, their plausibility. Rare is it that I feel compelled to give special mention to more than half of the stories within a short story collection – clear indication of the exceptionally high quality of Nic Low’s Arms Race, and Other Stories. Highly recommended to those new to short fiction.’