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Paintwork Paperback – July 29, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tim Maughan is an author, journalist, and features writer using both fiction and non-fiction to explore issues around cities, class, culture, globalisation, technology, and the future. His work regularly appears on the BBC, Vice, and New Scientist.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 106 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1463570465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1463570460
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,602,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
In a Wired article last year, Warren Ellis writes "the future isn't dead, we simply overtook it". In the article he speaks about how "science fiction is no longer ahead on the trail, throwing clues to the future back at us". He talks of how William Gibson, one of the pioneers of cyberpunk, in his latest trilogy of books, writes of the present, not of console cowboys in cyberspace. He points out that his new novels, while contemporary still seem just a bit out of sync. It is like we are getting a glimpse of a future only minutes away. In reading "Paintwork", from up and coming Bristol author Tim Maughan, this article and the novels of William Gibson are quick to come to mind.

Paintwork is made up of three stories that share a common vision of a near future with augmented graffiti artists, hackers, nanobot beetles, virtual reality video game celebrities and augmented reality robot battles waged across the streets of Havana.

First of all there is the story Paintwork. 3Cube is an augmented reality street artists that 'writes' over Coca-Cola billboards with help from hacker friend Tera but almost immediately after he has finished his work somebody has written over his work in an decidedly old-fashioned way. While continuing to work on augmented reality street art pieces, he tries to solve the mystery of who is sabotaging his work through his hacker friend, a former rival, and through a homeless vendor of "beetle juice". The description of nanobot beetles, producers of the unique ink used on the billboards, kept in cages, force fed and rumoured to have the brains of real insects is delightfully disturbing. It is towards the end of the story, when Maughan seems to really get a good handle on his prose. There are some definite poetic moments towards the end of the story.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased Paintwork after reading a brief review by Cory Doctorow, a writer whose works I enjoy very much. Mr. Doctorow's praise of Paintwork is justified for the stories in Paintwork are quite good.

The Paintwork stories take place in the near future, a time not far from our own. The technologies in the stories are predictable extensions of current technology which renders them as believable and not as magical thinking. This is important as the the technologies are significant in the stories: they are not artifacts to the stories but are integral components. Do not think, however, that the stories are about technology, for they are not. Like all good science fiction, the stories are about humans acting and reacting in the world around them.

Technological advances give humans opportunities to do new things or to do old things in new ways. The technology changes but sadly, often humans do not. Paintwork gives us stories of humans acting in old ways with new technology. This is not a criticism: it simply means that traits which humans have exhibited for thousands of years are still exhibited in a future, more technologically-enabled, world. The worlds of Paintwork are dark but not dystopian. Some of the traits exhibited are positive, creative and useful while others are negative and destructive. But in all cases, the characters have adapted to a world of technology. Their adaptations are very believable, and this makes the stories seem realistic. One could almost believe the stories are news report from a not too distant future.

My only complaint about Paintwork is the number of typos: it seemed a rather large number for a published work. Still, I recommend Paintwork for fans of cyberpunk and science fiction. It is good writing with realistic characters set in a very believable world.
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Format: Paperback
Tim Maughan's excellent Paintwork (2011) focuses on the meaning of artistry in a near-future cyberpunk landscape.

The titular story focuses on a subversive graffiti artist, the second on a documentary journalist and the award-nominated third story, "Havana Augmented", tells the tale of a pair of Cuban gamers. Gaming might not seem like artistry, but Paul and Marcus, our protagonists, take it to that magnificent level. Mr. Maughan's Cuba is a proud island, but one crippled by economic sanctions and a dying tourist trade. Marcus is a computer nut - a genius programmer who cobbles together his own games from the fragments of code he can buy through the black market. Paul isn't a computer whiz, but he's a gifted virtual athlete. Marcus builds the games; Paul wins them.

The most popular game in Cuba is Street Iron, a Marcus-hacked version of the popular global mecha game Rolling Iron. Marcus has taken the rather banal foundation and converted it to augmented reality genius. The players zip around the city on motorcycles and wearing VR 'spex'. Their giant robots follow them and battle to the death. Entire robot wars are fought without anyone ever noticing. Marcus' variant soon eclipses the real thing, and, as videos are leaked around the internet, the game's corporate owners are keen to cash in.

"Havana Augmented" follows two streams of conflict. Paul and Kim battle with enormous robots which is, frankly, awesome. Mr. Maughan knows how to write an action sequence without letting it take over. The battles are short, streamlined, vicious and very, very fun. The story's true conflict, however, is within Paul. Initially pleased (and stunned) to be out of the shadows, he's suddenly faced with the full force of Global Corporate Decadence (tm).
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