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Paintwork Paperback – July 29, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really good near future short stories. All Flowed well together. Felt like some of this will be possible really soon.Published 6 months ago by cf
A fun look at a future where we all have access to virtual & augmented reality.
Believable, well-thought put details.
It's not often that you get to simmer in fluent technologese and contemplate a dystopian future while running on the shadow side of the law to contemplate the artistic impulse. Read morePublished on February 5, 2014 by Michael A Carychao
Could use a decent copy editor, far too many typos and strange locutions that are not intentionally strange. Love the whole approach this writer has, want to read more.Published on May 6, 2013 by William Michael Brown
I once saw cyberpunk described as "High tech and low lives" and this collection of three short stories certainly fits the bill. Read morePublished on May 2, 2012 by Jane Turner
Disclaimer - I only read the first two stories. The first was OK, and had some innovative ideas in merging AR and tagging, but the ending was flat. Read morePublished on December 10, 2011 by Amazon Customer
Tim shows a world that's the future but yet, its not. His three short stories combine what is already relevant to our daily life in regards to social media in the present day and... Read morePublished on August 24, 2011 by TheGeekHuntress
In three stories, Maughan weaves a compelling vision of a dark digital future in the tradition of Dick and Gibson. Read morePublished on August 14, 2011 by Jared Nelson
I find that I am enjoying a walk through a world that feels like its only been fast-forwarded by at most decade or so: A gritty dirt-under-the-fingernails setting with characters... Read morePublished on July 28, 2011 by angel