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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is cool SF
3 long short stories or short novellas set in the near future - Paintwork, Paparazzi & Havana Augmented

2 of these stories are set in Bristol and the third in Havana. In the first we follow 3Cube the street artist as he performs some art over 3 consecutive nights, the second story follows John Smith as he is hired for his documentary film skills to get an...
Published 23 months ago by 3rd spearman

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting potential hinted at.
A set of three short novellas set in the not-too distant future, Maughan's debut work gleans much of its literary influence and style from that burning start of science fiction, William Gibson, but has enough punch to suggest that more interesting ideas could be on the way.

The main technological concern of Maughan's world is augmented reality; a technology...
Published on 15 Aug 2011 by Toby Frith


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is cool SF, 8 Oct 2012
This review is from: Paintwork (Paperback)
3 long short stories or short novellas set in the near future - Paintwork, Paparazzi & Havana Augmented

2 of these stories are set in Bristol and the third in Havana. In the first we follow 3Cube the street artist as he performs some art over 3 consecutive nights, the second story follows John Smith as he is hired for his documentary film skills to get an inside look on a new AR game and the last is the prize winning look into the future gaming industry in Cuba with giant virtual battling robots. Although the stories are different they're somewhat linked stylistically, thematically (dedication to art) and with some recurring characters. We are in a future of brand domination, where gamer guilds are as powerful (if not more so) as the corporations of today, where augmented reality is viewed through branded "spex", where the Nano revolution has occurred. Maughan covers all the techno with aplomb and uses it with a light touch with just enough explanation to bring you into the stories which are at heart about people. It's hard to choose a favourite here as each story stands alone. As a Bristolian I feel more connection with the first two stories although as a gamer I liked the last story a lot too.

Overall - This is cool SF with Maughan taking our current world and spinning it faster to see what happens. Highly recommended to those who like [moxyland]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bristol cyberpunk... what's not to like?, 2 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Paintwork (Kindle Edition)
It's only about 100 pages long but the three stories making up Paintwork slot together to create a world that's more alive and fleshed out than the ones you get in most longer stories. The sparse, brand-name heavy style is recognisable to fans of cyberpunk but by being more direct, less self-consciously staccato than William Gibson, author Tim Maughan's prose are often easier on the eye. His three tales, two set in a near-future Bristol, the last in Cuba, share themes and some characters but can each be read in isolation. I live just down the road in Bath so reading about a VR-enhanced Cabot Circus or Temple Meads Station added fun to an already impressive set of shorts. Here's hoping he's working on a full length novel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting potential hinted at., 15 Aug 2011
By 
Toby Frith (Tunbridge Wells) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Paintwork (Kindle Edition)
A set of three short novellas set in the not-too distant future, Maughan's debut work gleans much of its literary influence and style from that burning start of science fiction, William Gibson, but has enough punch to suggest that more interesting ideas could be on the way.

The main technological concern of Maughan's world is augmented reality; a technology that is already with us, but is likely to become much more fully integrated with our daily lives very soon, especially with the advent of smartphones. Maughan introduces the idea of AR "specs" in each of the three stories, headset/glasses that provide a differing view of life once worn.

Like Gibson, Maughan adds an international tinge to proceedings, with a faint dollop of dystopia and the neon glow of Sino animation culture never too faraway. The action swings from the cloudy, downtrodden vistas of his native Bristol, the sun-baked streets of Havana where Cuba is still something of a socialist oasis, with 1955 convertibles restored to their former glory and hinting at the rise of Indian and East Asian economies as the powerplayers of the world. His protagonists are neurotic graffiti artists and game players/designers, interacting in a world where social media and the rise of game playing to a sport of almost Olympic standards is seen as the apex of celebrity. As such, this is very much a young man's world, in which loners who spend almost their entire waking lives in this AR alternative reality, seek to gain some sort of acceptance, respect or recognition for their often clandestine efforts. Whether it be the site of a crazy art piece sprawling over Bristol or the destruction of an AR "iron mech" in a urban AR game, this is a world of individuals and shadowy, omniscient organisations.

The best SF writers provide some sort of social backdrop and causation/effect to new technology and it's here that Maughan's pieces fade a little - in particular with the first piece "Paintwork" we are treated to a vision of a Bristol laced with grime, dirt and much more beside, yet his protagonist 3Cube seems curiously detached from it, with Maughan preferring stylisation over more cerebral and emotional content. We rarely get to see much in terms of what drives his characters. There's a snappy feel to his character's dialogue, although as above we rarely get to read much more than what they are really concerned with immediately - interacting with technology and immersing themselves in a virtual world.

To his credit though, Maughan's stories are punchy enough within their short time span to rise above such criticisms. They're also well constructed, with the endings happening in a succinct and timely manner. The best of the three is "Paparazzi", with an intriguingly designed premise based on following a global celebrity player "in game" to capture sensitive information for a rival "guild". The idea of games reaching a size where people get enveloped in them professionally is not too far off and Maughan's description and story is helped no doubt by his background as a games developer. Each story has an intriguing view of the future that he delivers with a zippy panache.

At the princely sum of just over 2 for a Kindle edition, this is an appetising bite of what he is capable of, although I do feel that the leap to a bigger story may need a lot more work.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping near-future sci-fi., 18 July 2011
This review is from: Paintwork (Kindle Edition)
Paintwork is a collection of three novellas exploring themes around augmented reality and set in a noir-scape world that might be only a few years in the future.

The author has a clean style of writing; the reader doesn't need AR glasses to see the imagery that he creates. I particularly enjoyed 'Havana Augmented' which explores the future of AR gaming. It was previously published in an SF magazine and rightly deserved its 2010 BSFA award nomination.

I look forward to reading more work from this new writer.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cyberpunk & Artistry, 7 Sep 2011
By 
J. Shurin "carnivore" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Paintwork (Kindle Edition)
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). Paul's a fierce Cuban patriot, but one with open eyes. He sees what Sakura could do for his homeland, but can also sees what Sakura could do to it. I'm a sucker for sports movies, especially when the game or match has some sort of Great Significance. Mr. Maughan tugs at my heartstrings with "Havana Augmented" - a giant robot smackdown with a country's future on the line.

The other two stories aren't shabby. "Paintwork" serves as an excellent introduction to the near-future landscape and introduces the theme of struggling artistic integrity in a corporate-owned world. The protagonist of the second story, journalist John Smith, has probably the darkest tale. He's using his documentary skills to explore the (surprisingly seedy) underworld of the gaming clans, and what begins as an innocent assignment turns into something much more conspiratorial. It is, perhaps, the most didactic and least fun of the three stories, but it does connect nicely with "Havana Augmented".
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommend to any one who likes a good read - excellent, 22 July 2011
This review is from: Paintwork (Kindle Edition)
This is a collection of three stories set in the near future. They are well written and the author has an easy style to read.
The imaginary is fantastic and so rooted in the real world that I felt I knew the world Tim has created. The pace is good.
I am not a great fan of the Sci Fi genre but would heartily recommend this to anyone who likes a good read. I particularly enjoyed the first story - Paintwork - about a street artist although Havana Augmented comes a close second. I cannot wait to read more of Tim's work.
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