Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review: Paintwork

Paintwork was a quick fun read. It's a collection of three loosely related novellas stories, all of which are science fiction with an augmented reality premise.

The first story, for which the book is named, follows a near-future graffiti artist who tags corporate AR billboards with his own custom QR codes, overwriting advertising with custom AR artwork. All is fine until someone starts tagging his works within minutes of his doing so, making him wonder if it's an inside job from within the graffiti community.

The second story, called Paparazzi, is a story about gaming culture and celebrity, with a unique take on gold-farming, and some AR stuff thrown in for good measure. It had an interesting twist at the end that made it's premise quite unique, but I found it the weakest of the three stories.

The third story, Havana Augmented, was a real gem. The story centers on some Cuba-based gamer/hacker types who, without legitimate access to technology or game content, hack their own black-market access to leading MMOs. In the process, they innovate in ways the game authors never imagined, open Cuba to investment capital interests, and go on to wage augmented-reality virtual war in the streets of Havana. I loved the vivid picture the author painted and where he ended up taking the story.

This is great near-term sci-fi, with thought provoking near-future pictures of what some of these technologies may bring, combined with action-packed stories with surprising twists.


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