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It’s not even Christmas yet, but for me 2010 has already got off to a good start. January 1st sees the publication of my story Havana Augmented – a tale of globalization, celebrity gamers, augmented reality and non-existent mech battles. If you have an interest in video games, science fiction or anime then hopefully you’ll enjoy it – you can check out a brief extract below.

The story is being published as part of the M-BRANE SF anthology Ergosphere, and you can pre-order a copy over at their website right now. In fact, get over there quickly, as if you get your order in before Christmas Eve they’ll give you a year’s subscription to their monthly magazine for just a couple of bucks extra – which is a stupidly good deal, as the mag is always a fascinating read. Plus there is also a discount if you buy it with their previous anthology Things We Are Not – but time is limited, so get over there before they come to their senses.

Havana Augmented is accompanied in the book by a couple of illustrations from my good friend and artist WEIGY – one of which you can see at the top of this post – and I’m hugely grateful to him for his work, as I am to M-BRANE head honcho Chris Fletcher and guest editor Rick Novy for giving me this opportunity and being so enthusiastic – thanks guys.

Havana Augmented – Tim Maughan (2009)

The next day, Paul went to meet Marcus in Parque Central. He found him sat cross legged under a palm, staring intently up into blank space, as though sun worshipping but in the wrong direction, his eyes shielded by his tinted spex. He seemed utterly focused in deep meditation, until he caught Paul approaching in the periphery of his vision, and his face cracked into a wide grin.

“Hola man.” he said. “How was the big meeting with your new showbiz buddy?”

“Like you’d expect.” Paul replied. “He’s a dick. More importantly, how are you getting on?”

“Good man, good. Take a look” Marcus said, fishing a second pair of spex out of his kit bag and handing them to Paul, who promptly slipped them onto his face.

Instantly, Alphonso appeared, towering above them in the hot Havana air.

The 7 meter high humanoid mech still maintained the majority of its original sleek, elegant Japanese Hellcat design, despite the heavy modifications Marcus had made to its frame over the last few years. The biggest change in the mech’s appearance was the colouring; it boasted an over waxed, gleaming green and white paint job that mimicked the famous retro-sheens Cuba’s petrol-heads proudly gave to their 70 year old US muscle cars. In a similar way to how their love and care in maintaining their antique rides was a both a nod towards and a snub of their US designers in the face of decades of trade embargo, the finish that Marcus had given Alphonso was aimed squarely at the Japanese artist that had come up with the original Hellcat design. It sort of said ‘Yeah. We like your work, but look what we’ve done with it now’.

Translucent windows hung in the air around Alphonso’s towering frame, linked to various parts of his heavily armoured body, each displaying differing statistics and data; ammunition levels, servo status, temperature readings. Glancing over the figures it was clear to Paul that Marcus had clearly made some important performance boosts already. Paul smiled. Looking at Alphonso always made him smile. Mainly because Alphonso looked fucking bad-ass.

Want to read more? Then go and buy a copy.