First in a brand-new, thought-provoking space opera series.
The lines. No ship can traverse the void without them. Only linesmen can work with them. But only Ean Lambert hears their song. And everyone thinks he's crazy.... Most slum kids never go far, certainly not becoming a level 10 linesman like Ean. Even if he's part of a small and unethical cartel, and the other linesmen disdain his self-taught methods, he's certified and working. Then a mysterious alien ship is discovered at the edges of the galaxy. Each of the major galactic powers is desperate to be the first to uncover the ship's secrets, but all they've learned is that it has the familiar lines of energy and a defense system that, once triggered, annihilates everything in a 200 kilometer radius. The vessel threatens any linesman who dares to approach it, except Ean. His unique talents may be the key to understanding this alarming new force and forever reconfiguring the relationship between humans and the ships that serve them.
©2015 S.K. Dunstall (P)2015 Recorded Books
I really enjoyed this, and I’m not much of a SF reader on the whole. This was waved in front of my eyes by Audible at some point, and the reviews persuaded me to give it a go - that’s the good side of a subscription, for £7.99 you’re more willing to take a punt of something unknown.
Anyhow, this is set in classic Sci-Fi territory, space ships, military, unknown aliens, super fast travel, courtesy of ‘the lines’, but has a very human heart in Ean (spelt that way apparently) Lambert. It is mostly narrated by him, but about oh, I don’t know, 20%, maybe less, of the chapters are narrated by Franco (can’t remember if he’s a Frank, or a Franco…) Rossi.
Interstellar travel depends on the lines, and the lines need Linesmen to keep them serviced and reliable. There are, at the start anyhow, 10 known lines, with lines 9 and 10 responsible for travel through the void - a sort of hole in time and space that lets ships travel vast distances in no time. Lambert and Rossi are both Line 10 linesmen, as senior as you get, but Lambert is considered a weird misfit, ridiculed and dismissed by his peers, while Rossi is a politicking, patronising, arrogant so’n’so poised to take over his guild.
The book contains some politicking, but not too much, and there were times when I wanted Ean to grow a bit of backbone, but he is who and what he is, so I settled and came to like him! There are a host of supporting characters, generally well fleshed out, some backstabbing and derring-do, a nice developing mystery around the lines and the alien ship, and the last quarter or so was really gripping.
Well read with enough difference between the main characters, and with the women as well voiced by the narrator as the men. There’s a sequel due out February 2016 that I will be buying, with a third planned according to the writers’ web site. Recommended.
"Absolutely Excellent Story - Sci-fi Meets Fantasy"
This book was one of the better audiobooks I've listened to this year. It was well written, well narrated, and had a very original and unique concept.
Although difficult to explain in a quick summary, the "lines" are lines of energy that control various ship systems. The "line" technology (we find out later in the book) was actually reverse engineered from an alien ship discovered hundreds of years before the events in the storyline. Many aspects of the technology are not completely understood, and two of the lines (7 and 8) have no apparent purpose. The lines can only be fixed by a select few people known as Linesmen. These people have a type of extra sensory perception and are able to sense, manipulate, and fix the lines on ships. Linesmen are rated from 1-10, with their number depicting the highest line that they can manipulate. Level 10 Linesmen can manipulate all 10 lines, and are few and far between.
The story is told primarily from the point-of-view Ian Lambert, a Level 10 Linesman. Raised in the slums of a backwater world, he is considered an outcast by the other Linesman. He is also the only Linesman who senses and manipulates the lines with sound (by singing) and not with his mind, further convincing his peers that he doesn't belong. When he is accidentally hired by a high-born noble for a critical mission, his value and uniqueness as a Linesman become more apparent. He joins a ship full of government and military officials to explore a new alien ship that has been discovered in a remote area of space. The ship itself has defenses preventing anyone from reaching it. When it is discovered that only Ian can reach out and communicate with the ship and its lines, he becomes the most valuable resource in the galaxy, making him the target of multiple governments and military factions.
It isn't very often we see a truly unique story such as this. The book contained everything from alien ships, space battles, and a dash of fantasy with the Linesman concept. This was one of my best spent credits in awhile. The narration equally top notch. I would recommend this one for anyone looking for something new in a sci-fi story.
There are many good reviews for this book, but I found it BORING. Reminded me of my attempt to stay conscious during a course I took in college “The History of Medieval Expansion in Europe”.
"Exceptionally Enjoyable Energy"
Linesman is a 5-star General for Overall/Performance/Story.
Inventive writing and good storytelling- and what else is there to want? These are two entirely different creative faculties, and by no means always found together.
Characters spring to life through his voice and cadences. Yet you are never aware of him personally. That is my standard for real genius in narration. The greatest narrators never make themselves more conspicuous than the story itself: they merely embody it perfectly.
I only wish Brian Hutchison narrated many more audiobooks. For example, he made the Rot & Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry considerably more entertaining than reading the books.
(And they were good books of their kind in the first place.)
No. I didn't want it to be over.
Dear S.K. Dunstall:
You are among the very best writers of modern science fiction. I know this because I have read practically everything, sorry to say.
So please write more.
"Wish it was a series"
Yes it has likeable characters in it.
Marie she has power and no power at the same time.
I don't think I have
Yes I could listen to this book till the end
I like how the author left room to turn this book into a series and also how he made the characters more human with their flaws
I loved it, this is one of my favorite series. I am looking forward to listening to book 2.
"interesting concept. action is a little confusing"
I like to smoke a lot but I found that some of the action sequences were confusing. The way the author describes activities and conversations without setting context makes it sometimes a little difficult to understand what's going on. nevertheless it was good enough that I decided to buy the second book in the series.
"New space-opera series"
Brian Hutchinson's voice is pleasant and well modulated, making it easy to listen while driving. This is book 1 in a space-opera series, still under development, told in 3rd person POV. The characters are suitably likable or treacherous. The plot revolves around political alliances, alien technology, and learning how a linesman can best interface with a ship.
Science-fiction elements include futuristic humans who've colonized on planets far from Earth, and sentient energy lines that control various components of a ship, including jumping into the void. The science is soft and glossed over. There is very little explanation of how these intelligent lines work, or why Ean (and other linesmen) can communicate with them. They are created from chemicals in a factory but are sentient, thinking and feeling?
The story is fairly interesting and heartwarming, with some humor and some dangerous, suspenseful scenes. The political discussions were interesting, yet they waxed on, becoming a little tedious at times. At times, Ean dwelt too much on how other linesmen have slighted him, the singing upstart from the slums. Yet I liked Ean and wanted him to develop his potential as a virtuoso lineman.
This plot includes a nice cast of secondary characters, especially Princess Michelle, guard Radko, Captain Helmo, security commodore Abram. We also meet Rebekah Grimes and Jordan Rossi, level 10 linesmen, Rossi's assistant Fergus Burns, and Admiral Katida of planet Balian.
I think of the lines / ship as characters, too. I like the scenes where they speak or act with autonomy. However, as a character, I feel the lines/ships are amorphous, too nebulous.
No cliffhanger. The plot ends on a finished note. I'd be interested in another book. Want to learn more about the creatures who first piloted the alien ships. And I want to know who/ what Ean is.
Good long story with excellent world building. Lots of politics here to make you feel it's really real. Characters have real depth, even secondary ones, and you will care about what happens to them. Looking forward to the next installment of this space opera!
very different from expected and very engaging. the characters and plot are well thought out and leaves you on your toes.
"A solid 2. "meh" personified."
This is an excellent example of "tell, but don't show" storytelling, coupled with a bland nearly monotone narrator. Both the book and the narrator needed an extremely talented counterpart to offset their thunderingly mediocre performance, but instead they were paired up with each other - the end result is this. It's a shame - this was almost enjoyable, rather than simply endurable.
- I like space operas, and this does fit the bill.
- The seminal idea is decent. Intriguing questions are raised.
- In some other books, the narrator might be OK. His voice and manner are completely unobtrusive and neutral. He would do well with books that want a simple telling of story without inflection or distraction.
- Passive. Nearly nothing in the way of visualisation of *anything* except for a few characters.
- The intriguing questions that are raised never are addressed or answered. Sentient ships? Nah. Alien contact? Nope.
- This does not feel like a finished product from an experienced author. At the very least, this needs an aggressive editor. It reads more like a precis for a story than an actual story.
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