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A Set of Lines

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  19 ratings  ·  9 reviews
"Last night I drew all night. I copied the images from the textbook and then I drew them again freehand—I made them move on the page, lengthened the lines and darkened the centers."

The tree, the river, the old textbook—a triptych with shifting borders hangs in a place where dreams and memories intertwine. Omission and loss haunt those who live here, suspended as they are i
Paperback, 260 pages
Published May 14th 2020 by Ghost Paper Archives
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: This book seems to be popular with people named Nate.
What a marvelous book, a very NOW novel of the future. Imagine a world where there’s no outside, where passersby are faceless and every day feels so much the same that time smears. You don’t have to imagine it, you’re probably living some version of it right now. A Set of Lines is life pared down until it bleeds. It might inadvertently be the first coronapunk novel.

There’s a massive presence in these pages of something you barely get to see, an entity called the Censor. It’s a kind of monster, a
Nate D
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: sealed cities
Recommended to Nate D by: redacted recollections
In a sealed city, a nameless worker is haunted by the recurring images that manage to shine through his obliterated memories of times before. A tree, a river, a drawing someone once tried to show him -- these become bright-burning signs in an unnatural twilight existence. But in being drawn back into the fragmentary past, will he lose hold of the few connections that remain in the present?

I was an early reader of this, and also designed the cover and six illustrations for the interior. So clearl
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In A Set of Lines, S.D. Stewart uses a minimalist and soft-spoken style to sketch a tale of philosophical implication. Teetering on the dream-like and dipped in existential dread, the quiet rhythm of the prose, with a plethora of declarative sentences, is akin to drifting on a lake in a forest that is vaguely dangerous, haunting even. This is about memory and the hermetic mind, their ability to shift tectonically, to transmogrify and to distantly terrify with a looming presence—think shadow pupp ...more
Rebecca Gransden
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
In spare language Stewart constructs a world of detachment. A medicated wooziness overshadows the novel, where time and memory is fragmentary. Strange tasks with obscure purpose are undertaken with a resigned acceptance. There is the ever-present suppressed suggestion that clarity exists somewhere in the unconscious, kept under wraps and sublimated, but pressing forcefully, ready to spring into revelation, made urgent by the subdued and anaesthetised mundanity of existence. Endless repetitious d ...more
Xantha Page
I have little to add to the reviews that have already been posted. I read this book in the midst of an ad hoc shelter-in-place during the ongoing pandemic (able to work from home, making me luckier than a lot of people out there) in a haze of stronger-than-usual anxiety, which made the book difficult to read at times (indeed, it's one I'll have to revisit in the future) but also made it seem in obvious ways like a distorted mirror of the present (minus a large-scale uprising). For a "dystopian" ...more
Bill Hsu
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-faves
The general atmosphere of unease and futility here reminds me of Stewart's earlier Bunker Diaries, which I loved for its claustrophobia and sparse but effective treatment. A Set of Lines opens up into a larger, but still confined and constricting world, of depressing tunnels, vertical buildings, artificial light and simulated birdsong. A separate living scenario, that we would consider much more "natural", exists in the woods; but like much else in the novel, I'm not sure if this is actually par ...more
Merl Fluin
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Near-future dystopian sci-fi. Not sci-fi as in whizz-bang, but dystopian as in seeping fog that lingers in your hair and clothes a long time after you think you've finished reading. The storytelling is all the more effective because it treats each different layer of reality as equally real, without forcing them into categories such as dreaming/waking or sane/mad. And the final chapter is quietly terrifying. ...more
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: male, novel, year-2020s
No, he shook his head and ran inside, ran inside, ran inside. Yes, to the Censor, always watching, always waiting to administer the strangled comfort of redaction.
An atmospheric novel that sometimes hits a little too close to home for me during the time of the 'rona, though Sean claims he wrote it before the pandemic (I don't believe him. I think he crawled inside my head, redacted my nightmares, and extracted it into print).

Claustrophobic, surreal, mysterious, foreboding: a post-apocalyptic vi
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Really solid storytelling—I especially appreciated the author's trust in readers to do the imaginative work involved in being placed in this world. ...more
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