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Linesman (Linesman, #1)
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BOTM READER > May 2018 READER: Linesman by Dunstall

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message 1: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teresa Carrigan | 2654 comments Mod
The May 2018 READER Pick is Linesman (Linesman, #1) by S.K. Dunstall Linesman by S.K. Dunstall. Please use this thread to post questions, comments, and reviews, at any time.

Official description:
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-ten 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 reconfiguring the relationship between humans and the ships that serve them, forever.


Trike | 598 comments Did not like. This was amateur hour for me.


message 3: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (last edited Apr 28, 2018 03:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teresa Carrigan | 2654 comments Mod
I’ve read this one at least three times, with the latest read being earlier this year. I liked it very much. The characters clearly had different motivations. I didn’t condone all the motivations but I understood them. That is, the bad guys weren’t being evil just because they were bad guys, and I could see some character growth in at least the main character, also others in the sequels.

I suspect this will be another of those books where some people love it and others don’t enjoy it at all, with little middle ground.


message 4: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan | 89 comments Funny, I'm reading it now and I'm hooked.

The thing that strikes me is it's novel.

"Lines" being used to travel between the stars? Sure, why not.

Will have a more in depth role when I'm finished; probably tomorrow or the next day at my current pace.


message 5: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan | 89 comments Hmmmm. So while I was "hooked" up till maybe a quarter of the way through, it seems like by mid book it started to drag a bit.

For me this is 3.5 stars, and there was a lot I liked, and some stuff I didn't.

The good:

The concept of "lines" of energy being the mechanism whereby a civilization learns to travel between the stars is interesting, and original. There was quite a bit of action, and in places the pace was gripping. There were some interesting characters, and overall I enjoyed the novel.

The bad:

As fun as having an original way of looking at space travel was, there were times it got out of hand. For instance, when Ean controls individual people's "lines." Or when everyone has a heart attack. I'm sorry, if people have heart attacks you don't just give them oxygen, and they don't just get up afterwards.

Additionally, while I did find some parts action packed, some parts don't drag. This book suffers from George Lucas Syndrome -- the idea that detailed descriptions of intergalactic politicking will be interesting. In reality, if I wanted to read a political thriller, I'd read a different kind of book! Additionally, some of the parts of the politicking just felt artificial.

In the end, this book is a solid 3.5 stars. I liked it, but I didn't love it. If I was bored, I'd consider reading the second one in the series, but it's not so gripping that I'm going out and buying book #2.


Ellyn | 4 comments I'm about halfway through and the inferiority complex of the protagonist gets distracting. I keep wanting to say out loud "Yeah, I get it. He's from the slums!"


message 7: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan | 89 comments Ellyn wrote: "I'm about halfway through and the inferiority complex of the protagonist gets distracting. I keep wanting to say out loud "Yeah, I get it. He's from the slums!""

Yes Ellyn, you are so right!

It's funny because some of the reviews of the book love the politicking and his insecurity.

I'm just like, OK get to the good stuff.

Maybe it's just personal preference I want to hear about battles, and what Ean actually does not what some elite are doing in the background.

Also, Ean is so deferential to Rossi. And everyone keeps stroking his ego about it. It's like, man up! Tell him where to go and stop taking stuff!


message 8: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teresa Carrigan | 2654 comments Mod
Ean does gain some spine over the course of the trilogy. Yes his character growth is slow, but to my mind that made it more realistic.


Ellyn | 4 comments I liked the book overall. Good story and interesting plot. It held my attention. I wish the characters and their relationships were more 3 dimensional. They seem unfinished but that may have been purposeful for the trilogy's sake.


Betsy | 898 comments Mod
I'm currently reading this and I'm not sure what to think. I like Ean and Radko and even Abrams and Michelle, and the central premise is certainly interesting. But there are times when I can't quite figure out what's going on. It's as though I must have missed something because the action isn't making sense. But I'm enjoying it enough to keep trying.


Betsy | 898 comments Mod
Well, I finished it, and I have mixed feelings. It's gripping, with nearly nonstop action. But that's part of the problem. Action is good if it makes sense. But the author here rarely stops long enough to explain why characters are doing what they're doing. I know a lot of readers get bored if an author spends too much time on back story and politics, but there must be some of it or the action doesn't really make sense.


message 12: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teresa Carrigan | 2654 comments Mod
Strange, my memory had clear motivations for the various characters. Perhaps that memory is coming from the second and third book. I always end up rereading the full set, so they aren’t separate in my mind.


Betsy | 898 comments Mod
Yes, there are immediate motives for the characters, but not enough depth to the culture so I can understand those motives. Ean, yes, grew up poor and repressed and just wants access to the lines. But what motivates the entities? The Alliance and the Gate Union? I want to understand the history.


message 14: by Trike (new) - rated it 1 star

Trike | 598 comments I had those issues and more. I honestly don’t get why others enjoyed this book, because none of it felt cohesive and the writing wasn’t interesting enough to overcome its flaws.

My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 15: by Viion (new) - added it

Viion | 13 comments I'm not done with the book ... yet.

So far I like the concept of the lines and find it a fun read...however... I've had to put the book down multiple times so far because I get too infuriated by the behaviour of the main char. I'm hoping to pick it up and finish it (and probably the series) when I'm calm again.

I can't imagine how a street-smart kid that grew up and survived the slums, managed to plan and work his way off-planet and get taken on as a linesman apprentice can be so utterly clueless. It seems that for each chapter the main char becomes more naive, more self-doubting and the more "bad" choices he seems to be making. All in stark contrast to the described accomplishments from the time before the story started.


message 16: by Trike (new) - rated it 1 star

Trike | 598 comments Viion wrote: "I can't imagine how a street-smart kid that grew up and survived the slums, managed to plan and work his way off-planet and get taken on as a linesman apprentice can be so utterly clueless. It seems that for each chapter the main char becomes more naive, more self-doubting and the more "bad" choices he seems to be making. All in stark contrast to the described accomplishments from the time before the story started. "

Exactly. EXACTLY.

The guy reads like a suburban white girl’s idea of a slum kid... which is precisely who wrote this book.


message 17: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan | 89 comments LOL. Love these last two comments.


message 18: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teresa Carrigan | 2654 comments Mod
The impression I got was that the main character was not neurotypical. Some of his behavior reminds me of people I’ve known well who are on the autistic spectrum.


message 19: by Viion (new) - added it

Viion | 13 comments Actually, I was considering that aspect. I have a few friends of mine who is "on he spectrum" and the way they have described it seemed to resemble his behaviour. There is two reasons why I didn't mention that. Firstly because it seemed none of that behaviour was described in his backstory and secondly because I didn't want to seem offensive since I was slamming the character pretty badly.

To he honest I've now finished the book and enjoyed it well enough (even though I was raging more than a few times while reading it) to buy book 2 in the series. :-)


message 20: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan | 89 comments If that is a conscious choice by the author I find it strange. I would assume such an advanced version of humanity would be able to cure / deal with those “on the spectrum.” (Not to say it’s a bad thing, some people see it as a gift). So I still find the shininess of the protagonist annoying for that reason.


message 21: by Viion (new) - added it

Viion | 13 comments The protagonist is just as helpless and infuriating in book two (Alliance) unfortunately. I find it easier to read the book when I keep telling myself "He's been damaged by the lines" but let's be honest, I shouldn't have to make excuses on behalf of the author.

The part I dislike the most, in both books, is how the protagonist is portrayed more as an object and not as a subject. Most of the time things happen to him while he is more or less an unresponsive passenger in his own life. Usually the protagonist in a book is someone who acts (proactive or reactive) not just is along for the ride.

Oh, and just to whine a bit more. How many times must the protagonist face a situation where A might happen, refuse the idea that A even can happen and then be surprised by A actually happening before he actually stops refusing the idea that A might happen and starts wondering if A might actually happen. Considering that he's a self made lineman he's show the capacity to learn yet he learns absolutely nothing during the books and is just as surprised every single time A happens. It's not like all the action in the books happened during a single weekend and he didn't have enough time to absorb and digest what happened.

Sorry about that. Pet peeve and had to rant and whine a bit about it :-)


message 22: by Eric (new) - rated it 2 stars

Eric | 17 comments I had to sit on this one for a day. It... did not work for me. I'm happy I read it, but I won't be returning to this series.


message 23: by Trike (new) - rated it 1 star

Trike | 598 comments How bad are the books submitted to editors that this is the kind of thing that gets chosen?

I mean, it’s not an actively bad book, but it’s not good. It’s not even mediocre, really. If you stripped out the interesting idea and turned this into a cop show or a doctor drama, no one would watch it,


message 24: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teresa Carrigan | 2654 comments Mod
There are a heckuva lot of books published even by traditional publishers that I can’t stand. This book does feel more like an indie book than a traditional publisher book, but I like it and I enjoy rereading it.

There’s a large difference between “I didn’t enjoy this book” and assuming that nobody else will enjoy it either. Different readers bring their own tastes and backgrounds to a book.

It’s interesting that we seem to get more discussion about a book where there are some who enjoyed the book and some who didn’t. Thanks to all who gave specific details on why they did or didn’t like the book.


message 25: by Viion (last edited May 19, 2018 01:43PM) (new) - added it

Viion | 13 comments I must say I've really enjoyed the discussion on this book/series and I feel I've been more than candid on what I don't like about it. And yet, I'm now about halfway in book two and if things doesn't take a turn to the worse I can see myself buying book three.

The character really annoys me (you might have noticed that) but at least the author has made me feel something about him. Perhaps not what the author intended or hoped but I've read worse, much worse.

There is more than a few incidents I'd love to hear the author try to explain why was considered plausible or desirable. You know when you are armchair general-ing and you smack your forehead and think "These cream-of-the-crop-professionals are making mistakes even I wouldn't do" that the author should have had somebody point it out to him/her (I honestly don't know)

And yet, I do enjoy the premise of the book and I'm curious to where the story leads. And the book entertains me...and infuriates me...and makes me smile.

I agree that if it were a copshow or medical drama I wouldn't enjoyed it. But that's half the point. I started reading this book because the premise was what it was. It's a light read and it both provokes and intrigues me. So I keep reading :-)

Edit: I've now seen the authors profile on amazon and realised the author is a woman. So no more him/her in my posts :-)


message 26: by Marjorie (last edited May 19, 2018 05:22PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marjorie King (marjorie_king) | 1 comments Dan wrote: "Hmmmm. So while I was "hooked" up till maybe a quarter of the way through, it seems like by mid book it started to drag a bit.

For me this is 3.5 stars, and there was a lot I liked, and some stuff..."


Had the same problem with the heart attacks. All the linesmen having heart attacks should have died. Maybe not after the first one, but definitely by the second in quick succession.

Also, the ending got a bit predictable. Ean will sing, a new ship or two will be added to the "fleet", and everyone is saved. Ta-duh! The repeated kidnapping got predictable too. First Michelle then Ean.

I will admit, though, that political intrigue is my guilty pleasure. Enjoyed it in this book. BUT I can see how it wouldn't be welcomed if readers are expecting a lot of space battles.

At the end of the day, I loved the idea of singing and space travel working together. It was far-fetched, but it made me so happy. Sometimes affection can't be explained. I have my reading list too back logged to pick-up book 2 though. It happens.


message 27: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary Jones (marybrockjones) | 3 comments I just loved this book - it's a long time since a book caught me and held me in thrall till the end. Not the excitement, not the wizzbang action, but the characters and the science. I loved that Ean, the main protagonist, is basically a geeky nerd totally fascinated by and compelled to explore his area of expertise - the lines that drive ships - to the point where he is prepared to put aside established wisdom and seek his own answers. He looks at the facts, at what he discovers when he interacts with the various lines, and through doing so he pushes human/line interactions and their potential further than anyone else has achieved in hundreds of years.
I also enjoyed the political aspects, being a big fan of the social and political side of scifi. One of the best aspects of scifi for me is exploring different systems of governance, and the consequences of it.
I'm already up to book 3 and don't want to say goodbye to these characters and their world.


Steve Conway | 2 comments I liked the concept, but some of the writing and characterization was a bit clunky.
I think this author has great potential, and I did enjoy the book, but I am looking to a better rounded book from the author in the future.
Good recommendation though.


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