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Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about Linesman

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    350
  • 4 Stars
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  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
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    9

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Wish it was a series

Would you listen to Linesman again? Why?

Yes it has likeable characters in it.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Marie she has power and no power at the same time.

Have you listened to any of Brian Hutchison’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I don't think I have

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes I could listen to this book till the end

Any additional comments?

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

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Hero kidnapped = Gasp! For the forth time = meh.

This book started out strong and then ran out of ideas and started repeating itself. The idea that space ship are run by mystical ley-line like bands of Platonic Forms is a cool one. And the set up of a self taught protagonist who has a unique way of interacting with these line is fun. I was very engaged as he was kidnapped from his life forced into service for a government he hated.

And then that theme just got repeated over an over again. Spoilers ahead...






After being bought into bondage our hero get caught up in a kidnapping attempt of on of the royal princesses.

Fortunately he is able to use his unique power to make a daring escape.

And then he is kidnapped again for that unique power.

And then in the middle of that kidnapping there was a coup and he's taken hostage by the by the the people over throwing his kidnappers.

Fortunately he is able to use his unique power to make a daring escape.

But hes still with his kidnappers and they threat him as bargaining chip.

Fortunately he is able to use his unique power to save his life.

And then there's a Star War Phantom Menace negotiation scene where alliances are change so that instead of two powerful space fairing power at odds with each other their are now two differently named power space fairing power at odds with each other.

And then the hero is told because of his power that he will never be free and must serve the original group who bought him into bondage forever.

And then the book ends. There are interesting mysteries in this book, but they are never solved or really addressed. It's just a constant repeating cycle of kidnapping and daring escapes accomplishing nothing with the hero's power solving everything when he remembers to use it.

It's not a bad book. I just wish it had a bit more meat in it and the author didn't lean on the same trope over and over again. If your looking for some fun sci-fi pulp action is not a bad book to pick up. But just like the Flash Gordan serials of old it doesn't stray very far from formula or resolve anything.

A solidly meh book. Not bad but not much to recommend. I enjoy it, but I'm not going to pick up anything else in the series.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Exceptionally Enjoyable Energy

Where does Linesman rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Linesman is a 5-star General for Overall/Performance/Story.

What did you like best about this 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.

What does Brian Hutchison bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?


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.)

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. I didn't want it to be over.

Any additional comments?

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.

Thank you.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

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.

Positives:

- 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.

Negatives:

- 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.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

High fantasy in a spaceship

It's very low on technobabble, has a good twisty plot, and interesting characters. It kind of reads like a fantasy novel (complete with unique mind based talents) set in space. Reminds me of some of Anne McCaffrey's books. I recommend it.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Linesman

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!

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Way better than I could have expected...

When I started listening to Linesman I was just curious about the idea behind the book. The universe S.K. Dunstall has created is amazingly different from anything I've read before, and I've been reading Science Fiction since the early 70's. Good characters, good action, and an excellent situation combine to make one of the best novels I've enjoyed in years. The only disappointment was when I could not find another book by this author. If I could give more than 5 stars I would.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The Lines Are Not Strong

“Linesman” is part superhero origin story and part political thriller. As for this first part, without delving into technical details or spoilers, since Ean Lambert is the only person who can really speak to (or rather sing to) the lines, he has a unique power. Although others have the ability push or feel the lines, they do not have quite the same rapport, and as Ean gains confidence and begins to understand his abilities, his character develops, and the reader is along for the ride. As for the second part of the mix, much of “Linesman” is political intrigue. The universe consists of three main political factions, each vying for power, and the reader get a window on the backdoor dealings and maneuverings that occur in the high-stakes game of universal politics.

However, although the concept is interesting, the execution is not. The writing is passable, but not exceptional. Character development is present for Ean Lambert, but feels a little forced, and many of the secondary characters remain one-dimensional throughout. The pace moves in fits and starts, and the story never really evolves into something where reader feels the need to know what happens next. Lastly, a number of continuity errors and plot holes take away from a smooth narrative, and it is difficult to remain engage in the story at all times.

Dunstall deserves credit for inventing a new and imaginative sci-fi universe. The concept of the lines is interesting and really ties everything together (pun intended). Also, the political aspect has potential and reminded me of the good parts of “Dune,” even if Dunstall only really gives you one perspective. The narration is also well-done, but not remarkable. Overall, however, the story is not very engaging or well-told, and although there were many components of “Linesman” I liked, I just cannot recommend the book. Avid sci-fi may want to pick-up the book, but as it lies somewhere between pulp and praise-worthy, “Linesman” is likely destined to be lost in the void.

Three stars for developing a universe I wouldn’t mind visiting again, even if it is extremely unlikely that I ever will.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Linesman is a Great Start to a New Universe

Linesman is a fresh concept in humans meet aliens. It is a thoughtful peace that has a insecure main character with people around him who value him more than he can understand. The main supporting characters are developed smoothly and interestingly. The author has a nice blend of showing and telling that fits the audio format well.

The narrator does very well in that I have no problem with knowing who is talking when. There are no strange or jarring voices. He is just a bit stilted from time to time. That's not quite the right word, but I do become aware of him for short durations, but not at times that are detrimental to the story. I wonder if this is an audio editing issue. I think he can improve and become a great and effective narrator. I wish I could score the narrator at 4.5 stars.

Overall the story grabbed my attention from the beginning and never let it go. There is action, but this is not a space opera at all. This is solid thoughtful development of a universe with new rules. You care about the characters. You care about the lines.

One annoying hole in the middle is a problem. I kept saying, "How did they get so many soldiers on a ship without anyone noticing a very large shuttle or lots of shuttles going where none should be going." The author uses this tactic more than once and you would think any competent crew would notice this detail. That is one the author should tighten up. BUT once you get by that, the story is on track again.

Overall this is one I very much enjoy and highly recommend it.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • DebB
  • 09-15-15

Good, gentle to start but grabs and doesn’t let go

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.

2 people found this helpful