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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Copyright 2015 by S. K. Dunstall

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

I first read this on the 30th December 2020.

This is the first book in the Linesman series.

Lines are the alien technologies that handle command and control of our FTL spaceships. There are ten lines, each with its own shipboard domain:

  • line 1 - crew
  • line 2 - small mechanics 1: air circulation heating cooling power
  • line 3 - small mechanics 2: tools
  • line 4 - gravity
  • line 5 - communications
  • line 6 - Bose engines (which can take the ship into the Void hyperspace
  • line 7 - unknown
  • line 8 - Unknown
  • line 9 - take ship into Void
  • line 10 - move ship within void to another location
When lines on a spaceship drift out of alignment failures ensue, potentially catastrophic. The job of a linesman, a line repairman, is to keep those lines correctly tuned. He does this with some form of telepathic connection, mentally pushing the lines back into alignment.

Ean Lambert is something of a challenged personality. He doesn't seem to think like other people and he's hopelessly lacking in confidence. Every linesman in the galaxy capable of servicing lines nine and ten is at the Confluence system, studying the strangely powerful alien object that broadcasts line-like energy.

Ean isn't. He never gets to travel, his employer keeps him tucked away in the local dock and since Ean is the only line 10 linesman available, he's seriously overloaded or overworked.

However, self-taught and barely qualified he's turned out to be a highly talented line repairman. In fact, he may be the most-talented Linesman ever, and he's willing to give his life for the beautiful and intelligent Lady Lyan, daughter to the Emperor. She'll protection as there's a war brewing between the Alliance and Gate Union.

I half-enjoyed reading this novel. It's got a plot, tension, unrequired love and some excitement. But most of the time I was just unable to understand what the lines were actually meant to be doing above what a normal control system would handle. I kept hoping for enlightenment but it wasn't forthcoming.

What's it got? Battling spaceships; FTL; alien tech; exotic mental powers; a hopeless hapless hero TSTL* and a beautiful princess under attack.

* as Karen Dunstall puts it in her essay on When the characters in the book you are writing are TSTL.


Loaded on the 20th January 2021.
Cover of Linesman
Cover art by Bruce Jensen

Reviews of other works by S. K. Dunstall: