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Dead Lines (Bear, Greg) Hardcover – June 1, 2004

3 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this taut ghost story set in the California of everyone's dreams-and nightmares-from Hugo and Nebula winner Bear (Darwin's Children), anything-goes hardcore porn films have blasted softcore screenwriter Peter Russell's career. The horrifying abduction and murder of his young daughter has destroyed Russell's marriage; his best friend has just died; and Joseph Weinstein, the reclusive sugar daddy who employs Russell as a dogsbody, seems to be descending into senility. Worse follows. In pursuit of financial security, Russell sells Weinstein on "Trans," a seductive new gadget promising unlimited instant broad-band communication, and all too soon reaching out and touching via Trans even wakes the dead, whose path to the hereafter is now so clogged with spam and unlimited phone calls that they return to haunt the living. Bear's ability to incorporate scientific concepts into tightly woven, fast-paced story lines reaches menacing new proportions here, because it draws on that nagging suspicion that the ubiquitous, innocent-appearing cell phone may really be killing off its users. By deftly extrapolating that doubt into everyone's most dreaded fears-loss of job, loss of friends, loss of children-Bear reanimates the old story of Faust, who sold his soul for unlimited knowledge and power, hinting ominously that the price of rampant technology may be dearer than we think.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In perhaps his most mainstream novel to date, Nebula Award winner Bear envisions what might happen should a new technology open the floodgates on another dimension. In the near future, the technology in question is the "trans," a sort of souped-up cell phone with near-infinite bandwidth and perfect reception anywhere in the world. Peter Russell is a washed-up director of soft porn, living on handouts and reeling from the death of his closest friend, when the device's manufacturers offer him a chance to revamp his career and film their promotional videos. One of the assignment's perks is, of course, a batch of free trans phones--a blessing that may actually harbor a curse. For Peter begins to unravel and to see ghostly simulacra of both the living and the dead. Is he losing his mind, or have the trans' inventors tapped into a force that literally bends minds and even reality? Bear's masterful prose, effectively chilling and reminiscent of Koontz at his best, makes this a good pick for sf and horror fans. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Series: Bear, Greg
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345448375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345448378
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,536,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Greg Bear is the author of more than thirty books, spanning thrillers, science fiction, and fantasy, including Blood Music, Eon, The Forge of God, Darwin's Radio, City at the End of Time, and Hull Zero Three. His books have won numerous international prizes, have been translated into more than twenty-two languages, and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Over the last twenty-eight years, he has also served as a consultant for NASA, the U.S. Army, the State Department, the International Food Protection Association, and Homeland Security on matters ranging from privatizing space to food safety, the frontiers of microbiology and genetics, and biological security.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Dead Lines (2004) is a ghost story. Sometime in the near future, a new form of communications -- Trans -- has been developed. Using analog technology over an extremely broadband channel, it provides exceptionally clear sound and promises to allow an almost unlimited number of concurrent conversations without any crosstalk. The only drawback is that this medium is shared with the dead!

Peter Russell was a producer of low budget softcore sexploitation films. He got out the business just as the hardcore stuff began to flood the market. Now he is an agent for Joseph Adrian Benoliel, a Hollywood investor and former business partner during his film producing days.

In this novel, Peter receives a message stating that his best friend, Phil Richards, has died. Phil's ex-wife Lydia had left a note in the house and Carla Wyss, an old friend, had found the note and called Peter. The note said that Phil had died of a stroke or heart attack.

Peter has an appointment with Joseph. After briefly returning home, he drives out to the Salammbo estate in Malibu. When he knocks on the door, a young man named Stanley Weinstein admits him and immediately offers him a Trans phone. After Peter concludes his business with Joseph, Weinstein walks out with Peter; he describes the communications service, offers Peter ten thousand dollars to convince Joseph to invest, and gives Peter the remaining phones in the box to hand out to others.

Phil's memorial service will be held at his house in Tiburon. Peter had not been previously aware that Phil had a house in Marin county. After the memorial service, he goes looking for the Phil's old motor home that they had dreamed of using to travel around together on the World's Longest Old Farts Cross-country Hot Dog Escapade and Tour.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been a Greg Bear fan from 'The Wind from a Burning Woman" right on up to "Darwin's Children." So I was eager to read this horror tale, described on the book jacket as "spine-tingling, provocative, and heart-wrenching."
Unfortunately, the book is none of these. Rather, it's an uneasy mix - not blend - of modern technology and old-fashioned haunting, with a little possession thrown in on the side. There's even a murky hint of Stephen King's "The Langoliers" - the suggestion of supernatural entities cleaning up behind the scenes.
It takes major suspension of disbelief to buy into the story's premise: new cellphone technology taps into a previously undiscovered source of energy which somehow involves the afterlife. Then Bear tries to tie together three story lines connected only by forced coincidence: the protagonist's chance involvement with the new technology; the recent murder of his daughter; and the dark past of his enigmatic employer. The result is unconvincing.
Most importantly, the book just isn't scary. The characters never become fully realized people we care about. Though strange and frightening things happen to them, we're not involved enough to be scared for, or with, them. At one point, the protagonist, Peter Russell, fails to recognize a familiar person at a key moment in the story - a failure not believable by any stretch of the imagination. A real person would never have done this.
Much as I'd like to, I can't recommend this book. For good horror, read Peter Straub or Owl Goingback. For quality Bear, read 'Darwin's Radio" and "Darwin's Children', or even his older works such as 'Blood Music." But stay away from this one.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a strange book that promises to be about ghosts. There are ghosts in the way there is food in My Dinner With Andre. They may be there, but they are not the story. Instead we meet a film maker and photographer who is at a very low point in his life. He has no real work (other than odd jobs for a rich eccentric), no wife, one of his children was murdered and he is a recovering alcoholic. Things really could not get much worse.

But things do change when a chance encounter at the rich eccentric's house puts him in touch with a start-up telecom company. They have a new product that is to cell phones what cell phones are to two cans and a piece of string. Unfortunately the bandwidth the devices use pass through the realm of the dead. Sounds spooky, right? Wrong. For a ghost story, we don't get any noticeable ghost activity until the second half of the book (around page 175). Most of the story reads like a seedier version of Bradbury's WHO KILLED CONSTANCE. Strange characters and countless references to the film and photography industry make this more of a tribute to or a eulogy for the industry than a ghost story.

The ghosts in the book (mostly off-stage) do cause the main character to start asking questions. He questions himself, his family, his career and mostly what really happened to his dead daughter. But while there are ghosts in the book it is not a ghost story. While there is a serial killer in the book it is not a thriller. It is more just a simple look at a man's life and how it cam to reach this low point. Oh, there are a few minor revelations, but really nothing special.
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