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Mainline Hardcover – June, 1996

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The high-tech action in Christian's debut is propelled by an intriguing conceit: that Reva, an assassin, can pick her way across different realities branching out from her "Now," allowing her to choose an alternate "line" where she can take advantage of gaps in a victim's security system. Once Reva has switched one line too many, however, she has no way of recognizing, and returning to, her original "Mainline." Reva has spent her entire life learning to adapt to this truth, which has rendered friends, relatives and lovers into slightly, or even wholly, different people than the ones she first knew. But now Reva has grown infatuated with Lish, a female "holdout" who smuggles illicit goods to the watery planet R'debh. Reva desperately wants to remain on Lish's Mainline. As the action reaches a frantic peak, smugglers, cops, aliens and sea gods converge, and it seems ever more unlikely that Reva will be able to stay in the reality she knows, with the people she has grown to love. Christian uses this premise to explore the opacity of other's true selves. While she does not give this theme the full care it deserves, she manages to pack a lot of plot into an intelligent and thoughtful package.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Reva, an assassin for hire, can slip between alternate timelines to evade detection. When the smuggler Lish befriends her, Reva vows to remain in the mainline to protect this woman?a commitment she's never before made. When security agent Vask infiltrates Lish's organization and discovers Reva's secret, the three must escape an alien hunter, foil terrorists, and outwit a crime boss while saving Lish's assets. The intricately drawn characterizations and the believability of Reva and Vask's timeslips strengthen the solid plotting. This first novel contains all the ingredients of a science fiction thriller, making this a good choice for sf collections.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (June 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312860293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312860295
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,292,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Peter D. Tillman VINE VOICE on November 10, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Reva, a renowned assassin, has the useful ability to cross worldlines, to avoid pursuit or to penetrate a well-protected target. In fact, she can see several worldlines at once, the better to dodge trouble. But, if she travels too far from her Mainline, she can't find her way home -- so she leads a self-contained, lonely life.
As the story unfolds, Reva gets involved with a young smuggler, and tries to stay in that mainline to maintain the friendship. Complications ensue.
Mainline has some of the cheerful amorality of early Delany, and an interesting study of the implications of worldline-crossing in a many-worlds universe. Reva's ability is psi-based -- she is something of an adult, conflicted Telzey Amberdon. She does turn out to be an assassin with a heart of gold (gag), but it's more complex than that, thank heavens. The major good guys are well-drawn, but her villains are pretty cartoonish. The frequent POV shifts are distracting, and, like many first novelists, Christian tries to cram in too much stuff. And there's some dodgy (to be polite) economics in the world-building. But, overall, a worthy first effort and a fine, gripping story.
Here's a cover blurb from Nicola Griffith: It's a "refreshing change to read about a woman who kills people for a living, instead of worrying about their well-being."
Happy reading!
Cheers -- Pete Tillman
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this book, I had the feeling I was reading from a mature writer who has a good grasp of how to entertain her readers. Few authors would have had the capacity to evoke an understanding and sympathy in readers for an essentially all-powerful being--an assassin at that--who seemingly cannot be harmed because of her ability to travel to various realities to kill someone or escape pursuit. Christian does this with greate ease. From the loss of her family to the loss of her friend, Reva is a character who gains sympathy despite her powers. Also, from beginning to end, Mainline keeps action and interest flowing--so much I read it all in just one sitting. A curious but compelling tale of a far-future woman in a tale few authors can handle. I hightly recommend it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Warning -- this review is full of general and specific spoilers. This interesting novel has interweaving threads of plots and sub-plots. The characters are drawn in various shades of grey or even painted in colors -- as there are understandable *bad* aspects of the *good* characters and understandable *good* aspects of the *bad* opponents and *odd* quirks to all. Characters even fluidly change perception, association and alliance. The mainline point-of-view protagonist is a human female assasin-for-hire who is skilled with and without weapons, is hi-tech savvy, has tactical know-how and can *surf-the-web* of various timelines near and far. That last aspect enables her to avoid, evade, probe, recon and force opponents and targets -- with greater and lesser ease. One of her *worst* opponents is a fierce, alien, non-human *barbarian monster* -- yet has a strong sense of honor and respect at times -- as well as dishonor and disrespect for unworthy opponents. The planning and action are quite strategic and tactical and the human [and non-human] elements of goals, ideas, feelings and dialog are well-done to keep the tangled lively story-flow streaming along +++
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bought this book back in 1998 but it go misplaced in my "stash" of books I have kept since starting to read science fiction and fantasy back in 1959. Deborah Christian not only has produced an epic style novel but her characterizations and plotline are very well done. This reads like something from the "Masters" rather than a first time novel. It kept me awake nights trying to finish and kept my interest level high from beginning to end. Her alternate world line idea is as good as most I have read over the years and her addition of Vash (good guy undercover mutant cop) to go along with Reva (main character top line assassin with a heart) adds possibilities to the story.
What I want to know is -- "Where in the heck is the sequel". This book is just to darn good to be a standalone. Does anyone know if she is writing a sequel or not? The way this cliffhanger ends it is certainly open to even a trilogy or more.
My thanks to Deborah Christian for a truly great read and my heartfelt hope goes out to her for more of the same.
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Format: Hardcover
Imagine that you can see and choose from a myriad of possible near-term futures. Reva, a beautiful female assasin can do just that, but has discovered the hard way that a few varied choices can create great changes in the society and people around her. Deborah Christian has successfully created a sympathetic "anti-hero" whose redemption in the book revolves around succumbing to the joys and hurts of friendships. The reader comes to know and like an unlikely cast of heros including a cold-blooded killer (who's maybe not so cold-blooded), a smuggler (who may be just a frustrated business woman), and a government policeman (who's sympathies for the 'bad guys' isn't quite by the law books). The plot is fast paced and the action is varied between several story lines. The few inconsistencies are overshadowed by the crafting of the people and places. And fortunately, the ending of the book is left open and stays away from formulaic 'happy endings.' Overall, a real find!
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