Genre: Space Opera

Author Guest Post & Review: Confluence by S.K. Dunstall

Posted November 30, 2016 by Anne in Author Guest Post, Book Review | | 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Author Guest Post & Review: Confluence by S.K. DunstallConfluence by S.K. Dunstall
Series: Linesman #3
Published by Ace on November 29, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

While the Crown Princess of Lancia seeks to share the new technology, her father, the Emperor, has other plans. His latest political maneuverings seem to be tilting the balance of control to Lancia’s favor—a move that not all members of the New Alliance are looking upon favorably.

As tensions mount, Ean’s former shipmates must unite to avert a disastrous conflict: the princess working within the tumultuous Alliance, Ean seeking the help of the impatient alien ships, and Ean’s close friend and bodyguard, Radko, embarking on a mysterious and perilous mission.

But the biggest threat comes from an unexpected source. Someone is trying to take down the New Alliance from within—and will use anything, even the lines themselves, to ensure its destruction...

icon outofthisworld   icon scifi

I got the first book in this series as part of my first Ace Roc star package and I knew from reading the blurb I would love it.  I did and I have continued to love this series.  Of course, it is space opera and I’m renewing my love affair with space opera the past two years.

Read the Linesman series in order, the story builds with each book. Each of the three books is different in the feel.  Linesman (my review) introduces this world and our hero, Ean Lambert.  Alliance (my review)  is a broader view of the world and its politics with many more characters involved. Our “team” from Lancia works together to try to solve issues. Confluence has our team separated and all our main characters isolated from each other. Ean starts out alone, struggling to build a life, then he is a valued part of a team, and now he is rather alone again but still with some influence and control.

Some key players from the first two books have limited roles. Mostly, Ean and Radko, who are not in the same location, tell us most of this story.  The two political factions of Lancia each believe they are doing the right thing. The authors did a fascinating post herehow do you know if you are fighting on the right side in a war.

The politics, the war, the factions all keep things moving and kept me reading in suspense of the outcomes. Angst over the treatment of some people was more than usual, and I worried tremendously for my people’s safety. And now, I really HATE Jordan Rossi. He was always an arrogant annoyance, but I am done with him now.

This trilogy brings a story arc to a close, is the end of the contracted books, but I really hope we get more of this series. There is more to know about Ean and how the world changes for the linesman. The alien ships and the ramifications of working with them can have so much more. Each captain of each ship could make other interesting stories, along with their crews. I want more!  Highly recommended series.

I’m excited to share an exclusive post from the authors for us.  S.K. Dunstall shares with us how music came to be part of this story.

Author Guest post:

He sang as worked. The deep sonorous song of the void—line nine. The chatter of the mechanics—lines two and three. The fast, rhythmic on-off state of the gravity controller—line four. And the heavy strength of the Bose engines that powered it through the void—line six. He didn’t sing line one. That was the crew line, and this was an unhappy ship. —Linesman

We didn’t deliberately set out to include music in the Linesman series. We were telling a story about sentient alien ‘technology’ that humans had discovered by chance, had used for five hundred years now, and thought they knew how it worked, but they didn’t. In fact, they didn’t even know what it was.

The music was there, right from the first draft.  It arrived on page two and it stayed, integral to the story.  Far more important than we ever could have imagined when Ean first started to sing.

“How do my crew communicate?”

She knew what the answer would be before he said it. Lambert had sung to the lines.

“They sing.”

This was going to be the noisiest bridge she’d ever been on. —Alliance

By the time we arrived at book three, it was part of the story arc, and everyone was asking questions about it. Including characters in the books.

“And the singing, Linesman?” the Factor asked. “What does that signify?”

He’d jumped on a single tune very fast. Almost as if he had been waiting for a song so he could ask the question. How much did he know?  —Confluence

Music is awesome.  It can lift a mood, set a mood, evoke memories. It can override faulty or damaged brain connections to temporarily restore memory. Or to help people with problems like Alzheimer’s disease to remember and even move more easily.

How do we know these last two?  A reader sent us an amazing link on how therapists are using music to help people. The link’s gone now, or otherwise we’d add it here.

Our readers are wonderful, and many of them know a lot more about music than we do.  We are learning so much from their feedback and their questions.

Another reader wanted to know about the musical roots.  Whether Ean’s singing was based more around Qawwali, Tuvan throat-singing harmonics, Enya, or something else altogether.

Our answer?  We both imagine it as a full vocal sound. Something that comes through as more than just a single voice singing. But we couldn’t attribute it to a particular person or sound.  While we were writing Linesman we listened to a lot of Enya, Lisa Gerrard, and big movie themes (with a strong vocal component), and that probably subconsciously influenced what we imagined the sound to be.

It turns out that the music we listened to is a combination of all those styles of music. If you delve into Lisa Gerrard’s singing she cites Greek, Turkish, and Irish influences. And if you listen to Qawwali or Tuvan throat singing you can hear the similarities.

Readers ‘get’ the lines. They tell us:

“I was spinning, and everything was running so smoothly. I could feel the lines singing to the strands of wool, guiding them.”

“I was having a bad day.  I asked the lines to guide the flow, and everything settled.”

“I can hear the lines singing to me.”

We write to music. Soundtracks and voices.  A typical mix might include Sarah Brightman, Hans Zimmer (and pretty much everyone from his studio, and lots of Lisa Gerrard here), Era, Ten Tenors, Luciano Pavarotti, Audiomachine, James Newton Howard.  Soaring voices, big music.

The words flow especially easy late at night, when there’s just you, the lighted room, and the music.

So it is only natural that our books contain music as central to the story.

About S.K. Dunstall

S. K. Dunstall is the pen name for Sherylyn and Karen Dunstall, sisters who live in Melbourne, Australia. They are the authors of the Linesman series of novels. Linesman, Alliance and Confluence. Confluence is released on 29 November, 2016.

Photo credit to Andrew Kopp.

Thrifty Thursday: Starship’s Mage by Glynn Stewart

Thrifty Thursday: Starship’s Mage by Glynn Stewart

Posted October 27, 2016 by Anne in Book Review | 0 Comments

The purpose of Thrifty Thursday is to pick a book which was free (at some point). Kindle freebie on January 7, 2016  (currently $3.99 as of writing this post) Overall rating 4.19 with 1,221 ratings and 89 reviews Space opera and magic – what’s not to love?  Starship’s Mage combines some of my favorite things.  I’ve always loved space opera.  There’s science and technology and new, faraway places, and politics and adventures and battles. But usually there’s a person or a crew who is out there exploring new places, learning about themselves and inevitably, showing compassion and integrity as they fight greed and evil. Damien is that guy, our hero. He’s a special snowflake and has tragically lost his whole family. His relationships and the […]

Audio review: Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja

Audio review: Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja

Posted August 4, 2016 by Anne in Book Review | 1 Comment

         When I started listening, I shook my head at how stupid some things were but then the ridiculous worked its way into a hilarious satire. I love science fiction and space opera. However, the military is unfortunately, related to the government which is the scariest thing ever. In Mechanical Failure, bureaucracy covers up other bad things happening. The author is also the narrator which seems like a great idea. Who else knows the material and proper emotional tone as well? Since Joe Zieja is also a voice actor, it seems even more appropriate. I found it comfortable to listen to the story with a nice pace and inflections. He didn’t really do any vocal changes to differentiate the characters except the […]

Series review of The Lost Stars  by Jack Campbell

Series review of The Lost Stars by Jack Campbell

Posted May 26, 2016 by Anne in Book Review | 1 Comment

     I got all but the newest of these books at the library as Kindle ebooks. These stories are in the world of Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet books. They start  at the point where the Alliance / Syndicate war has ended and now the governments need to refocus and rebuild their economies. This is the same timeframe as the Lost Fleet / Beyond the Frontier series. Both series are a spinoff of sorts on The Lost Fleet series. The Syndics  are the “enemy”  of my beloved John Geary (of the Alliance) or are they? This is a fascinating look at things from another perspective. There are more details of the same events.  I love space opera but there are always politics.  The books are […]

Leviathan (and the Lost Fleet series) by Jack Campbell

Leviathan (and the Lost Fleet series) by Jack Campbell

Posted May 12, 2016 by Anne in Book Review | 0 Comments

This is the latest in a spinoff series. The original series is The Lost Fleet; this series is Beyond the Frontier. It all feels like one series, even one story, as each book picks up where the last one left off. I listened to every book but this one on audio, CDs in my car. I enjoyed them so much and the world feels very comfortable and dear. The narrator was Christopher Rummel. I enjoyed his voice for the different characters.  His steady rendition seemed to fit the strength of the main character, John “Black Jack” Geary.  I liked the occasional feel of fear/frustration; the character feels honest in this vulnerability.  The voice was clear and easy to understand. It didn’t feel like Rummel was […]

Admiral by Sean Danker

Admiral by Sean Danker

Posted April 29, 2016 by Anne in Book Review | 3 Comments

     Another book I wouldn’t have picked and really loved which came from Ace Roc stars.  I seriously need to consider more space opera / science fiction because I enjoy it so much.   The world building is scattered into various dire circumstances.  The politics and rest of the world are a shelf in the background which the characters reference occasionally.  The layer of military and societal consequences dust their choices.   The four characters are interesting and well done, but the Admiral is awesome.  His point of view tells us this survival story and he’s smart, funny and self-deprecating at times.   The MacGyver style of making things happen is a big win for me.   We never learn his name; he’s only The Admiral. […]

Alliance by S.K. Dunstall

Alliance by S.K. Dunstall

Posted February 26, 2016 by Anne in Book Review | 0 Comments

      I waited about 5 minutes to start Alliance after finishing Linesman.  I had already requested the arc after starting Linesman because I knew right away.   I HAD to know more.  About 92% of the way into this book, I already felt the terror of it ending and not knowing when the next book would be available so I went to the Internet.  After much reading, I found the possible title of the third book, but no tentative release time. *Panics* I try not to write spoilery reviews and I don’t repeat stuff you can read in the blurb. So that leaves me with talking about the characters and the writing and my feelings.  And here, it’s all good. Ean continues to learn and grow […]

Linesman by S.K. Dunstall

Linesman by S.K. Dunstall

Posted February 25, 2016 by Anne in Book Review | 1 Comment

      I wanted to read Linesman when I got it and every time I thought of it, and finally managed to read it earlier this month.  I’ve been very thrilled with many of my Ace Roc star gifts and especially seem to enjoy the space opera offerings.   Linesman has space and technology and aliens and ships.  Military strategy and political manipulations are key facets of the relationships. The world is slowly built with a few viewpoints, of a different linesman. The “star” for my nerd girl heart is Ean Lambert. He’s a boy from the wrong place / social group, not exactly trained and yet his talents are extraordinary. He is humble, hard-working and kind.  Ean is sometimes ashamed, sometimes worried about his background. […]