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[See end of post for an update on the publication status of this novel.]

“Mainline is splendid. A fast, fun read, but an ambitious work, too. Keeping the suspense when your protagonist can cross alternate timelines isn’t easy…It’s dynamite.”
– Larry Niven

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.

UPDATE December 2012

I’m finishing revisions to Splintegrate, a “semi-sequel” to Mainline right now. By semi-sequel, I mean it takes place in the same setting 2 years later, and some characters from Mainline make an appearance (though not Reva), but this is not directly related to the events told in Mainline at all. Splintegrate is a stand-alone novel except for the universe continuity.  I am, however, thinking of doing a three-book story arc in which the third will tie together storylines from both Mainline and Splintegrate.   If you want to keep an eye on these developments, please join my mailing list.

Also, I’m taking steps to get the rights back to Mainline and my other novels that have fallen out of print. After that occurs, they will once again be available in ebook and hardcopy (print on demand) editions.  My mailing list is where you’ll get updates on this stuff.


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There is a new release on dvd that might interest Mainline fans: “The Gene Generation.” It’s a definite cut above B movie standards, with a recognizable international cast. Athough I do not think it had a U.S. theatrical release. Bai Ling portrays a somewhat Reva-esqe assassin in a bleak, not-too-distant future society. 😎

Thanks for the tip, Brennon. I’ll definitely check that out. Haven’t heard of that one.

Here’s the movie that’s top on my list for giving a really great illustration of what Reva’s timeline-maneuvering ability is like: Next, starring Nicholas Cage. OMG. The whole movie hinges on his ability to see a short span into the future, and choose his path through it. Sound like anyone we know?

We see him do this dance of avoidance with unwanted events as he evades a security search in a casino. It is like the scene in Mainline where Reva avoids surveillance devices as she cases Lish’s Comax warehouse on her first visit there.

Later, there is a riveting scene where he’s walking in a warehouse with people shooting at him. With images overlaid, we see how if he walks in this direction, he is shot dead in the next moment. If he twists his body to the side as he moves ahead, he just dodges the bullet. He goes on like this, falling shot in the lines he doesn’t chose, and walking ahead uninjured in his “mainline.” It is a stunning visual and is exactly what Reva experiences in a focused, extended moment where she is in timeflow.

It shows you in images exactly what I describe in my book. I highly recommend it!

It sounds good. I like Nick Cage. :mrgreen:

I was working from home today editing a project, and “Next” was available on the on demand feature of my cable network, so I was sort of able to watch it. I did however see what amazed you about the movie. It was really interesting to see a visualization of a concept very similar to an aspect of the ablity you created for Reva. The scene in the warehouse really reminded me of your description of the way Reva would search the lines for the best avenue of escape. Of course, Cage’s charater didn’t have to worry about straying too far from his mainline and losing it forever. Although I suppose the theme that just looking at the future changed its reality is obscurely analogous to Reva’s dilemma.

The movie I recommended is much more superficially similar to Mainline. The world is darker than the one you created. Reva is darker and more complex than the assassin in the movie. It nevertheless made me think about how Mainline would look on film.

I forgot to mention that Faye Dunaway has a part in “The Gene Generation” as a mutated evil scientist that is reason in itself to see the movie. As you can probably tell from this, the plot line has a definite Asian/Anime influence.

You should also probably be forwarned that I have a reputation for having an affinity for films that are so bad they are good.

I adore Faye Dunaway, especially when she is playing evil villainous women. I’m not fond of B-movies and poor production values or cheesy writing, but insofar as something may have an interesting premise I’ll at least check it out. When my book’s gone I’ll put this on my short list for my R&R entertainment (I plan on holing up for a week and doing nothing but tubing and playing puter games! Gotta give brain some recovery time…)

You know, after reflection, I would definitely say that this is not a “must see” movie. It is exotic or interesting, visually, in a gritty, cyber-punk way, but no real substance. Solid cast. First time director. It’s no “Blade Runner,” but probably no worse in terms of light entertainment value than David Lynch’s “Dune.” I think that sampling non-mainstream films is a bit like experimenting with sushi–sometimes you find something surprisingly good, like “Donnie Darko.” I’d say good luck with the book, but I know it’s really hard, exhausting work rather than luck. Having said that: good luck with the book.

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