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Line of Delirium (Линия грёз, Liniya gryoz; can be also translated as Line of Reveries or Line of Dreams, which are more appropriate titles) is a Space Opera trilogy written by the popular Russian science fiction author Sergey Lukyanenko. The setting of the trilogy was influenced by Master of Orion, although the only things that can be tied back to the game are the names of the alien races and several planets. The novels describe a distant future where humanity is living in a Crapsack Universe still recovering from a devastating interstellar war and dealing with a radical new technology called aTan (anti-Thanatos) that allows a person to be recreated in case of death, essentially granting immortality to anyone willing and able to pay for it.

The trilogy consists of two novels (Line of Delirium and Emperors of Illusions) and a short story (Shadows of Dreams) set before the events of the novels. The protagonist of both novels is a professional bodyguard named Kay Dutch (AKA Kay Altos, AKA Kay Ovald), whose life radically changes when he is hired by the founder and owner of aTan, the second most powerful man in the galaxy, to escort his teenage son and heir Arthur on a secret mission to a faraway colony. Not only is the entire Empire on their tail but also several alien races very interested in the boy and his mission.

In Emperors of Illusions, Kay finds out that their entire universe is nothing more than an illusion created for the benefit of one man, Emperor Grey. Rejecting the idea of another man controlling his fate, Kay resolves to do the impossible. He must kill an immortal.

Shadows of Dreams describes a small human colony hosting an interstellar regatta when a powerful alien warship enters the system, whose crew still believes they are at war with humans. With no help coming, the colonists have no choice but to prepare for a hopeless battle with an enemy they cannot beat.

The trilogy contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Alien Among Us - the Darlocks are master spies, and their agents are hidden throughout the other empires.
  • The Alliance - the Trinary Alliance between the humans, the Bulrathi, and the Meklar, formed after the Vague War.
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range - some space weapons are described as being short-range. How arbitrary this is is unclear.
  • BFG - plenty, including a bazooka-sized anti-matter gun, a laser Gatling gun, and the Excalibur tachyon rifle, which fires before the trigger is pulled (think about it).
  • Brother-Sister Incest - Kay and Lyka were best friends when they were children and had even wanted to marry before their colony world was invaded and their lives separated. When they meet decades later, one of the first things they do is sleep together. It's then revealed that they were both grown in the same test tube and share many of the same chromosomes, making them at least as close as siblings. They know it, by the way, and don't seem to care.
  • Cloning Blues - Arthur van Curtis is a clone of Curtis van Curtis, as is Tommy Arano.
  • Combat Pragmatist - Shivukim Ahhar is a Bulrathi, who normally prefer hand-to-hand combat to the point of obsession. However, being a veteran of the Vague War resulted in Ahhar relying on a gun more than his paws. He only switches to his paws when he feels he has the decided advantage. His mistake is assuming that he has that advantage with Kay Dutch, who kills the massive bear with a single kick.
  • Crapsack World - the entire universe.
  • Deus Ex Machina - literally. God is a machine that is responsible for the creation of this universe and many others based on the inner desires of the people for whom they were created. The first person to find God in each universe can have an entirely new universe created for him or her.
  • Disproportionate Retribution - the Human Empire responds with the Sakkra taking three of its colonies by exterminating the entire race.
    • The other aliens are still a little upset at this.
  • Empire, The - the Human Empire is somewhere between a Federation and this, having an Emperor but with colonies retaining many self-governing rights.
  • Everything Is Worse With Bears - the Bulrathi are large ursine beings obsessed with hand-to-hand (or paw) combat, frequently going into battle without weapons.
  • Explosions in Space - ships explode with bright flashes.
  • Fantastic Racism - despite several decades passing since the Vague War, many humans still feel uneasy about the aliens. The fact that The Empire is now allied with two of the most brutal races is not helping matters.
    • Also, cloning and genetic engineering are illegal in The Empire, and any discovered clone or genetically-engineered person is stripped of all rights and executed.
  • A Father to His Men - Admiral Lemak fought in the Vague War, so he knows the value of a soldier. When he loses two dozen men in an assault on his station (the rest have aTan), he makes sure to send the notices to their families personally.
  • General Failure - according to Emperor Grey and Admiral Lemak, humanity's losses at the start of the Vague War can be attributed to the incompetence and bureaucracy of the old Earth government. After their coup, the war took a turn for the better, eventually. See Historical Hero Upgrade.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke - Kay Dutch is genetically-engineered to be stronger, faster, and smarter than most humans and some aliens. Lyka Seiker is created in the same test tube but her abilities are mostly limited to mental (e.g. probability calculations).
  • Great Offscreen War - the Vague War is exactly that. Almost nothing is revealed about it, except that it involved humans fighting all known alien races (not necessarily at the same time) and surviving. It also marks the beginning of The Empire.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade - Emperor Grey and Admiral Lemak are seen as brave heroes who, in the time of great crisis for humanity, took the initiative to overthrow the inept Earth government and establish the Human Empire. Nobody ever mentions whether it is true or not.
  • Honor Before Reason - the Bulrathi prefer hand-to-hand combat to a shoot-out.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place - while not technically scary, one must always take care to decelerate before exiting into real space lest one exit at a relativistic velocity.
  • Immortality Immorality - avoided with the fact that resurrection via aTan is extremely expensive and must be paid in advance. Immorality stems from many people willing to go to any lengths to obtain the secret to aTan.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum - the founder of the aTan Corporation claims that the technology was purchased by him from the Psilons, the most advanced race in the galaxy. This is revealed to be false.
  • Lizard Folk - the Melkar are reptilian in nature but have long ago replaced most of their organs with mechanical parts.
  • The Mafia - the Family is an extremely powerful criminal organization based on planet Gorra, masquerading as a legitimate corporation. The hierarchy is reflected in the member titles: the head is the Father or Mother, his/her second is the Eldest Son/Daughter, etc. They have access to military-grade hardware, including top-secret developments.
  • May-December Romance - in Emperors of Illusions, Kay ends up sleeping with a girl in her teens on planet Tauri. Kay is in his 30s, although his physical body is younger thanks to aTan (there is still an almost 10-year difference between them). As Kay is leaving her room via window, he meets the girl's father having a smoke, who merely makes sure Kay hasn't hurt himself jumping from the window and asks that he take off in his flyer quietly.
    • Kay is actually more attracted to (on an emotional and intellectual level) to an old lady living nearby.
    • The Emperor prefers the company of girls in their early teens. The parents usually consider it a priviledge.
  • Milky Way Is The Only Way, The - mostly played straight, until an Alkari mentions that their people are preparing to depart en masse for another galaxy, as they have given up trying to conquer this one.
  • Never Mess with Granny - Henrietta Fiscalocci (AKA Wanda Kahowski) is a retired midwife, living on a paradise world. But mess with anyone under her wing, and she will blow your head off with any number of weapons she has around the house. She is not known as Wanda Blood throughout the alien worlds for nothing.
    • She's not actually a midwife. She's the only female commander of an Imperial terror squad with the alien bodycount in the hundreds, if not thousands.
  • No Endor Holocaust - averted with a former human colony that tried to secede from The Empire and asked the Alkari for help. Naturally, the Empire sends its fleet to enforce its rule. The human ships arrive at the same time as the Alkari fleet, and battle ensues. Many years later, ship chunks are still falling from orbit, while many more are floating above the planet. The colonists don't mind though, as they were all wiped out by a militia shortly before the fleets even got there.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks - Arthur has died so many times (over 70) and has always come back to his twelve-year-old body so much that he is no longer capable of turning into an adult (mentally), as his psyche is permanently scarred.
  • Numbered Homeworld - the Silicoids number their colonies.
  • Old School Dogfighting
  • Our Souls Are Different - if the same person is resurrected more than once at the same time, only one of these bodies will be fully conscious. The others will remain in a vegetative state, despite having all the same memories. This is because, when a person dies, his or her "X-factor" leaves the body and departs, unless an identical body is available. Needless to say, aTan received full Church blessing after this revelation.
    • This information is kept from the general public, though, and a cover story is used instead.
  • Planet Terra: Earth has been renamed Terra.
  • Powered Armor - used by most soldiers. The Psilons, being the most advanced race, have extremely-powerful power armor to the point that several soldiers can level a city.
  • Privateer - Curtis Van Curtis, the second most powerful man in the Human Empire, used to be a privateer during the Vague War.
    • It's stated that the privateers (who were issued one-man FTL-capable raider ships with a few anti-fighter weapons and a torpedo launcher) had done more to help the war effort than the fleets.
  • Silicon-Based Life - the Silicoids are sentient columns of rock capable of levitating and manipulating objects with focused EM fields. They communicate with each other using the same fields. For talking with other races, they vibrate their entire bodies.
    • They are the only race who cannot be infiltrated by the Darlocks.
  • Stealth in Space - no known way to hide a ship in space is mentioned. Kay at one point has his ship equipped with a decoy that generates his ship's energy signature when detached. This does not fool The Empire for a second, as the decoy has a much smaller mass than the ship. They have the decoy destroyed anyway in order to avoid confusion.
  • Teacher-Student Romance - sort of. The main character of Shadows of Dreams lives on a small colony and dreams of leaving. By the time he realizes he's not going anywhere, all the eligible women are already married. The only single woman is his former high school teacher, who is twenty years his senior. He is not exactly thrilled with the prospect.
  • Technical Pacifist - Martyzenski is a famous weapons designer, responsible for a large number of things that kill people. He is also a pacifist, who regularly attends peace rallies, only to come back to his lab upset and design an even deadlier tool of war. It is rumored that his employers deliberately organize a peace rally whenever he has a designer's block.
  • Transferable Memory - aTan has vast databanks collecting clients' memories in real-time. When the signal stops, this indicates death. If the person has paid off his or her aTan, a new body is created from a previously-scanned template, and the memories are downloaded into the brain up until the moment of death. If the resurrection has not been paid in advance, then the person's memories and the body template are purged from the database (i.e. Killed Off for Real). It is possible, although illegal, for the aTan operators to record and watch the memories of the resurrected. This becomes a plot point in the first novel.
  • Unusual User Interface - while wearing Powered Armor, Kay controls its systems with his chin.
  • Vocal Dissonance - the Bulrathi are huge bears... with falsetto voices, described by the main character as a quirk of evolution. They do make good tenors, though, when they are not ripping your head off. Interestingly, they have managed to adapt this into a weapon against the Silicoids, by creating a high-pitched resonance that disables their organ that generates EM fields.
  • Voice of the Legion - the Silicoids normally communicate via EM waves. In order to communicate with other races, they vibrate their entire bodies, which generates sound that sounds like a chorus is talking.
  • Weaponized Exhaust - Kay's ship uses its plasma engines to incinerate two Hunter robots sent to guard it. Maybe standing next to its engines is not such a great idea. It then switches to its gravity drive and pushes out the hangar doors.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human? - human cloning and genetic engineering are illegal in The Empire. Any discovered clone or genetically-engineered being is immediately destroyed. Needless to say, they have no rights.
  • Worthy Opponent - the immensely-advanced Psilons take no prisoners. The rare exception is an enemy who is able to kill many Psilon soldiers singlehandedly. Such enemy is enslaved instead.
  • You Are Already Dead: One favorite tactic of the Bulrathi is to hit a prisoner with a special strike to the liver, let them go, and have them suddenly die in a few days.