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The Long Earth Hardcover – June 19, 2012
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“Stay tuned for the next episode of a very old-fashioned sf quest yarn (think Jules Verne and 2001) that, since Pratchett is involved, is crammed with scientifically informed amusement.” (Booklist)
“In this thought-provoking collaboration, Pratchett (the Discworld series) and Baxter (Stone Spring) create an infinity of worlds to explore… fascinating premise…” (Publishers Weekly)
“The Long Earth is a brilliant Science Fiction collaboration with Stephen Baxter: a love letter to all Pratchett fans, readers, and lovers of wonder everywhere… This novel is a gift to be shared with anyone who loves to be amazed.” (Io9)
“The writing is elegant and witty...The worlds of the Long Earth are all richly rendered, and even the walk-on characters are deftly imagined…and the potential seems endless not just for the characters, but for Pratchett and Baxter as well.” (Tor.com)
“ The Long Earth is the solid start of a series with infinite potential.” (Shelf Awareness)
From the Back Cover
The possibilities are endless. (Just be careful what you wish for. . . .)
1916: The Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong and the wind in the leaves. Where have the mud, blood, and blasted landscape of no-man's-land gone? For that matter, where has Percy gone?
2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive—some say mad, others allege dangerous—scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson find a curious gadget: a box containing some rudimentary wiring, a three-way switch, and . . . a potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way humankind views the world forever.
The first novel in an exciting new collaboration between Discworld creator Terry Pratchett and the acclaimed SF writer Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth transports readers to the ends of the earth—and far beyond. All it takes is a single step. . . .
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Having said that, this is not anything like the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, the only reason I read this. There is hardly any charm to find in the characters who are not playful or even funny. The situations are credible but not fascinating like Discworld set-ups. Don't look for magic, sorcery or parody here.
All in all a good book. Not to spoil but the ending compels you to move on to "The Long War", the next book in the series. I am not going to do that. I read for pure, unapologetic escape as I get enough reality at work and home.
Thanks for reading!
In truth there is very little Pratchett in this book. There is none of his humor or insight. The hard SciFi was equally disappointing. There are many MANY exciting and fascinating concepts that would have made this pure awesomeness. Believable machine intelligence. Multiple Earths which diverge in physical and biological evolution the further you get from home Earth (Datum Earth in the story). Multiple sapient intelligences springing from differing roots. None of which are explored. There are interactions between humans and non-humans. None of THAT is explored either. There are conflicts between the humans that can visit the parallel Earths and those who cannot. Not explored. There is a world-ending threat. Not explored. There is endless potential here for further stories based on the universe, but this one does nothing except showcase the place. Even the explosion of a pocket nuke in a major urban center is a so-what event.
There is a mish-mash of fantasy/occult and hard scifi - both of which I like, but neither of which dominates the story and neither of which, again, is explored. I know there were a lot of good concepts in this book and you can't explore them all, but for goodness sake explore SOMETHING. Just when you think this might get good, it wanders off onto another tangent or back to a character that is so utterly colorless you couldn't care less about them. Tell me how human society is affected by the "trolls" (one of the species encountered, and the most interesting). Or how troll society is affected by the humans. How the machine sees us and what the implications of it's existence are. There are economic dislocations on datum earth. Tell me about them.
Even the big ending is blah. The world ending threat turns out to be not that much of a threat after all. The book just... stops. Sad and unsatisfying.
Not recommended unless you just HAVE to have everything with either of these authors names on it.
Pratchett and Baxter take this interesting premise and run it straight into the ground.
It starts badly. The clumsy introduction of Lobsang a few pages in was so awkward and just plain uncomfortable that i honestly put the book down for a few days while i tried to decide if it was worth reading at all.
I did keep reading, though, because until recently i was a huge fan of Sir Terry. (The 'until recently' has to do with his latest solo book, Snuff: A Novel of Discworld, being so bad i could barely finish it.) I've read a few of Baxter's books, and while he's not in my top ten favorite authors, he's usually good enough that, with a solid premise like this, i'd expect an equally solid book. But together they were so much less than the sum of their parts.
The story, such as it is, drags. Most chapters are about Joshua and Lobsang exploring the parallel earths. A few are about a random homesteading family, and a random cop who helped Joshua out when he was younger. Nothing happens. Then more nothing happens. The occasional residual smear of a plot element appears every few chapters, but if you're skimming because you're bored, you'll probably miss it. At some point, a woman joins the Joshua/Lobsang expedition, but instead of being any sort of romantic-tension-inducing situation, it's handled in the utterly sterile fashion of a book aimed at 4th graders.
Then, out of nowhere, a few pages before the end of the book, everything suddenly changes. The writing style, the pacing, the whole feel of the book turn suddenly on a single sentence. Only then do the relevance of the pioneer family and the cop become evident, and even then, you could have cut out all of their back story and it wouldn't make a difference. There's a big-ish, mostly-dramatic climax, and boom, the book ends.
If you're a big fan of either author (or both) and just simply must own a copy of this book, then you're going to buy it no matter what. For anyone else, my advice is to skip it. If you find the premise too promising to pass by, then wait a few months. You'll probably be able to find tons of copies of this in discount bins as others buy it, read it, and discard it promptly.
This book could have actually touched more upon some of the characters it introduced, which another reviewer mentioned. Ultimately I think it does delve deeper into some of these characters in the other novels. My reading time is too divided to devote so much time to read more about characters and circumstances set up in the first book. By all means, it was an enjoyable read, and I did want more. However, do not be disappointed to be left hanging at the end of the novel, with no choice but to buy The Long War in order to see what happens. I just cannot commit that much time right now.
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