Two literary giants bring their A-game for this series

Written by
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter in 2012

Collaborations so often result in a sum less than its constituent parts, like when Kim and Kanye got married. However, there was hope that this collaboration would be different. Two giants of science fiction and fantasy, Baxter and Pratchett, sitting down and dreaming up of a new universe. To paraphrase the immortal words of man: how hard can it be for these two blokes to make this series totally awesome?

The Long Earth begins quite interestingly, introducing us to potentially an infinite number of Earths that coexist in a series of parallel universes that one could step into, literally with the power of a potato (or your own genetics, if you were so fortunate). I suspect the potato was the brainchild of Pratchett. We explore the various Earths with Joshua Valiente, who was in the process of being born when his mother stepped into a parallel world, and stepped back again.

Joshua is your typical lone wolf explorer, only needing the company of people for short spans of time, before going off to do his own thing in the millions of Earths just next door. Because of his unique skills, he is asked to join a two man expedition to the furthest reaches of the Long Earth. With Lobsang, an artificial intelligence who claims he was a very cheerful Tibetan motorcycle repair man.

Along the way, there are interspersed stories of others who travel out along the Long Earth, to live out their lives in total freedom, where the laws of governments, finance and even God, are a distant memory. Only the quiet and opportunity of a new start awaits. Unfortunately, there are those who are unable to leave our Earth, and this missed opportunity for exploration, begins to cause problems at home.

The Long Earth is a very similar book to Proxima, which is a journey of discovery of the mysteries of the universe. Very much a Baxter book. But in it, there are sprinkles of Pratchett’s sense of humour and humanity, ironically represented by Lobsang, the artificial intelligence and the human-like trolls, who can mimic any song, any time, any where.

As a journey of discovery, there is honestly not too much action in this book, rather you are treated to an adventure of relative peace and quiet, as well as interesting diversions. Kind of like the family road trip where you randomly discover the giant Merino gift shop at a stop off along the freeway. Gift shops are awesome, especially when the entrance is in a giant sheep’s bottom.

So come along and enjoy the ride with Joshua and Lobsang aboard the good airship Mark Twain, which happens to be shaped like a giant schlong, according to another main character. A collaboration between Baxter and Pratchett is a wonderful thing.

Rating

Charming, fun and relaxing. Kind of like a honeymoon in the Netherlands where you stay in a windmill. And sample some local brownies.

Read this if you…

Enjoy the hard science fiction of Stephen Baxter, but also enjoy the ridiculous sense of humour of Terry Pratchett.

Don’t read this if you…

Feel that potatoes are not a sustainable and renewable source of energy.

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2 thoughts on “The Long Earth

  1. Are you reading the rest of the series? First book was rather unsatisfying as a Pratchett fan, and the character of Lobsang especially given that’s a name from a much more enjoyable Discworld novel…

    • I am doing the rest of the series, though book five (as yet untitled) is not coming until next year. Next review is The Long War (which is book two).

      Having not really read much Pratchett, I read this because of Baxter (who I enjoy). Very much a Baxter-lite book in my mind. Proxima and Ultima are the sort of heavy Baxter books that this draws inspiration from.

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