Pratchett, Terry and Baxter, Stephen: The Long Earth (2012)

Do it yourself Stepper

The cannonball bird – a predatory bird that shoots a ball out its mouth killing the victim. I guess it could be a quick death.

With The Long Earth Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter have written a tale about mankind’s continued unwise choices given a seemingly unlimited choice in worlds to live on. The funny thing, was that before reading the book I was worried. You all know that Pratchett battles Alzheimer’s and some of the reviews claimed that he had to be well on his way to no more writing. You are sooo wrong.

Pratchett’s insanity is apparent in a great many details of the book. Where Gaiman makes Pratchett’s insanity even more insane, Baxter sort of brought it all down to earth. The lion-tamer did his best to tame the lion. Two science fiction writers need to be a little insane – both apart and together – in their writing. It is part of the charm of the genre. Without the insanity, science fiction would only be fiction, and science fiction is so much more fun.

Off my soap-box and back to The Long Earth. What would happen if humans had millions of earths available to them just a few “steps” away? The Long Earth seems to give a fairly realistic picture of our choices. Because humans are so varied, we would all have different goals. What if some of us weren’t able to “step”, due to some quirk in our brains? This is where it all becomes worrisome. Humans do not handle being left out well. We are silly little buggers.

There are two people we get to know really well, Joshua and Lobsang. Joshua is a natural stepper. Lobsang is an AI supposedly blended with a reincarnated Tibetan mechanic. Together they traverse the millions of earths to find out exactly what it is that is driving trolls and elves from the long earth. Along the way we get a look at various people who have encountered the long earth in its various forms.

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