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The Long Earth (Long Earth, 1) Hardcover – June 19, 2012
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“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
“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 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. . . .
- Publisher : Harper; F First American Edition (June 19, 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062067753
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062067753
- Item Weight : 1.22 pounds
- Dimensions : 9.19 x 6.4 x 1.19 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #381,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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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!
Baxter has a distinctive writing style that I recognized from his other works. The difference here is the inclusion of a few more humorous moments, which I imagine are Pratchett’s brief touch. Baxter continues to not be able to write women, though the issues in this story are more cringey and less out-right offensive.
Readers interested in a very different take on the parallel worlds story will find this interesting. I especially liked the “explanations” for familiar creatures of folk-lore. I’m interested in continuing the series, but don’t have a strong urge to rush right into the next one, probably because of the lack of emotional connection with any of the characters.
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.
This is the premise for The Long Earth.
The book is not a hard sci-fi piece like the typical Baxter book. In some way, it reminded me the kind-of-juvenile approach that Asimov had to sci-fi. Very good in adventure, with ok characters (not too deep, not unbelievable shallow), with some basic fictional concept that allows imagination to fly.
The heart of the story - one might be tempted to say the soul - is the interaction between the android Lobsang and the hero, Joshua, a "natural" stepper. The dialogue was captivating, humorous and delved deeply into the human condition. Because the work was not "The Stand" or "Atlas Shrugged" or "War and Peace" many of the minor characters remained undeveloped, names on a page who went through the ritualistic motions. We did finally have a romance of sorts (sorely missing in science fiction) that was tender and funny and innocent.
So why four instead of five stars? Lack of imagination for the various Earths, the idea that beings in other worlds casually stepped as easily as we sit down and the rather silly huge creature met at the end. There is, of course, a fundamentalist religious component composed by those unable to "step" and there are some good guys and bad guys. All in all, a good start to a series.
Top reviews from other countries
Long Earth starts well with an intriguing premise and I was greatly enjoying it up until about halfway. However it doesn't really develop either plot or character so I was increasingly forcing myself to finish it. It. Characters (or lack of them) is a big problem Joshua and Sally will feel to familiar to Pratchett readers.
Also like so much modern writing it becomes clear that this just the set up for a series. What Clarke or Asimov might have dealt with in a short story now so often seems to require the literary equivalent of a box set.
This was never going to be a laugh a minute, and there were going to be some fairly heavy themes from what I read about Baxter, but in the 200 pages I got through, the plot didn't go anywhere, the characters were not very engaging and the themes were bland. I will point out that it took me a year of putting down and picking up to get that far, but only because i felt i had to give it the benefit of the doubt, this was Pratchett after all. One of my literary favorites for the last 20 years.
Would i recommend it? probably not. Would i talk someone out of reading it. No, its not my mug of brown, but I'm sure there is someone out there who would enjoy it.
Buy this if you like Cold, Hard Sci-Fi and want to commit to all of the books. Don't buy this if you like fast action, adventure and warm pork pie.
Our lead character Joshua together with a humanoid character Lopsang (isn't that a kind of tea) travel , taking millions of "steps" in some sort of dirigible across variant versions of the U.S. For diehard TP fans they do meet lots of trolls and other creatures but these are unrecognizable compared to those living in Ankh Morporth.
Clearly this is the first of a series and so I look forward to reading the next, but it was a cruel way to deal with the pleasant town of Madison at the end (or was it a Stepford?). Let's hope everyone there "stepped" out in time.
That said, the writing is undeniably well done and the world building both intricate and exacting. Resentments and fears are gradually built and fuelled, yet you don't see the conclusion to them until it hits you in the face... and then it seems so obvious you don't know how you missed them.
The final third of the novel, where it begins to come together and you can start to see a purpose on the horizon, is a five star read without a doubt. The first two thirds were a little too slow, a little too aimless and a little too meandering however. They aren't bad chapters, they just failed to hold my attention in the same way. I am however interested to see where this will take me next.