The Long Earth

Daisy-Boo

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Has anyone read The Long Earth yet? He co-wrote it with Stephen Baxter (whose Mammoth series I really enjoy btw). This from Amazon:

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. . . .


I liked this book. It was well-written and, except for a couple of chapters in the first half of the book, kept up the pace nicely. The style is very different from the Discworld books and seems very much influenced by Baxter.

I'm not going to post spoilers but I will say I felt somewhat let down by the ending. I expected the big reveal to be much more than was actually revealed. However, I just read that this is the first book in a planned series so I guess that explains the ending.
 

Tiffany

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I agree with you, readable & there are going to be 2 more in the series.
I enjoyed it, but it didn't keep me gripped like Sir Terry's Discworld books & I think mainly influenced by Stephen Baxter too, though I have never read any of his books before.
 

chrispenycate

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Found it, bought it read it.

Interesting how many ideas they've adopted from the collaborative multiverse I pioneered here in 2008 – I wonder which one of them is Chronic ;).

I've read a lot of Baxter (not his mammoth books; I've got one of those, and don't think I ever finished it) and his physics is generally very good, while his biology is less solid. But here there are one or two aspects of the physics which are a bit questionable – a little too much magic in the mix to enable "natural steppers". (I'd love to debate this with Baxter some time, but it's unlikely to happen).

But the real thing this book lacks from my point of view is memorable characters, unlike the Pratchett discworld series; Lobsang is – interesting – but by the end of the book I still hadn't meshed with Joshua, while several other, potentially interesting,characters are sidelined, and will presumably be filled out in later volumes.

Will I be buying the later volumes? I have no doubt I will, even if I don't believe it's the best work from either of them.
 

SalmonFillet

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I picked it up because I pretty much buy anything that has Pratchett's name on the cover.

I was also a little bit letdown by the big reveal, and I agree that the various characters who were introduced could have used some filling in. I did enjoy all the social commentary and human insight I've come to expect from Pratchett, and it is a very interesting premise.

Most of the magic in the premise might be forgiven for the sake of keeping the main characters alive I suppose - you'd expect a lot more people to die of poisoning and inappropriate atmosphere for one.

*Little Spoilers and Griping*
What happens to air particles when you step? If filling a space with dirt and rocks etc prevents you from stepping there, why should gases be any different? Do they end up inside of you? Shouldn't you die a slow and painful death if you get air bubbles all up inside of your anatomy? Do they just sort of get shunted aside? Do you leave a vacuum behind when you step? Or do you sort of send air particles back in the direction you came from?
What keeps your shoes on when you step? Or your jacket? What are the exact rules of bringing things over?
How did Joshua manage to breathe on the moonless worlds? How does anyone step safely without some sort of special suit to keep you from dying?

*Spoiler laden ranting ends*

I'm dying to know what other people think of these little details. I enjoyed the book of course, but these little things make the story feel a little bit cheaper somehow. And that is a bit of a shame.
 

ArstenWhitebeard

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I really enjoyed both the Long earth and the Long War, but in both instances, I was a bit let down by the ending. It seems like there was a big build-up, in both instances, that just kind of petered out, without an actual Climax. What was enjoyable about the books is the premise. I think they did a very good job of predicting how humanity would react to something like this happening. that, and the idea of being able to just step over into a new, uninhabited world, is really appealing to me.
 

Laurence_Donaghy

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I've only read the first book and that was more than enough. As others have said I picked this up because it had Terry's name on the cover, but if I'd read this blind and someone had asked me to identify the writer I would have named 100 people before I'd have gotten to Pratchett. With the exception of the incongruity of a humble potato being part of the magical stepper machine, there is absolutely no other trace of his normal brand of easygoing genius to be found within this book.

The Long Earth is lifeless in the extreme. There is no sense of danger whatsoever - something that also started to affect his Discworld novels at around the same time, I'm sorry to say. At one stage things get so bad that I suspect an editor stepped in and insisted there be some hint of suspense to keep readers from wandering off so we get a cryptic forewarning of "but that was before the Gap"...which then turns out to be yet another damp squib.

One of the main group of characters, so eager to leave Prime Earth or Earth Zero or Our Earth or whatever you want to call it, decides they're so excited to head off into the parallel unknown that they abandon one of their own children who's a sort of natural immune to the stepping process. And yet from the way the book is written we're still clearly supposed to sympathise with these people! It is a long, long way from the effortless identification the reader feels toward characters like Commander Vimes and Granny Weatherwax, great humanist figures that Terry wrote so well.

Baffling and frustrating in equal measure, and the cynic in me wonders if this manuscript had been handed in without the two famous names attached would any publisher have gone to press with it. I suspect not, and rightly so.
 

Harpo

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I've just got this book, and I like it so far (but then I like both authors and anything involving multiple worlds)
 

Mister_Oy

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Just finished the final volume "Long Cosmos" - I enjoyed it but as a final piece the ending was pretty poor.

Very much a Stephen Baxter book with very few signs of Sir Terry's style - other than - well - I'll just say "Ook!"
 

John Thiel III

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I'm glad to have gotten information in this topic about what the earlier works contained. What I've picked up and read half of so far is THE LONG UTOPIA. I'm somewhat put off by commenting on it, though, by the notion that Stephen Baxter dominates the work. My previous experience with Baxter is that he writes a low, mordant, convoluted style about flatlands and black holes, whereas the sportive writer is Pratchett. I'm going to have to research these authors more before I can comment on the book.
 

John Thiel III

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I'll say of Baxter that my familiarity with him is the Old Earth stories, a tedious wade I had in 2004-2006 as I backtracked on the stories to try to assemble them, then commented on them in the Analog Forum, the stories having been in that magazine. I also saw his stories in Asimov's at about that time. But the topic here is Terry Pratchett, and I don't think time is being wasted on books that are more Baxter than Pratchett, because it seems to me the writing is largely that of Pratchett with interpolations by Baxter, though he might have contributed a lot to the way the story worked. But it's Pratchett that I'm interested in, with his long concern with multiverses.
 

awesomesauce

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I think I remember the first few chapters being jumpy, but by the end, I really liked it, and I've read The Long War and the Long Mars after.
 

Harpo

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I've just got this book, and I like it so far (but then I like both authors and anything involving multiple worlds)
That was quarter of a decade ago. Since then I've read and enjoyed the entire series.
 

nixie

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Ok I've started The Long War, overall I liked The Long of Earth but the characters are dull and two dimensional, I was surprised by the ending and not in a good way. Hopefully the next books will focus more on developing the characters.
 

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