Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Long Earth

The Long Earth
by Terry Pratchett
Harper Collins, 2012. Science Fiction. 336 pgs.

In the first of four collaborative works, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter weave a tale of exploration in the modern age. When a way to ‘step’ east or west into an infinite series of parallel earths is published on the Internet, it sparks a wave of pioneers uprooting their lives to explore and settle the Long Earth. A gifted stepper pairs with a new AI to explore the Long Earth and see what new dangers await humanity.

Pratchett and Baxter work well together to create a curious if sometimes dry hypothetical scenario. Pratchett’s dialogue will remind readers of the dry wit of his Discworld series while Baxter’s ideas keep the reader grounded in the plausible given the premise of the story. The outlook of the plot is based on a negative view of human nature; the main characters are more cynical than they need be throughout the book. In addition, the two British authors focus on primarily American politics when the topic is raised; the result is clumsy and erring on the side on arbitrary villain. Religious questions are handled slightly better, but scorn or indifference are the rule. The is intriguing and full of surprises, but the personal bias of the authors overshadows some of the character development.

I listened to the audio-book narrated by Michael Fenton-Stevens, and he rises to the challenge of multiple perspectives. He uses unique voices for each character and manages believable accents for the different regional backgrounds.


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