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
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.