Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Long Earth, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter: A Review

This is one of my favourite new books.  

While The Long Earth is indeed about parallel earths, but as the authors very quickly point out, it is one on a grand scale.  “All those parallel earths are identicalon all but the detailed level,” one character points out early on, “Oh save that they are empty… this is tough luck on Adolf Hitler, who hasn’t been allowed to win his war anywhere!”

Imagine millions of earths coexisting with our earth on a slightly dimensional plane on ether side of this earth, and you get the picture.  Travel between the earths is possible by “stepping.”  Some use a device called a stepper (which when described, you can sense the whimsical hand of Pratchett behind it) while others seem to have a natural talent. Others can’t step at all.

Authors Pratchett (famous for his Discworld series) and Baxter (his Odyssey was reviewed in an earlier posting on this blog), with a mixture of humour, gentle satire and awe, paint a wide canvas of a world whose population one day awakens to realize that the old saying “there’s only one earth” no longer applies, but there are literally millions of new worlds the taking, and how the peoples of the earth wrestle with the vast implications of what now faces them.

The book has a number of characters and plots, but the main plot follows the path of an unlikely pair of a natural stepper, Joshua Valiente and an intelligent computer program who may have once been human, Lobsang, as they explore deep into the Long Earth to find the source of an impending disaster, sweeping in like a tidal wave of doom across the alternate universes, that will eventually overwhelm and destroy the home (or datum) earth, along with the entire Long Earth, if not stopped.

But that’s all I’m going to say here.  

My recommendation: if you’re looking for a great summer read that will keep you turning pages, buy this book. And then, of course, you’ll have to wait for the next book in the series, The Long War, coming soon.

Meanwhile, you can help out a poor unemployed writer by purchasing both Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 (both are free to preview). Both books are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.  And if you’re looking for an experienced marketing communications guy, do me a favor and have a look here. Thanks.

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