Yet another geek blog

19 August 2012

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

In Short

A (very) simple machine is suddenly invented that allows travel into parallel universes. An apparently infinite number of uninhabited and unspoilt Earths.

A lot of science fiction has dealt with the problems of things running out, space, oil, food, air etc. But how would we cope with plenty? What if we suddenly had infinite resources?

This is good “old school” science fiction. A single interesting idea is presented and then followed see where it leads.

This is clearest in the plot, which is almost entirely event rather than character driven. It is as if the authors just light the blue-touch paper and stand back. The machine is invented: so what happens then? The poor of the world simply leave: so what happens then? People can use the machine to go around walls and into locked rooms: so what happens then? Colonists do not see the point of paying taxes to another universe: so what happens then?

Things to Like

The sheer scale and grandeur. This is clearly as a 'pilot' novel for an ongoing series or shared story space. It is full of dangling story hooks and unexplored ideas.

I also love the plans for the magic machine. Expect to see them eBay soon.

Things not to like

The plot is stretched very thinly. It is forced to jump between far explorers, colonists and a transformed original world. This does not allow enough room for characters or drama.

I hope that future visits to the Long Earth take the form of self contained stories.

Things it is like

  • The Saga of the Exiles by Julian May
  • The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams


posted by Yet Another Geek @ Sunday, August 19, 2012


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