Monday, July 2, 2012

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The Long EarthScience Fiction
I have to admit that The Long Earth left me puzzled.  I used this quote on Teaser Tuesday ("What is the Long Earth for?  I suppose that's what we came out here to find out.").  At the end of the book I still was puzzled by what The Long Earth was for.  First here is what Goodreads has to say:
"1916: the Western Front, France. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No man's Land gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson has returned to the burned-out home of one Willis Linsay, a reclusive and some said mad, others dangerous, scientist. It was arson but, as is often the way, the firemen seem to have caused more damage than the fire itself. Stepping through the wreck of a house, there's no sign of any human remains but on the mantelpiece Monica finds a curious gadget - a box, containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a...potato. It is the prototype of an invention that Linsay called a 'stepper'. An invention he put up on the web for all the world to see, and use, an invention that would to change the way mankind viewed his world Earth for ever. And that's an understatement if ever there was one...

...because the stepper allowed the person using it to step sideways into another America, another Earth, and if you kept on stepping, you kept on entering even more Earths...this is the Long Earth. It's not our Earth but one of chain of parallel worlds, lying side by side each differing from its neighbour by really very little (or actually quite a lot). It's an infinite chain, offering 'steppers' an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And the further away you travel, the stranger - and sometimes more dangerous - the Earths get. The sun and moon always shine, the basic laws of physics are the same. However, the chance events which have shaped our particular Earth, such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, might not have happened and things may well have turned out rather differently.

But, until Willis Linsay invented his stepper, only our Earth hosted mankind...or so we thought. Because it turns out there are some people who are natural 'steppers', who don't need his invention and now the great migration has begun"
I loved the premise.  All of those Earth’s and people could and did step away to a new place and a new life.  I loved the fact that there were all of the small stories included in the books and that each of those stories were integrated into the main story line.  I liked the fact that Terry Pratchett’s humor is mixed with Stephen Baxter’s hard science fiction.  I felt like I knew the main characters and I liked what I knew.  I loved the journey and how alike yet how different each Earth was.  There are a lot of things I liked about the book.
There was one thing that I did not like. I did not like the ending.  I felt like I had been betrayed because there really was not real ending or resolution for anything.  The book just stopped.  Here I was along for the journey and there was not destination.  I realize that it must be the first in a series but come on.  Don’t just drop me with nothing resolved.  Give me some closure.
I think that is why the reviews are all over the place. You have to love the journey and not care about the destinations to really love the book.  It does not seem to be typical of most Terry Pratchett books.  For me it was similar to Nation another book by Pratchett that was very different from most that he has written.  It is typical of Steven Baxter who writes more hard science fiction.
Give The Long Earth a try if you are a Science Fiction fan.  I hope there is a next book.  I plan to be in the front of the line when it comes out.
Harper published The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter in 2012.
I received an ARC of The Long Earth from Edelweiss.

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