This book is the first in the five-part ‘Long Earth’ series by one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett, and science fiction writer Stephen Baxter (whose other work I haven’t read). My main problem with it is the thinly spread plot over 400 pages. The book is obviously setting the tone and themes for the rest of the series, but the pace was too slow for me and between the beginning and the end there is not enough happening.
Set in the near future, the story follows the effects on humanity when some of them discover the practice of ‘stepping’. There are an apparently infinite number of other Earths in parallel universes. People can step from one to the other, forever, with the consequences of this being the main theme of the book. I liked the concept very much. I wasn’t so keen on the descriptions of pioneer living, with many people making new lives on the other Earths. I also found the focus on characters to be uneven. Most of the story focuses on Joshua, who is travelling with a human/computer called Lobsang to find out what’s at the end of the Earths. There’s also a little of some other characters, who don’t add anything to the story. The other main character is Monica Jansson, a police officer. She’s interesting but she disappears for most of the book, before turning up at the end.
The writing is amusing at times (that would be Pratchett) but not laugh-out-loud funny like a Discworld book. It’s a different kind of read, more epic and thought-provoking in scope (I’m guessing that’s the Baxter element).
I will be reading the others in the series, but I hope the pace will pick up.
First published in 2012 by Transworld.