Meet Steve Jones, my new reviewer – he says;
“Zombies ate my bio”
The Long Earth
Author: Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Release date: 21 June 2012
Page Count: 344 pages hardback.
Reviewer: Steve Jones
In 1987 I shared a pizza with Terry Pratchett and we talked about the books he was writing. One became “Truckers”, and the other took twenty five years to see print. He told me about “hypedrive” (not “hyperdrive”) which only works because people believe it does, and hominids with a matriarchal society. I think some of this went into “Lords and Ladies” where the extremely unpleasant elves are extradimensional invaders with a hive society.
This year “The Long Earth” appears in collaboration with Stephen Baxter, who has considerable experience with science fiction and variant hominids. The hypedrive has become the Stepper, which can be made by anyone from simple household supplies. The protagonists are Joshua, who was the first child born away from Datum Earth (our world), and Lobsang, an intelligent computer that claims to be a reincarnated Tibetan. Together they explore some of the mysteries of the Long Earth. The story is compelling, but not as humorous as you might expect for a Pratchett where the humble potato is the essential power source for the Stepper.
One problem I had was peoples’ willingness to go homesteading in far off dimensions away from modern medicine and the Internet. I might go “next door” for peace and quiet, but it would be nice to know the modern world is just one step away. There are some similarities with Charlie Stross’s “Merchant Princes” books, such as how do they stop robbers from stepping into bank vaults.
This is probably the first in a series as the dust jacket mentions on the inside, but don’t worry this is a complete story. I can see several elements that could get more exposure in later books, such as the mysterious town where humans and trolls live in peace, and the growing resentment of the minority who cannot use a Stepper at all.
Overall, a good read.