The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1)

By Terry Pratchett

Rating: 4 stars

Blueprints for a very simple machine (some wires, transistors and a potato) are published on the Internet. Kids all around the world try them out, and discover they’ve built a machine for stepping between alternate Earths. Fast forward a decade or so and the opportunities of the Long Earth are only just being explored. Joshua Valient√© is a ‘natural’ stepper, someone know can step between the worlds without the need for a device. He has been asked to go on an expedition with Lobsang, either the world’s first AI or a Tibetan mechanic who has been reincarnated as software. Together, they travel further than anybody else, more than two million steps from the ‘Datum’ in search of the boundaries of the Long Earth.

I enjoyed this story. I wasn’t sure early on what the tone of the story was, but it soon settled down — probably more Baxter than Pratchett. The core of the story is that of Joshua and Lobsang, but we also see some attempts at figuring out just what the stepping ability would do to the worldwide economy and population, and what happens to those who can’t step. The limitations of the ability are interestingly chosen to make it a bit harder to just ship stuff backwards and forwards (no iron can be stepped, can only take what you’re carrying etc) and there’s the basis of a fascinating economic shift going on. Not to mention the resentment that builds up of the rich, the well-off and of those who are unable to step.

I get the feel that Baxter probably did most of the grunt work on this, but some of the more flamboyant touches are pure Pratchett (Lobsang not least). A fascinating world, with likeable protagonists, I’ll look out for the sequels.

Book details

ISBN: 9780552164085
Publisher: Corgi
Year of publication: 2012

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