The Long Mars (The Long Earth, #3)

By Terry Pratchett

Rating: 3 stars

The Long Earth series is a bit of an oddity in the oeuvres of both Pratchett and Baxter, and I struggle to see aspects of either author, although what there is is very definitely Baxter over Pratchett. In this book, there’s another voyage into the distant parts of the Long Earth, Joshua Valient√© goes in another quest at the behest of the strange AI known as Lobsang and Sally Lindsay finds herself on the Long Mars.

Like The Long War, the title is somewhat misleading. Although Mars does feature in one of the several parallel plot threads, it’s neither dominant nor the most interesting. In fact, one might say that it’s actually sort of pointless. They go to Mars, step along it, find the macguffin and come home. There were many possibilities for story along the way (not least the giant monolith that defies approach that they find on one) but they never really got a look in.

Back on Earth (or the Earths), there’s a new perceived threat from a number of superintelligent young people who call themselves the Next. I feel this was handled clumsily and that the idea of the military crapping themselves over a bunch of smart kids was hardly sensible (not that the kids helped themselves with their arrogance and unlikeability, but then they were teenagers, so maybe that’s not a huge stretch of the imagination).

The big thing though, as with the rest of this series, is that I’m not seeing anything connecting the different story strands. They’re all little vignettes of the Long Earth but there’s nothing coherent about the whole thing, nothing to grab me and make me want more. The characters who should have developed over the course of three books are still mostly ciphers.

The Yellowstone eruption of the previous book has changed (the Long) America in so many ways, and could result in so many interesting stories, but here it’s just sort of brushed under the carpet. It’s referenced every so often, but it doesn’t really feel like it’s made much of an impact on the Long Earth.

At this stage I’m ready to give up on the Long Earth series. It was chance that got me this book, and although it’s better than The Long War, it’s still not satisfying for fans of either author’s work. I’ll see what the reviews of the next one say before I think about whether or not to continue.

Book details

ISBN: 9780857521743
Publisher: Doubleday UK
Year of publication: 2014

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