The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter is the first book which sees the two authors collaborate. Pratchett, one of the best-loved writers whose wit, charm and insightful ability has kept us mesmerised for many years and Baxter whose ability to create masterful scientific scenarios has few rivals in this popular category come together to bring us a story of earth or many earths to be precise.
Based on the premises of an infinite copy of our planet existing simultaneously in the same space but separated by the smallest of dimension shifts. Such is the fragility of this vale that once discovered humans were able to move freely between worlds with the simple flick of a ‘stepwise’ switch on a potato powered box. Unlike other authors who have dabbled in this alternate universe theory these worlds are unpolluted by human involvement. Instead we have a limitless number of natural worlds, new Edens waiting to be re-populated. It goes without saying that these new worlds are quickly embraced with people happily leaving the ‘Datum’ earth (the name given to represent the original version) and set out to create a new simpler life elsewhere.
What I thought was fascinating was the way the book did not convey these new settlements as either utopian or dystopian societies. It is critical of the Datum Earth and suggests that we had made a mess of things but although people are happy in their new settlements it does not mean they are living a dream lifestyle.
Of the two authors it is Baxter’s style that appears to have the strongest leanings. There is very little humour in the book except for the occasional witticism and those Pratchett fans out there will probably be disappointed. It is not all serious sci-fi though and some of Pratchett’s curious world view is evident.
Given that these two authors previous work (They have produced a staggering 112 books between them) would be considered polls apart they both seem to have come together successfully to produce something quite unique and as such I found the book thoroughly engrossing. Even after finishing it I found my imagination drifting back to the possibilities that all these untold worlds could bring and the concept of exploring them peaked my sense of adventure.
There are still 2 more books in this series to come, The Long War and The Long Mars, both are intriguing and although I am disappointed to not have my favourite humour totting Discworld inventors astute observations to entertain me the alternative is pretty good.