Book Review – The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

The blurb says:

An unmissable milestone for fans of Sir Terry Pratchett: the first SF novel in over three decades in which the visionary inventor of Discworld has created a new universe of tantalizing possibilities—a series of parallel “Earths” with doorways leading to adventure, intrigue, excitement, and an escape into the furthest reaches of the imagination.

The Long Earth, written with award-winning novelist Stephen Baxter, author of Stone SpringArk, and Floodwill, captivate science fiction fans of all stripes, readers of Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen, and anyone who enjoyed the Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman collaboration Good Omens.

The Long Earth is an adventure of the highest order—and an unforgettable read.

I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett, but I’m also suspicious of collaboration novels.  The most recent collaboration novel I read was The Mongoliad, and I wasn’t impressed.  I also haven’t read anything by Stephen Baxter so I didn’t know what he was bringing to the table.

Given Terry Pratchett’s diagnosis of early onset alzheimer’s, I guess it was only a matter of time until he started relying on other authors to help him get books written, but since he’s still publishing books on his own I was surprised that he chose to do a collaboration at this stage.

The parts of the book set in England are accurate enough to have been written by an Englishman and the parts set in America are accurate enough to have been written by an American, so maybe that was the division of labour.

The blurb pretty much tells you what the book’s about, so off the bat you’re aware of the possibilities – an infinite number of worlds is a lot of space for writing stories in.  One of the problems I had with the book was that having opened up those possibilities, it sort of shies away from the scale of it.  The book skims over thousands – tens of thousands – of worlds, which makes it end up feeling like all of that potential is wasted.

I found the pacing of the book to be pretty slow, with not much of a plot arc – there wasn’t much of a buildup of tension, you just sort of find things out about the book’s universe and then it sets up the next book in the series.

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