open the pages, read the words, savor the magic
The Long Earth is an intriguing read. It’s less adventurous than I thought it would be and yet at the same time not as ‘science nerdy’ as I expected. Because the story talks about the existence of multiple earths (called ‘The Long Earth’) and the way humans in our earth (called ‘Datum Earth’) can somehow teleport themselves to these other Earths (an action called ‘stepping’), I anticipated a lot of complicated scientific babble about quantum physics. And because some of the people here lived like pioneers conquering new land, like Daniel Boone who is mentioned a lot in the story in reference to the main character, I expected more heroic actions from the part of said main protagonist (Joshua).
The concept is very interesting, but from beginning to end, it feels mostly like Pratchett and Baxter are only laying the foundation for what’s to come in the next book. And yes, there is a sequel which just came out last week and I hadn’t known about until I read the information at the end of the book. The cliffhanger nature of the book’s ending doesn’t really give me satisfaction, although the book is by no means inconclusive. I just wish there was something more in this first book than just world building. While world building is definitely important to any science fiction and fantasy stories, I expect to see more than that in any book I read.
Having said that, The Long Earth is very nearly flawlessly written. Aside from a couple of Britishisms being used in an American setting while describing an American character’s point of view (somehow, this bothered me quite a bit, especially because some Brits usually scoff at Americanism), I enjoyed the narrative. I’m not familiar with either Baxter or Pratchett’s writings before so I don’t know their styles but I wouldn’t have thought the book was written by two different authors.
So, not the sci-fi triumph I thought it would be, but it’s a good enough book that entertained me. Of course I’m going to be reading that sequel but I’m not really in a hurry.