Book Review: THE LONG EARTH by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Genre: Sci-Fi
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 1.5/5 stars
Series: Yes - first book

Synopsis:

1916: the Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No Man’s Land gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive (some said mad, others dangerous) scientist when she finds a curious gadget – a box containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a…potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way Mankind views his world for ever.

And that is an understatement if ever there was one…

 

Thoughts:

This is a very slow paced book. It’s more like a collection of short stories that explore the consequences of parallel worlds – politics, economics and man’s quest to explore. A sprinkle of ‘What does it mean to be human?’ is added thanks to the robot/Lobsang. All of this is bound up loosely by a plot that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

There hardly feels to BE a plot. I don’t know what the overall goal is (beyond ‘explore’ but WHY?), let alone why he’s doing this and what the stakes are. What could he achieve? What could go wrong? None of this is satisfactorily answered. The only ‘stake’ seems to be the protagonist Joshua getting a government review off his back. It is brought up as the reason why he should go on this exploration quest, and IMMEDIATELY resolved.

Alright, so by the final third there seems to be a goal, but by that point I was simply reading to get to the end. I wasn’t interested in the ‘is there something bad going on in the extremely far away worlds?’ and the answer to the question seemed rather dull and dumb.

Notice the two characters I’ve mentioned (Joshua and Lobsang) don’t appear in the synopsis (which I took from the back of the book)? Yeah, because Private Percy and Officer Jansson have such a tiny part to play. They are just two examples used by the book in one if its many ‘Lobsang tells Joshua a story about the effect of the Long Earth’.

This is a book with so many different POVs. Most of which seem really random, chucked in to show the affect of being able to Step between worlds. They didn’t move the plot along at all. It made it a confusing story and really contributed to the fact that this book felt like it didn’t have a plot. It also made it hard to connect to the characters as it was hard to work out who were the MCs.

The one-and-a-half stars are for the interesting questions raised by the book, and the many impacts of the Long Earth they consider. It’s good world-building.

I’m doubt I’ll read the rest of the series – I have them, but it was a fight to even finish this one.


Interested in reading THE LONG EARTH yourself? Add it to your Goodreads Shelves here.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: THE LONG EARTH by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

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