First Impressions: The Long Earth


Boy it’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed something! Not my fault entirely—my nook was on the fritz AGAIN—Ol’ nooky… (that’s a terrible nickname, ew!) must have some attachment issues because every time I have to put in new credit card information, it decides it doesn’t like it. My wife fixed it last time, but I’m not sure how.

Anyway, on to…

The Long Earth (The Long Earth #1)

THE BOOK

Terry Pratchett needs no introduction, and this time he works with James Baxter Stephen Baxter to bring you some sci-fi goodness with a dash of the absurd.  The Long Earth ties into theories of quantum mechanics to bring us infinite parallel worlds through which people can move freely with the aid of some simplistic technology. It’s clearly sci-fi, and I’m anticipating some environmental themes.

WHY I PICKED IT UP

I’d seen the latest book in the series, The Long Mars, on sale at one of my local bookstores and, being familiar with Pratchett’s style, wanted to see what it was all about. Looked interesting.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT IT

The beginning slides pretty gracefully between scenes of story and exposition, and in a sci-fi novel that says a lot. This is especially so when it comes to a so “high” a concept, but Pratchett and Baxter pull it off with flying colors, keeping the story going and smoothly transitioning between lumps of story and exposition.
I know I’ve said before that I’m a fan of gradual, natural exposition, but sometimes, especially with very high concept stories, you have to info-dump. Anyway, you should try if you know you can pull it off, and P&B do pull it off.
I also like the premise. Right after the discovery of these parallel worlds, a mega-corporation steps in to try and commercialize/monopolize them—very believable to me.

And the story’s beginning is great too—a bunch of missing kids who’ve ended up in the parallel earth and one who’s got his wits together and leads them all home. Flash forward to his adult years and the plot begins.

One final “like:” I love the character of the Coke Machine. Yes, there’s a coke-machine character.

WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING

I don’t have a lot of constructive criticism for this book; I know Pratchett’s a pro and I’m not sure of Baxter’s reputation, but if he had anything to do with this book, he’s clearly got some chops.
I can say, as a caveat to prospective readers who are Pratchett fans, that this book is not a laugh-a-minute comedy as some of his other books are. There are some amusing moments and the voice is there, but it doesn’t feel like it was meant to be a comedy. Not a bad thing, just something to keep in mind when you pick it up.

A final nitpick, upon thinking about it, the main character—an orphan who rescues a bunch of children in the first chapter—seems like a pretty trite Christ-metaphor, but who knows? Maybe he develops more during the book.
I would have read more but, as I mentioned  earlier, my nook wouldn’t let me purchase this book. So I’m just going by the sample. …Which was good!

 

So pick this sample up for yourself and leave me a comment telling me what you think!

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