The above clip is pretty much what people think of me when they catch me reading a book, sure as bloggers and internet “surfers” we’re constantly reading but it’s very rare that I’ll actually leave the computer alone, turn the television off and actually read something.
I’m big on television and film, which is why I write a lot of film reviews at Dark Globe but there’s a view authors that’ll make me stop what I’m doing and actually have some quiet time reading a book.
One of those authors happens to be one of my favourite’s, Terry Pratchett. You’ll know him from his extensive work in the Discworld series; one of the best things ever written in my opinion. I’ve been a fan of Pratchett since I was naught but a wee child. I’m a massive fan of Discworld, from reading the books, playing the video games on PS1 and his most recent television adaptations of his books, Hogfather, Colour Of Magic and Going Postal.
The great thing is, even though he’s been diagnosed with early onset-alzeimer’s, the same thing my gran suffered with before it got worse, it’s not stopped him churning out great works before his mind eventually succumbs to his disease.
So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that he was writing something not involved with Discworld, collaborating with another legendary British author, Stephen Baxter.
I’d been waiting for The Long Earth to come out for months and when it finally did I could have bought the eBook version and read it as soon as it became available, but I wanted it in hardback form; so when it finally arrived I pretty much read half the book in the first couple of days.
Then I’d left the book for quite awhile, concentrating on completing my own novel and trying to find work, on Saturday while waiting to go out and get drunk in Leeds, I spent the morning reading the rest of the book and I’m so glad I did.
For those that don’t know, The Long Earth is an infinite amount of Earth’s exactly like ours but the only difference is, on none of the other Earth’s have there ever been any humans. Humans simply didn’t evolve there, when someone releases plans for an inexpensive device that can be made themselves to reach these worlds, called a “Stepper” the world changes forever.
People begin to step over to these alternate worlds to explore and live, the Stepper device is powered by a potato and is controlled by a single switch, “East” “Stop” and “West”.
The book mostly takes the perspective from Joshua Valienté who is what’s known as a natural stepper (He doesn’t need a stepper device to step to other worlds) who eventually gets recruited by Lobsang, who is a former Tibetan motor cycle repairman whose been reincarnated into a computer; Lobsang wants to explore the Long Earth, to find out the reason for its existence.
Together they set off in a wooden airship which steps West along the Long Earth, where they discover that other creatures exist, creatures that are also natural steppers, they also encounter the other humans who have since left the original Earth and colonized these alternate Earth’s, the further they get the more the Earth’s begin to change, all of these other creatures are running away from something, something big and Joshua and his computerized companion take it upon themselves to figure out what it is.
The book also tells a few stories of other people that have stepped, starting off with an Army soldier fighting in the World War; also shows what happened to Joshua’s mother and how she too stepped and most recently a police woman who tries to help Joshua at the beginning and her constant struggle trying to keep things in order with people using the Stepper device for wrong doings.
It shows us what happens if dinosaurs weren’t made extinct, what would happen if the moon formed from Earth, what’d happen if Earth was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, etc.
Overall I think it’s a fantastic concept and it really plays out well in the book, however I feel most of the work was done by Stephen Baxter, I’m not sure how much Pratchett was involved, it didn’t seem like a Pratchett novel to me; never the less it was well worth the read.
The ending of the booked seemed to be a little rushed in my opinion, trying to reach the cliff hanger a little too quickly, still that’s my only gripe, maybe it’s because I didn’t want the book to end. Luckily though if you enjoy The Long Earth, there’s a sequel planned which’ll no doubt be released in the next year or two and I shall be even more excited for that than I was for this one because the ending of the book is definitely shocking.
I love the idea of alternate Earth’s and alternate realities, that’s why I’m a huge fan of stuff like Sliders, Fringe, Stargate and this book takes a brand new twist on that notion. If you’re a geek like me, buy it, read it, love it.