Book Review: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

This post was first published in July 2015:

Publisher: Doubleday UK


Publishing date: 21 June 2012
Genre: Sci-Fi
Formats: hardcover, e-book, paperback, audio download, audio cd
Source: Aylsham Library, UK

Bee’s 6 out of 6

About the story:

When Joshua Valiente used the little gadget with a potato in the middle that he had built like many other teenagers of his age, he did not fathom how it would change his life. Like all the others, he stepped in one of the sideways earths but unlike most of the others, he did not get sick or lost his orientation. In fact, he guided all the lost kids back home to what later was called Datum-Earth. Stepping into the other worlds were his get-away for a long time until he gets employed by Lobsang a Tibetian mechanic reincarnated in a computer. A long journey of adventures through the long earth ensues.

About the author(s): 

Terry Pratchett is known to be one of the funniest fantasy writers with a great ability to incorporate today’s social and political problems in his stories. Even though described as “an angry man” (Neil Gaiman at The Guardian) he had a great love for humankind and always showed it in his books.

Stephen Baxter has degrees in Maths, Engineering, and Business Administration. His over forty novels have been published not only in the UK and US but also in many other countries like Germany or Japan. He applied for being an Astronaut on a guest spot on the MIR, but Helen Sharman got the place.

Together they make/made a brilliant author team.


Honey Bees in the book:

I just love the idea of many worlds besides this one and what implications this would have on humankind and society in this “original” world. Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett wrote about how they discussed the story idea at a Science Fiction convention and how many of the audience added to their ideas to the plot. In my opinion, you can feel that this is a well “researched” book. “ The Long Earth” shows how humankind and society changes and that has a depth you cannot achieve if you only discuss it with yourself.

I love the central character, Joshua Valiente. He is a down to earth guy who is a loner but also very kind to his fellow humans. If I were in his shoes, I would have saved all those kids too even though I would not have understood why on earth (whichever earth you might be on 😉 ) they went there so unprepared. I would also have loved to go on the expedition with the genius Lobsang (meaning “big brain”).

Both characters have their flaws: Lobsang a little arrogant and you never exactly know if he will get Joshua into trouble that the boy can’t get out. Joshua is a bit too proud as his wanderings on the long earth has taught him a lot that not everybody can know.

And then there is a kick-ass female heroine too. Well, in my opinion, two: Sally Linsay, the daughter of the man who invented the device for stepping to other dimensions and took it online for everyone to use. She leaves just after him and travels the Long Earth on her own. She meets up with Joshua and Lobsang and helps them to understand a lot more about the Long Earth as well as solving a mystery.

And Monica Jansson the Police Officer who worked on “Stepping-Day” (the day most teenagers would have been lost in the Long Earth would it not have been for Joshua) in Madison, US. She managed to keep a level head and realized that Joshua brought these teenagers back and did not lead them to step in the first place. She becomes a “Long Earth Criminality Specialist” (yes I totally made that word up but it’s great isn’t it?) because she is capable of thinking ahead and finding creative solutions to dealing with occurring problems.

Isn’t that enough to make you read the book? Then just think about the opportunities millions of earths in parallel dimensions would give you. And then let your imaginations soar.


Stinging Bee’s in the book

There have been parts in “The Long Earth” that I found a little long-winded. I had the same problem with “Good Omens” the book Terry Pratchett collaborated with Neil Gaiman. I suspect this is a quirk of collaborations in writing a novel as two styles have to be brought together. But maybe it has to do with me being a terribly impatient person who doesn’t like long descriptions anymore.


And the mead of it all?

The Long Earth: (Long Earth 1)” is a great science fiction story with a lot of humour in it. It is also a utopian story that makes you think a lot about how humankind would react to a chance like this as well as how you would react. The characters are easy to connect with and all in all, it is a great adventure to enjoy.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

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