'Imaginative, sense-of-wonder at its best . . . thrilling stuff from the masters' Independent on Sunday
2040-2045: In the years after a cataclysmic eruption there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee to myriad Long Earth worlds.
Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are all involved in this perilous work when, out of the blue, Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany him. But he is not what he seems.
For Joshua, the crisis he faces is much closer to home. He becomes embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans who are beginning to emerge from their 'long childhood' in a hidden community located deep in the Long Earth. Ignorance and fear are causing 'normal' human society to turn against the Next - and a dramatic showdown seems inevitable . . .
The Long Mars is the third in The Long Earth series.
The third Long Earth installment (after The Long War) sees humanity spreading out across infinite parallel worlds, with several key figures trailblazing in different ways. Commander Maggie Kauffman leads an expedition to catalog hundreds of millions of Earths, many of which prove far stranger and less hospitable than imagined. Sally Linsay is recruited by her father to explore the alternates of the newly-discovered Long Mars in search of intelligent life. Joshua Valiente encounters the emerging Next, a new breed of superintelligent humans raised in Long Earth, whose development is bringing them at odds with baseline humanity. These first two threads offer up fascinating and inventive takes on planetary development, though they fly by at dizzying speeds. The third feels too much like a conventional "us vs. them" plot. Nonetheless, Baxter and Pratchett remain in fine form, their collaboration producing another thoughtful page-turner.
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Again an excellent story with poor writing
Much like the previous episode, this contains several books worth of great ideas and massively original and genuinely philosophical sci-fi. There are some much needed action and adventure sequences this time and the whole arc is a lot more coherent than the previous episode but it suffers from the same poor writing. I can only assume Terry Pratchett has either lost his gift for dialogue and plotting without heavy handed 'this is the plot and this is why these characters are good' - or this is Baxters work and he's not that good at it. There is some terrible writing, awful characterisation, narrative jumps, but mostly nobody speaks in anything but very heavy exposition or moralising sonnets. It's hard to read. Luckily the story itself continues to be intriguing - just don't expect to remotely care about any of the characters or motivations.