'An absorbing collaborative effort from the two giants of SF' Guardian
A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture.
Mankind is shaping the Long Earth – but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind ... A new ‘America’, called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, and it is growing restless . . .
Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation . . .
And a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.
The Long War is the second 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.
The return of real sci-fi
A wonderful read for someone raised on Clarke, Asimov others of the era.
Perplexing for a major part
For those looking for a raucous, fantastical romp through humorously absurdist scenes, this is not traditional Pratchett.
It really took me time to work out what was going on and how things fitted together and it seemed to me that at least half of the book was setting the scene without a huge amount of plot.
That said there was a certain charm about many of the characters and plenty of well developed ideas and interesting concepts.
The meta narrative of learning not to fear “other” and “being kind to all” is a good, if not familiar trope, but sat well within the broader construct.
I think that some of the missing information that you have to assume or extrapolate caused a slight distraction from being able to stay fully engaged in the world(s) with the characters. Having a little more background and more “how” here and there would have made it easier to follow it all, but I enjoyed, to a greater or lesser extent, the challenge of fitting the jigsaw together.
I think overall it felt like more effort than it was ultimately worth, hence the three stars.
Maybe I should have read the first one in the series to get all the background first?
The long war
It's got everything! Epic journeyed across alien worlds, action, romance, the dry wit of a literary god and a talking cat!