The thrilling conclusion to the internationally bestselling Long Earth series explores the greatest question of all: What is the meaning of life?
2070-71. Nearly six decades after Step Day, a new society continues to evolve in the Long Earth. Now, a message has been received: “Join us.”
The Next—the hyper-intelligent post-humans—realize that the missive contains instructions for kick-starting the development of an immense artificial intelligence known as The Machine. But to build this computer the size of an Earth continent, they must obtain help from the more populous and still industrious worlds of mankind.
Meanwhile, on a trek in the High Meggers, Joshua Valienté, now nearing seventy, is saved from death when a troll band discovers him. Living among the trolls as he recovers, Joshua develops a deeper understanding of this collective-intelligence species and its society. He discovers that some older trolls, with capacious memories, act as communal libraries, and live on a very strange Long Earth world, in caverns under the root systems of trees as tall as mountains.
Valienté also learns something much more profound . . . about life and its purpose in the Long Earth: We cultivate the cosmos to maximize the opportunities for life and joy in this universe, and to prepare for new universes to come.
In this conclusion to the Long Earth series (following 2015's The Long Utopia), set in 2070, Baxter (Ultima) and the late Pratchett (The Shepherd's Crown) take their decades-spanning tale of an infinite chain of parallel Earths to the next level as a mysterious signal from the far reaches of the galaxy urges humans to "join us." While the ultra-intelligent subset of humans known as the Next build a continent-sized supercomputer on a distant Earth to further decipher the message, the famous explorer Joshua Valiente takes a sabbatical far from home, which leads him to an eye-opening encounter with nomadic trolls. Eventually Joshua joins the crew of humankind's inaugural interstellar mission and discovers just what lies at the heart of the galaxy. The story starts off slowly, but it quickly picks up speed as the mystery deepens and the myriad threads come together. There's a definite sense of mortality, but also a sense of wonder as the characters embrace the vast unknown in what might be considered the perfect allegory for Pratchett's final years. It's a wholly satisfying conclusion to the series, though vast amounts of potential remain in the concept.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Overall I'm a big fan of the series but this concluding book seemed meandering without ever quite coming into focus. It went out with a whimper instead of a bang. The book was good but was not a conclusion fit for such a great series. And it was on the edge of being more bitter than bittersweet.
The last chapter obviously ties itself to the beginning of the series but was otherwise obtuse.