The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter follows the adventures and travails of heroes Joshua Valiente and Lobsang in an exciting continuation of the extraordinary science fiction journey begun in their New York Times bestseller The Long Earth.
A generation after the events of The Long Earth, humankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by “stepping.” A new “America”—Valhalla—is emerging more than a million steps from Datum—our Earth. Thanks to a bountiful environment, the Valhallan society mirrors the core values and behaviors of colonial America. And Valhalla is growing restless under the controlling long arm of the Datum government.
Soon Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a building crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any humankind has waged before.
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.
A thoughtful look at ourselves.
This is a sensitive look at what humanity could be if we combined a dose of tolerance with a shot of humor. The background, a potential infinity of earth's spinning off a probability tree, is an interesting thought, but, the story of the people, and how a central authority learns to let go, is a story for our times.
This was not what I was expecting from these two, and the result is a very thoughtful gift. It was good to finish up on Christmas Day.
I was reading along and enjoying the book until the last couple of episodes. It lost its direction at that point. The major conflicts of the book simply melted away with no adequate storyline or reason. It was all too pat, an outline that wasn't fleshed out, and a poor outline at that. I expected better.
I've read most of SB's published work and at least a half dozen from Terry Pratchett. I find Baxter to be original, innovative, and I have enthusiastically endorsed his fiction to others. Mr. Pratchett I enjoy as well, although I'm not as well-read when it comes to his work.
The two "Long Earth" novels left me less than satisfied. Neither book bothers to develop or complete a human story in conjunction with the discovery of a vast multiverse waiting to explored/exploited. The narrative does not maintain a single character as focus to the point where I become vested in that character.
The conclusions to both installments leave me without the vast imaginings for which I so love sci-fi in general, and Baxter in particular.
I am still a fan and look forward to further work, but I'll leave the Long Earth series alone, should another one appear.