The Long Earth (by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter) is a great book. It was a Christmas present from my mum but for some reason I hadn’t started reading it until just recently, lucky for me since I promised myself that I’d post some rambling or other every (week)day on this new blog of mine and I mean to stick with that to the best of my abilities.
I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels and a newbie to his non-Discworld fare (Good Omens, Nation, both amazing) so I was psyched when I finally got started on this. The tale goes something like this: One day, a mysterious device is discovered which allows humans to “step” between parallel Earths, all exactly the same geographically except no other Earth contains humans. On the surface it’s a cool sci-fi concept but of course the authors play with it to the full extent of their abilities, deciphering the social, economic and cultural impacts of such an event. The story has a main character but it also often sidetracks to other people’s stories relevant to the current goings on or discoveries happening in the main plot. The existence of easily accessible parallel realities seems to be a good way to explore what would happen if capitalism suddenly ceased to function. The other Earths are just as full of natural resources as our home Earth and so natural “valuables” like gold and diamonds suddenly lose their currency. The return to a system of bartering and living off the land feels almost idyllic from my job hunter’s perspective.
I’d be happy with a book that explores those concepts alone, but The Long Earth’s main story involves the existence of a stepping race known as the trolls who seem to be fleeing something from a far off Earth. Our hero (Joshua) sets off with an odd Tibetan man in a robot’s body to discover more about the mysteries of the Long Earth and what the trolls could be running from. It is an intriguing storyline which I assumed would be wrapped up rather hastily, given my proximity to the end of the book. However, after googling the book to get the Amazon link at the top of this very blog I stumbled across the fact that there will be a sequel. I guess I’m going to have to wait a little while to find out whether all of human society is doomed… Rats.