The Long Earth – Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Well after three weeks, which included a trip to Turkey (and 10 hours on a plane) I finally finished “The Long Earth”…and what a horribly “Long Slog” it was.
Now Terry Pratchett’s a bit like Marmite, you either like him or hate him. I became a fan when I was a wee nipper – his Truckers, Diggers and Wings books were three of my favourite reads, and as a teen I read most of his Discworld novels. I finally met him in 2002 when he came to a book signing here in Norwich, so it’s fair to say I’m in the ‘like’ camp.
“The Long Earth” however, was bloody awful. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that I couldn’t see any traces of Pratchett’s writing or humour in it at all (apart from the potato…)
The basic premise behind The Long Earth is simple: There are parallel universes and one day human beings discover they can “step” from one to the next quite easily. People build their own “steppers” using instructions from the internet, and that’s what everyone immediately does. The economy nearly crashes; a few short-sighted entrepreneurs try to exploit the material resources of these new earths without considering the way most economies work – by supply and demand of limited resources.
However, the main problem with this book is its main plot feels weak, the other threads aren’t enough to support it and it flounders along, almost embarrassingly in some places. Everything feels haphazard. There’s a really nice concept to the novel, but the potential wasn’t realised at all for me. It skips about all over the place, and there are huge sequences of travel through worlds which is just monotonous and verges very much onto ‘pointless filler’ territory.
I struggled to pick the book up at times (and only continued with it because I can’t not finish something). After packing this weighty tome into my hand luggage I really hoped it would get better, but it just didn’t. Page after page after page of long, dull, pointless paragraphs, with no hint of Pratchett whatsoever. I was left disappointed, and wonder why Sir Terry even put his name to this piece of 70s sci-fi…
In short, if you’re hoping for another genius piece of work from TP, don’t bother.
The Book Boy Rating 2/5