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3.7 out of 5 stars716
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 21 August 2012
I like Baxter. I like Pratchett. All authors have their idiosyncracies and this book combines their worst qualities.

As a novella it would have worked well. As a novel it doesn't have enough material to stand alone - and the idea of this being part of a series is laughable.

Good concept poorly executed, poor characterisation, prose without 'zip'. Had to force myself to finish it just because I could not believe that two authors who are individually so good could produce something so mediocre.

I finished the book with a sense of relief, despite the appalling ending that just stops in mid-air to act as a teaser for the inevitable sequel. An incredibly disappointing book.
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To be honest I like Stephen Baxter and I like Terry Pratchett so I was really looking forward to this story for quite some time. After all the last tale that was an amalgamation between Terry and another (Neil Gaiman) was Good Omens and a real joy to read.

What this tale does is unfurl at an incredibly slow and convoluted pace, its sadly lacking the magic that either of the authors bring on their own and sadly feels more like a case of big names selling rather than a tale of gripping imagination. It's difficult to work your way through, feels like it has no real twists and sadly lacks character wise for me as a reader to have anything to hold onto. All in its OK but at the end of the day it feels like a real let down to me as a reader.
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on 18 June 2013
Long term avid Pratchett fan, have read every book he has written (that I have found) must say this book is the one and only book with 'Pratchett' on the cover that I have struggled to get through.
There are some obvious Pratchett parts to the book, but they are few and far between, unfortunately, other than that the book is slow, and rather boring.
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on 25 August 2012
Some of the other reviews of this book tended to focus on the fact that The Long Earth is not like a discworld book, that it isn't funny, etc. I paid no heed to these types of comments, as it is quite obvious to me that this wasn't intended to be either of those things. (Nation was hardly a bundle of laughs, either, but I enjoyed that). Other reviewers also commented that The Long Earth didn't have a proper ending. They were right.

I quite liked The Long Earth. The idea was interesting, and seemed to me to have plenty of scope for creativity and intriguing plots. The events of the book are quite well developed and there is a mysterious set of events for which the main characters search for a cause. However, this is as far as it goes. The outcome of this search is something of an anti-climax and the book, as a whole, ends in a very flat way. As a result, The Long Earth is ultimately unsatisfying. I really hope the next book has a proper ending next time, and a more satisfying plot.

Some of the writing is a bit poor, too. There are some clumsily constructed sentences that needed to be re-read to be understood.

Finally, I found myself slightly disappointed by the use of the name 'Lobsang' for one of the main characters, as this isn't the first time Terry Pratchett has used this name for one of his characters. It just felt a bit lazy.

Very finally, The Long Earth has done enough to get me interested in the series to follow, but the next book will need to be considerably better.
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on 22 June 2012
A few years in the future and a scientific discovery has been made that rivals anything that has gone before. Not only is our world flanked by countless alternate worlds, but they are benign and available to all for no more than the price of a potato and a three-way-switch. Joshua is a Stepper - an explorer of these worlds and he has been recruited by the Trans World Corporation to go further than anyone before him - into the High Meggers. His companion? Lobsang - a sentient soft-drink machine reincarnated from a Lhasa motorcycle mechanic...

At first sight this appears to owe much to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, although my belief is that modern sci-fi owes EVERYTHING to Douglas Adams, so it's hardly a surprise that there's a family resemblance. In truth, being a fairly conventional sci-fi novel, The Long Earth actually doesn't taste as strongly of Pan-Galactic Gargleblasters as the blurb might imply. Nor indeed is this an archetypal Pratchett novel. I've not read anything by Stephen Baxter, but I /have/ read pretty much everything by Sir Terry and this is several Earths away from anything he has written in terms of voice and tone. Little overt humour, no outlandish characters (apart from Lobsang - a slight hint at The History Monks there?) precious little social commentary and the surreality is limited to the overall concept rather than the scenes and set-pieces. The prose is clean, conventional and easy to read and if there is a Pratchett flavour to be discerned it is probably essence of Nation rather than extract of Discworld.

The parallel worlds concept is an old staple of sci-fi and I'm not sure that it's being exploited by Pratchett and Baxter in any hugely different way* in The Long Earth. It seems to me that the idea here is more of a McGuffin which allows the authors to pursue other ideas. Weeeell... on the other hand, most alternate earth stories look at the "Hitler wins" scenario which is NOT what is happening here. The parallel earths of this story are empty of humans and the hook is the new frontiers that they offer to the people of "real earth". I was reminded of Farmer's Riverworld series (there is even an airship called the "Mark Twain") as well as Julian May's Exiles Saga and, of course Larry Niven's Ringworld).

Now, I have a mortal fear of novels that throw me in at the deep end, not revealing why the Galactic Empire collapsed to a state of anarchy in the year before the novel opens and foregoing to explain what a farglewacket is and why all the characters are carrying one around with them, until half-way through the book. I like a comfortable read where the universe is as clear to me as it is to the protagonists and The Long Earth certainly qualifies as a comfortable read in that respect. There is a huge amount of exposition in the early chapters to make it so and, unfortunately, this is achieved in part by clued-up characters explaining things to less clued-up characters. This makes for some fairly clumsy dialogue, I'm afraid. At the best of times, however, the dialogue is rather bland, not unlike many of the characters and there's a bit of a cardboard-cut-out feel to the actors. It's also worth noting that while the main characters are supposed to be Americans, they read like they're English and I was left wondering whether the two English authors wrote the book (poorly) for the American market.

The Kindle formatting is fine as far as I have noticed.

Overall then, this is an interesting and inoffensive sci-fi novel lacking, it has to be said, for a soupcon spice and seasoning. It will be interesting to see how the series (of two?) pans out.

*However, one aspect that struck me almost immediately is that the Stepper Box seems to be a bit of a parable for the internet. It's available to everyone, offers a huge reward to those that make use of it and is most enthusiastically adopted by the young who disappear for long periods to the consternation and distress of their parents. A small point perhaps but a nice little parallel.
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on 13 December 2012
this book should be renamed the long not a lot happens,it is more of a set up for future books meant to be an exciting collaboration and first novel,with more to come, its long on detail and short on failed to grab my attention .i,ll be checking the library out for the next back please
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on 4 August 2013
I am a life long fan of TP's books but this doesn't rate as one of his best - sorry.
It's an interesting enough read and no doubt the scientific theory is "sound". Rather like the lead character (Joshua) it all starts off interesting and exciting, but travelling through so many worlds so quickly for so long and they all begin to merge and become rather dull...and then the story begins. Unfortunately such a novel idea eventually seems to return to the usual "we're all doomed unless someone does something" scenario, and sets the reader up for the sequel (The Long War). I'll probably buy that just to find out what happens, but will almost certainly wait until used copies become available.

Age range?
Kids/teenagers will probably get board.
This is no Discworld or Middle Earth/Tolkien style book; more harder-core Arthur C Clarke or Isaac Asimov.
If you're a closet physicist (i.e. studied in the basement of a grand university building some years ago without any natural daylight), you'll probably find the sciencey stuff and references either hilariously cool or annoyingly inaccurate depending on which fence (in which world) you sit on. For the rest of us mere mortals stuck here in the real world (Datumn) - it's a nice idea that soon becomes matter-of-fact and a little dull and predictable.

Sorry TP - not one of your best.
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on 10 December 2012
I bought this expecting great things from either or both SB & TP. I was by the end of the book very disappointed. I say book, but this is really a short story padded out with innumerable variations of "they stepped and found themselves on a new Earth", this goes on ad nauseum, and the only thing that keeps you going is the very thin plot and the hope that something will eventually happen. I found the whole thing very reminisant of classic 50s SciFi such as penned by Doc E E Smith, where's there's a grand sweep of history spanning all of time & space, but very little substance, most of which is a bit twee and just a bit ripping yarns.
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on 2 October 2012
It could have been so good. It should have been very good. It was neither.

Prior to purchase, I had wondered if perhaps the reviews of this book have suffered from the attitudes of its readers - they are most likely to be a fan of one author (for myself it is Pratchett) and it may be that they felt not enough of their favourite author came through. Upon reading it, I still think there may be an element of that, (I often felt that the Pratchett humour seemed 'stuck-on', like some sort of cut & paste) but this does not excuse the terrible dialogue throughout, or the total lack of any character depth. It does not excuse the appallingly slow plot, which I found shallow and dull.

This book feels like a cheap, hashed-up fan-fiction paperback, a silly tribute to two great authors. It is absolutely shocking to know their individual work, and to see what it has come to. What HAPPENED? I managed to read the whole book, despite putting it down and walking away countless times. A colleague had warned me that it read like a bad TV script, and I have to agree.

It really does come across as something that should be visual, not written. And the ending? Supposed to be a cliff-hanger - I couldn't care less. I really had no interest whatsoever in what happened next, as the characters were so simplistic, and the story was so boring, (despite an unusual premise, which really did seem to have a lot of promise when I read the abstract) that the idea of wading through any more left me feeling depressed.
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on 11 July 2012
Pratchett has sparkling wit and dialogue, and Baxter is known for coming up with a fantastic concept and making it epic. It feels like they swapped roles for this book.

What we have is a setting where there are millions of parallel Earths. An inherently fascinating concept, that produces all sorts of questions about how people will deal with it. What will we find? Will people try to exploit it? Will people fear it? What are the effects on those who are unable to join? These are presented as short asides that intersperse the main story. And these were all fascinating.

Unfortunately I found the main story somewhat tedious. We're introduced to our two main characters, Lobsang - an advanced AI that's legally human, introduced by some rather clumsy expositionary dialogue - and Joshua - a loner - who simply lacks personality. Their interactions seem polite and tolerant. No feeling of a relationship between them. The main problem is that there's simply not that much to explore. We travel to foreign lands and see... a few animals, lots of forests and occasional settlements

I'd love to have read more about the settlers in reboot. The lives of the trolls. The anti-stepping movement. But we just get glimpses of these. It feels like the writers simply didn't know what to do with the world they'd created. The concept is good, and there are some interesting ideas, but I feel this could have been so much better.
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