This is the first Terry Pratchett book that I’ve read not getting five stars, and there’s a part of me that feels bad about it, but this books just didn’t hit it for me. Maybe it was the fact that I listened to it on audio and it literally took me three weeks. Maybe it was too science fiction. Maybe it was just a little downright boring in some sections. Either way….
The Long Earth is a fantastic concept; there’s datem earth…our earth, but marching off in both east and west directions are literally millions of other earths existing in inter-dimensional plains that one can get to by the scientific act of ‘stepping’ with the aid of a little electronic box. But Joshua and Sally are special; they don’t need a box to step. And so one goes far afield by herself and the other is recruited by a global corporation’s super computer named Lopsang to take an airship as far out as humanly possible to see just how far out the Long Earth really goes. Mixed up in all of this is a cop, Monica Jansen, who’s watching the changing tides of a migrating world and seeing trouble on the horizon.
There were many things this book did well; you can see Pratchett’s typical humor in the stepper’s potato battery, the deep social probing of the societal issues created by the Long Earth, and the beautiful rounded descriptions of the book’s entire universe. I truly enjoyed the social commentary of how society has to change and morph with this stepping phenomenon, with the problems it solves, and also the problems it creates. I also really enjoyed Monica Jansen’s scenes….which is probably because she’s living in the societal commentary, and even Joshua’s early life at the home and his love for the nuns who cared for him was lovely.
However, seventy percent of this book is Lopsang and Joshua in a giant Zepplin, toodling through the Long Earth watching old movies and having conversations about stuff. It sort of felt like Mystery Science Theater 3000 asked Sheldon Cooper to guest star in a Zepplin that was hurtling through different space time continuum for 10 straight hours. And then they find Sally and she’s just a giant b*tch because she’s jealous that Joshua was chosen for this epic trip instead of her.
That being said, it was a mostly enjoyable experience, and maybe I would have found both Sally and the insurmountable amount of dead-zone time in the Zepplin more palatable if I’d read it on the page instead of listening to it in the car. One will never know now, but if you’re looking for a decent sci-fi and don’t mind skimming a little, this book wasn’t half bad.