For some reason writing a third post just seems so much more overwhelming than the first two. It’s like a mental hurdle that needs to be overcome. Or I’m just really lazy and anything resembling effort is just too much. But I’m currently not employed or going back to school in the fall and life is just an open, meaningless void stretching before me, so yay internet. Anything to get my mind off of a pending existential crisis.
Anyways, I recently(ish) read The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.
I’ve never read anything by Stephen Baxter before, but Terry Pratchett is famous for his Discworld series. This book has a little bit of the funny/weird humour moments that are so common in the Discworld books, but it’s definitely a little more “serious” and realistic than the downright bizarreness that I am used to with Pratchett’s books. Although realistic is a bit of a relative term when it comes to science fiction.
The basic premise of this book is that one day an invention becomes available to everyone to create when the blueprints are posted online. This ‘stepper’ lets people move between parallel dimension earths. There are an infinite number of them, all very nearly identical to the ones next to them, and all uninhabited by humans (although featuring some other hominids). People can step from earth to earth, although iron will not cross, but it makes most of them feel nauseous whenever they do. But Joshua Valienté can move between the earths without feeling sick, and without a stepper.
Soon humanity moves into all this new available space. People trek out into the wilderness 100s or thousands of earth’s away similar to the pioneers of old. Meanwhile, Joshua gets found by some kind of secret agency which a computer program/vending machine that is actually a reincarnated Tibetan mechanic named Lobsang. Lobsang and Joshua head off to explore further away from Datum (or ‘real’) Earth than anyone has ever gone. Along the way they meet a bunch of hominid creatures like ‘trolls’ and ‘elves’ as well as another natural stepper named Sally. The trolls and elves are stampeding across worlds away from a strange presence, and Joshua, Sally and Lobsang decide to go find out what it is, and stop it.
This book was pretty good. Again, not quite as funny as Pratchett’s Discworld novels, but it still had some comedic moments. I actually started reading the sequel The Long War, but kind of just lost interest partway through. In the sequel it starts to move more towards there being an actual antagonist instead of just wandering though, so the plot definitely picks up there. Part of the reason I stopped is that these books do what other good ‘speculative fiction’ dystopian type books do when I read them and makes me feel kind of antsy and restless. (Margaret Atwood’s books are the worst for this. I think it’s because they seem so possible.) But on the other hand, only well written sci-fi gives me that feeling so that is really a recommendation.
So, if you’re reading this, and you like science fiction books and you for some reason care about my opinion then yes, you should read this book. I’d say it’s a solid 7/10.