The Long Earth – Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth is a sizzling brain stimulator full of what if scenarios and philosophical musings delivered in doses of witty banter between explorers Joshua and Lobsang.  Folks on Datum Earth, our Earth, discovered the Long Earth, an infinite number of differing versions of Earth, on what became known as Step Day.   Instructions to make a step box appeared on the Internet and countless numbers built the simple device and flipped the switch not knowing the outcome.  Turns out, the switch helped them to step into the next alternate Earth.  Word of warning – if you step while on the 15th floor of a building, you’d appear in the next Earth plummeting through the air to your probable death.  Accidents did happen.  Droves of people set out to explore and/or settle the many Earths with most people sticking to the first couple of hundred versions. 

Joshua Valiente’ is a natural stepper, not needing a step box to cross Earths.  He was birthed as his mother accidentally stepped and this makes him exceedingly unique.  Lobsang is the soul of a Tibetan motorcycle repairman, reincarnated as a computer program.  (hmmm – nod to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?)  Lobsang is the all-knowing Big Brother, head of the corporation of the Long Earth and enlists the help of Joshua to explore the millions of Earths.  Consider ocean Earths, ice age Earths, and every possible twist and turn of evolution creating interesting animals.  Consider mankind’s reaction to endless possibilities and opportunities.

This is by far the best alternate/parallel universe writing I have read.  The story simultaneously befuddles and stimulates my little brain.  Every time I thought – here’s a problem that would arise – the authors introduce and address the issue.  As soon as I finished, I wanted to go back and re-read.  That never happens for me.  Hurray for my Kindle!  I used the note feature again and again while reading.  Absolutely brilliant!  Highly recommend.

Galley review    Publication date 6.19.12

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