The Long Earth/War/Mars/Utopia

Jeez. If you take the absolute worst book Pratchett ever wrote, and take the absolute worst book Baxter ever wrote, and add them together, not only do you get a sum that is less than what you’ve added, you can then multiply that by four books and get even less than the sum.

These books suck. Tedious. Stupid.

Stupid characters. Characters that are stupid. And tedious. Tedious characters. Characters that are tedious.

Stupid plot. A plot that is stupid. And tedious. Tedious plot. A plot that is tedious.

A stupid, tedious plot carried out by characters that are stupid and tedious.

Not to mention the stupid, tedious characters carrying out a plot that is stupid and tedious.

Stupid. Tedious. Tedious. Stupid. Jeez, give me a Dick and Jane reader any day over this incredibly stupid and tedious batch of alleged authorship.

I rather enjoyed the first one. Haven’t read the rest, though.

Well, they had better characters than any Baxter book, and better science then any Pratchett book…
However the concept doesn’t make a lot of sense, was not consistent, and there was no common plot running through the four books. If some people and some beasties can step, why did no beasties ever show up at the Datum.
And my biggest complaint about the last book was

No clue was ever given that any person, even a Next, could block a world.
Is stepping blocked through it now? A stupid dilemma was solved by an even stupider solution.

I had high hopes for the first, but I got the later ones from the library. Definitely less than the sum of its parts.

The first one didn’t get you interested enough, eh?

I never finished the first one. Got about halfway through and gave up because it was stupid and tedious. When I saw that the books kept coming out, I figured I must have missed something. I read the middle two, and I read the beginning of the last one. I didn’t miss shit. They were still tedious and stupid.

The Long Mars, especially. They step through Mars, with no consideration for getting back to their starting point, give steppers and environment suits to Martians, then get attacked and their transport damaged far later. “Oh, he followed us. We can’t get back.” Yes, they can get back. Just because. And the Martian didn’t follow them to the Gap. I’m skeptical.

I read a couple - two or three? But it seemed like they just forgot to get around to actually telling a story of any kind.

Yeah, I had high hopes for the book(s)- Pratchett and Baxter being two of my favorite authors.

My wife read the first three, but I had to stop after two. I still can’t really tell you what really happened in either of those books, other than the weird stepping machine got invented.

My wife got me the first as a present, and we’ve both read it. I’ve seen the sequels occasionally in stores (never more than one copy at a time, though), but haven’t been quite interested enough to read it.

the premise is interesting – parallel worlds, followed up with great vigor. What are the permutations? And how would this affect society? The method of getting there is in the grand tradition of Golden-Age SF, where a relatively simple device could be built by people and have world-altering results. It reminds me in particular of the sewing-machine-based hyperdrive that Fredric Brown used in his parody of/love letter to SF fandom, What Mad Universe?* (and which he mentions, as a fictional device, in his mature novel The Lights in the Sky are Stars). Pratchett and Baxter might even have had this consciously in mind.

*If you haven’t read What Mad Universe? – or The Lights in the Sky are Stars – I highly recommend them. Fredric Brown is one of those excellent authors who has now “fallen through the cracks”. His stuff was still in print until about 20 years ago, but has now disappeared. He wrote some excellent, whimsical soft SF and some really good mysteries. Some of his stuff has been filmed, but usually greatly changed, and badly done. What Mad Universe is about a guy who finds himself in a parallel universe (see the link to The Long Earth? There’s a lot of discussion about how parallel universes work. Brown wrote it YEARS before the Many World Interpretation of QM was enunciated) where the clichés of bad pulp SF are all true, and his girl friend is in love with the Doc Savage-like hero.

Pratchett quite possibly, I know he was a Brown fan (he had a stealth Brown shoutout in Dark Side Of The Sun)

I like the books well enough as fluff to pass the time, I just never saw any Pratchett in them.

I liked the premise well enough, but then it was followed by a rush of half-thought through ideas that weren’t followed up, so the result was just incident piled upon incident with a hasty resolution before the next followed in “and then… and then” fashion, with no time to explore the implications of anything.

So instant parallel worlds have been discovered, and there’s an sooper-smart AI who claims to be the reincarnation of a human, and a mysterious shadowy corporation, and the US is trying to extend its hegemony across the Long Earth, and the trolls are disappearing, and there’s a mysterious town, and a psychic Absorbaloff, and terrorists, oh yeah, and there’s this one guy, right, and he can wander at will and save people, and there’s an ambitious miiltary exploration, and a bunch of dudes want to secede and a Chinese takeover that we forgot about, and then a huge volcano and Earth is almost abandoned, and some super-smart kids who are the next wave of evolution, oh and we went to Mars and there was a space elevator and some bug people, and, um, then another bunch of space bugs trying to take over the universe because bug stuff, and probably a whole bunch of other shit I forgot. Oh yeah, and actually the Victorians were there first so it was a sooper-sekrit program all along because it’s Neal Stephenson now.

All this in four shortish books, and there’s so much sheer stuff shoehorned in that you end up not caring about any of it. Dude, pick your top three ideas and go with them.

So there is a new book out by Pratchett, called A Blink of the Screen, with a lot of his short fiction, dating back to his teenage years. It is, obviously, greatly varying in quality and tone. However, there is a short story that was the genesis of the Long Earth project, so the original idea was Pratchett’s. It has the parallel Earths and the stepping, but nothing else from the books. I think that most of the execution was probably Baxter.

I read the first one, and I own the second but have not gotten around to reading it.

I think the novels would have been far better without the AI/Absorbaloff/Next/Mars/bugs subplots that went nowhere. There’s enough meat in looking at of the social, political and cultural implications of sudden instant access to a bunch of {almost} duplicate Earths, where settlers can only take what a band of people can physically carry, with limited high tech What ties will they retain to the original Earth? What happens when they develop their own societies? What happens when the parent society tries to reassert control? That was why the first book was the best one when it stuck to those themes, until it wandered off - literally - into exploring the Long Earth with Boring, Smug and Harpy, and then the sequels decided to pile subplot upon subplot until you no longer cared. The time frame needed to be a lot longer, too, a century or more rather than the couple of decades of the books.

Yeah, and they can’t take anything iron, or containing iron. It was really a great premise, but it absolutely failed in the execution. I can’t believe it sold enough for the publishers to put out four books. Maybe libraries kept it going. I know I didn’t buy any; I checked them out from the library.

Read only the first one.

Yeah. Really, really awful. I have no idea why Pratchett allowed that to come out. A pure money grab-type book.

Thank you all, so very much. Sincerely.

I’ve been thinking about trying these books, for a good while. Now I know I can save my money.

If you’re stuck on a plane somewhere and pretend it was written by other people, The Long Earth is acceptable; the rest are maddening because there is the bones of a really good series in there, they just end up lost under flab and padding. I liked the idea of the trolls and elves, that we are all descended from a common ancestor but that they could step and we couldn’t, so we were left behind and developed a technological society while they roamed the Long Earth in bands. Good idea, but by the third book they’d been practically forgotten. And the Beagles - whom I’d totally forgotten about - were just fucking stupid.

I thought it was just me. I’m a huge Pratchett fan, but I found the first couple books confusing and hard to follow. I think I gave up about halfway through the second.