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What We’re Reading: The Long Earth

Post by Lauren Kage
Posted June 18, 2013 in NoveList Bookshelf, NoveList Plus, Readers' Advisory News

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British authors Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett combine their genres of preference and gift for humor in The Long Earth, probably the only parallel universe adventure fantasy to feature hard science speculation side-by-side with trolls and 20th century pop culture references. Joshua Valienté was born 13 years before "Step Day" changed the world, or worlds, as alternate earths devoid of humanity were discovered. When a diagram for a "stepper" device was posted to the web, children across the globe accidentally transported themselves to an unpopulated neighboring earth.

Joshua's rescue of the stranded kids earns him an awesome reputation, though in the following years, with pioneers spreading across the infinite worlds and the "Datum", or original, Earth in economic and social turmoil, he would rather step to Earths too far for colonists to reach. Joseph attracts the interest of the powerful Black Corporation. They are sending a highly specialized employee to the limit of the Long Earth and want Joseph aboard as a failsafe should Lobsang, the (allegedly) reincarnated Tibetan artificial intelligence need a lift home.

The resulting story is part Star Trek voyage of discovery, part buddy-comedy as Joseph learns to interact with the godlike supercomputer Lobsang. The Long Earth tells a recognizable heroic tale with keen intelligence, and readers will appreciate the grounding of fantastical elements in cosmology and evolutionary biology.

Lauren Kage is a Cataloger for NoveList. Lauren is currently obsessed with the Settlers of Catan and plays it as often as she is able to lure unsuspecting victims peers into a board game.