I recently read The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. It is a science fiction book set in a world where there are many parallel earths, and it is possible for humans to step between these worlds and explore these parallel realities known as the Long Earth. The main character is Joshua, who is famous as a rare natural stepper, someone who can travel between worlds by their own power, without the aid of the stepper device that most people need. He is hired by Lobsang, a being who claims to be the reincarnated soul of a Tibetan man inside a computer network, but who may also just be an incredibly advanced AI. Lobsang and Joshua travel in an advanced airship between worlds along the Long Earth, trying to solve the mystery of what and why it really is.
Looking at some reviews online it has received quite a mixed response, and I think a large part of that is from disappointed Discworld fans. However I’m not particularly familiar with Pratchett’s other books (and not at all with Baxter either) so I mainly bought the book just because I was intrigued by the premise, and in that sense it was not disappointing at all. The setting is a really interesting one, with a brilliant, original take on the parallel worlds plot device. I also liked the way that the story is told, with some chapters following the main story of Joshua and Lobsang, but other chapters following minor characters to provide more information about the Long Earth and adding depth to setting and advancing the plot. My only complaint was the incredibly abrupt ending, which I’m going to assume was just set up for some sort of sequel, or else just a really bad way to end the book. I also thought the collaboration of the two writers was good, certainly I couldn’t tell who had written what as it wasn’t at all disjointed (although I suppose that readers expecting it to be in Terry Pratchett’s usual style would be disappointed). Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and if there is a sequel then I would definitely be interested in reading it.