The Long Earth
|Author||Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|19 June 2012|
|Media type||Print (hardcover & paperback)|
|Pages||400 pp (Hardcover)|
|Followed by||The Long War|
At the time of Pratchett's death, three novels had been released, with a fourth due for publication.
The original basis for the novel was Pratchett's unpublished short story "The High Meggas", which he wrote as a starting point for a potential series while his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was undergoing publication. The success of The Colour of Magic prompted Pratchett to put the story aside in favour of working on The Light Fantastic. The idea resurfaced in the late 2000s following a dinner conversation with his assistant and American agent, and discussion with Stephen Baxter prompted the development of The Long Earth, and the collaboration between the two authors.
Pratchett and Baxter primarily write in different fields of literature. Baxter has written in fields of 'hard science', evolutionary speculation and alternative history. Although Pratchett has written some science fiction, he is primarily known for his fantasy series of Discworld novels. Although both authors spoke publicly about the outline for the novel, no public readings of any material were given (something which Pratchett frequently did at Discworld conventions).
Pratchett announced on Twitter the completion of the first draft of The Long Earth. The book was released in the United States on 19 June 2012.
The 'Long Earth' is a (possibly infinite) series of parallel worlds that are similar to Earth, which can be reached by using an inexpensive device called a "Stepper". The "close" worlds are almost identical to 'our' Earth (referred to as "Datum Earth"), others differ in greater and greater details, but all share one similarity: on none are there, or have there ever been, Homo sapiens - although the same cannot be said for earlier hominid species, especially Homo habilis. The book explores the theme of how humanity might develop when freed from resource constraints: one example Pratchett has cited is that wars result from lack of land – what would happen if no shortage of land (or gold or oil or food) existed?
The book deals primarily with the journeys of Joshua Valienté (a natural 'Stepper') and Lobsang, who claims to be a Tibetan motorcycle repairman reincarnated as an artificial intelligence. The two chart a course to learn as much as possible about the parallel worlds, travelling millions of steps away from the original Earth. They encounter evidence of other humanoid species (referred to as trolls and elves); of human settlers who learned their gifts early, and of an extinct race of bipedal dinosaur descendants. They also encounter warning signs of a great danger, millions of worlds away from 'our' Earth, causing catastrophe as it moves. The book also deals with the effects of the explosion of available space on the people of Datum Earth and the new colonies and political movements that are spreading in the wake of Step Day.
Reviewing the book in the Guardian, Adam Roberts found it to be "much more like a Baxter novel than a Pratchett one." It was also said to be "a charming, absorbing and somehow spacious piece of imagineering."
During an interview on BBC Radio 2 on 12 July 2013 the authors announced they had signed a contract to write 2 further books in the series.
- "The Long Earth". SFX. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
- "Announcement The Long Earth". Discworld Monthly. 10 October 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
- "Sir Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter speak to Simon Mayo". BBC Radio 2. 2 July 2013.
- Pratchett, Terry (2012). A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction. London, UK: Doubleday (Transworld Publishers). p. 79. ISBN 978-0-385-61898-4.
- Heathcote, Charlotte (4 December 2011). "Sir Terry's Mindful of his Novel Future". express.co.uk. Daily Express. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
- Solym, Clément (18 June 2010). "Pratchett revient à la science-fiction, façon univers parallèles" (in French). Actualitte.com. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
- Alison Flood (16 June 2010). "Terry Pratchett enters parallel worlds of science fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk". London: Guardian. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
- "Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter – The Long War (The Long Earth 2) announced". Upcoming4.me. 15 January 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- "Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter: The Long Mars".
- "The Long Utopia: (The Long Earth 4)". Random House. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter talking about The Long Earth, Royal Institution video, 21 June 2012