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A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth - but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind... A new 'America', called Valhalla, is emerging more than a mill A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth - but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind... A new 'America', called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth - and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government... Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity's thoughtless exploitation... Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.


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A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth - but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind... A new 'America', called Valhalla, is emerging more than a mill A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth - but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind... A new 'America', called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth - and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government... Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity's thoughtless exploitation... Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.

30 review for The Long War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Appelcline

    To start off with, the title is a fallacy: there's no war here, long or otherwise. Instead, the book has the exact same problem as the original: It's a dozen or so characters in search of a plot. Baxter and Pratchett do a marvelous job of continuing to explore the ramifications of the Long Earth, but that's about all the book is. Beyond that we get some disconnected stories of various individuals that we're not really that attached to. If you thought the setup in the first book would be paid out b To start off with, the title is a fallacy: there's no war here, long or otherwise. Instead, the book has the exact same problem as the original: It's a dozen or so characters in search of a plot. Baxter and Pratchett do a marvelous job of continuing to explore the ramifications of the Long Earth, but that's about all the book is. Beyond that we get some disconnected stories of various individuals that we're not really that attached to. If you thought the setup in the first book would be paid out by some actual plot in the second, you're going to be disappointed.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Graham Crawford

    There is a place in the multiverse for even the most improbable of worlds, even a flat one on the back of a giant turtle. Unfortunately we live on the ONE world where the forces of nature did NOT prevent this book from being written. In this unlucky universe Stephen Baxter must have cornered Terry Pratchett at a Sci Fi convention, pouncing on him like an over excited puppy. "Ooooh please Sir Terry, Let me play with one of your nice shiny worlds!" And sir Terry threw him a short story world as a There is a place in the multiverse for even the most improbable of worlds, even a flat one on the back of a giant turtle. Unfortunately we live on the ONE world where the forces of nature did NOT prevent this book from being written. In this unlucky universe Stephen Baxter must have cornered Terry Pratchett at a Sci Fi convention, pouncing on him like an over excited puppy. "Ooooh please Sir Terry, Let me play with one of your nice shiny worlds!" And sir Terry threw him a short story world as a bone - in order to escape. "Here's one I've had under the bed for years, try not to break it. Down boy!" Baxter may not of quite broken it but he definitely wee-ed on the rug and chewed the sofa. I can't think of a worse possible writer to collaborate with for this type of novel. Baxter's only talent is coming up with a range of superficial "what ifs", but in this book - the core ideas are Pratchett's. It's Baxter's task to pad them out and link them up, but the structure of this book is at best a travelogue and at worse - a disjointed series of unrelated vignettes crying out for a unifying theme or character drama. If Pratchett had written this it's possible he could have drawn the threads together into something more emotionally and intellectually satisfying. Unfortunately Baxter has no idea how to write characters, on a good day he can just about manage a job description with a back story. This means he cannot write dialogue. All his "characters" speak in the same glib white middle class male heterosexual voice - even the Chinese - even the ladies. I suspect he thinks this flippant tone is comic, but he comes across as a nerd who laughs at his own jokes before the punchline. These "characters" are only in place to deliver lectures about whatever random scene we are in at the time. You could shuffle (or delete) over 90% of this book's content, and mix up the protagonists, and it would make just as much (or as little) sense. Like worlds strobing under a super-stepping Twain, it all blurs into an indistinguishable smudge, punctuated by the occasional bright "Joker" world sentence, obviously supplied by Pratchett (via post-it note). Enough about Baxter - he's a twit and I should know better than to pick up one of his driveling texts. It's Terry Pratchett I'm more concerned with. I think he's a genius, but when you strip him of his awesome powers of word-smithery, and examine some of his ideas without the comic trickery - as we can in this book - they tend to the simplistic rather than the simple. He champions a moderate libertarianism, and usually sweetens it with quirky folksy characters oozing common sense. I'm reminded of all the times he writes about the Laissez-faire way Havelock Vetinari governs Ankh-Morpork, how he champions the ugly messy violent chaotic capitalism ... "but the city works, it works!" With "The Long Earth" series, we see another expression of this libertarian politics, lots of self governing crowd sourcing decentralized post scarcity communities - but without Sir Terry's Magic box of tricks - the posturing comes across at best as simplistic and worse a bit off (I'm thinking of the comments about allowing natural selection to take care of the drug problem). It may indeed work Terry, but I would like to know how. Exactly. I hope Pratchett lives long enough to write his next Moist Van Lipwig novel, the proposed one about taxes, as that would be really interesting to compare to the half baked ideas expressed in the Long Earth series. The sorely missed Iain Banks' Culture novels offer a far more sophisticated and realistic analysis of (mostly) positive self-organising societies. I have always enjoyed Pratchett's anti- racism themes in the Diskworld novels, my favorite was the Orc rights footballers and models mash-up - brilliant. Yet in this book - the "Trolls are people too" theme just didn't work for me. I realize now just how emotionally manipulative Pratchett is as a writer. He can twist my heart around his little finger. Alas at the hands of a hack like Baxter, Nobel Causes are reduced to the emotional resonance of a cheesy Hallmark Card. Time to step sideways and find the world where Baxter wrote half baked ideas for a world on post-it-notes and Terry Pratchett lovingly populated it with memorable characters and a sharp witty text. It's out there in the high megas!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    When The Long Earth came out about a year ago, I considered it an interesting exercise in world building, but not so interesting as a fictional novel. But what the hell, it was nicely written and only part one of a two part series, so I was happy enough to be introduced to this fascinating world of literally infinite possibility, ready for the sequel to actually have characters doing things in some kind of “plot line”. Here we are a year later and that sequel, The Long War, is out. It's an intere When The Long Earth came out about a year ago, I considered it an interesting exercise in world building, but not so interesting as a fictional novel. But what the hell, it was nicely written and only part one of a two part series, so I was happy enough to be introduced to this fascinating world of literally infinite possibility, ready for the sequel to actually have characters doing things in some kind of “plot line”. Here we are a year later and that sequel, The Long War, is out. It's an interesting exercise in world building, but not so interesting as a fictional novel. But what the hell, it's nicely written and only part two of a trilogy, so… oh, wait a minute. The Long War is basically more of the same, but more so. Twelve years have passed since the events of The Long Earth. You can tell this because characters who were old are now really old, and characters who were young are now not so young. Prototypical is the protagonist Joshua, who was a young man in the first novel, but now is pushing middle age. He has a wife and young son whose primary role in life is to remind the reader that twelve years have passed and that Joshua, who was a young man in the first novel, is now pushing middle age. While the first novel showcased, via a bunch of vignettes, the immediate ramifications of the opening up of the eponymous Long Earth – an infinite row of parallel Earths that, using either a simple device or innate ability, people suddenly became able to step between. This sequel showcases, via a bunch of vignettes, the slightly-less-immediate ramifications. There are a half-dozen or so subplots but no superplot. Characters just kind of explore the many Earths, again, getting into and out of scrapes, and then the book ends on a big downer, just like the first one. One of the subplots concerns a Chinese expedition which flies across the Long Earth to a world twenty million steps away from the original. On this impossibly distant parallel world it finds… nothing interesting, so turns around and comes back. It's almost an allegory for the book as a whole. Characters go somewhere because one of the other half-developed subplots makes it seem like an okay idea, do something that's more about showing a bit more of the Long Earth than advancing any semblance of plot, and then turn around and come back. There really is some lovely writing here. The novel could have been a collections of short stories set in the Long Earth; it would have excelled as such. But it's posing as a full length novel, and the façade is less than convincing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    B Schrodinger

    'The Long Earth' was the story of the human race after it discovered a way to access infinite parallel Earths. It really was a thought experiment really - there is a small amount of plot, but a lot is just exploring the implications of this discovery. And it is done intelligently, with humanity and with wit. But not the Discworld in-your-face type of wit. Subtle wit. The second volume of the Long series is essentially more of the same of volume 1. But that's not a bad thing at all. The thought e 'The Long Earth' was the story of the human race after it discovered a way to access infinite parallel Earths. It really was a thought experiment really - there is a small amount of plot, but a lot is just exploring the implications of this discovery. And it is done intelligently, with humanity and with wit. But not the Discworld in-your-face type of wit. Subtle wit. The second volume of the Long series is essentially more of the same of volume 1. But that's not a bad thing at all. The thought experiment gets pushed even further. There are new characters (chess pieces) to follow and old favourites back again. It really is just an enjoyable and intelligent ride. So recommended for those SF fans who are also humanists.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Barry Cunningham

    Fabulous, the concepts are thought provoking, the story continues - on to number three!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Leo

    Giving a three star review to a sequel of one of my favorite books is really difficult. So let me try to warrant this in writing. The Long Earth book introduces us to so many new, interesting, and weird concepts. Its sequel, The Long War, provides us with just some human centered stories that run in parallel and, as usual, foreshadow the existence of a third part. The writing of this book was very well copyedited, as is the case with all Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter books that I have read s Giving a three star review to a sequel of one of my favorite books is really difficult. So let me try to warrant this in writing. The Long Earth book introduces us to so many new, interesting, and weird concepts. Its sequel, The Long War, provides us with just some human centered stories that run in parallel and, as usual, foreshadow the existence of a third part. The writing of this book was very well copyedited, as is the case with all Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter books that I have read so far. That makes it a fairly easy and quick read. The problems are many and they infuse the book cover to cover. A peculiar plot line spans almost the entire book. While being mentioned in other plot lines, it could be simply dropped. Even the mentions of the plot line could be kept since they were completely self-contained. While the entire book has a rather light feel to it, our main hero goes through rather suddenly through a kind of torture. The torture pops up without any good reason and rather suddenly. And leaves the same way. The hero gets hurt, but not lethally, and none of the characters are significantly influenced by what has happened. Why leave it there? It changed the mood of the book without warning and without reward for the reader who empathized with the torture. This book had a strange problem of non-interference from deus ex machina. As a deus ex machina character is written into the book without many practical limitations, the moments when it could step in and resolve the situation, but did not, were disappointing. Feels like a moment in a James Bond movie where Bond chooses to get beaten/tortured/you-name-it by choosing not to use one of his gadgets without making any significant impact on the plot. The previous book was published nearly a year ago, and that is when I read it. In the meantime, I forgot many of the details about the characters and world mechanics. In this book we are reminded about most things relevant to the plot, but some of the reminders simply arrive too late. After the points where they were relevant in the plot. I realize that one can already preorder the next book from Amazon, with the release date in January 2014. Still, even a second book from a three part series can be made to function much better than this. Patches for the above problems are fairly straightforward and it is strange that they were not applied. The Long War looses two stars for having easily fixable problems despite the level of professionalism that the rest of the book exhibits.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Terry Pratchett loves cat but I'm not sure how he feels about dogs considering the dogs in this book. But that's okay, he loves cats. His cat apparently tried to eat hamsters once. For the record, I love Pratchett's work, and the three books I read by Stephen Baxter I enjoyed. I was thrilled they were working together. It should be noted, however, that I am a reader, not a fan as Pratchett would say. I still love Pratchett, and I am glad about his book deal. However, If you have never read Stephen Terry Pratchett loves cat but I'm not sure how he feels about dogs considering the dogs in this book. But that's okay, he loves cats. His cat apparently tried to eat hamsters once. For the record, I love Pratchett's work, and the three books I read by Stephen Baxter I enjoyed. I was thrilled they were working together. It should be noted, however, that I am a reader, not a fan as Pratchett would say. I still love Pratchett, and I am glad about his book deal. However, If you have never read Stephen Baxter or Terry Pratchett before do not start with the series let alone this book. Start elsewhere. Do. This book, the second in a series (most likely of three) raises some very interesting topics and questions. It would make for a good philosphey and moralstic debate. The world building is nice. And it is a morals and world building novel looking for a plot because there is not one. Sorry, no plot, maybe a wink of one. Have to call it as I see it. No plot. At least the first book in the series had some humor going for it. No humor in this one. Some very boring characters who talk too much. Some more interesting characters who don't do enough (and in one case disapper for about half the book), and some interesting characters who sing, but who knows what they sing. Something happened at the end, but honestly at that point I didn't care because THERE WASN'T A PLOT. It reminded me of the Otherworld series by Tad Williams. The writers got caught up in the idea and were able to overlook the plot that was jumping up and down to be included.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    First I would note that according to the goodreads rating system, 2 stars indicates that the book was okay. In other words, the book isn't bad. I just thought it was okay. I loved the first the books and was highly anticipating this second book. Unfortunately it lost a lot of the charm and curiosity of the first book and focused more on those areas that I didn't like from the first book. In the first book it was a lot of fun to read the chemistry (or lack thereof) between Joshua and Lobsang. In First I would note that according to the goodreads rating system, 2 stars indicates that the book was okay. In other words, the book isn't bad. I just thought it was okay. I loved the first the books and was highly anticipating this second book. Unfortunately it lost a lot of the charm and curiosity of the first book and focused more on those areas that I didn't like from the first book. In the first book it was a lot of fun to read the chemistry (or lack thereof) between Joshua and Lobsang. In this book Joshua and Lobsang are almost never together. Lobsang himself was a character I loved from the first book. In the second book he's only in the background. Even Joshua is less in the spotlight, but not to the degree of Lobsang. And at any rate Joshua's character has changed from the wandering loner. Some of what made the long earth itself so intriguing is also missing in the second book. The first book was a wondrous exploration of the multiverse earths. The (view spoiler)[first person singular (hide spoiler)] from the first book seems to be a major threat. If not *the* major threat, it is the climactic and most interesting threat near the end of the book. The second book all but throws that away. There are similar creatures, but hardly a threat and of no significant interest. The trolls lose some of their mystery and become more of your stereotypical embodiment of innocence. This leads to the next and most annoying issue in the second book: It's more focused on politics and theology than the first book, in all the wrong ways. The first book spent a good deal of time exploring how various political situations might arise in a "long earth" and some theological reactions we might encounter. That was fine. It did a good job in the political sphere and showed more the uncritical reflection of the authors in the religious sphere. But the second book simply toes all the party lines for secular liberalism. The reader is treated to an extremely stereotypical portrayal of the baddies (read: conservatives) and crazies (read: religious) and all the current soapboxes of our real life liberalism are simply cut and pasted onto the long earth (so we get to read about climate change, speciesism, the virtues of those colonies that "don't do God" and the dangers of those religious nut-job colonies, etc). The trolls serve as the oppressed minority, though it's not clear whether they are a minority or not. The problem is that the authors end up making the trolls too perfect, too innocent to be believable. It's Green Peace and whales or Jane Goodall and gorillas, only with trolls. The end result was a book that felt more like preachy ideology on politics and religion than a wondrous exploration of the multi-verse earths.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Toby

    I hate reading books from a series that isn't finished yet, I don't know how all of those fantasy geeks do it. This being the second entry in The Long series I found it somewhat of a disappointment after the world building that was done, presumably as a set up for the longer series, in the first novel was essentially just continued with further travelogue-like anecdotes from several characters scattered about The Long Earth. I'm not complaining too much, I've signed up for this ride now, afteral I hate reading books from a series that isn't finished yet, I don't know how all of those fantasy geeks do it. This being the second entry in The Long series I found it somewhat of a disappointment after the world building that was done, presumably as a set up for the longer series, in the first novel was essentially just continued with further travelogue-like anecdotes from several characters scattered about The Long Earth. I'm not complaining too much, I've signed up for this ride now, afterall Baxter and Pratchett are describing some interesting scenarios and exciting my imagination BUT I wish I'd known to expect that this would be all I would be getting as opposed to something intricate and fascinating and exciting, something like the Xeelee sequence mixed with the characters that inhabit The Discworld perhaps. If anything The Long War is a better book than the first one, the two authors have largely avoided the annoying issues I had this time around, gone are the endless arbitrary pop culture references for example, and the evolution of the culture and politics of their universe is handled well, the frustrating nature of the America-centric tale becoming a positive as the reprehensible nature of their government and people in reality allows for an easy villain of the piece in near future fiction; you can truly believe that the extrapolation made by Baxter and Pratchett would come to pass, and it made me angry, which would be exactly what the authors intended. But still I wanted more from this one, I have no real preference for war fiction and I was disappointed that the story was going there so quickly but as it turns out when you're promised war and there is no war in the novel you actually get more disappointed. So the third part is called The Long Mars, at least I'll know to expect a bunch of characters travelling to various Mars incarnations, probably in a direct copy of the "plot" from the first book, which will be interesting, but nothing too exciting will happen, there won't be any conflict or any real science, there will just be a calm exploration.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cissa

    I see I liked this more than most reviewers did. I'll try to explain why. OK, the other reviewers are correct: the characters are pretty much cliches, and mostly do not directly have any conflict with each other (though they missed a GREAT opportunity with the Sally/Helen subplot!). Mostly, though, everyone is railroaded by the book's version of fate or destiny, which is an AI. (I doubt that this is a spoiler for anyone who's read #1). The overall plots are diffuse, though some of the individual, I see I liked this more than most reviewers did. I'll try to explain why. OK, the other reviewers are correct: the characters are pretty much cliches, and mostly do not directly have any conflict with each other (though they missed a GREAT opportunity with the Sally/Helen subplot!). Mostly, though, everyone is railroaded by the book's version of fate or destiny, which is an AI. (I doubt that this is a spoiler for anyone who's read #1). The overall plots are diffuse, though some of the individual, immediate scenarios are well-handled. The overarching plots are seen more obliquely than directly... And that is why I gave it 4 stars. "Life is what happens when you're making other plans"- and that's what's going on here. I don't know if it was intentionally done, but it was pretty clever. Even with problems people were trying to address directly- usually the direct approach was a FAIL, and only more indirect, holistic approaches worked. And that's appropriate, and reflective of real Life (though many of us read fiction because things ARE more direct there than in RL!). What does it mean to be a member of a bellicose species that suddenly has really no excuse for war, nor any realistic way of waging it? How can you keep people (in a broad sense) oppressed when they can just leave? For me, these questions- and the sometimes direct, sometimes oblique approaches to them, make this book well worth reading... but the reader does have to put many of the pieces together. I think that's good; otherwise it'd be too much of a polemic. Anyway. I liked it, and am looking forward to #3.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wreade1872

    Its been a while since i read the first of these but i apparently liked it enough to co-pay for the set ,which i kinda committed to getting through this year. A decision i might come to regret. This is a bit like the Long-Earth itself, when people explore this infinity of alternate earths they only get to stop in each place for a short period. The story follows that formula presenting a lot of interesting ideas which rarely expand beyond simply being an interesting idea. Of the 4 or 5 main story Its been a while since i read the first of these but i apparently liked it enough to co-pay for the set ,which i kinda committed to getting through this year. A decision i might come to regret. This is a bit like the Long-Earth itself, when people explore this infinity of alternate earths they only get to stop in each place for a short period. The story follows that formula presenting a lot of interesting ideas which rarely expand beyond simply being an interesting idea. Of the 4 or 5 main story arcs most go nowhere. One is a sortof allegorical american war of independence/civil war but has little payoff and its allegorical and sci-fi elements tend to undercut rather than enhance each other. The main plot or at least the most recognisable (since it features the main protagonists from the last book) is a lot of nothing followed by an abupt ending which is tonally at odds with the rest of the novel. It also suffers from veering to close to Discworld territory and even reproduces a chunk of The Fifth Elephant but its a poor mirror. The book is by no means terrible but its charms are always momentary, stepping away in the twinkling of an eye. After dropping to 2 stars it picked up again right at the end but since that ending is entirely setup for the next book i refused to take it into consideration for my score of this one. Heres hoping the next one is better.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ann-Marie

    This, the second book in The Long Earth Saga I give 3 1/2 stars. It is long and slow to start out. Most of the good stuff takes place in the last third of the book. It is mostly a travelogue, following the old stereotype for science fiction and fantasy trilogies. It does end with a great, big, huge natural disaster on Datum Earth (that would be our earth), and the death of a major character, setting up for the third book, "The Long Utopia."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Craig Brown

    Good points: • had 69 chapters, which is the funny number • Ends with (view spoiler)[a massive cataclysm on normal Earth which means that, in this universe, we were presumably spared any more books in the series, making it a far better world than ours (hide spoiler)] Bad points: • Every character has been distilled to the worst kind of robotic sci-fi exposition machine with the text occasionally telling us they have X character trait but never showing it • Writing has generally taken a huge downtur Good points: • had 69 chapters, which is the funny number • Ends with (view spoiler)[a massive cataclysm on normal Earth which means that, in this universe, we were presumably spared any more books in the series, making it a far better world than ours (hide spoiler)] Bad points: • Every character has been distilled to the worst kind of robotic sci-fi exposition machine with the text occasionally telling us they have X character trait but never showing it • Writing has generally taken a huge downturn with bland-at-best prose • Has no plot whatsoever in 501 pages beyond vague foreshadowing for the next books, and a main conflict that is resolved by (view spoiler)[absolutely nothing, everyone just decides it's not happening and the Long War never actually begins, for no clear reason (hide spoiler)] • Joshua now has a nagging wife who does nothing in the story but throw weird passive-aggressive remarks at Sally for coming to take him off to adventure and excitement • Aboriginal character explaining that he's a good exploring because of his inherent deep spiritual connection to the Earth and the land, and has a Neanderthal imaginary friend called "Hunting Man" who he feels great kinship with • Characters and the narrative repeatedly comparing crime/death rates in "inner cities" to "natural selection" • Chinese people talking reverently about how they are industrious because of how much they love Confucius and Chairman Mao • Chinese women being described as "sensible-looking but not attractive" • Narrative (not characters) describes thinking racism is bad as "hand-wringing" • Long, terrified, clumsy tract about how evil marijuana is and how it kills children and communities • Tall, slim, dark-skinned degenerate races who wear their hair in Afros, ape human culture without understanding it and try to shank you for being in the wrong neighbourhood • Other degenerate species who loves to gossip and jive-talk while being sneaky and tricksy and vaguely Irish • Actual Irish character whose personality is "loves to wander because he's too lazy to do a real job and also loves getting drunk and quoting the Pogues" • Good guy character describing said Irish character as a traveller in a trailer, as we all know Irish people to be (the trailer is an advanced airship but hey) • A world full of weirdly furry-esque anthropomorphic dog-people and a narrative horrifyingly preoccupied with their erections, incest and their women's love of stealing people's German Shepherds to use as sex toys • The line "the dirigible hovered in a blue sky as pure as a special effect in a computer game"

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    The long earth is a very long read and I felt like like a kid in a car on an interminable journey - "are we there yet?" The ideas were brilliant, what a wasted opportunity to explore the implications of the sapient inhabitants of other earths. The wooden characters often behaving in juvenile and naive fashion - reminded me of Isaac Asimov at his worst. Sigh.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kam

    One of the greatest problems humanity faces as it heads into the twenty-first century is resource management. As humanity's population grows, so does its appetite for a hundred different resources: some as basic as food and water, and others more esoteric, such as rare-earth metals. The problem is, there is only one Earth, one planet upon which to live, and as it gets ever more crowded, and humanity grows ever more hungry and thirsty, there will come a time when our species hits the breaking poi One of the greatest problems humanity faces as it heads into the twenty-first century is resource management. As humanity's population grows, so does its appetite for a hundred different resources: some as basic as food and water, and others more esoteric, such as rare-earth metals. The problem is, there is only one Earth, one planet upon which to live, and as it gets ever more crowded, and humanity grows ever more hungry and thirsty, there will come a time when our species hits the breaking point, and we destroy ourselves in our pursuit of whatever resources are left. As early as now, people are striving to come up with solutions. Some are basic, almost commonplace now, such as recycling or commuting; others are more radical, like mining asteroids or leaving Earth altogether to live on Mars. Whatever the case may be, more and more people are starting to realize that if something is not done now, then it is entirely possible that sometime in the not-too-distant future, humanity will destroy itself, more surely than any natural disaster can wipe out our species. But what if that need not be the case? What if there were other places humanity could escape to - not other planets, but other versions of Earth: parallel universes almost exactly like ours, except without any of the exploitation and resource acquisition that humanity has done to its current plane of existence? And what if access to these parallel Earths was via a technology so ridiculously simple and cheap that children could build it? This is the premise behind the concept of the Long Earth, as first portrayed in The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, and which is expanded upon in the sequel, The Long War. In the first novel, Joshua Valiente, a natural stepper (someone who can travel, or step, to the parallel Earths without the need for the aforementioned piece of technology), and Lobsang, a very human-like AI that may or may not be the reincarnation of a Tibetan motorcycle repairman, travel to the most distant parts of the Long Earth, making discoveries along the way - including friends, most notable of whom is Sally Linsay. After leaving Lobsang with a mysterious entity they dub First Person Singular, Joshua and Sally head all the way back to Datum Earth (the term used to refer to the "original" Earth) - only to find that someone has exploded a nuclear bomb in the heart of Madison, Wisconsin. Most of the population managed to get away, thanks to stepping, but the destruction of Datum Madison signaled a massive change in the matter of the Long Earth, and those who moved in them. The Long War begins some ten years after the concluding event of The Long Earth. The protagonists of the first novel have each gone their own separate ways: Lobsang to running his projects for the Black Corporation (Lobsang, being an AI, has a multiplicity of existences); Sally has gone off into the Long Earth for her own reasons; and as for Joshua, he has settled down in a town called Hell-Knows-Where, with a wife and a son, living the life of a pioneer in the vast expanses of the Long Earth. However, this idyllic existence cannot last very long. News reports are coming in of trolls being abused and killed, and the Datum United States government is attempting to exert control on the Long Earth in ways that those living there do not want in the least. The city of Valhalla, a city in the High Meggers (a term used to refer to the parallel Earths that are tens of thousands of steps away from the Datum), has declared independence from the Aegis of the United States, and this causes a fleet of twains (after the original Mark Twain, the ship that Joshua, Lobsang, and later Sally used on their journey in the last novel) controlled by the US military to be sent out across the United States' footprint in the Long Earth. Such a state of affairs can only lead to war: the Long War. The first thing that distinguishes this novel from The Long Earth is the number of plotlines and new characters. There is a main storyline involving Joshua and Sally, but even that branches out eventually, meeting up again further down the storyline. In the meantime, there are other stories, other characters: Maggie Kauffman, for instance, captain of the twain Benjamin Franklin, who forms part of the plotline connected to the abuse and killing of trolls across the Long Earths. There is Nelson Azikiwe, a British clergyman who stumbles across an intriguing mystery that leads him on a quest he did not expect to take up. And there is Roberta Golding, a young genius who goes on an exploratory mission with the Chinese. All of them are tied together to the main plotline involving Joshua, Sally and Lobsang - though Lobsang is not as "present" as he was in the first novel, instead being the one who "pulls levers," as he says, behind the scenes. And now that I mention Lobsang, his development here is quite interesting, mostly because he steps back from the spotlight. The concluding events of The Long Earth certainly left many questions unanswered, and I was rather hoping I would get to see a bit more of Lobsang, at least initially, just to find out what in the world happened the last time. He's different from Lobsang as the reader knew him in the first novel, but the changes are subtle, and are only really noticeable when he's interacting with certain specific characters. But aside from the characterization and the plot, what really makes this novel stand out - and what made its predecessor stand out - are the themes. The themes of The Long War are a consequence of the events in The Long Earth: as humanity continues to spread across the Long Earth, as they were doing in the first novel, what happens to everything on the Datum? What happens to the concepts of "country" and "nationality"? And more importantly, given the destruction of Madison, how does a Datum government deal with its people going out into the Long Earth and gaining more and more independence? For that matter, what happens to the trolls, who do not look typically human? What results is an exploration of humanity that is both chillingly familiar and heartwarmingly comforting. When discussing the fear of the Other, and the viciousness and cruelty that follow, Pratchett and Baxter are exceedingly accurate. Many of the scenes, and even some of the wording, will resonate with any student of history who is all too familiar with the evils of slavery and colonization - indeed, this is a question that some of the characters bring up in their own way. There is sentient life out in the Long Earth, after all: what is humanity doing, then, if not a repeat of the massive European colonization efforts, and for the same reasons, to boot? The event that kicks off the novel - the story of the troll Mary and her child, Ham - is a striking representation of the worst that humanity is capable of, if let out into the Long Earth. The politics of the Datum US, as well, will certainly chill the blood of anyone - mostly because, in some way, a lot of it feels terribly familiar. But though the Long Earth can bring out the worst in humanity, it can also bring out the best. Valhalla is an excellent example: people bringing their skills and resources together in one place for the benefit of all. Hell-Knows-Where and Happy Landings (which was mentioned in the last book) are the same thing, except on a smaller scale, and therefore show the kind of work that goes into building a thriving community out in the Long Earth, cut off from everything that the Datum can provide. It is a hard life, but it is a good one, even a great one for some: everyone just has to be able to put in the work needed for the entire community to survive. This generally leaves little room for people to take advantage of others, and crime is almost nonexistent. In the Long Earth, where survival relies upon people trusting other people, one cannot seem untrustworthy lest one find oneself without vital support when one needs it. This aspect of humanity is comforting: the Long Earth is harsh at times, but humanity can come together and not merely survive, but even thrive. I find it a good thing that Pratchett and Baxter have taken the time to portray these two sides of humanity - indeed, taking the entire novel to do so. It is altogether too easy for a book to slide too firmly into one side or the other, but The Long War is careful to ensure that humanity is depicted in a more-or-less balanced manner - and if there is a more positive spin in The Long War than is strictly accurate, I attribute this to Pratchett and Baxter being optimists, desiring to believe that, no matter what, humanity's better nature to prevail. This is something I can get behind. Overall, The Long War is a natural extension of The Long Earth, though it does feel a little different than the first novel - not least because the number of plotlines and characters seem to have expanded exponentially since The Long War; the novel feels very much like a trip through the Long Earth would; ever shifting, ever changing, but always, always linked. And, just as The Long Earth concluded with an explosive, world-changing event, so too does The Long War ends with an explosion - literally. And once again it raises new questions: what possible consequences could the Long War have, ending the way it did? What are the possible consequences of Joshua and Sally's actions, going where and doing what they did? And what, precisely, is Lobsang planning now? Only the next novel can answer that, and I am very definitely looking forward to it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Walpole

    After reading The Long Earth, I was eager to jump back into the strange parallel universe that Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter have created. After reading The Long War I wish I could say I am as eager for the next book. I think the problem I have begun to realise with this series of novels is that while the concept is intriguing, and novel, the books don’t have a coherent narrative to support all the cool ideas and themes presented to the reader. The “hook” of these novels is an idea that mult After reading The Long Earth, I was eager to jump back into the strange parallel universe that Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter have created. After reading The Long War I wish I could say I am as eager for the next book. I think the problem I have begun to realise with this series of novels is that while the concept is intriguing, and novel, the books don’t have a coherent narrative to support all the cool ideas and themes presented to the reader. The “hook” of these novels is an idea that multiple earths all with different evolutionary, and geological timelines exist and are within reach of almost all humans. All the themes of these novels then tie into this main concept in some way. It niggled at me during the first book and I realised part way through the second, that while I love the concept I am totally disinterested in the story the authors chose to tell. The second book does away with what I thought was the most engaging part of the first, the relationship between Joshua and Lobsang. Instead Joshua’s character seems to have completely changed and lost the traits making him an interesting character. In the first novel Joshua was described as an outsider to humanity. In this novel, he has settled down with a wife and son and is the mayor of a community he could not stand to be around previously. Its just a total shift. I found it hard to reconcile these two characters, as the second novel never explains why the Joshua of the first book changed. The authors introduce Joshua’s family, but I never really felt he cared about them at all. A few cursory lines are given when he gallivants off on another adventure but it all feels very shallow. Helen is written as a strong character but her reactions to Joshuas activities do not tie in with what we are told about her. Another problem is that the book introduces too many story lines each of them equally uninteresting. There are too many boring characters doing boring things. One section is about the Chinese exploring the “East Earths”, which is essentially a rehash of what happened in the first book, except instead of the cool dynamic between Joshua and Lobsang there is a weird girl whose character trait is seemingly “is odd”. Another storyline picks up from the first book with a priest cum philosopher who searches for Lobsang. Another focuses on the USA military barges. At its core these books remind me of the classic Jules Verne adventure novels. Where the characters are boring, but that is ok because it was the journey that mattered, and the worlds Verne created. Like Verne quite often there are passages that divert from the story to talk about something vaguely scientific (Evolution, society, etc). But these are never in that much detail and actually serve to distract from the plot further. The “war” in the title of the book never happens, I found this to be a let down as I felt it was building up through the whole novel, only to fizzle out close to the end. This review I have written seems overly negative, but despite this I did enjoy the last ⅓ of the book, it really picked up the pace and although it ended suddenly on another cliffhanger I was finally getting more invested in the story. Overall I don’t feel that the pseudo science describing how the long earths work is ever explained enough satisfy me, but the core concept is so amazing to my mind I keep reading anyway. Perhaps it was always the authors intention to keep it all a mystery. I hope these questions will be answered in the next novel but I felt underwhelmed by The Long Earth.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Otherwyrld

    Book 2 of this series is set some 20 years later than book 1, but generally follows many of the characters we first met there. Joshua Valiente is now settled, married and with a child, but still takes little persuading when it comes to another journey through the Long Earth. Other people are making journeys of their own, including the trolls, strange almost human creatures that can step naturally from one Earth to the next. And stepping out of the way of humans who are exploiting them seems to b Book 2 of this series is set some 20 years later than book 1, but generally follows many of the characters we first met there. Joshua Valiente is now settled, married and with a child, but still takes little persuading when it comes to another journey through the Long Earth. Other people are making journeys of their own, including the trolls, strange almost human creatures that can step naturally from one Earth to the next. And stepping out of the way of humans who are exploiting them seems to be what they are mostly doing. Other journeys include a Chinese expedition to travel 20 million Earths away, and an American military expedition to win hearts and minds over an increasingly independence minded sets of Earths. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with this book. It was never less than entertaining, but it spent a lot of time meandering around the various journeys being made. The war, when it finally came, was over in about a page though that was hardly unexpected - after all, how do you wage war across millions of Earths? Perhaps a better title would have been The Long Journey, or something like that, unless that is what the next book is going to be called (I'm assuming that there will be once). The book certainly suffered from being the middle story in the trilogy (if that is the length of course), because it simply stops, and the conclusion feels a bit weak. Still, it was extremely well written, and the characters were all interesting, but it could have been better

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anne Holcomb

    The sequel to THE LONG EARTH! This book continued and expanded on all the numerous plotlines and characters we met in Book 1. Now that humans are colonizing all the alternate versions of Earth that were opened on Step Day, of course the government is trying to reach their hands into the pie. Trade and military expeditions are accomplished across the alternate earths via "twains," fleets of blimps that can travel across earths high in the air. In THE LONG WAR we meet a sensible military captain w The sequel to THE LONG EARTH! This book continued and expanded on all the numerous plotlines and characters we met in Book 1. Now that humans are colonizing all the alternate versions of Earth that were opened on Step Day, of course the government is trying to reach their hands into the pie. Trade and military expeditions are accomplished across the alternate earths via "twains," fleets of blimps that can travel across earths high in the air. In THE LONG WAR we meet a sensible military captain who's checking on the colonies in her ship; get reunited with Joshua, who's now married to Helen the pioneer girl; and journey with him to many different planes as he and Sally try to figure out what is happening with the humanoid "trolls." Other humanoid residents of the alternate earths are introduced in this volume as well, including a dog species that I couldn't help picturing as giant cartoon Snoopys... Few of the many plotlines are tied up in THE LONG WAR, and like the first book, it ends on a note of disaster, so here I will sit waiting for Book 3 :)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    Sequel to "The Long Earth" I really wanted to like this, and I still love the setting, but I'm just not feeling this one. I think my main problem was that there were too many plot threads, which made it all a bit confusing to keep track of; in particular, I'm not sure what the point of any of Nelson's subplot was, and while the Chinese expedition subplot was interesting, it didn't really add anything. Similarly, I thought a lot of the Franklin crew's subplot was interesting but irrelevant, and i Sequel to "The Long Earth" I really wanted to like this, and I still love the setting, but I'm just not feeling this one. I think my main problem was that there were too many plot threads, which made it all a bit confusing to keep track of; in particular, I'm not sure what the point of any of Nelson's subplot was, and while the Chinese expedition subplot was interesting, it didn't really add anything. Similarly, I thought a lot of the Franklin crew's subplot was interesting but irrelevant, and in the end the whole book seemed like a bunch of good ideas randomly mashed together, without much structure. There are a lot of things I liked: Terry Pratchett's extreme hatred of elves, everything to do with the Rectangles, the existence of the Gap space program (although that is another part that I felt could have been done without to streamline things a bit), Finn McCool, the post-scarcity philosophy stuff, "the Healed Drum", "Bosun Higgs". I thought that having this book take place several years after the first one worked well. On the other hand, I was disappointed by the character of Helen in this book, who seems to have been reduced to only two personality traits (jealous wife and exposition fairy; as Sally says, "I’m profoundly uninterested in Helen"), and I wish they wouldn't describe how many pockets Sally had every time she appeared. In my opinion, it would have been better to leave out several of the subplots (which could perhaps be turned into separate short stories, since they do contain some interesting world-building stuff) and tighten the whole thing up a bit, and to expend a bit more effort on giving Helen an actual personality and reason to be in the book other than to give Joshua a reason to occasionally feel conflicted. (view spoiler)[ Two more things I had issues with: - When Maggie realised that "the Long War was over" I was confused, because I hadn't realised that the whole... Valhalla not wanting to pay taxes when they didn't receive any services thing was supposed to be the war. It wasn't even a war? I don't get it. I thought the war was the humans vs trolls thing most of the time, but even that wasn't a war because it was so one-sided. Am I missing something? - I don't really get how the whole trolls business was resolved anyway. Lobsang's hologram asked the trolls nicely for a second chance and said "this time humans probably won't enslave you and steal your children, honest", and then suddenly the trolls were showing up at Agnes's barbecue? Why would one person saying something convince all the trolls that everything would be okay? What changed Senator Starling's mind about trolls? I don't know, I just don't think that would be enough. (hide spoiler)]

  20. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    I highly recommend that all humans of datum earth go forth and read the long earth and then its sequel, the long war. I think the long war lives up to the long earth very nicely and I once more can't wait for the next book. While there were a few inconsistancies (such as the ship named the Benjamin franklin having metal fatigue when it was earlier stated that metal couldn't be brought from one reality to another) over all it was very interesting. Some of the twists and turns took me by surprise I highly recommend that all humans of datum earth go forth and read the long earth and then its sequel, the long war. I think the long war lives up to the long earth very nicely and I once more can't wait for the next book. While there were a few inconsistancies (such as the ship named the Benjamin franklin having metal fatigue when it was earlier stated that metal couldn't be brought from one reality to another) over all it was very interesting. Some of the twists and turns took me by surprise (such as the kobolds reaction to having his life saved) and I had to think, yeah, they got that spot on...other surprises I could see coming, like the event in the end of the book, though that was okay, as it was heavily forshadowed. Over and over again during the book I had to ask myself just what was the long war, really, the true nature of it. I think while some might have pointed at it as the war between earth 0 and the colony earths, it was really more a metaphysical war, of humanity finding its place in the wonders of the multiverse and the struggle to be and exist despite the knowledge of the vastness of it all. anyway, I don't know if this book will appeal to everyone, but it should appeal to most, so go forth and read it after reading the long earth. while the concept of the book still drives it, I think this book expanded on the concept significantly and created new questions and philosophy to contemplate.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Okay, mostly it's just a mind-tour through infinite possible worlds. And that's fine. There's also a bit of Star Trek: The Next Generation-like advising in a supremely wise manner. And I like that, too. There isn't a war, which I probably prefer to skip, although it does make the title misleading. There is also stuff that was just plain wrong, specifically about drug abuse. (Drug use and abuse isn't more common among poor people, it's just more visible, and more frequently and harshly punished; Okay, mostly it's just a mind-tour through infinite possible worlds. And that's fine. There's also a bit of Star Trek: The Next Generation-like advising in a supremely wise manner. And I like that, too. There isn't a war, which I probably prefer to skip, although it does make the title misleading. There is also stuff that was just plain wrong, specifically about drug abuse. (Drug use and abuse isn't more common among poor people, it's just more visible, and more frequently and harshly punished; rape is a bad plot device, but really especially bad if it's just a lazy-ass way to justify a male character's vigilante "justice"*). And while there are several very interesting and nuanced characters, there are also quite a few who are pure stereotype. Although I appreciate the effort to include a major character of color, it's probably best not to play that game if you aren't going to commit, and pretending that a great big dark-skinned man from South Africa is going to be automatically deferred to, rather than targeted as a thug, is a whole new kind of fantasy. Some interesting ideas, but the most disappointing book I've ever read with Pratchett's name on it. Library copy *And really, the ease of moving between worlds in this scenario creates a nightmare for anyone thinking about sexual or domestic violence. The bad people have a literal infinity to hide in, or keep victims in. You really don't want to get your reader's minds set on that horrific track.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tasha Robinson

    Liked this one better than the first in the series, The Long Earth, which mostly feels like setup and exposition for the series to come. There's very little plot to the first book, and only a scattershot of plots to this one, which introduces even more characters and worlds while still focusing on the previously established ones. It's a compelling plot hook: Humanity discovers the ability to "step" into parallel Earths, which are each slightly different, each having developed along a slightly di Liked this one better than the first in the series, The Long Earth, which mostly feels like setup and exposition for the series to come. There's very little plot to the first book, and only a scattershot of plots to this one, which introduces even more characters and worlds while still focusing on the previously established ones. It's a compelling plot hook: Humanity discovers the ability to "step" into parallel Earths, which are each slightly different, each having developed along a slightly different probability curve. But all of them are unspoiled by mankind and rich in resources, which causes a mass desertion of Earth as pioneers and speculators charge forth to take advantage of all the new real estate. This book deals in part with human conflicts with other sapient creatures out in the Long Earths, and in part with the political efforts on the original Earth, or Datum Earth, to control, exploit, and punish the widespread colonies. Both conflicts represent different kinds of long wars, and both are presented with admirable complexity, though in a scattershot, multifaceted way that doesn't put much emphasis on any individual character or situation. While it's not quite World War Z, it also isn't as propulsive as it might be if it followed any one of these stories in depth.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    Grabbed this off the best-sellers shelf at the library and was 40 pages in before a friend informed me it was a sequel. In deference to his horror that I might continue to read out of order, I stopped around page 100, obtained "The Long Earth," and then came back to this one. It actually reads very well as an introduction to the "Long" universe. However, as it progressed it became more and more a series of only loosely connected vignettes, none more than half developed. Really, one could not hel Grabbed this off the best-sellers shelf at the library and was 40 pages in before a friend informed me it was a sequel. In deference to his horror that I might continue to read out of order, I stopped around page 100, obtained "The Long Earth," and then came back to this one. It actually reads very well as an introduction to the "Long" universe. However, as it progressed it became more and more a series of only loosely connected vignettes, none more than half developed. Really, one could not help but feel that the authors had bitten off far more than they could chew, especially with the piddling page count. The ending was especially unsatisfying, with the supposed resolution of the two central conflicts on one hand almost ridiculously anti-climactic, and the other not even really comprehensible. As other reviews have noted, there is material in here for dozens of novels. It's obvious that at least one more is planned, given the (entirely predictable) cliff-hanger ending (which is not in the Least reminiscent of The Long Earth's cliff-hanger. No. Not at all!) I've no doubt I will read it, but there is really no chance of this universe usurping, for instance, Discworld - just to chose a completely random example!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    2.5 Stars The Long War was a disappointment to me. I rather enjoyed the first book The Long Earth and was looking forward to going on straight into this one. The two books are not all alike. This book lacks the adventure, the character building, and the excitement of book one. It also suffers from having so many deep plot themes that are poorly resolved. This book and this series could be so much more. There are so many deep directions that could be taken. This "Long War" turned out to be quite la 2.5 Stars The Long War was a disappointment to me. I rather enjoyed the first book The Long Earth and was looking forward to going on straight into this one. The two books are not all alike. This book lacks the adventure, the character building, and the excitement of book one. It also suffers from having so many deep plot themes that are poorly resolved. This book and this series could be so much more. There are so many deep directions that could be taken. This "Long War" turned out to be quite lame. I am not even sure that I like how the book ended, especially the final chapter. Overall this one fell flat.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Damian Dubois

    Well that was rather enjoyable although I do have to say the 'Long' War wasn't all that long and was resolved rather quickly. But, look on the bright side, at least we'll get another book in the future as it ends on a rather ominous note in a certain park back on the Datum Earth...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I adored The Long Earth and if anything this is even better. Some years on from the first book, this one continues in a universe where humans have learnt to "step" across to other version of the Earth, a series of parallel worlds if you will, all different and yet all the same. This book has a much stronger plot than the first book. I say "plot" but actually there is lots going on at the same time which interlink but are not connected much. The first main strand is the US government trying to ke I adored The Long Earth and if anything this is even better. Some years on from the first book, this one continues in a universe where humans have learnt to "step" across to other version of the Earth, a series of parallel worlds if you will, all different and yet all the same. This book has a much stronger plot than the first book. I say "plot" but actually there is lots going on at the same time which interlink but are not connected much. The first main strand is the US government trying to keep control over the people living in it's shadow on the long Earths and we see the Benjamin Franklin airship travel to show the new stepwise towns the authority is still there, although this mission begins to change as it continues. The second is the disappearance of the trolls from across the Long Earth as humans treat them badly and Lobsang sends Joshua Valiente back out into the Long Earth to find them. There are several themes across the book, the main one being that of exploration. The long Earth is supposedly endless and we see a bit more of it as the Benjamin Franklin, Joshua Valiente and two Chinese airships travel across it. The possibilities are endless and the authors give us some fantastic worlds. Another theme is that of authority as the humans living in the shadow of America question whether they should still be governed by the US government. It's an interesting debate which is well handled and is the subject of the long war of the title, though not in the way you might expect. I guess the other major theme is what it means to be human. There is lots of talk about the trolls and whether they are closer to animals than to humanity and we find out lots more about them and various other sapient life forms across the Long Earth including the kobolds, a type of elf who know much more than they like to let on. This part feels the most fictional of the whole book yet at the same time makes you consider lots about humanity in general. All in all, a fantastic sequel and it sets up a third book which I am really looking forward to. Nice to see a great partnership produce such a stunning series.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    The title of this book is kinda misleading, I think. Maybe it was intended to drum up excitement in a way that may not have been needed. The first book of the Long Earth spans across more than a million alternate Earths that we are now able to "step" across, and the implications are explored at least in the early days quite well. This one takes place 25 years into the colonization phase and we're in a cooperative space with "trolls" humanoids that grew up being able to "step" and have a singing l The title of this book is kinda misleading, I think. Maybe it was intended to drum up excitement in a way that may not have been needed. The first book of the Long Earth spans across more than a million alternate Earths that we are now able to "step" across, and the implications are explored at least in the early days quite well. This one takes place 25 years into the colonization phase and we're in a cooperative space with "trolls" humanoids that grew up being able to "step" and have a singing language that is much smarter as a whole for their species than is generally understood by us stupid humans. Of course, the idiots of our species start killing them off while others work with the others in tandem, and then there's also the OTHER humanoids we jokingly named Elves and Kobolds and First Person Singular (for a singular intelligence that developed to devour whole Earths). This might be the reference to the title, but if so, it's more about humans fighting human nature and trying to limit the danger of our shortsightedness as bigots on Datum Earth (Or original home) spew vitriol about all the people who left, turning into a religious and economic and political quagmire. Even so, this book still remains, at its core, an adventure that's part western, part hard-sf, and all a brilliant mesh of Baxter's vision and science and Pratchett's great worldbuilding and characters. Oh, and the end is a real kicker. I can't wait to get on the rest of these novels. It's damn fun and easy, despite its apparent hard-sf premise of many-worlds. :) MANY worlds. :)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Those who expect this to be an action-filled story about war, weapons, injuries and such will be very disappointed. Those, however, who expect an adventure, a well-written study of society and possibilities (the Long Earth IS about possibilities after all) - geological, mythological, biological and physical alike - will be delighted. As in the first book, you will also find wonderfully humorous passeges in this sequel and the characters have even more depth. What stands out is that this second book Those who expect this to be an action-filled story about war, weapons, injuries and such will be very disappointed. Those, however, who expect an adventure, a well-written study of society and possibilities (the Long Earth IS about possibilities after all) - geological, mythological, biological and physical alike - will be delighted. As in the first book, you will also find wonderfully humorous passeges in this sequel and the characters have even more depth. What stands out is that this second book is somewhat darker than the first. Not just because of what happens to Joshua, but the over-all situation. I am still pretty shaken about Monica and Yellowstone (although I expected both) and can't wait to read the third and final book to know in which direction the authors will take the story. Not just a story. Not just fun. Not just challenging. Not just one possibility. Endless possibilities, formidable writing, definitely meant to amplify our worldview and our minds - and our hearts. You'll see. Just read it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tomer

    This series with its endless possibilities is going to tread the murky line between science fiction and fantasy. On the one hand it is easier for me to imagine it as the former which explains the latter, but it could be interpreted differently. The book develops on its foundations from the first expanding both figuratively and literally with a plethora of worlds and various attitudes. All and all it is a rather subtle slow paced book, which is fun to read but not too exciting fully appreciate so This series with its endless possibilities is going to tread the murky line between science fiction and fantasy. On the one hand it is easier for me to imagine it as the former which explains the latter, but it could be interpreted differently. The book develops on its foundations from the first expanding both figuratively and literally with a plethora of worlds and various attitudes. All and all it is a rather subtle slow paced book, which is fun to read but not too exciting fully appreciate some of its ideas and unique concepts.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steph Hayward-bailey

    I enjoyed this book much more than the first book in the series. The characters were better developed and I found the concept of multiple worlds and inhabitants easier to follow. Even though there are multiple stories going on at once throughout the book it is easy to follow and I'm looking forward to the next instalment as it seems this series ends each novel on a cliffhanger.

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