I just read “The Long Mars” the third book in the Long Earth series but I don’t think I’d written a review before. Some mild spoilers and details to follow
The Long Earth series is about a world much like our own except that one day a man posts the blueprints for a machine online for the world to see and the whole world changes. That machine is called a ‘Stepper’ box and it allows people to walk or step into another world. Another earth, an infinite number of them, each of them different. The first book follows what unfolds after Step Day, following a few different stories. Joshua Valiente, a boy, and a cop, Monica Janssen in Madison,Wisconsin, in the United States. An AI claiming to be a reincarnated Buddhist monk named Lobsang. A family seeking a new start on the Long Earth. The political and economical ramifications of Step Day, how the market changes, how the population changes with mass migrations. How different goverments deal with all this. A growing hate movement. Religious crisis.
There isn’t exactly one plot. It’s more of a worldbuilding exercise and exploration, some stories get a lot of time, others little. It encompasses several years, showing for example, Joshua as a kid and later as a an adult.
The main story or the one that takes up most of the time is the one of an adult Joshua travelling with Lobsang in a blimp named mark twain that is the first vehicle capable of stepping and after which all vehicles of its type are called (twain)
Book 1 is exploration of the many earths.
Book 2 deals with fallout from an event at the end of book 1 and with the political ramification of the stepwise migration, plus another journey,this time with a purpose dealing with the native animals.
Book 3 introduces new characters and begins space exploration. As the name says, they find their way to mars and explore its many worlds.
Book 3 has more defined plots and less of the exploration of various lands and people of the previous ones. It deals with another twain journey, half-exploration and half-rescue mision, the fallout of a big event at the end of book 2, the exploratory journey in mars which uses some kind of tiny airplane or glider, and Joshua’s investigation into a possible new race.
This cou¡ld be either positive or negative depending on the reader. Personally I liked seeing what was going on in all the different places of the Earth and would like to see more of that. Like what’s stepwise Chile like? Underwater? Destroyed by vulcanos,earthquakes,tsunamis?, are there worlds where the andes are not there and what does that do to the climate? What kind of life lives here?
There’s a lot to explore.
I’ve also seen several reviews of people thinking the plot is too meandering.
It’s entirely possible, but I don’t see that as a negative thing.
It is fairly slow plot-wise, there’s no thrill or urgency.
Which is nice, cause there’s no hurry to finish the book,no omg whats gonna happen, you’re not racing to the end so you can sit back and enjoy the journey.
There’s a lot of cool thing explored in the books and it’s “gallivating star trek type missions” that’s an actual quote from the book FYI.
There is the curiosity of Datum Earth being the only one supporting human lif but across the worlds we find many different types of life. Ancient civilizations. Humanoid beagles. Singing trolls. A race of tricksters known as Elves. A new type of human developing thanks to their proximity to other races.
Since it’s all about exploration we get to see not just the US but different parts of the world. Aborigins in Australia, a priest in England, a mission in China, one from Russia, etc.
There’s adventure too and sometimes it’s life of death, and the plot loves nothing best but to leave one character in danger and then go check on another one.
It showcases the best and worst examples of humanity, people thinking of themselves and humans helping others, some exploiting humans and nature, others enforcing rules so humanity doesnt descend into anarchy.
The military features too, mostly from book 2 IIRC onwards and there’a also a very good example and a very bad one.
The government is at times great and awful. It is as much as exploration of humanity as it is an exploration of the world.
They are not particularly funny and prose doesn’t feel Pratchett-like at all which makes me think that maybe he came up with the ideas and Baxter did the actual writing.
It is fairly entertaining and I certainly plan on completing the series but it has the strange place of not being a story that compells one to join fandom. You wanna play in the sandbox sure but the characters themselves I don’t find particularly compelling so far. They are interesting to read about but I’m not dying to read fic about their inner lives. That and shipping are really the main reason for ficcing,IMO