By Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
Harper, $25.99, 352 pages
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s The Long Earth tells the story of what happens on Earth after “Step Day,” when humans suddenly realize they can “step” into different quantum copies of Earth. This model of the universe is based on string theory, in that every action we take creates a splinter universe and, therefore, every possible action has actually happened. In Baxter and Pratchett’s novel, these parallel universes, called the “stepwise” worlds, are apparently uninhabited and the authors document humans spreading into the worlds with a new colonial drive.
Readers who like a straight narrative arc may be frustrated with this book since it has multiple narrators who put together their understanding of the world in bits and pieces. Discworld readers who are looking for Pratchett’s characteristic satirical humor will find it here. Though slightly muted by the shared authorship, his humor makes characteristic flashes that shine through and are a real delight. Despite some of the narrative complications, this book is brilliantly original, embracing modern science and drawing imaginative conclusions that contemporary science fiction all too often avoids.
Reviewed by Katie Richards