THE LONG EARTH
ISBN : 978-0-552-16723-9
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2012
PUBLISHERS - Corgi, Random House
PAGES - 432
BINDING - Paperback
AUTHOR - Terry Pratchet & Stephen Baxter
SYNOPSIS - NORMALLY, WHEN THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO, HE LISTENED TO THE SILENCE.
The Silence was very faint here. Almost drowned out by the sounds of the mundane world. Did people in this polished building understand how noisy it was? The roar of air conditioners and computer fans, the susurration of many voices heard but not decipherable.... This was the office of the transEarth Institute, an arm of the Black Corporation. The faceless office, all plasterboard and chrome, was dominated by a huge logo, a chesspiece knight. This wasn't Joshua's world. None of it was his world. In fact, when you got right down to it, he didn't have a world; he had all of them.
ALL OF THE LONG EARTH.
1916: The Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of no-man's-land gone? For that matter, where has Percy gone?
2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive--some said mad, others allege dangerous--scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson finds a curious gadget: a box containing some rudimentary wiring, a three-way switch, and...a potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way humankind views the world forever.
FL Speaks - Its been quite a while since I last picked up a book. Hence, this review might not be upto the standards expected of ALOP.
Moving on, as I wound up my 2 month long sabbatical at home, I found this exorbitantly priced bookshop in the airport. Amidst those forever long stacks of books by Grisham and Nora Roberts, The Long Earth was silently waiting to be picked up. And that is what I did. I picked it up, paid a ridiculous price of 450 bucks and sat down to devour each word.
Remember, its Terry Pratchett we are talking of. He's the master of satire and funny in the fantasy word. And Baxter, is a renowned Science Fiction author. In between sips of cold coffee, the ocassional glances to the pretty cabin crews and the inevitable boarding of the flight, I found my sweet spot. The next three hours were a blur.
With the occasional turbulence ofcourse. The book starts ridiculously simply enough. It starts with a box that has a switch and is powered by a potato in the middle of it. And that's when things start getting interesting. Anyone can make that devise. It is devastatingly simple if you follow the instructions. And once you hit the switch, voila! you're no more on earth. I mean, you're. But not on the earth you were a second ago. And that realisation and the simplicity of it and the imagination of the writers blew me away. The Long Earth is a never ending line of parallel earths, each different from the main earth as we know it.
You want to start over? Hit the switch and you're on the next earth. You don't want to be there too? Step over to the next one. There are thousands of earths lying in wait for you to start over, thousands of earths left to be explored. And its just a thickness of a thought away.
Joshua Valiente is a hero. The day humankind discovered the stepping device and the parallel worlds, Joshua Valiente as a kid, rescued hundreds of other kids from various worlds, because they were simply dumb enough not to read the rules. But there was something that no one knew about Joshua. He didn't need a stepper box to step to parallel worlds. He was a natural. This book is the journey of Joshua along with an entity known as Lobsang across the vast lengths of the Long Earth. It is the story of the Green family, who left their fortunes and lives in the old earth to travel to a different earth hundreds of steps away to start base all over again. Farming, hunting and food gathering has become the new 'in' thing.
But just as the Long Earth opened up a lot of possibilities for the already overpopulated Earth, it also brought along a few demons of their own. With more than 50 percent of the population deciding to jump ship, the economies collapsed. There is no law and order in the new worlds and there is something more terrifying millions of worlds away that might meet up with the humans.
Spoilers : If you plan to read the book, don't read this. If you do not, go to rot13.com to decode it.
Zrrg gur gebyyf. Gurl'er sevraqyl, gurl'er uhtr, gurl fvat orggre guna Whfgva Ovrore naq lrg fbzrguvat vf fpnevat gurz gb zvtengr. V jnf rkcrpgvat n zber bs n guerng guna gur bar gurl zrg ng gur raq bs gur obbx. Naq gur pyvznk jnfa'g jung V rkcrpgrq rvgure. N ahxr tbrf bss ba rnegu naq Wbfuhn naq Fnyyl (jubz lbh'yy zrrg va gur obbx yngre) ehfu gb gur fvgr bs qrinfgngvba. V jbhyq'ir cersreerq vg vs gurl fbzrubj fgbccrq vg. Ohg gura, nz abg gur bar jevgvat guvf.
All in all, it was a great first book. Don't let the genre fool you. True, it has more of a Baxter touch than Pratchett's, however, it does manage to end the first book well.
Rating - 4/5