The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter follows the adventures and travails of heroes Joshua Valiente and Lobsang in an exciting continuation of the extraordinary science-fiction journey begun in their New York Times best seller The Long Earth.
A generation after the events of The Long Earth, humankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by "stepping". A new "America" - Valhalla - is emerging more than a million steps from Datum - our Earth. Thanks to a bountiful environment, the Valhallan society mirrors the core values and behaviors of colonial America. And Valhalla is growing restless under the controlling long arm of the Datum government.
Soon Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a building crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any humankind has waged before.
©2013 Terry and Lyn Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
If I had to sum it up in one word it would, unfortunately, be "disappointing".
I understand that a five book deal has been signed for the Long Earth series but I'm not sure if it was the authors or the publishers who came up with that number, if the pacing of this book is anything to go by it was the publishers. I still like the basic premise of this universe but this book really felt like filler with a little bit of setup for the next book...s?
Most everyone's back from the first book, with a few new additions, but generally the assorted sub-plots don't actually go anywhere, or do anything more than circle around so they're ready to kick off at the start of book three, like everyone was in a holding pattern for no particularly good reason.
There are flashes of interest, you can pick out Pratchett's dialog and plot contributions (although they felt startlingly lacking in this volume) and the ideas that Mr Baxter brings are reasonably obvious and interesting when they appear (usually in some monologue form) but the whole thing never gels. It was an incredibly frustrating read, made more so by these little sparks that appear here and there defining the bones of what could have been a stupendous, much longer, book.
This is also how I felt about a previous collaboration between Stephen Baxter and Arthur C Clarke, perhaps he just shouldn't collaborate, or perhaps he needs a better editing team, more willing to request changes from these two very well established authors.
I'm not going to be able to not read the next installment, but I wouldn't recommend this book to any but the most die-hard completist.
On the audio side, Mr Stevens did a bang-up job continuing on from the first book and I greatly enjoyed the way he read this, excellent personification!
The Long Earth was my first audiobook and I love the style of Michael Fenton Stevens in reading this one too. BUT be warned: the war is semi-metaphorical. I kept waiting for war to brwak out and the story to go somewhere but it just seemed a collection of observations and anecdotes from the long earth as a concept rather than actually really moving forward or revealing anything. I thought after the first book that this one would deal with First Person Singular or set up some sort of metaphysical crisis, but as another user said it felt more like a recap (a LOT of unnecessary first book recapping is in this one... and I normally enjoy recapping!) and a setup for another book than a good story in its own right. I'll still read the long mars but I really hope the story improves and gathers some momentum this time!
There are some great concepts in here, but the writing is subpar. I'm a Pratchett fan, but this just isn't his best work. Characters act irrationally (in the context of the story), butter each other up for no reason, and there are other classic mistakes of inexperience. But you know Pratchett is experienced...this is true for the later Discworld books too. Pratchett peaked long ago, and it was before this book. Monstrous Regiment and Going Postal are some of his best, but those were written years ago.
What really surprises me is that the coauthor, Steven Baxter, didn't address these classic blunders. I can only assume his own skills are also not up to snuff.
The totally stupid rivalry between Sally and Helen is the worst for me. Ugh, I can't stand it. Also, Joshua (main character) is a boring, unremarkable, annoying person that everyone loves irrationally, instantly, upon meeting him. If he was a girl, people would be screaming Mary Sue.
I kept listening because I love the trolls and the imaginative world(s) building. Hoping to hear more of that in The Long Mars, but since it was written even later in Pratchett's career I have to assume the writing will have slid even further downhill. But I will give it a go.
I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.
If you're considering reading this, you've probably already read The Long Earth. These books are quite different from Pratchett's well-known Discworld Series. The Long Earth books aren't satirical or funny in the same way as Discworld, but the ideas and possibilities of the world are fascinating and well-developed.
I actually liked The Long War better than The Long Earth. I read the former and listened to the latter. The narrator is good, but I think the breadth of the story also does well with the kind of long-time concentration I can engage in while listening for hours at a time as opposed to reading in shorter spurts.
As for the narrator, there were a few pronunciations that seemed odd to me, a resident of Washington state who just returned from Yellowstone. Baxter pronounces the word geysers, like Old Faithful, as geezers, which makes me think of an old man. He also says "Ranee-a" when the reference is Mt Ranier. Weird, but hardly problematic for a listener.
I suspect there will be more in the Long Earth series and I look forward to more.
The Long war continues exploring the universe created in the long world. In this book Baxter and Pratchett explore what happens to human society when the pressures of scares resources and space is removed. Specifically, how old mental paradigms and the people who have lived all their lives with them deal with no longer being valid. The long war is specifically the conflict between those who adapt quickly to the new realities and start taking advantages of the new freedoms and those who want to deny that they need to change to live in a universe that has two new demotions.
Unlike a majority of Pratchett’s works, this is not a comedy. There is humor in it, but this book is more a philosophical exploration of human society, prospecting, exploration, colonization driven through a science fiction setting. There is little attempt to explain jumping, why it is possible, but a lot on the consequences of it. The root appears to be a variation of the multi-world theory based loosely on a branch of quantum theory. This is however, not hard science fiction; more Douglas Adams than Isaac Asimov.
Overall, it was a fun read with an interesting insight into humanity. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves to explore new and interesting worlds.
This story was so potent. Filled with the optimism of a better future and the pain and frustration at the idiocy and cruelty that thwarts it. The ending was so potent and poignant that I stopped moving and shed a few tears for the characters. 10/10 definitely going to read again. I miss you Terry Pratchett and must read more Baxter.
The performance is fantastic-- the only issue being the ubiquity of the southern belle accent for an awful lot of American characters. The story itself feels rushed, especially at the end, and for most of it there's not all that much happening, no really new ideas, new challenges, etc.
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