The Long Earth

mojojojo

Gone Fishin'
Correct me if I am wrong, but there do not seem to be any thread devoted to the Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter. It would seem that they fit withing the alternate genre (more are less). I have just finished the first book and am just starting on the second. Has anyone else here read them?
 
I like Pratchett AND Baxter, but for unexplainable reasons I didn't start the book yet - maybe because their styles are so different that I wonder how the combined result will be. What do you say?
 
Its an interesting book, makes you ask many questions about the mechanics of jumping and economics and logistics on different Earths.
I've heard it's sequel is out already.
 
Haven't seen the Long War. The basic idea of The Long Earth - (whited for spoilers) that our human civilization is a unique extremely unlikely event, and that almost all TLs which evolve intelligence are occupied by sapient but technologically primitive races that can timeline-jump - is interesting, but it's not really the sort of AH I'm interested in, and I ended up not finishing it. The Kaiju that shows up late in the book is an interesting concept, I will admit.

Bruce
 
I like Pratchett AND Baxter, but for unexplainable reasons I didn't start the book yet - maybe because their styles are so different that I wonder how the combined result will be. What do you say?
I have never enjoyed a book that is a collaboration.

I tried to read the Arthur C Clarke-Stephen Baxter collaboration that came out about ten or so years ago and just couldn't get into it, even though the individuals authors are among my favourites.
 
Haven't seen the Long War. The basic idea of The Long Earth - (whited for spoilers) spoilery stuff. The Kaiju that shows up late in the book is an interesting concept, I will admit.

Bruce
There are actually theories that the basic idea isn't quite what it seems...
also, in The Long War we meet a non-stepping intelligent civilization.
 
What about Jerry Pournelle/Niven? I thought "Mote in God's Eye" was pretty good.

Bruce
I read Footfall which was some of the biggest crap I have ever had the misfortune of reading. Didn't even bother finishing it.

The Niven I've read has been pretty good. I've only read one Pournelle and it wasn't anything great.
 

mojojojo

Gone Fishin'
I love the Long Earth, however the bit with the WW1 British soldier who mistook the trolls for Russians (and after living with them for decades still thought they were Russians) very unrealistic. I assume that Prachett based it on this incident https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_hanger which I suspect is apocryphal. I would not have minded this in once of the Discworld books, but in a more serious work it feels rather grating. Would even an extremely uneducated and untraveled Englishman of that time period have mistaken a group of apes for Russians:confused:
 
What about Jerry Pournelle/Niven? I thought "Mote in God's Eye" was pretty good.

Bruce
I haven't read that one, but most Pournelle/Niven collaborations I've read feel like Niven writing a good story and Pournelle shitting all over it with his "drunk racist uncle who won't stop ranting about how those people ruined California" politics.
 
I haven't read that one, but most Pournelle/Niven collaborations I've read feel like Niven writing a good story and Pournelle shitting all over it with his "drunk racist uncle who won't stop ranting about how those people ruined California" politics.
Niven Pournelle collaborations are better than either author's solo stuff. I think Pournelle's contribution is to introduce a more realistic and hard-edged view of human relations, something other than the manners and mores of a late 60s swinger commune.
 
I think Pournelle's contribution is to introduce a more realistic and hard-edged view of human relations, something other than the manners and mores of a late 60s swinger commune.
Some of Niven's solo stuff has that problem (though wasn't one of Ringworld's themes that that was all hollow BS?), but I've read more of his short stories which are more like classic Asimov.
 
Y'know, I was too cruel to Pournelle. His politics, his writing style, and his (common among '70s authors because that was a commonly seen trend-line) "crime is everywhere, it will get worse and only people in fortress-towers who live in corporate feudalism are safe!111" message all rub me the wrong way.

And to some extent that's very irrational. I mean, Clarke's writing style annoys me too, even though it's very similar to Asimov's, whose writing I love.
 
Some of Niven's solo stuff has that problem (though wasn't one of Ringworld's themes that that was all hollow BS?), but I've read more of his short stories which are more like classic Asimov.
I like Niven's short stories. I'm not allergic to his novels, either, but his strengths tend to be hard science ideas, which often work better in short story forms.

Another way of putting it is that Niven and Pournelle both tend to have two-dimensional characters and societies but their two dimensions are orthogonal so when they interact you get some interesting stuff. Plus Niven has a gift for science fiction imagination and speculation and Pournelle knows more history and political science, so the combination has more depth.

I might recommend King David's Spaceship as a Pournelle book for lefties. The politics don't line up neatly with contemporary obsessions as much, so its less likely to irritate people who have those contemporary obsessions.
 

mojojojo

Gone Fishin'
Also, even giving how easy it is to travel to the alternate earths in The Long Earth, I doubt all that many people would be migrating to them (at least from first world nations.I think travel and sight-seeing would be popular, but how many people would want to give up the comforts of modern society. Most of the people I know gag at the thought of eating rabbit or goat, much less mastodon and ground sloth
 
I have not been impressed with the books. Quite the opposite. Mainly, I blame Baxter, who despite his qualifications seem to have a very poor grasp of science, and maths in particular.

When you introduce a huge change like the long earth, it is important to keep the suspension of disbelief running. The number of simply dumb mistakes in the books are just too huge.

It starts off with the people emigrating to other earths. The authors make a point of how people step at a rate of 10-15 minutes per earth, yet we meet settling parties in places that would take decades of constant stepping to get to. Clearly, no one thought to work out travel times when stepping, even as they were writing a book about traveling through stepping.

I can forgive the impossible airships, they are just too cool, even if pressure-changes between worlds would shred them in short order.

But not getting exponential growth? I mean, just not having heard of the concept? I don't know how long it would take Trolls and Elves to fill up the long earth, but it wouldn't be long. A hundred and twenty thousand years after the first Troll/Elf is born, all the earths are deserts, at a guess.

Stuff like saying the long earth has a vastly bigger surface area than a dyson sphere? Baxter is supposed to be a mathematican, 500 million >>> 4 million was too complex for him?

Its not that any of these are terrible, its just that when everything is not just wrong, but very wrong, and even the really easy stuff clearly hasn't even been looked at...the sheer sloppiness is offputting.

The stepper town would have been hit with every plague in history, untill they developed a psychotic hatred of strangers. Aslo, Romans on an empty earth with 2000 years to work, and they got a couple of little towns?

I didn't much find the human beings very convincing either. Joshua is just too self contained and passionless to be interesting, and the people in general...hardly anyone finds being a bandit rewarding, with instant escape handy? Vast numbers of people in the western world suddely finds farming a rewarding profession? Entire network of towns with no jail and no idea what to to with a murder?

And for all their mention that the long earth is not tame, it seems most people can get by as long as they are sensible. It basically seems based on our own, tame world. The actual consequences of earths with their entire suite of predators intact, with no fear of man, doesn't seem to have been give any thought.

The books read, to me, like sloppily written childrens books that got published for adults by mistake. I keep getiing jolted out by the "Lord, no!" feeling I get when I run into something particularily suspension-of-disbelief wrecking.
 
Top