The Long Earth – Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett

This is just a quick post, mostly to apologise for being a failure as a human being, but also to criticise the book slightly.

I was /really/ excited about this book. I really really wanted to read it. I have read stuff by Baxter and loved it (particularly Evolution, which was excellent) and obviously I have read Pratchett (and am a massive, pathetic fangirl). As far as I was concerned, this was going to be sheer, distilled awesomeness. But it wasn’t. And that was terrible.

However, fairly large caveat: I haven’t finished the book. My opinions may be based on stuff that changes later on. I don’t know. And I don’t think I am going to know. I held off on posting about this book because I was determined to try to finish it (I actually picked it up to read over a month ago) but I really don’t think I can bring myself to start back at it. Which is fairly indicative of the quality, I think…

Anyway. Review on what I’ve read so far: the styles of Pratchett and Baxter do not mix well. It doesn’t have the best of either of them, and has some innovative failings somehow worse than the sum of its authors. More than that, it has the feeling of a book that started as an amazing idea someone had (and probably wrote on a napkin somewhere) that someone else thought /absolutely had to get written/ and then no one stopped to think how it could be pushed beyond just a cool idea. And the idea is really cool. The setting is excellent and innovative and fun and cleverly constructed. It could just do with some decent plot and a character I don’t want to stab. That’s the major failing I found. The characters are atrocious. They lack feeling and depth and humanity in all possible ways. And I just can’t read that. I can’t. It’s so alien to Pratchett’s normal style of character writing that I wonder how on earth it came to be. There are touches here and there that feel incredibly Pratchett, but he let slip past the complete and utter lack of skill in all humans in the book? Bit remiss of him, really.

From what I read (nearly half of the book, I think) it didn’t feel like the plot was going anywhere fast, I couldn’t care less what happened to any of the people involved, and the coolness of the setting had been thoroughly exhausted. I’m sure that’s not true. I’m sure, in the latter half of the book, /something/ must happen. But I can’t bring myself to care about whatever it might be. So I give up. I am a terrible person. But not as terrible as this book.

*sob* It could have been so wonderful…

Next time: I finish reading a book, but it is only arguably SFF. And I continue to fail to read The Reality Dysfunction. Skills.

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About readerofelse

A student of a redundant, useless and thoroughly interesting subject and reader of many books, particularly fantasy, science fiction and plenty else besides.
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4 Responses to The Long Earth – Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett

  1. AnnaJ says:

    Interesting what you say about this being an idea someone thought of but didn’t realise properly, because in the recent collection of Pratchett short stories, there’s one he wrote ages ago which I believe the basic concept of this book is based on. Which I read and thought, this is really interesting as an idea, and was looking forward to reading the book (though I haven’t yet) – it’s a shame if it hasn’t transferred to book form very well!

  2. Bad news – nothing much happens in the rest of the book either. The main character is just a tourist exploring the cool setting.

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