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The Long Utopia

by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

Series: The Long Earth (4)

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8252521,912 (3.68)19
The fourth novel in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's internationally bestselling "Long Earth" series, hailed as "a brilliant science fiction collaboration . . . a love letter to all Pratchett fans, readers, and lovers of wonder everywhere" (Io9). 2045-2059. Human society continues to evolve on Datum Earth, its battered and weary origin planet, as the spread of humanity progresses throughout the many Earths beyond. Lobsang, now an elderly and complex AI, suffers a breakdown, and disguised as a human attempts to live a "normal" life on one of the millions of Long Earth worlds. His old friend, Joshua, now in his fifties, searches for his father and discovers a heretofore unknown family history. And the super-intelligent post-humans known as "the Next" continue to adapt to life among "lesser" humans. But an alarming new challenge looms. An alien planet has somehow become "entangled" with one of the Long Earth worlds and, as Lobsang and Joshua learn, its voracious denizens intend to capture, conquer, and colonize the new universe--the Long Earth--they have inadvertently discovered. World-building, the intersection of universes, the coexistence of diverse species, and the cosmic meaning of the Long Earth itself are among the mind-expanding themes explored in this exciting new installment of Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's extraordinary Long Earth series.… (more)
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English (24)  Piratical (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
This is probably the best of this series so far, but maybe not for all the right reasons. Previous books tend to have 3-4 plots and like Charlie Brown every time you end up disappointed as none of them end in a satisfying manner.

This book has the advantage of not having ANY definite plot until the 3/4 mark. Coupled with so many time skips/jumps its really hard to look ahead anyway. So just based on not having any plots theres less room for disappointment :P .

Surprisingly when the 3 or so plots do finally appear in the final quarter one of them actually does manage to have a satisfying conclusion, although i still had MANY, many questions about some of the details.
And the other two plots where so ridiculous that i quite enjoyed their awfulness... i mean one of them turned into the movie 'Jumper' for 5 mins, which was crazy.. before disolving into nothing like most of this series plotlines.
And another thread joined with the main plot to have, i kid you not, Jesus turn up and save the day.. i... laughed.. no.. i guffawed, it was one of the dumbest things i've ever read :lol .

The best moment of this entire novel was actually half a page from which the title is derived, of course it went nowhere, but the idea of the Long Utopia, was a very interesting and terrifying one.

So yeah... finally one actually satifying conclusion, two of the weirdest plot decisions ever made, some interesting ideas and one book closer to finishing this disjointed mess of a series.

P.S. I hate the cover. I've used some of those free 'make your own bookcover' programs on the net and so many of them look like this cover. So cheap looking. ( )
  wreade1872 | Nov 28, 2021 |
Three books in, you'd think we might have been able to dispense with the world-building activities. I confess to having grown less interested with each passing installment of the Long Earth series: The first intrigued me with the novelties of and possibilities inherent in the central conceit (people can "step" sideways into what are essentially parallel earths, with just slight differences between one and the next. Over dozens, hundreds, thousands and millions of steps, however, those differences can loom quite large). The payoff wasn't there in the first novel, but I assumed as the cosmology built out more, that feeling would dissipate.

Nope.

Instead, each new story has indulged the uge to introduce yet more "novel" mechanics and contrivances, to just straight-up skip long stretches of "insignificant" time (where there are no novel inventions propagating, and thus saving us from having to read about the "characters," what shaped them, and other such dalliances that only get in the way off our fictional science, thank you). This is no different, where now we set upon a world where you not only can step sideways, you can also step forward and backward, and there's a Dyson sphere and ...

It's all too much. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the full third that was given over to the early history of a Victorian British secret society of steppers, its incogruity and total disconnect from the rest of the story went a long way toward proving to me that this really would be better off as a series of short stories presented from different authors (a la the Afterblight Chronicles) rather than a series of novels. ( )
1 vote kaitwallas | May 21, 2021 |
Not nearly as good as those before. I miss Terry Pratchett. ( )
  frfeni | Jan 31, 2021 |
This fourth excursion into the shared Long Earth of Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter extends the scope of the series but does not represent any sort of improvement in the story telling. By this stage, it has become very clear which parts of this book were Pratchett's, and which Baxter's; and most of this book is Baxter's, with a detailed description of a Dyson planetary motor. Plenty of sf writers have employed a Dyson Sphere in their stories, but very few have thought about how you actually go about building one. Freeman Dyson obviously thought his concept through, and realised that to enclose a planetary system, you will at some point have to dismantle one or more planets. This is fine as long as everyone agrees that their planet has to be dismantled.

This book has an interesting take on the von Neumann machine/xenoforming* worlds trope; parts of it reminded me a lot of Greg Bear's 'The Forge of God', which also dismantles a planet in considerable and painful detail. But the fragmentary nature of these novels is even more emphasised in this book. Years can pass between chapters; and indeed, one character from previous books is brought back merely to set up a big flashback to the family history of Joshua Valenté. When I reviewed the first volume in the series, I speculated that it might have been nice if this universe had been opened to other writers to play in; the family history segment of this book would have made a reasonable novel all of its own. It could have been a bit steampunky and would ideally have been written by Kim Newman.

Mild spoiler alert for the previous volume: in 'The Long Mars', one of the main characters travelled to another version of Mars in the company of her father and discovered an abandoned space elevator there. I had hoped that this would set the series off along a new path, and for a while it revitalised it for me. but we do not return to that setting in this novel, leaving all the questions - who built the elevator, when, and why? - unanswered. We now find that 15 years later, the knowledge about that elevator has been brought back to Earth and now a corporation is building one here; But that is only used as a setting for some unrest amongst the construction workers at the elevator base. This was a disappointment to me. Add in the absence of Terry Pratchett's wordplay, which by now had deserted him, and the shortcomings of this book become clear. It would have been better if Baxter had written his own novel about xenoforming and Dyson motors; and overall, for me this book is a let-down.

*Terraforming is the act of modifying other worlds to make them suitable for human habitation; xenoforming is modifying our world to make it suitable for alien life (and not so much for humans). ( )
1 vote RobertDay | Jan 24, 2021 |
The Long Utopia by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter is my favorite book of this series, since the first one.

The first book in the Long Earth series captured my imagination to a degree that's rare. The world of the Long Earth is stunning. The characters Mr. Pratchett and Mr. Baxter created are fascinating individuals and it's a rewarding experience to spend time with them.

When I read a book, I want to feel like the story exists for its own sake. I want to feel like the authors are compelled to tell this story, and no other. But the stories in The Long War and The Long Mars feel like they exist mostly as excuses to explore the expanding world of the Long Earth. This isn't to say that the stories haven’t been good—they're well-structured and well-told, populated by characters who I care about—but I can't shake the feeling that different stories would have served the purpose just as well. Exploring the world takes precedence over telling the best possible story.

With the fourth book of the series, The Long Utopia, the story finally takes its place front-and-center.

Compared to its predecessors, the characters in The Long Utopia don’t spend much time travelling. The bulk of the narrative takes place in a few specific locations. This grounds the story and gives it a focus that makes it easier for me to immerse myself more deeply in the novel. Rooting the characters in a specific place lends tremendous power to the climax and conclusion of the book.

Just like the first three novels in the series, The Long Utopia opens up new vistas in the Long Earth. The primary conflict of the story results from a quirk in its cosmological topology, with profound implications. But in a new twist, the authors expand their world historically, as well as geographically. We learn much about the history of Steppers by following the exploits of one of Joshua Valiente's ancestors.

With their fourth entry in the series, Mr. Pratchett and Mr. Baxter are wise enough to realize that they need to switch things up from the travel adventure structure that defined the first three books. A less peripatetic narrative structure turns out to be a more solid foundation on which to create a more compelling story. In The Long Utopia, the story finally becomes more important than the world. As a result, I find myself more deeply invested in the action and the outcome.

The Long Earth presents a world that remains tremendously compelling. The Long Utopia finally presents an equally compelling story. ( )
  johnthelibrarian | Aug 11, 2020 |
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For Lyn and Rhianna, as always /T.P.
For Sandra

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On another world, under a different sky – in another universe, whose distance from the Datum, the Earth of mankind, was nevertheless counted in the mundanity of human steps – Joshua Valienté lay beside his own fire.
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The fourth novel in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's internationally bestselling "Long Earth" series, hailed as "a brilliant science fiction collaboration . . . a love letter to all Pratchett fans, readers, and lovers of wonder everywhere" (Io9). 2045-2059. Human society continues to evolve on Datum Earth, its battered and weary origin planet, as the spread of humanity progresses throughout the many Earths beyond. Lobsang, now an elderly and complex AI, suffers a breakdown, and disguised as a human attempts to live a "normal" life on one of the millions of Long Earth worlds. His old friend, Joshua, now in his fifties, searches for his father and discovers a heretofore unknown family history. And the super-intelligent post-humans known as "the Next" continue to adapt to life among "lesser" humans. But an alarming new challenge looms. An alien planet has somehow become "entangled" with one of the Long Earth worlds and, as Lobsang and Joshua learn, its voracious denizens intend to capture, conquer, and colonize the new universe--the Long Earth--they have inadvertently discovered. World-building, the intersection of universes, the coexistence of diverse species, and the cosmic meaning of the Long Earth itself are among the mind-expanding themes explored in this exciting new installment of Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's extraordinary Long Earth series.

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The fourth novel in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s internationally bestselling “Long Earth” series, hailed as “a brilliant science fiction collaboration . . . a love letter to all Pratchett fans, readers, and lovers of wonder everywhere” (Io9).

2045-2059. Human society continues to evolve on Datum Earth, its battered and weary origin planet, as the spread of humanity progresses throughout the many Earths beyond.

Lobsang, now an elderly and complex AI, suffers a breakdown, and disguised as a human attempts to live a “normal” life on one of the millions of Long Earth worlds. His old friend, Joshua, now in his fifties, searches for his father and discovers a heretofore unknown family history. And the super-intelligent post-humans known as “the Next” continue to adapt to life among “lesser” humans.

But an alarming new challenge looms. An alien planet has somehow become “entangled” with one of the Long Earth worlds and, as Lobsang and Joshua learn, its voracious denizens intend to capture, conquer, and colonize the new universe—the Long Earth—they have inadvertently discovered.

World-building, the intersection of universes, the coexistence of diverse species, and the cosmic meaning of the Long Earth itself are among the mind-expanding themes explored in this exciting new installment of Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's extraordinary Long Earth series.
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