The Long Utopia by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

The Long Utopia (The Long Earth #4)The Long Utopia by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Considering that this was the long-awaited end of a four book series (quadrilogy?), there was not as much closure as I was hoping for. The Long Utopia closed out much the same as the other books had: unanswered questions, loose ends, plot points in limbo. A distinct lack of utopias. Many of my favourite characters were killed off in the earlier books, much to my dismay. Naturally, new characters were added to those gaping holes. Some of them were interesting. While the beginning of the series has a wonderful range of male and female characters with varying races, orientations, and attitudes, it seemed by the last book many of the female characters had been replaced by male characters. Often the women who remained had less influence. Personalities which had been multi-faceted calcified, turning rigid and one dimensional. It was so disappointing! A significant segment of this book was spent following a character who had played next to no part in the first three, instead of developing the main plot line. That in and of itself wouldn’t have been a problem, except nothing came of it. Unexplored avenues paired with pointless sidetracks became a recurring peeve. Sometimes it was just me; the bits I found personally intriguing not getting the attention I hoped. But it wasn’t always me.

I do have to congratulate Baxter and Pratchett on a fascinating basis for a series. The idea of a simple tool that could enable someone to suddenly access a hitherto unknown chain of Earths, all sequentially connected, all unique, is enchanting. Certain Earths had branches leading to different galaxies. How mesmerizing. I suppose the most realistic astrophysical equivalent of the Long Earth would be the m-brane universe. Essentially, what I envision is that the Stepper box somehow allows the user to travel from brane to brane, the loosely connected-ish sort-of dimensions that maybe construct our universe. We’re a far cry from proving whether branes exist, let alone knowing whether their laws of physics resemble the ones we’ve come to know and love from our own universe. And travel via potato-power is perhaps the most unlikely of all. Even if it is the coolest use of a root vegetable I’ve read about in quite some time. If nothing else, I’m grateful to Baxter and Pratchett for having made this idea part of my consciousness. It’s quite lovely.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some potatoes to harvest, wire to coil, and a box to varnish.

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