by Terry Pratchett

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Review

Man, I love the concept that makes up the foundation of this novel. I just wish the authors had built a firmer story upon it. In the near future, humanity has discovered the ability to “step” into an infinite number of parallel Earths, each slightly different from the last. Most can step with help from an easily-built device, while some can step with no assistance and others cannot step at all. The various Earths (known collectively as the LongEarth) are arranged and may only be visited in a linear order, some to the “west” and others to the “east.” The LongEarth, it turns out, has an intriguing set of rules. For instance, people can bring whatever they can carry with them, but iron cannot make the journey. It’s fascinating to see how the characters navigate such obstacles, as pioneers set out on foot to explore the new frontier and entrepreneurs seek ways to profit from newly available resources. The characters themselves, however, are not overly well-developed, and one wishes that more of Pratchett’s trademark wit had made it into the story. Still, this novel-length thought experiment made me think back to all those nights I stayed up too late reading Omni magazine. And for that, I am grateful.

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