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It is the middle of the twenty-first century. After the cataclysmic upheavals of Step Day and the Yellowstone eruption, humanity is spreading farther into the Long Earth. Society, on a battered Datum Earth and beyond, continues to evolve. And new challenges emerge. Now an elderly and cantankerous AI, Lobsang is living with Agnes in an exotic, far-distant world. He's determine It is the middle of the twenty-first century. After the cataclysmic upheavals of Step Day and the Yellowstone eruption, humanity is spreading farther into the Long Earth. Society, on a battered Datum Earth and beyond, continues to evolve. And new challenges emerge. Now an elderly and cantankerous AI, Lobsang is living with Agnes in an exotic, far-distant world. He's determined to lead a normal life in New Springfield—they even adopt a child. But there are rumors, strange sightings in the sky. On this world, something isn't right. . . . Millions of steps away—learning about a hidden family history and the father he never knew—Joshua receives an urgent summons from New Springfield. Lobsang has come to understand that what has blighted his Earth is also a threat to all the worlds of the Long Earth. Countering this threat will require the combined efforts of humankind, machine, and the super-intelligent Next. And some must make the ultimate sacrifice. . . .


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It is the middle of the twenty-first century. After the cataclysmic upheavals of Step Day and the Yellowstone eruption, humanity is spreading farther into the Long Earth. Society, on a battered Datum Earth and beyond, continues to evolve. And new challenges emerge. Now an elderly and cantankerous AI, Lobsang is living with Agnes in an exotic, far-distant world. He's determine It is the middle of the twenty-first century. After the cataclysmic upheavals of Step Day and the Yellowstone eruption, humanity is spreading farther into the Long Earth. Society, on a battered Datum Earth and beyond, continues to evolve. And new challenges emerge. Now an elderly and cantankerous AI, Lobsang is living with Agnes in an exotic, far-distant world. He's determined to lead a normal life in New Springfield—they even adopt a child. But there are rumors, strange sightings in the sky. On this world, something isn't right. . . . Millions of steps away—learning about a hidden family history and the father he never knew—Joshua receives an urgent summons from New Springfield. Lobsang has come to understand that what has blighted his Earth is also a threat to all the worlds of the Long Earth. Countering this threat will require the combined efforts of humankind, machine, and the super-intelligent Next. And some must make the ultimate sacrifice. . . .

30 review for The Long Utopia

  1. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I am not sure why I left it so long between book 3 and this one but luckily I still had a good memory of what went before. There is nothing worse when reading a series than forgetting who did what to who in the earlier books! I really enjoyed The Long Utopia. I think I now have my head around 'stepping' and millions of parallel worlds. I even coped with Lobsang moving from one body to another and working alongside one of his own alternate selves. I was upset with what happened to Sally, Stan and I am not sure why I left it so long between book 3 and this one but luckily I still had a good memory of what went before. There is nothing worse when reading a series than forgetting who did what to who in the earlier books! I really enjoyed The Long Utopia. I think I now have my head around 'stepping' and millions of parallel worlds. I even coped with Lobsang moving from one body to another and working alongside one of his own alternate selves. I was upset with what happened to Sally, Stan and the cat. There is a lot of explanation in this book. We find out some of the history of natural steppers and start to understand more about the Next. We also experience an alien invasion of amazing proportions. There is more out there outside the Long Earth. I will not wait so long before reading book 5!

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    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 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    B Schrodinger

    I took this volume and the next on holidays with me. Plenty of time on the beach, waiting for flights, on flights etc to read. And these books are the perfect holiday reading material - short chapters, easy prose, great concepts. The Long Utopia carries on the story of the main characters of Joshua, Lobsang, Sally and a few others, this time concerning the Next, homo superiors, and Lobsang's retirement with Sister Agnes to raise a family. Of course, things go wrong in a plot-movingly way. This i I took this volume and the next on holidays with me. Plenty of time on the beach, waiting for flights, on flights etc to read. And these books are the perfect holiday reading material - short chapters, easy prose, great concepts. The Long Utopia carries on the story of the main characters of Joshua, Lobsang, Sally and a few others, this time concerning the Next, homo superiors, and Lobsang's retirement with Sister Agnes to raise a family. Of course, things go wrong in a plot-movingly way. This is very much the flavour of the previous volumes. If you enjoyed those, you'll enjoy this. If you didn't, you won't find anything new or different. These books are not brilliantly written, nor are they going to blow your mind in big set-ups. But they consistently deliver fascinating ideas and a small-scale plot. They're relaxing. They're like a great Twain ride. Nothing too strenuous or stressful, just sit back and enjoy the Long Earth.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Edmund

    There is a certain point in a series where a reviewer has to accept that the series is not going in the direction they expected, and either give up reading, or give up being critical of installments that don't confirm to expectation. You see I loved The Long Earth, and got really excited by the dramatically titled The Long War. Nonetheless I was disappointed by both War and Mars. There just seemed so many cool story lines not fleshed out, the weird giant blob-beetle travelling the earths, the te There is a certain point in a series where a reviewer has to accept that the series is not going in the direction they expected, and either give up reading, or give up being critical of installments that don't confirm to expectation. You see I loved The Long Earth, and got really excited by the dramatically titled The Long War. Nonetheless I was disappointed by both War and Mars. There just seemed so many cool story lines not fleshed out, the weird giant blob-beetle travelling the earths, the tension between steppers and non-steppes and so on. However, it seems unfair to review books based on what I thought should happen. For this reason I approached Utopia with an open mind. Still didn't like it. Much like the worlds spanning both directions from datum earth, endless story lines seemed to be introduced, I found myself struggling to grasp onto any as the key tension. Was I meant to be intrigued by Joshua's rather Dickensian family history? The reveal that possibly people could step North and South as well (way unused by the way), a plot involving the Next? or the bugs revealed on Earth number blah,blah,blah. It wasn't until the final act and the characters explained what should have been a gut wrenching plan, if only the book spent more time coherently developing the characters beyond a strangely accepting and philosophical robot cat. Anyway my point is even with an open mind the story lacked power as a plot, it was hard to know who to cling to and what to care about. If this is the last installment I'm disappointed but consider an end to the series as ideal if none the later books are to be as good as the first Long Earth.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    The Long Earth series is showing its age in this, the fourth book. The first book, The Long Earth, was entertaining and started out strong with an innovative take on the multiverse concept and introducing a handful of interesting characters. Those qualities were carried over into the first sequel, The Long War. The Long Mars recycled the same characters but did little to add to their growth or to continue world-building and innovation. That unfortunate trend continues in The Long Utopia, which r The Long Earth series is showing its age in this, the fourth book. The first book, The Long Earth, was entertaining and started out strong with an innovative take on the multiverse concept and introducing a handful of interesting characters. Those qualities were carried over into the first sequel, The Long War. The Long Mars recycled the same characters but did little to add to their growth or to continue world-building and innovation. That unfortunate trend continues in The Long Utopia, which revisits the same familiar characters but ultimately provides them with little growth, adventure, or action, and fails to exhibit any innovation or creativity. In fact, many of the characters are poorly developed cliches, and the main characters lack the animation and depth from the first two books, becoming just rubber stamps of themselves. For a book about the future and the interesting things to be found far from our mundane earth, the novel even wastes about a dozen chapters on flashbacks to 19th Century England to fill in some family background on a main character, which is clearly useless filler designed to fluff the book up into novel length to meet contractual obligations. The authors committed to delivering five novels in this series, and this one was clearly written merely to fulfill that obligation. It's too little jam spread over too much stale toast.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Myf

    This series of books makes me incredibly angry. It is a demonstration of the bizarre reaction that happens when you combine two authors who seemingly balance each other very well. Instead of fascinating science fiction concepts from Baxter with the exceptional character development from Pratchett you get uninspired characters from Baxter (whose work is rife with flat unbelievable people) and boring rehashed SF ideas from Pratchett (who is far better known for his use of wit than his ground break This series of books makes me incredibly angry. It is a demonstration of the bizarre reaction that happens when you combine two authors who seemingly balance each other very well. Instead of fascinating science fiction concepts from Baxter with the exceptional character development from Pratchett you get uninspired characters from Baxter (whose work is rife with flat unbelievable people) and boring rehashed SF ideas from Pratchett (who is far better known for his use of wit than his ground breaking ideas). These two took an idea for a series that was by no means revolutionary and instead of making it special with their unique skills as an author they just continued to force out tired over written and under plotted drivel. For a more interesting look at people with the ability to step between parallel earths try The Family Trade by Charles Stross and for a better version of the characters in this series try any other book. The plot drifts hither and yon with no regards for the basic concepts of pacing or linearity (or even a conscious disregard for linearity). The story collects characters like loose change and spends their lives in twee attempts to engender some emotional attachment to a story which ultimately delivers nothing in the way of real awe or amazement. While studded with creatures and places which could be fascinating or terrifying the story simply doesn't give them the time to shine in any meaningful sense leading to feeling of unreality about place which the authors want us to be able to imagine vividly. Over and over villains or disasters are built up only to be entirely undercut by the next book or brushed under a rug by a deus ex machina. This lack of suspense serves only to limit any empathy we might have for the frail shells of the almost human feeling protagonists. The Long Earth had potential. Each book had enough plot points for 3 books and enough characters for 10 while paradoxically containing enough personality for 1/2 a book. These authors didn't need more time or more skill, they needed a good fucking editor who isn't afraid to tell two super star writers that they were putting out rubbish.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    Something of a return to form for this series that by the end of the third instalment had threatened to become a colossal waste of time and effort. Gone is the multiple vignette style of book three, added is a fair dose of Baxter's scientific imagination and explanation, replaced is the inevitable conclusion in favour of an unexpected denouement that whilst still squeezed in to the same number of words as a description of a forest (I exaggerate) is at least moving the story in a new direction, e Something of a return to form for this series that by the end of the third instalment had threatened to become a colossal waste of time and effort. Gone is the multiple vignette style of book three, added is a fair dose of Baxter's scientific imagination and explanation, replaced is the inevitable conclusion in favour of an unexpected denouement that whilst still squeezed in to the same number of words as a description of a forest (I exaggerate) is at least moving the story in a new direction, even if that new direction is aimed at simply selling the final instalment. Baxter isn't known for his characterisation and here at least he seems to recognise that, letting the universe he created with Terry Pratchett do much of the lifting and resisting the urge to speechify in expositionary tones if not all the time then for large chunks of story. I started to think of the sequence in terms of Asimov's original Foundation trilogy and whilst not set over such a vast timeframe or with an evolving cast of protagonists (the same crew from the previous books all seem to return here) it does perhaps seem to have the same goal. The end section as Baxter/Pratchett describe events on the Earth of New Springfield is probably some of the best writing in the series and dark too, when coupled with the Granny Weatherwax/Shepherd Crown spoiler I couldn't avoid I suspect that this holds an insight in to the mood of our beloved dying author.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    2 Stars The Long Utopia (The Long Earth #4) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter is a long...slow and mostly boring read. I have enjoyed the previous books quite a bit even though I had problems with both books two and three. I guess my feelings on this one were pretty inevitable. The first 25 percent of this book involves pretty much nothing...sure there is a birthday and some stepping but very little happened. As a result I found myself bored and couldn't keep a focus on what was actually happ 2 Stars The Long Utopia (The Long Earth #4) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter is a long...slow and mostly boring read. I have enjoyed the previous books quite a bit even though I had problems with both books two and three. I guess my feelings on this one were pretty inevitable. The first 25 percent of this book involves pretty much nothing...sure there is a birthday and some stepping but very little happened. As a result I found myself bored and couldn't keep a focus on what was actually happening. I skim read through most of the rest and felt like this is probably it for me. I absolutely love both authors, they are among my very favorite. They have tons of great works to gush about, this just isn't one of them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Humanity has reached the middle of the twenty first century. Datum Earth is never really recovered from the battering of the Yellowstone caldera and has slowly moved further into the Long Earths, and started to settle. Lobsang is now an elderly and tetchy AI, living on Springfield, an exotic earth deep in the Long Earth. Settled with Agnes, they have even adopted a child, but as he embraces normal life, there are strange sightings and unusual happenings in his new home. These strange and unusual Humanity has reached the middle of the twenty first century. Datum Earth is never really recovered from the battering of the Yellowstone caldera and has slowly moved further into the Long Earths, and started to settle. Lobsang is now an elderly and tetchy AI, living on Springfield, an exotic earth deep in the Long Earth. Settled with Agnes, they have even adopted a child, but as he embraces normal life, there are strange sightings and unusual happenings in his new home. These strange and unusual sightings have the potential the threaten all of the Long Earth Worlds, and this threat will bring together all of mankind, Ai and the hyper intelligent Next to counter it. In doing so, they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice. Over all this isn’t a bad book, Pratchett and Baxter have concentrated the story on a couple of worlds, bringing in old characters and new to counter the threat to all the Long Earth. Between them, their imagination knows no bounds. But there are a few flaws; it feels very slow moving, the characters have not really developed any depth and Pratchett’s normally sharp wit seems to be been blunted somewhat. Which is a shame really, because both authors are capable of so much more. One more to go in the series, which I will read, because it is rude to leave a series unfinished isn’t it?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bee

    This is such an odd series, it's slow and rather uneventful, but ultimately very enjoyable. Of all the thought provoking series I've read in the last decade this one has kept me up at night thinking the most. The idea of stepping, of a endless necklace of interconnected worlds is just so satisfying. And TP and SB have really spent their time talking this one through, and thinking it all out. I miss Pratchett... This is such an odd series, it's slow and rather uneventful, but ultimately very enjoyable. Of all the thought provoking series I've read in the last decade this one has kept me up at night thinking the most. The idea of stepping, of a endless necklace of interconnected worlds is just so satisfying. And TP and SB have really spent their time talking this one through, and thinking it all out. I miss Pratchett...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Eric Allen

    In my opinion this is the second best book of the series, behind the first. It's the first book in the series that really tries to reach for its full potential, exploring new ways of utilizing the setting and characters, rather than recycling the same old exploration plot like books 2 and 3 did. I found this to be quite enjoyable, and it shows what might have been expected from the series if not for Sir Terry Pratchett's death earlier this year. Stephen Baxter has reportedly said that, out of re In my opinion this is the second best book of the series, behind the first. It's the first book in the series that really tries to reach for its full potential, exploring new ways of utilizing the setting and characters, rather than recycling the same old exploration plot like books 2 and 3 did. I found this to be quite enjoyable, and it shows what might have been expected from the series if not for Sir Terry Pratchett's death earlier this year. Stephen Baxter has reportedly said that, out of respect for Pratchett, he doesn't think he is going to continue the series beyond this volume, which is a decision that I understand and respect. (though that may just be a rumor, I don't know for sure) It's quite sad that the world was robbed of such a great and talented author just as this series was starting to find it's groove, and wherever Sir Pratchett may be now, I hope that he is happy. And those whom he left behind have my deepest sympathies. That said I really enjoyed this book. It's not just the same old thing like we got with the last couple books. It goes deeper into the nature of the Long Earth, and explores different ways of using it, different moral dilemmas and goes into detail on steppers in the past, and Joshua's parentage. I quite liked the Knights of Discorporea idea, and, if anything, the book could have used a bit more of their adventures. The idea of British secret servicemen using stepping to spy and make assassinations back in the 1800s is really awesome. And the idea of invaders from a different world conquering the Long Earth is pretty awesome as well. I only wish that the previous two books had gone in this direction and developed these ideas further. The constant movie references in this book made me laugh quite a bit as well. If you've been following this series up to now, you'll prbably enjoy this one quite a bit. If you gave up on it because it was just more of the same, I'd urge you to finish the series, because this book was really very good, and reused very little previous plotlines.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tim Hicks

    Better than I feared ... that's the best I can say about it. Before I forget, I must credit the sly inclusion of having Lobsang say that one thing he knows about is sweeping. Those who have read Pratchett's Thief of Time will have appreciated that. Now let's see, which Lobsang said that? So. Long Utopia? The Utopia concept is mentioned only slightly more than Mars, which is to say in about eight words. And buh-bye beanstalks, because we spent a lot of time writing them in only to realize that Better than I feared ... that's the best I can say about it. Before I forget, I must credit the sly inclusion of having Lobsang say that one thing he knows about is sweeping. Those who have read Pratchett's Thief of Time will have appreciated that. Now let's see, which Lobsang said that? So. Long Utopia? The Utopia concept is mentioned only slightly more than Mars, which is to say in about eight words. And buh-bye beanstalks, because we spent a lot of time writing them in only to realize that we can't DO much with them, so let's handwave reasons why they were feasible but suddenly aren't. We have a lot of characters and groups of characters to wrap up here. So let's start slowly and not get the reader all excited. Remind readers that Sally is Mysterious and Important. Maybe some flashes from the moon. Mention Yellowstone a lot so we don't forget it. Let's have a whole bunch more of Agnes and Lobsang sighing and all "I just want .." With the occasional reminder about Sally. Now a tedious aside, which was predictable because any time Nelson appears the air is sucked out of the room. Let's read about a man named Valiente in Victorian times, then puzzle through the clues as Joshua is shown his ancestry. And completely fails to say to Nelson, "That's nice, so what?" Steppers have been around a while. Why does that matter? Sally is what matters! And now here's Stan. Stan's special. That's a good idea, because this series didn't have anyone special in it till now. No dead people in android bodies. No one who can step through soft places. But I will accept that a Next Next is a reasonable extrapolation. We need a crisis if we're ever going to get out of this plot. So here we are at world 1,243,567, because Sally "just knew." And she just knew who she'd need. But first, let's explain the beetles and the pathways. Let's drop in a huge new idea completely out of nowhere, an idea that could easily carry a new series all by itself. There's our crisis! Cue the stunned military guy, who is a complete idiot but somehow rose past the geniuses below him, as they always do in novels. Cue the rabble, with the "No! This is our home!" even when the place is demonstrably disintegrating. The book does develop the crisis well, from here's what's happening to uh-oh, here's WHY it's happening. Suddenly, foot-in-mouth fools-rush-in Stan has become a demagogue [aside: it is possible, ref. Donald Trump] whose honeyed words can move masses. Well, we can't be having with that, can we? Would Stan be torn apart by the mob, or do the authors have something bigger lined up for him? We don't know. Bet Sally does. I'm starting to find Sally rather annoying. OK, the authors do a good enough job of tying things together, especially the soft places. And the key explanation - (view spoiler)[ that our sheaf of worlds has intersected another (hide spoiler)] The ending? Pure schlock. Melodrama. Cloying. Twee. And probably the only way out of the narrative corner the authors painted them into. But really. (view spoiler)[ Stan and Sally can break the skein of worlds, snip out the offending planet, reconnect the skein .... and they can't pop themselves out to safety? (hide spoiler)] Pfui. The only POSSIBLE explanation is narrativium: it had to happen for dramatic reasons. One: you can't top a Noble Sacrifice. Two: They've become so powerful that we can't leave them in the plot. They've almost gone beyond Superman spinning the world backwards to make it didn't happen. Even if Sir Terry were still with us, I don't see how this series can go anywhere from here. Oh, wait, yes I do. At the end, there's at least one Lobsang left, spinning through space into the sequel galaxy. He has a matter printer (but no way to collect raw material for it). He can probably make broom, though. He'll end up landing on a flat, circular world supported by turtles. It will be one of many such worlds ...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Phil Leader

    The Long Earth series of books presented an intriguing idea, that of being able to 'step' into parallel Earths, each an untouched wilderness and each one slightly different until they became very different planets. How would this affect people on a personal level and how would it affect the social and political stability of the original 'Datum Earth'? The second book, The Long War explored the political theme further with the superpowers attempting to control the equivalent populations on the oth The Long Earth series of books presented an intriguing idea, that of being able to 'step' into parallel Earths, each an untouched wilderness and each one slightly different until they became very different planets. How would this affect people on a personal level and how would it affect the social and political stability of the original 'Datum Earth'? The second book, The Long War explored the political theme further with the superpowers attempting to control the equivalent populations on the other Earths - and mostly meeting resistance to any governance at all. It also introduced the concept of the Next, a super intelligent sub-species of humanity. The third book, The Long Mars had further incredible iterations of Earth on display and also did the same thing for Mars on a quest to discover a material to use to make a space elevator. The Next also started to organise and to separate themselves from the rest of humanity. Each of these took the original concept and gave us more interesting worlds and lifeforms. Although the law of diminishing returns was starting to bite - Earth fatigue if you like - the main interest was in seeing what new ideas the authors could wrestle for each new Earth or Mars. That is where this book fails. It is almost exclusively interested in only one copy of Earth, which comes under direct threat. All the usual suspects - Joshua, Sally, Lobsang and the Next must join forces to prevent a catastrophe threatening the whole Long Earth. There is also a sub-plot involving Joshua's antecedents which although interesting in itself is essentially a Long Earth short story of no relevance to the rest of the plot. Whereas the previous books had a sense of wonder at each world, this loses that completely. It is in fact a completely standard science fiction story and probably would have been better told as a stand alone story rather than being shoe-horned into the Long Earth concept, which doesn't actually add anything interesting to it. It reads very much like Baxter wanted to write a story about a Dyson motor and as he was contracted to write a Long Earth novel, that's what was used. Unfortunately even this story is not well told with stilted and flaccid dialogue, zero character development and no dramatic tension at all. It was a real struggle to read in places, there is no zip or flow to the story or writing. Various bits of the plot don't make a great deal of sense and the ending is very lame indeed with the chain of Long Earth worlds being essentially fixed by just thinking about it. The Next decide that Stan Berg, a newly discovered one of their kind, is the only one to 'fix' this despite basically no contact. They are supposed to be super intelligent and think many moves ahead but this just struck me as absurd. Overall, I would only suggest that Long Earth completists read this. Those who enjoy the Long Earth for its diversity and novel concepts would be better off leaving this one on the shelf.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris Boulton

    Kinda wimped out giving it a three, lol.. so went with a diplomatic four! What? Why did I want to give it a three, I hear you ask! Well, I'll tell you for why! Although I have enjoyed all four of these books, I can't help feeling that it's kinda indecisive. It just can't seem to decide whether it's going to be one long interconnected story that's going to build up to one final and brilliant climax or individual stories that only have a few interconnected bits. Personally, I think what this series Kinda wimped out giving it a three, lol.. so went with a diplomatic four! What? Why did I want to give it a three, I hear you ask! Well, I'll tell you for why! Although I have enjoyed all four of these books, I can't help feeling that it's kinda indecisive. It just can't seem to decide whether it's going to be one long interconnected story that's going to build up to one final and brilliant climax or individual stories that only have a few interconnected bits. Personally, I think what this series needs is one long interconnected story etc etc. I've enjoyed them separately, don't get me wrong but I just feel that someone wants it to be a long story, ahem, and someone else wants it to be individual and it just causes a bit of confusion in my ole noggin whenever I finish a book and that influenced my 3* (if I hadn't wimped out and gave it a 4*) decision. Anyway, that being said.. I did enjoy it as I enjoyed the others and I'll definitely suggest other people read them because they're good.. it just needs to make it's mind up!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I love The Long Earth series very much indeed and this, the fourth, is, I think, my favourite. Mixing sadness with light, it delves deeper into the hearts and souls of a very special group of people (not all of whom are entirely human) to investigate the nature of the Long Earths as well as the greatest threats challenging its survival.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    The Long Earth universe has unlimited potential, literature-wise. So, imagine my disappointment when books 2 and 3 in the series were no more than rehashes of the first novel, in which we are introduced to an endless string of Earths that people can travel, or "step" to, with the help of a potato. The Long Earth is a novel of discovery. We follow the characters as they travel from Earth to Earth and witness the staggering array of worlds and lifeforms, intelligent and not, that make up the Long The Long Earth universe has unlimited potential, literature-wise. So, imagine my disappointment when books 2 and 3 in the series were no more than rehashes of the first novel, in which we are introduced to an endless string of Earths that people can travel, or "step" to, with the help of a potato. The Long Earth is a novel of discovery. We follow the characters as they travel from Earth to Earth and witness the staggering array of worlds and lifeforms, intelligent and not, that make up the Long Earth. I, personally, forgive the authors for cramming it full of stepping and descriptions of Earths instead of focusing on an intricate plot. It is, after all, an introduction to a whole new universe, both for the reader and for the characters. The Long War is The Long Earth but with a different title. There is only the barest hint of a war, most likely because the authors were preoccupied with stepping. The Long Mars is The Long Earth but on Mars. Plot points are introduced, but the story never really goes anywhere, unless you count all the friggin' stepping. With The Long Utopia, we finally get a novel that focuses on plot instead of countless chapters crammed full of stepping. I was pleasantly surprised by the actual plot development, the buildup of tension, and the ending that read like an actual ending instead of something the authors tacked on because, well, a book's gotta have an ending. This book also did a much better job of pulling the events and characters of the previous books together. While it's not without its faults, it's still a damn sight better than the previous two in the series. I can only hope that the final book in the series provides a satisfying conclusion to the Long Earth series.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tomer

    The series starts to remind me of Flatland, where the authors made a theoretical exercise with multiple dimensions. The long read expand on our characters' lives who even when trying to live a normal quiet existence, get pulled back into the thick of things to try and make sense of the latest step option into another axis of possibilities. I have to note that some of the few amusing moments throughout the series is whenever they reference some "arcane" piece of cultural heritage such as Star Trek The series starts to remind me of Flatland, where the authors made a theoretical exercise with multiple dimensions. The long read expand on our characters' lives who even when trying to live a normal quiet existence, get pulled back into the thick of things to try and make sense of the latest step option into another axis of possibilities. I have to note that some of the few amusing moments throughout the series is whenever they reference some "arcane" piece of cultural heritage such as Star Trek and other genre works.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    The first Pratchett book to come out since the chap who talks in capitals came for him, and as such sure to be a melancholy read whatever its content. Though obviously this series was always a collaborative effort, and in some ways this one feels tilted more Baxter's way than its predecessors. There are occasional bursts of stilted dialogue, undigested exposition and repetition more familiar from his work than Pratchett's – though as with such an assessment of any collaboration, this is pure inf The first Pratchett book to come out since the chap who talks in capitals came for him, and as such sure to be a melancholy read whatever its content. Though obviously this series was always a collaborative effort, and in some ways this one feels tilted more Baxter's way than its predecessors. There are occasional bursts of stilted dialogue, undigested exposition and repetition more familiar from his work than Pratchett's – though as with such an assessment of any collaboration, this is pure inference on my part, and very likely wrong. The first Long Earth book, too, where I read a review before getting my own review copy. First world problems, I know, having to wait for the very fine local library service to hook me up. The reviewer in question liked this more than anything in the series since the first book, because it felt more like a novel again. I feel pretty much the opposite about that return to conventionality, especially disliking the misplaced historical subplot here. I liked the intervening books, the way the characters and the plots had become little more than an excuse for unfettered world(s)-building. But then I like Olaf Stapledon, whose influence is still strong here, and who was usually much more interested in the big picture than standard novel business. That said, like this book he would find time for the occasional uneasy encounter between humans and their strange progeny, in which the lacks on both sides are felt as forcefully as the benefits. I was reminded too of John Crowley's 'Great Work of Time', and several stories by the great Clifford Simak - the eponymous 'Utopia' here is at least partly bittersweet, a sense that the great human experiment is being abandoned for a more pastoral and nomadic life in the endless forests of the Long Earth. A utopia to some, but a quiet apocalypse or dying fall for others, especially the old-timers who remember a humanity confined to one Earth. At times, the back-to-nature thinking involved is just maddening; there's one scene which is clearly supposed to be heartbreaking, but is instead as needless and infuriating as the finale of [a popular recent-ish SF series I don't want to drive-by spoiler, just in case]. Helpfully, the book opens with a diagram clarifying one key concept. Unfortunately, it's a concept which is supposed to be a mystery for the first 200-odd pages. It might have been better placed in an appendix.

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

    Sigh. I have yet to read a good Long Earth book. Which is a pity, because Pratchett was always one of my favourite authors, even if his later works started becoming too serious (perhaps understandably, giving what he went through). However, having made (slogged) it through the previous three Long Earth books ( The Long Earth, The Long War and The Long Mars) I thought I would still give this one a chance: we live in hope, after all! Unfortunately, and despite occasional flashes of some interesting Sigh. I have yet to read a good Long Earth book. Which is a pity, because Pratchett was always one of my favourite authors, even if his later works started becoming too serious (perhaps understandably, giving what he went through). However, having made (slogged) it through the previous three Long Earth books ( The Long Earth, The Long War and The Long Mars) I thought I would still give this one a chance: we live in hope, after all! Unfortunately, and despite occasional flashes of some interesting ideas and plot (mainly connected with the history of Joshua's ancestors and the Steppers of the past), this was still a long, slow and laborious read. I'm not sure whether Baxter will continue with the series following Pratchett's death earlier this year but if he doesn't, and unlike the Discworld novels, I doubt I'll miss this series that much or be in a hurry to re-read any of them.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    So this as much a commentary on the last book as it is the series itself. I read in another review that one of the great strengths of this series is the unique and creative world that they creative. I have to agree that the concepts are very cool. Where I think it falls short is on the actual execution of those ideas. This trend has only seemed to get worse as the series has progressed. In this last book it feels that the ending has almost nothing to do with what they were building towards for t So this as much a commentary on the last book as it is the series itself. I read in another review that one of the great strengths of this series is the unique and creative world that they creative. I have to agree that the concepts are very cool. Where I think it falls short is on the actual execution of those ideas. This trend has only seemed to get worse as the series has progressed. In this last book it feels that the ending has almost nothing to do with what they were building towards for the first half of the book. The ending felt rushed and honestly unsatisfying. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a preference for one type of ending over another, so the way it ended in that regard wasn't the problem. It just felt like a different book's conclusion. Incongruent seems to be the word that fits for this book. I guess it comes down to a question of which is worse...to have at ideas but not seem to flush them out and execute well or to have mediocre ideas that are well developed? I am left with that for this one.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Fantasy Literature

    2 stars from Kate, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE I read this book thinking it was, finally, the end of Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter’s LONG EARTH series. Unfortunately, I have since read that one more is going to come out. In some ways, this is fine. The Long Utopia (2015) in no way provides a conclusion to many of the plotlines that Pratchett and Baxter have set in motion in previous installments and about which I am still, despite my better instincts, curious. In other ways, th 2 stars from Kate, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE I read this book thinking it was, finally, the end of Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter’s LONG EARTH series. Unfortunately, I have since read that one more is going to come out. In some ways, this is fine. The Long Utopia (2015) in no way provides a conclusion to many of the plotlines that Pratchett and Baxter have set in motion in previous installments and about which I am still, despite my better instincts, curious. In other ways, though, it is tedious, since my experience of these books cannot really be described as “enjoyment.” In The Long Utopia, life on the Long Earth continues as it did when we left it. The Next, the evolved super-smart humans we met in The Long Mars, have found a home up in... FANTASY LITERATURE

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bar Reads

    Suffering severe book series withdrawal. I need the 5th book Now!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    The Long Utopia benefits from being forth in a series of imaginative books to allow the authors to push more quickly into new ground without having to explain the whole premise of this universe. Like all "The Long ___" books, I found it to be both fascinating and infuriating in similar measure. Read this book if you've read the others, but make sure you've read at least the first one already. There are a lot of back references to the other books, but if you don't mind being spoiled about some of The Long Utopia benefits from being forth in a series of imaginative books to allow the authors to push more quickly into new ground without having to explain the whole premise of this universe. Like all "The Long ___" books, I found it to be both fascinating and infuriating in similar measure. Read this book if you've read the others, but make sure you've read at least the first one already. There are a lot of back references to the other books, but if you don't mind being spoiled about some of those events, you can safely skip "The Long War" and "The Long Mars" without much plot confusion. I'm going to avoid spoilers in this review, but I'm going to use terminology from the books without explanation, so what follows may not make much sense to folks who've not read any of this series. I'll lead off with what I liked about this book: exploration into the idea of the direction of stepping. I've always found it convenient that everyone goes along a single dimension of stepping (left or right) and we get some more thoughts on the actual topology of that dimension here. There is again some interesting thoughts on sentience, but artificial and organic. The Next are fleshed out a bit more fully, although they still don't seem like they've found their critical role in this universe. The main character dynamic is also shaken up a bit, which I think is for a good thing because the main steppers are getting a little tired in my opinion. My biggest complaint is the same as it is with this whole series: every idea is just a teaser. No book ever seems to completely finish a picture, just add some more colors to an already vibrant scene. I guess that's this universe's MO, no one aspect of it will ever be explored to a great extent. As with all the novels in this series, the writing style is of two minds (and given that there are two authors, this seems appropriate). Both writers produce prose that is simple, witty, and plot-centric. Character development feels like an afterthought in most parts of the book, but it does happen. The authors seems to rely on the reader to supply traits to many of the secondary characters who pop into this book from previous installments. It helps with the tempo of the book to do this, but it sometimes leaves you fumbling to recall the events that transpired when that character was last featured. Usually there are enough cues to get to a "good enough" approximation to (re)form opinions on characters, so that's okay too. I think these books really shine in their scene descriptions; the degree to which other Earths are made real always gets me thinking about all the little things that could have happened to shift the datum to one of these long Earth variants. These authors really know how to world-build, and this book showcases that skill once more. We just need a team of other writers to explore this vast universe and really test its limits!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dane Cobain

    At this point, I’m pretty much just continuing to read these books to see what happens next. It’s not as though there’s anything specifically wrong with it, it’s just that I think the series was best right at the start when all of the ideas were still fresh. The idea of people being able to step from one world to another is a solid one, but there’s only so much that you can do with it. By this point, the concept no longer feels freeing, because a lot of the possibilities have been explored by no At this point, I’m pretty much just continuing to read these books to see what happens next. It’s not as though there’s anything specifically wrong with it, it’s just that I think the series was best right at the start when all of the ideas were still fresh. The idea of people being able to step from one world to another is a solid one, but there’s only so much that you can do with it. By this point, the concept no longer feels freeing, because a lot of the possibilities have been explored by now. Now it feels as though the story line itself is being dictated by its own constraints, and that could be a problem – especially for the last book. Still, I’m enjoying myself enough, and I will be picking up the last book in the series. I’ve also come around to the way in which huge amounts of time pass between each book, because while it does get annoying just to discover that so-and-so broke up with their wife between books or whatever, it does at least mean we get to see each of the characters throughout their entire lifetime. And the writing itself is pretty good, and I’m still enjoying the sense of humour as well. In fact, if I were to judge this as a standalone instead of as part of a series, I’d probably be a little more optimistic about it, because it is a good book. It’s just that this one and the last one had nothing on the first series, and we’re now getting to the point at which it feels as though they’re just tying up loose ends and following the science to its inevitable conclusion, instead of just telling a story. But it still has all of the good stuff that made me love this series, including a whole heap of references to popular culture, popular science and popular psychology. This is one of those rare fiction novels where it actually feels as though you’re learning something when you’re reading it, and you come out the other end feeling much more intelligent than you did when you started. So would I recommend this one? Of course I would, although I can also see how it might not be for everyone and there’s really no point skipping straight into it. Instead, you should start from the beginning and just keep going, especially if you find yourself enjoying it. What more could you want? Give the series a go – you won’t be disappointed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shan

    So, I read The Long Earth in hardback as soon as it came out (2012), and I didn't read The Long War or The Long Mars, so I spent a lot of time in The Long Utopia just trying to figure out who these people were and what was going on. The basic premise of the series is brilliant, and had stuck with me in the years since I read the first one. There's a really interesting plot element involving aliens who are so completely alien that trying to communicate would be like trying to communicate with the So, I read The Long Earth in hardback as soon as it came out (2012), and I didn't read The Long War or The Long Mars, so I spent a lot of time in The Long Utopia just trying to figure out who these people were and what was going on. The basic premise of the series is brilliant, and had stuck with me in the years since I read the first one. There's a really interesting plot element involving aliens who are so completely alien that trying to communicate would be like trying to communicate with the ants in an anthill or the bees in a beehive. There's some solid-seeming science (I say seeming only because I don't know enough to judge). There's some good stuff about how religions get going and how the founders lose control of their followers. There's a bit of humor. There's at least one subplot that was fun to read but looking back I'm not sure it really went anywhere; it involves some family history research. And I'm still trying to decide if I believe the way the main problem wraps up. Serious spoiler ahead, don't click if you haven't finished the book. (view spoiler)[If stepping is mental, so Stan and Sally use their minds to build a barrier or bridge around New Springfield, how does the barrier affect anyone else, human/Next/or beetle? (hide spoiler)] And there's a great line about how the Earth is like a big creme brûlée: Every Earth is essentially a ball of liquid: the iron core and the mantle. The solid crust is only a fine rind laid over that liquid interior. Under the continents the crust is maybe sixty miles thick, compared with the Earth's radius of four thousand miles. It's as if the Earth is a big round creme brûlée. Something to think about! [Being a different kind of geek, I'm also pondering why the Goodreads text editor gave the word creme the correct accent mark when I wrote this quote in a status update while I was reading it (but no marks on brûlée), and now that I'm done and writing the full review it gave the word brûlée the correct accent marks, and none on creme. Hmm.]

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I have adored every moment of The Long Earth series, a brilliant collaboration by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. I like the story of parallel Earths and humans exploring them, although this fourth book has a slightly different feel- there's no epic journey here. It's still superb though. The main plot sees sort-of-AI Lobsang fake his own death and go and live an ordinary life with Agnes. But something on the world they end up living on is not right and it becomes apparent that a great threa I have adored every moment of The Long Earth series, a brilliant collaboration by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. I like the story of parallel Earths and humans exploring them, although this fourth book has a slightly different feel- there's no epic journey here. It's still superb though. The main plot sees sort-of-AI Lobsang fake his own death and go and live an ordinary life with Agnes. But something on the world they end up living on is not right and it becomes apparent that a great threat has been discovered, something which could have huge consequences across the Long Earth. It's the first time the series has really had a genuine antagonist. There's always been disagreements but usually neither is a bad person/creature. Here though we are introduced to something rather different and it'll take most of the characters we know and love to fight the threat. Baxter has told some great "world threat" stories in the past and it works here well. Unusually for the series this book almost entirely focuses on that plot line, but there is one other one. Instead of taking us East or West across the Long Earth the story takes us back in time as we see the story of Joshua Valiente's ancestor Luiz. We get a whole brilliant story of Luiz and Victorian steppers which feels very true to the universe yet tells its own story excellently. It was not something I was expecting but I adored it. I suspect these sections were more from Pratchett than Baxter- some of the characters were very Pratchett. It had a slightly different feel than previous books but I enjoyed this just as much. With the sad death of Terry Pratchett earlier in the year this looks like it will be the last in the series but there is certainly scope for more- I hope Baxter and Pratchett had some sort of plan because it feels like there ought to be a fifth book. But if not this was a satisfying end to a remarkably ingenious series. If you've enjoyed the previous Long Earth books, this is a must-read!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    If you've gotten this far in the series, you might have some questions and a desire to see some of the stranger threads come together, like the parentage of our MC's, some of the hints of the stranger alien/Earthlings, the oddest Earths, and, of course, Lobsang. I can characterize all of these novels as Pioneer Fiction, easily, but they're also heavy SF written in a very engaging and easy way, full of wonderful characters and simple, interesting plots. Now, I must admit that the last one and this If you've gotten this far in the series, you might have some questions and a desire to see some of the stranger threads come together, like the parentage of our MC's, some of the hints of the stranger alien/Earthlings, the oddest Earths, and, of course, Lobsang. I can characterize all of these novels as Pioneer Fiction, easily, but they're also heavy SF written in a very engaging and easy way, full of wonderful characters and simple, interesting plots. Now, I must admit that the last one and this one don't really have quite the same vibrant flavor as the first two, at least with the characters, but the science bits and the sense of scale... almost a billion Earths and Mars, is absolutely gorgeous. Beetle aliens are tearing up an Earth in a mind-boggling construction effort that acts upon Dyson-level energies and terraforming for a goal that is just as mind-boggling, and everyone else is kinda freaking out. The kinds of political and war-like efforts are petering out because there's just way too much space and no way to rule over this much of an exodus, a diaspora of people. I mean, just think about it... The Datum Earth we all belonged to has just undergone an extinction-level event and everyone has mostly left it, the governments freaked out because now there's no way to control ANYONE or prevent them from stepping across dozens of empty Earths, let alone hundreds of thousands or MILLIONS of them. People are free. Free to do whatever they want. This, more than anything, including the history of the people who could "step" before the diaspora, or any of the "too little, too late" political machinations, hooks me good and solid. It's pretty amazing. Utopia, indeed. Too bad about all the other extinction-level events on the way, right? Oh, plot. :)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Johan Haneveld

    I'm torn between three and four stars for this book. So, 3,5 stars. On the one hand this book lacks in the area of character and story. Some threads in here (like the story about 19th century London) don't really impact the plot, however entertaining they are), and there's a lot of exposition that's clunkily delivered ('Don't you remember when we ...'). The seams in writing style and themes between the two authors start to show and become a bit jarring. So, taken as a novel, this falls short. Bu I'm torn between three and four stars for this book. So, 3,5 stars. On the one hand this book lacks in the area of character and story. Some threads in here (like the story about 19th century London) don't really impact the plot, however entertaining they are), and there's a lot of exposition that's clunkily delivered ('Don't you remember when we ...'). The seams in writing style and themes between the two authors start to show and become a bit jarring. So, taken as a novel, this falls short. But still ... still ... the idea's at the heart of the book remain gripping. As a fellow reader said on Twitter: this is one of the few SF-worlds you really want to be true. There are no expeditions along the long earth here, but there's a world with a worldwide forest that reminded me of the first episode of 'Walking with Prehistoric Beasts' (the BBC-series), and there's a scifi-conceit at the end that is mind boggling (the work of Baxter). Also some thoughts about religion and how there will always appear people to call others to do good (the best friend of the prophet character is even called 'Rocky' ha ha!). I thought the world and the conflicts between the Next (highly gifted inidividuals), machines and 'regular persons' inspiring, and I think there were more stories to be told in this universe. I imagine a fifth book would be called The Long Forever, and would deal with the Next creating countless new strings of worlds. Still, if this be the end, it's a fitting one and satisfying.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Colin Murtagh

    Well if this is how the series finishes, it's not a bad way to go. If you've read the previous three books, and if not, why not, then you'll have a fairly good idea where this one is going to end up. The Travelling aspect of the previous books has been turned down a bit, and a lot of the book takes place on one particular world. Lobsang and Agnes have retired to one of the frontier worlds, one recommended by Sally, but things there aren't quite as settled as they would like it to be. The issues Well if this is how the series finishes, it's not a bad way to go. If you've read the previous three books, and if not, why not, then you'll have a fairly good idea where this one is going to end up. The Travelling aspect of the previous books has been turned down a bit, and a lot of the book takes place on one particular world. Lobsang and Agnes have retired to one of the frontier worlds, one recommended by Sally, but things there aren't quite as settled as they would like it to be. The issues the world has forces the old gang back together again, with a new addition. The "Next" have a new member, Stan, who is incredibly reminiscent of Valentine Michael Smith from Stranger in a Strange Land. Mixed in with the modern day action, is a history of the steppers, or Waltzers as they were called in Victorian England. Yes, we're back to Victoria again, a period Pratchett seems to really like. This time we are following the history of Joshuas family tree as the stepping ability is given a possible explanation. All in it's a fairly strong way to end the series off. The plotting is beautifully done, as you'd expect, and given what we know of the major characters from prior books, everything makes sense. If I had a quibble it'd be some of the dialogue just feels stilted, but that may just be me. I'll miss the long Earth.

  30. 4 out of 5

    D.L. Morrese

    These books are different, fascinatingly so. With the setting and characters now well established, a more traditional science-fiction plot than those of the first three books emerges—contact with inscrutable aliens. But this story is equally thought provoking...and seems to leave the door open for further exploration. As an aside, Terry Pratchett has long been my favorite author. The Long Earth series that he created in collaboration with Stephen Baxter only goes to exemplify how much potential h These books are different, fascinatingly so. With the setting and characters now well established, a more traditional science-fiction plot than those of the first three books emerges—contact with inscrutable aliens. But this story is equally thought provoking...and seems to leave the door open for further exploration. As an aside, Terry Pratchett has long been my favorite author. The Long Earth series that he created in collaboration with Stephen Baxter only goes to exemplify how much potential has been lost when Sir Terry died. These are not like his Discworld stories. They are far darker, less satirical. You won't find many laughs in them. They are, in the immortal words of Monty Python, something completely different. But they show the great diversity Sir Terry had and hint at all the wonderful stories that might have been written in a alternate trouser-leg of time, one in which Death had decided that he could, maybe just this once, make an exception and turn over the glass.

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