Middle Earth

Written on 7 Aug, 2022

I’m not a Terry Pratchett completionist but I’ve enjoyed many of his works since first reading a review of ‘Equal Rites’ in the long-lamented (by me) 80s LM magazine. I’ve read, I think, 30-ish Discworld novels, Good Omens, Strata, The Dark Side of the Sun, and Nation. So, plenty.

The Long Earth series (co-written by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter) started back in 2012. I read the first book shortly after (nearly 10 years ago as I write these words). The second book (The Long War) I read a couple of years later and then I paused; only reading The Long Mars (book 3) after finding a copy at the local library last month.

I like the series’ premise of a world gaining gaining the ability to flit between infinite Earths, but for someone who has enjoyed a lot of Pratchett’s work, a decade is an awfully long time to spend getting through three books of a five book series.

The Long Mars is a great demonstration of why I’m slow. Like the others it feels like all set-up and no real movement. There is great inventiveness in the thought experiment of what alternative worlds might look like, going far beyond the usual alternative human history angle most stories like this take, yet at the level of a single book, it feels nothing is happening.

The Long Mars has the central mystery of what one character is looking for as they flip between multiple Martian landscapes. Then they find it and… go back home. With the return journey being written off in a short passage.

I trust the writers enough to think there is some grand plan being worked through, with the levers and cogs slowly moving the game board and you feel great revelations are coming at some point, but what are we waiting for?