It's the exploration of these worlds that is the real strength of the series for me. There are some vivid and strange worlds on offer here and to be honest I would happily have read more about the oddities and explorations here. There's also a glimpse of alien civilisations and approached in a novel fashion.
The story follows two main threads, that of the Long Mars and the Next. The Long Mars might be the title of the story, but it is the lesser thread in terms of content, but again the exploration of what might have, or could have been lends it extra weight.
The Next provide the more traditional story and plot and it doesn't excel in the same way as the exploration aspect. The basics are fine and examine the ramifications of a new human species coming into being. However it isn't developed too deeply and at times almost feels like a cursory examination of the subject.
The characters are reasonably well drawn, but do pale in comparison to the setting. Part of the issue here is that page time is spread thinly as there is quite a lot going on. In this regard the Next are perhaps the most weakly drawn.
Overall though it's a decent read and an easy one. It might not be up there with the greatest sci-fi, but it's an interesting enough read.
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The third novel in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s “Long Earth” series, which Io9 calls “a brilliant science fiction collaboration.”
2040-2045: In the years after the cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee Datum Earth to myriad Long Earth worlds. Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are all involved in this perilous rescue work when, out of the blue, Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany him. But Sally soon learns that Willis has an ulterior motive for his request. . . .
Meanwhile U. S. Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman has embarked on an incredible journey of her own, leading an expedition to the outer limits of the far Long Earth.
For Joshua, the crisis he faces is much closer to home. He becomes embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans who are beginning to emerge from their “long childhood” in the community called Happy Landings, located deep in the Long Earth. Ignorance and fear have caused “normal” human society to turn against the Next. A dramatic showdown seems inevitable. . . .
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