A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Long Earth is a cleverly constructed adventure that plays with the rules of science to present a multitude of alternate Earths. Some readers may find it to be too much of a travelogue; others may appreciate its intellectual rigor and low-key wit. There's rare profanity (including "s--t" and "f--k"), some flirting, and little mention of drinking, drugs, or smoking. Except for a major man-made disaster (whose consequences aren't detailed) and an attack on the main character by some vicious humanoids on one Earth, there's not a lot of violence.
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What's the story?
On Step Day, people equipped with a special gadget suddenly learn to travel to what seems to be an infinitude of multiple Earths, each slightly different and most nearly uninhabited by other humans. Joshua Valiente emerges as the hero of the day, and he's later manipulated into joining an airship expedition across the Long Earth in the company of Lobsang, a digital consciousness that claims to be a reincarnated Tibetan motorcycle repairman. Together, they travel to Earths containing a host of incredible wonders and unforeseen dangers. Meanwhile, on \"Datum,\" humankind's original home, civilization undergoes a series of shocks in the wake of a fleeing populace.
Is it any good?
THE LONG EARTH presents a highly intriguing scientific puzzle and follows its implications in a number of interesting directions. Authors Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter strike an agreeable balance between their usual styles. Baxter is probably responsible for the novel's scientific rigor, while Pratchett is most likely the provider of the narrative's understated wit. Although at times The Long Earth can feel too much like an episodic travelogue, the story builds with many scenes of conflict and suspense.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how small changes in Earth's history might have had huge consequences on modern civilization.
How do you think The Long Earth compares with other science-fiction stories you've read or movies you've seen that imagine travel to other planets or worlds?
If people were given almost complete geographical freedom and were able to explore a multitude of new worlds, how do you think human society would change?
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