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The Long Earth

Witty sci-fi adventure takes hero to alternate Earths.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The Long Earth imagines a seeming infinitude of alternate Earths, but it does so with a reasonable degree of scientific rigor. The authors keep in mind the rules of biology, geology, and physics as they present portraits of planets where only a variable or two has been tweaked from our reality.

Positive messages

The Long Earth celebrates human curiosity and independence. Multiple Earths mean new avenues of exploration -- for wealth, for personal freedom, for scientific advancement. However, the book makes clear that the disappearance of physical boundaries doesn't guarantee universal peace and prosperity.

Positive role models

Although narrated from multiple viewpoints, The Long Earth is largely the story of Joshua Valiente, the boy hero of Step Day, who saves scores of people who find themselves suddenly transported to different worlds. As an adult, Joshua crisscrosses the Long Earth aboard the Mark Twain and proves his bravery again and again in his quest for knowledge, eventually questioning his preference for solitude and considering the need for companionship.


Except for a major man-made disaster (whose consequences aren't detailed), there's not a lot of violence in The Long Earth. Joshua is attacked by some vicious humanoids on one Earth.


Little discussion (or even acknowledgment) of sex in The Long Earth. Joshua shows vague interest in a female character, but their flirting never progresses very far.


Adult characters use words like "s--t" and "f--k" very occasionally. "Hell" and "damn" also appear, but rarely.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Joshua remembers an instance of under-age drinking from his childhood. Otherwise, little mention of drinking, drugs, or smoking.

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.

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. 

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Authors:Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:History, Robots, Science and nature, Space and aliens
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:June 19, 2012
Number of pages:352
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of The Long Earth was written by

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Teen, 13 years old Written byAnonomus October 19, 2013

The Long Earth: Tremendous Book

Dear Readers, If you are thinking about reading this book, commence the reading! It is really a great book that would interest people of all ages. I'm twelve and I think the wit Sir Terry displays is of great magnitude. I would highly recommend this book to advanced readers who are looking for a well-written book.
Parent of a 1, 5, 7, 11, and 13 year old Written byCSMmom123 March 28, 2013

The Long Earth

Loved this book but it has a lot of cursing but no sexual themes I won't let my children read it though until they are 18-19 because they say the F,S,H,and D words.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking