The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
What if you could download plans from the internet and with these plans, a handful of supplies from the local Radio Shack and a potato make your own stepper? Why you’d be able to flip the switch west or east and “step” into the earth next to us. And you could possibly keep going for millions of steps. No one knows, but the iterations of the earth appear to be endless. Each new long earth is an earth that could have been. My personal favorite: what if the catastrophic collision that created our moon never happened? What would our planet be like?
The narrative follows Joshua, a natural stepper who can flit between the earths of the long earth without a device and without feeling ill while stepping – which is a deterrent to most people getting too far from datum earth (our earth). We also follow Lobsang, a computer who is given rights as a human being since he has managed to prove himself to be the reincarnation of a Tibetan man. These touches of whimsy, and the odd jokes thrown throughout, are definitely the Pratchett touches coming through!
The book, while fun and funny also brings up some really interesting “what if?” questions. Gold is awful easy to find when you already know where it was discovered and can just step an earth over or two to get it, what would happen to the economy? Does a country govern the same boundaries of land across the long earth? While many questions are answered, many are not, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series to see what happens in the long earth.