Friday, September 26, 2014
The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
If you like: trolls * dim bulbs * space
The Long Mars takes place after the destruction caused by the Yellowstone super volcano, and the fighting across the Long Earth has subsided. Phobics continue to struggle to escape the aftermath in adjacent worlds. There was a mysterious group of young people who helped many in the aftermath, and even warned some ahead of time with survival instructions. Instead of being Datum focused, people are more willing to explore the worlds and embrace the idea of a long continent. The further people explore into the worlds, the more new creatures are found, as well as many more possible paths for success or destruction in the worlds. Finding new creatures provides opportunities to build new bonds, but the humans embarking on the Long Earth must fix the mistakes they have made in the past, or continue to repeat them in other first meetings. This interaction is the future of the Long Earth; making mistakes at first or second contact could have immense consequences for the future.
The uninhabitability of the Datum changes the view of the Long Earth. Having the Datum be compromised, especially in North America, has made the low Earths in both directions an expanded center. As they expand into other Earths, people maintain a human-centric view of the Long Earth. They are selfish, and believe in their own superiority, even though there are many other sapients through the Long Earth and humans are merely the most prolific at the present time. This view causes humans to overlook anthropological opportunities. A new way needs to be found to integrate with other species, and explore the similarities and differences between them. Presently, the Beagles are still offended by humans and their constant interferences. Humans are getting along better with the Trolls, but there is still room for greater harmony. During this conflict with the existing sapients, a new species of humans, the Next, is emerging. Many wonder if they will treat humans as humans have treated others. This leads to fear of the Next, and causes irrational behavior. This reaction will only cause more challenges to emerge in the future. The old ways are failing and radical new thinking is required for humans to succeed.
The Long Mars also explores what makes the worlds long in the first place. Exploring the Long Mars from the Gap provides some answers and new questions. Are all planets long, or must there be sapient species? Do the long worlds continue to exist after all sapients are gone from that long planet? The Long Mars can be reached from the Long Earth at the Gap. Do the long planets intersect at any other point, or are there infinite pairings of long worlds originating from each version of every planet? Could the Long Mars have been seeded by the destruction of the Gap Earth, and be the Datum Mars? Humans will seek to exploit these other long worlds, both to utilize research and fulfill their urge for exploration and domination. The discovery of the Long Mars show that, as we all learned from Jurassic Park, life will find a way. Though conditions may vary from Earth to Earth, planet to planet, there will always be creatures finding a way to survive and thrive, even in the harshest of conditions. The existence of so many others across the long worlds can only encourage humans to accept that they are one subset of a myriad of different organisms thriving across existence, and their choices for hostility or amiability can decide their place in the future’s intermingling web of life.
If you know that what you are looking for must be somewhere out in the long worlds, read The Long Mars.
Pratchett, Terry; Baxter, Stephen. The Long Mars: A Novel (Long Earth). HarperCollins, 2014. Kindle Edition.