Review: The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Harper
417 pp.

I am not entirely sure whether or not I liked The Long War. At least, it didn’t hold the same level of interest for me that The Long Earth did. The story begins when the death of a troll attempting to protect her child and snowballs into a conflict between Datum Earth and the various colonies, which are beginning to have thoughts of independence. What we have here is a perfect storm of civil rights and state rights as Datum Earth attempts to maintain control and the various colonies attempt to break free of the control.

Joshua gets pulled into this growing maelstrom of conflicts by Lobsang and not very much happens except some traveling and a stint of captivity at the hands of barbarian dog people. The barbarian dog people do not know how to travel between Earths; this is probably a good thing because barbarians. (Yes now would be a good time to remind everyone of the Viking Kittens.) They also don’t seem to have very much to do with whatever is going on with the main story though there are implications that trolls visiting or fleeing to their world made the dog barbarians interested in finding a way to step. (There are also some interactions with other hominids besides trolls but I’m not sure how it all comes together.)

I did not have a high level of interest for this book and found some of the plot points to be frustrating and unsettling. As an example, it becomes clear that the colonies are using the trolls as slave labor and experimental subjects against their will. Not very much is done about this, though part of the plot focuses on the trolls migrating away from the human colonies because of this treatment, and efforts to establish better communication with the trolls. (I think my ambivalence about the plot is because the protagonist who notices the problematic situation initially convinces himself there isn’t actually a problem.) Instead the story seems to be mostly about the “cultural revolution” represented by the colonies preferring to be independent from Datum Earth which is beginning to have infrastructure problems due to the mass exodus.

Some interesting points are made during the course of the book, and there were some fun interactions between various characters, but it wasn’t enough to engage me with the plot. The pacing is a little slow and flings out a lot of ideas about social justice and politics. This was a good book, but not quite my thing. I think this book is going to be a one-time read for me.


The Long War on Amazon

The Long War on Powell’s Books

 

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Filed under anomaly/nexus, science fiction, Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett

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