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Comments for The Long Mars

The Long Mars: 10/06/14

cover art

The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter is the third of the Long Earth books. In the first book the gap was first discovered — a place where the Earth has been destroyed. In the second book, the gap is researched and developed into a new Cape Canaveral. Now the race is to explore and claim as much of the Long Mars as possible.

As Mars is still uncharted territory, beyond the probes sent up before Step Day, the natural steppers are recruited. It's a chance for Sally to reconnect with her father. As there is mounting evidence that Mars once had an environment that could have supported life (and may very well have), the Long Mars travels are a way to explore the many what-ifs that could have played out under different circumstances.

While there are nods to Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom series, the Martian landscapes are pure Pratchett and Baxter. Mars throughout remains an inhospitable environment to Earthlings, but there are some Mars version with thriving alien flora and fauna that remind me of Hal Clement at his best.

Back home on the Long Earth, there are a few other side plots. First, there is the continued fall out (literally) from the Yellowstone eruption. Next, there is a joint exploration between China and the United States. Finally, there's a plot about a new breed of humans, ones who are scary smart and seem to have more powers beyond the natural stepping the Joshua and Sally have. This last plot seems to be the stringer for a possible fourth book.

When The Long Mars was first announced, the title I saw floating around was The Long Childhood, clearly with the mutant plot being the highlighted one. That title would still work well for a fourth book if one is planned.

Five stars

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