Subject: Oh, that's why I recognised the name!
Posted on: 2020-02-03 16:55:07 UTC

Yeah, Andy Weir and Cory Doctorow both contributed to Press Start to Play. See previous comment for my review, obviously. :)

Now that you've brought up the Long Earth books, I get to indulge in some Pratchett Sr. fanning. As Thoth said, the series is co-written by Pratchett and Baxter, and it's obvious much of the world-building was Pratchett. It has his signature all over it - plus, y'know, the original short version appears in one of his short story collections. That's a hint. ^_^ But I got the impression that the actual writing was mostly Baxter. There's one character who screams Pratchett at me, but overall it felt like Pterry had an idea that he really wanted to see written, but either didn't feel he could write serious scifi, or knew he was out of time to do it.

Which, for me personally, is a real shame, because I've never really liked Stephen Baxter's writing. I've taken a run at it several times: I've read various Xeelee works, the Time Odyssey trilogy with Arthur C. Clarke - another 'let's get this done before I go' - the Long Earth series, the Northland trilogy, at least one of the Manifold books... um... okay, this list is getting unwieldy. Looking at his bibliography, I've actually read some or all of most of his series - but there's very few that I've re-read once they were complete. (This includes the Long Earth, sadly.)

I just keep bouncing off the general... not even grimness, the griminess of his writing. I think he's aiming at realism, but it comes across as a combination of 'by golly, there was a lot of biological nastiness going on' and a deep pessimism about humans as a species.

Which is a real shame, because I adore his worldbuilding. The Northland trilogy, which starts from an AU Stone Age, is a fantastic alternate history - in which every single character seems to be barely suppressing the urge to shag and then stab someone. It's just... grimy.

(Also, I was bitterly disappointed at what the last book of Time's Tapestry did to the coolest lines of the previous books. The feathered serpent, plague-hardened/Flies over Ocean Sea/Flies east... But this goes back a good bit longer than that.)

But I've always had a penchant for the lighter side of fiction. If you love intricate and grounded worldbuilding, and like or don't mind unsympathetic and kind of messy humans, I can highly recommend... probably everything Stephen Baxter ever wrote.

Meanwhile, I would unreservedly recommend everything Terry Pratchett wrote. If you want scifi, there's Strata and The Dark Side of the Sun from his older works, and Nation on the edge of the genre from near the end.


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