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18 July 2012

'The Long Earth' by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

How fair would it be to have a special ability that gives me unimaginable freedom?

The whole concept left me feeling uncomfortable.  It is difficult to describe.  It is like the feeling you get when you know you have forgotten something important.  Where do I fit?  How fair would it be to have a special ability that gives me unimaginable freedom?  How much should a government or private company try to control curiosity and the urge for freedom that most of us have in spite of wanting security.  Have we grown too big or too populous to function as a society?

There are people who love themselves or worse yet, their own dreams, more than their own children.  These people exist side by side with people who love their children more than their own lives.
I'd like to believe I love my children and that their wellbeing comes before my dreams... at least until they graduate.  But am I sure?  What if the lure, the temptation was literally the size of a universe?  That special talent by the way is also shared by others naturally.  Some people can learn to develop this ability and then there are those who cannot do it at all; in fact it makes them ill.  Where is the fairness?  Should I compensate the 'have nots'?  After all, I was born with it and it is no more my fault I have this ability, than it is someone else's who doesn't have it at all.

This book left me with so many questions and a lot to think and reflect on.  In fact I am impressed with just how much I have wrestled mentally in the last few days.

What would I do?  What will I do?

Most of the questions in the book are given no answers.  Good.  I like to think for myself.  Characters act in certain ways, as their nature allows and often do not think too much or too deeply.  It is a rather sad but realistic view of most of humanity.  If any, the general suggestion is 'help when you can and be honest'.  But theses concepts are so slippery in spite of their simplicity.  Moreover, the questions are not asked directly.  I kept passing judgement on the characters and then suddenly started second guessing myself.  What would I do?  Am I sure?

The story is excellent, captivating and well thought out.  It is healthy to think deeply now and again (or as deeply as I can, in any case).  How could it be otherwise?  I asked myself so many cool questions.  I'll probably go hunting for Stephen Baxter to see what he is about on his own.

Terry Pratchett 
ISBN: 9780857520098 

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