I really wanted to like this book. I love Terry Pratchett and have read all his fiction books and was looking forward to this collaboration with Stephen Baxter. However I found the book really hard going for one simple reason – science!!
I hate science. I admit to being one of the few sci-fi fans that doesn’t get science. I’m quite capable of sitting through a sci-fi film and just watching for the hell of it. I rarely pay attention to what’s plausible and what would make sense in the real world. I tend to prefer though more fantasy based stories. Give me vampires and middle-earth over quantum physics any day.
I’ve never read a Stephen Baxter book and looking at the Amazon reviews for this blog it does clearly say you read his books for the science. Lesson learned for me then.
Anyway the story is about parallel universes and the ability to “step” east or west to them. The majority of people need a gizmo called a stepper that runs on potato power amongst other things to be able to do this. (This is where my lack of science lets me down. The idea of energy from potatoes sounds familiar but also absurd). However some people are born with the ability to do this by themselves.
The story is part of a trilogy so this one essentially sets up the premise. People wish to start afresh on a new land and so like original pioneers, pack themselves up and go colonise these new earths. Our hero, Joshua Valienté a natural stepper, joins forces with a faceless corporation and I think the essence of a Tibetan Monk hardwired into a computer to explore as many worlds as possible. Meanwhile back on the original (Datum) earth those that cannot step express themselves in that time honoured tradition of not understanding things – bigotry and blowing things up.
The idea behind the story is a good one. I like the idea of starting afresh somewhere far away from inner cities and civilisation. I’m sure many people feel the same way. I just wish I understood the quantum behind this particular one.
Having said that, I know full well I will read the rest. You can’t start a trilogy without completing it no matter how hard the subject matter. And, hey, maybe I will learn something along the way 🙂