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WOSSNAME -- June 2012 -- News, Reviews, Horoscope

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  • WOSSNAME-owner@yahoogroups.com
    WOSSNAME Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion June 2012 (Volume 15, Issue 6, Post 2a) ******************************************** 01) EDITOR S NOTE 02)
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2012
      Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion
      June 2012 (Volume 15, Issue 6, Post 2a)

      01) EDITOR'S NOTE
      13) CLOSE



      For our second posting of the month, we bring you not so much "late-
      breaking" news as "nearly constant and ongoing" news! Assorted Long
      Earth events, timely reminders, and a number of reviews of The Long
      Earth, including my own giving the book a very high recommendation
      despite what I consider to be its flaws.

      Fernando finally delivered his Horoscope for the month, at the
      eleventh hour as usual, and it's a cracker if I do say so myself.
      But this time around you will find it at the end of the issue
      instead of the front.

      On with the show!

      – Annie Mac, Editor

      EDITOR'S EDIT: Ygroups seems to have been having some problems, and
      the original posting of this issue went missing some twelve hours
      ago, so I am biting the bullet and trying a re-post. If you
      eventually get two copies of the same information, don't panic!



      Remember, Dignity in Dying's online auction of dinner with Terry
      Pratchett is still open! It ends next Wednesday 4th July. The eBay
      page for this auction can be found here:




      3.1 Group reading video!

      In which a plethora of famous and familiar – and less famous and
      familiar – faces read the opening chapter of The Long Earth aloud:


      3.2 Official launch in Trafalgar Square!


      Video of the launch "keepy-uppy":


      3.3 Genesis of The Long Earth cover!


      3.4 How to make your own Stepper!

      An animated tutorial:




      "Even when discussing the difficult subject of his rare form of
      Alzheimer's he can't help but look on the bright side and even throw
      in a few jokes for good measure. We are sitting in a plush London
      hotel room to discuss his new book and Pratchett is punchy and
      ebullient. Even as he tells me that his condition means he can no
      longer tie his own shoelaces, he glances down at the black loafers
      he's wearing and adds: 'On the other hand a nice pair of slip-ons
      are okay and since I seem to be on flights a lot it saves time at
      airport security.'...

      "As the fantasy Discworld series became a huge success so the
      fragments of his early sci-fi work lay discarded in a drawer. 'Then
      about two years ago I picked them up again and thought there are
      some good ideas here. It would be a shame for them to go to waste,'
      says Pratchett. 'But I thought I can't do it by myself. I really
      need someone else who can look quantum in the eye without
      flinching.' In other words he needed an expert, specifically in hard
      science fiction, which is where Stephen Baxter comes in... Pratchett
      and Baxter each took different plotlines – sometimes one coming up
      with the idea and the other writing it. 'In the end we weren't sure
      who'd written what,' says Pratchett, 'though I'm sure there are some
      fans who will say they can tell.'..."




      The Long Earth tops BooksOnBoard's list of top-selling eBooks in the

      "'The Long Earth, Terry Pratchett's new bestselling science fiction
      ebook, is not a Discworld novel,' said Bob LiVolsi, founder and CEO
      of BooksOnBoard. 'And I don't just mean that literally. The Long
      Earth offers readers some of the humor that Pratchett utilizes in
      his famous Discworld series, but the difference in approach and tone
      is marked. This is a remarkably thought-provoking read, and it
      refuses to offer readers easy answers to the questions it raises...
      A team such as Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter could not be
      expected to produce anything but a powerful, mesmerizing
      landscape — or landscapes...'"


      ...and it's also a bestseller in the less "listed" places:

      "The London Evening Standard runs a quiet column every Thursday
      which gives a list of bestsellers in the capital city. It takes its
      sources from Daunt Books, Foyles, Hatchards, Heywood Hill, John
      Sandoe and Waterstones. Whilst the usual bestseller lists tend to be
      stuffed with crime and cookery books, these provide a more
      interesting look into what people are reading and discussing. This
      month we see pure escapism as people stock up for summer... Still
      more escapist is Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's The Long
      Earth, which envisages a universe in which there are endless, pre-
      lapsarian versions of earth to which people can, literally,




      The first Dodger-related event is gearing up! Topping & Company
      Booksellers of Ely will be hosting an event, along with Sir Pterry
      of course:

      "We are delighted to announce that best-selling author Sir Terry
      Pratchett will be coming to Ely to celebrate the publication of
      Dodger, his new novel. This is a rare opportunity to hear Sir Terry
      talking about Dodger, a tale of skulduggery and dark deeds set in
      London, in the magical atmosphere of Ely Cathedral. There will be a
      very strictly limited opportunity for 100 ticket holders (chosen at
      the event) to meet Sir Terry on the night; for everyone else, copies
      of Dodger marked with a stamp designed uniquely for this event will
      be available, allowing everyone the chance to have a copy linked to
      this landmark evening."

      When: Monday 17th September
      Venue: Ely Cathedral, CB7 4DL
      Time: Doors open at 6:45pm
      Tickets: £10 for adults and £5 for children, with the price of
      each ticket redeemable against a copy of Dodger on the evening (one
      ticket redeemable per book).

      Topping & Company Booksellers of Ely
      9 High Street, Ely, Cambs CB7 4LJ
      Telephone: (01353) 645005
      Email: ely@...
      Opening Hours
      Monday - Saturday: 8.45am - 6pm
      Sunday: 9.30am - 6pm.





      Melbourne, Australia's bookshop chain Dymocks, known for many years
      as a loving promoter of Discworld and other Pratchett books, will
      run a special promotion all through July:

      "Fill those gaps in your Pratchett Library with a 'Three for the
      price of Two' offer through to the end of July! (YES! Includes the
      new titles!) Cheapest item free, naturally ;-)

      "AND - here's a competition to blow your mind: Buy ANY Pratchett
      title for the chance to win a Pratchett Prize Pack! A copy of LONG
      EARTH signed by both Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter... A copy of
      DODGER (to be released 18 September 2012)... A copy of each of the
      winning titles of the Terry Pratchett 'Anywhere But Here, Anywhere
      But Now' Prize, APOCALYPSE COW by Michael Logan and HALF SICK OF
      SHADOWS by David Logan... A 'World Of Terry Pratchet 2012' canvas
      bag [with the correct spelling on the bag, we hope! – Ed.]... See
      instore for further details!"



      From Damian of the Nullus Anxietas gang:

      I have recently begun running a monthly Ankh Morpork tournament.
      The next tournament will be held on 29 July at Dymocks Melbourne
      before returning to its regular home at Good Games Blackburn the
      following month. $5 entry and a prize for the winner. For those of
      you who are unaware, there is an Unseen University Convivium taking
      place next weekend in Adelaide – all the details are here:


      And we are only 9 months out from the next Australian Discworld
      Convention (aka Nullus Anxietas) to be held in Melbourne on 8-10
      March! We are planning lots of events in the lead up to NA4 so be
      sure and check in on the website regularly or find us on Facebook,
      Twitter and Google+

      Got ideas on Discworldy stuff you'd like to see in Melbourne?? Let
      us know in the convention forums or any of the above websites and I
      look forward to seeing some of you at our events!



      By Annie Mac

      A few weeks ago, I went to see The Avengers, the Joss Whedon-
      scripted and directed superhero film. I like superhero films as a
      rule, I grew up reading and loving Marvel comics, and I have been in
      awe of Joss Whedon's writing and directing skills for many years
      now, so my expectations were fairly high. And here's a funny thing:
      I said, as my friends and I watched the closing credits, "That may
      well be the definitive superhero movie"; I was sufficiently
      impressed to go back to see it again (with mostly different
      companions) two weeks later; I intend to buy the DVD of it and watch
      it repeatedly over the years... and yet my one-sentence summary of
      The Avengers was "Joss Whedon is such a genius that he *almost*
      managed to make a silk purse." – because for all its clever
      writing, fantastically witty dialogue and exquisite direction,
      cinematography, editing and special effects, it simply did not touch
      my heart as completely as the X-Men films have done.

      So what has this to do with The Long Earth?

      Well. In a brief mention in last month's issue, shortly after my
      first reading of the book' I described The Long Earth as "a fast,
      exciting piece of storytelling" containing "fascinating ideas, great
      imagery, and some very memorable characters". All of that is true,
      but The Long Earth also is not without its flaws, and those flaws
      mean that this unquestionably well-crafted and clever novel
      ultimately failed to lift and fill my heart in the way that Terry
      Pratchett's other work always does.

      Before I go any further, Reader, I'll stop right here and
      acknowledge that some things I perceived as flaws may not be
      considered flaws by some of you – read on to the section about
      characters – but no, it isn't a matter of The Long Earth being in
      a different genre. There has been much trumpeting here and there
      along the lines of "Terry Pratchett's writing is taking a new
      direction: he's doing science fiction now!"; but for many of us,
      this announcement sounds daft, because we know that Terry Pratchett
      has been writing – and releasing – some fine, fine science
      fiction novels and shorter pieces for decades, among them The Dark
      Side of the Sun and Strata (early-career but promising), the Johnny
      Maxwell trilogy (especially the first and third books), Night Watch
      (science fiction plus Literature-quality sociopolitics and
      psychology, cleverly disguised as a fabulous Discworld novel), and
      one of my own all-time favourite science fiction short stories,
      *# ifdef DEBUG + "world/enough" + "time"* (which I rate at least as
      highly as Robert Heinlein's classic "By His Bootstraps").

      Let's be honest: there's no way to critique a new Pratchett novel,
      in any genre, without comparing it to his extant body of work –
      or, for that matter, without comparing it to any previous Pratchett
      collaborations – and by that yardstick The Long Earth doesn't
      quite measure up to most of the author's previous brilliance. But
      given what we already know of Terry Pratchett's mighty writing-fu, I
      cannot help but lay the blame this time at the feet of co-writer
      Stephen Baxter.

      Baxter's strong suit has always been the Big Idea, most notably that
      of a technological advance that effectively rewrites human society
      at a fundamental level, and he does it well, but he suffers from the
      typical science fiction writer's weakness when it comes to putting
      flesh on the bones of the story. A good example would be The Light
      of Other Days, another collaborative novel (written, or at least co-
      created, with Arthur C. Clarke): fabulous ideas set down masterfully
      but let down somewhat by flat, poorly realised characters. In the
      case of Baxter and Clarke, you have two bone-dry ideas men with
      little grasp of how to create living, breathing characters, so this
      is unsurprising. In the case of Baxter and Pratchett, you have a
      bone-dry ideas man and a master of character depth, character
      motivation and sparkling dialogue exchanges – and yet the end
      result lacks that depth and sparkle that I expect from anything
      Terry Pratchett has a hand in.

      But that doesn't mean this review is a negative one. It really
      doesn't. So let's start with the general and the positive, shall we?
      To wit:

      The Long Earth is a science fiction novel, very much so, well into
      the realm of ideas-driven "hard" science fiction, and it delivers
      the aforementioned fascinating ideas and great imagery. It gives
      excellent new twists to well-trodden speculative concepts. It also
      presents what has to be one of the most, if not the most, bizarre
      accoutrements to inter-universal travel and demonstrates likely
      social and political changes in a well-thought-out manner. The
      actual wordcraft is miles above almost all other science fiction
      (not that we would expect any less here). In short, it does what it
      says on the tin, and on that level it works very well indeed.

      Plot is not a particularly strong point, but this is often the case
      with ideas-driven fiction. As most of you already know from The Long
      Earth's long promotional run-up, the story revolves around a
      homemade device, freely and anonymously released on the internet,
      that allows its user to "Step" to and from alternate Earths in
      alternate universes, and the ways this simple technology changes,
      well, everything. We are shown the chaos, terror and joy of "Step
      Day", the attempts of various nations' authorities to deal with the
      opening of this ultimate frontier, the ways in which human nature
      asserts itself in the same old manner even in the face of the new,
      and the desolation of those who for unexplained reasons are
      physically unable to Step. Beyond that, The Long Earth is the story
      of two entities who set out together on an exploring trip to the
      furthest reaches of the "High Meggas", a million or more Earths
      beyond our own "Datum Earth" – Joshua, a hyperintelligent,
      talented, methodical and rather obnoxious young man who was born
      under very unusual circumstances, prefers his own company to the
      extreme, and craves the Silence (no, not what you Doctor Who fans
      are thinking), and Lobsang, an even more intelligent, talented,
      methodical and rather obnoxious AI who is legally human (and yes, he
      has a certificate of sorts to prove it; now where have we read that
      one before, hmm...) – and whom and what they find along their way.

      There is humour, though much of it feels slightly out of place and
      does not meld as well as it could have with the rest of the "feel"
      of the narrative. There is drama, though precious little of it. Some
      guns of the Chekhov variety (Anton, not Pavel, in case you wondered)
      are drawn but never fired – though in fairness, this is the first
      of a multi-volume tale, so the reader has no way of knowing whether
      the unfired guns are an oversight or merely a long-term, teasing
      set-up for later parts of the story arc. Oh, and the book ends on a
      cliffhanger. A big cliffhanger. A really big cliffhanger. Argh!

      Speaking of guns, there aren't any on the alternate Earths, at least
      not until settlers construct the necessaries to mine and refine
      metals. But guns are hardly the only source of danger amongst
      humans. The Long Earth seemed to have an unrealistic dearth of
      violence – yes, the idea of having one's own unspoilt and possibly
      untenanted (by humans, at any rate) planet would charm many, but
      human nature is illogical at best and "I was here first!" would
      surely take precedence, with people preferring to fight for *this*
      or *that* Earth rather than to move along to the next empty planet.
      There are mentions of crime at first, but not many; instead, we get
      a "room and privacy solve everything" scenario that rings a bit
      false for me.

      When it comes to fiction reading, I expect – demand! –
      characters I can take into my heart, or at the very least
      figuratively invite home for a cuppa, whether they are likeable
      people or not. The Lancre witches, the various Watchpersons and
      denizens of Ankh-Morpork, Johnny Maxwell and his cohorts, Maurice
      and the Clan, Mau and Daphne, almost all the characters in Good
      Omens... I cared about them all. The characters in The Long Earth,
      on the other hand, *should* have engaged me but never did. Creating
      characters worth caring about can be done in science fiction. Larry
      Niven did it, in his Known Space stories and even more so in his
      tales of the Warlock and decline of magic as a natural resource.
      Neal Stephenson does it almost all the time. I tried to find a
      reason to care about any of the characters in The Long Earth, but
      did not succeed, and this lessened my enjoyment of the story.

      On a side note, Pratchett readers are already familiar with the
      humble potato as an object of power (as seen in The Truth). This
      time around, having your potato doesn't help you safely reach the
      next life... or no, wait, it does. The easy to assemble Stepper is
      strangely personal. Each would-be traveller has to finish assembling
      their Stepper with their own hands; otherwise the device will not
      work, unless you are one of the small but measurable number of
      people who can "Step" without mechanical assistance (again, a teaser
      that is not resolved in this first volume). Any sort of potato will
      do, apparently – which to this reviewer's mind is itself a
      figurative can of worms that could have been addressed or at least
      mentioned. For instance, does the freshness of the potato count?
      Does it matter if it's cooked? Is it possible to travel to an
      alternate Earth with a Stepper powered by, say, a nice hot bag of
      chips? Did the authors gather around a pub table at some point
      discussing exactly those questions? Enquiring minds want to know,
      for after all, science fiction is all about enquiring minds...

      Also, I think we finally know who came up with the weird nuns in
      Good Omens. That part (weird nuns in The Long Earth) worked, even
      though we never actually met the most unusual of them.

      In summation:

      Is The Long Earth a good book? Certainly! Am I looking forward very,
      very eagerly to the next instalment? Definitely! The Long Earth does
      disappoint in some crucial areas, but that doesn't change the fact
      that, when it comes to hard science fiction – or what-if fiction
      – created in collaboration, The Long Earth is as good as it gets.

      Final verdict 1: it's not a Discworld novel, but we already knew
      that, so don't expect it to be.

      Final verdict 2: a very good book that I feel should have been a
      great one.

      Final final verdict: flawed but compelling, and therefore highly



      By author Adam Roberts:

      "The Long Earth reads much more like a Baxter novel than a Pratchett
      one. It's not very funny, for one thing – discounting some wry
      dialogue and one not-very-successful stab at a comic character...
      Instead our hero, Joshua, explores stepwise for a million earths or
      so, the whole journey rendered with a characteristically Baxteresque
      mix of big-scale imagination and scientific rigour. The resulting
      novel is a surprisingly gentle piece of work. Something Wicked, or
      at least Something Worrying, is sweeping in from the further reaches
      of the long earth, driving frightened steppers before it like
      refugees; but it's a long time before we become aware of this, and
      not much is made of it. Otherwise human settlement upon the
      alternate earths is rural and low-tech (steppers cannot carry iron
      with them, for unexplained reasons) and almost entirely free of
      crime, rapine and nastiness. Lacking the pressures of overpopulation
      and with infinite natural resources to draw on, people just seem to
      get along with one another. Indeed, I'm tempted to call The Long
      Earth an exercise in utopian writing; an unfashionable mode
      nowadays, when grim-and-gritty dystopias rule the publishing roost.
      But I, for one, found it extremely refreshing..."

      To read the full review, go to:




      On the Tor Books blog:

      "It's a lot of ideas, themes, and characters for one book to carry,
      and it's impressive that Pratchett and Baxter carry it off so
      gracefully... As you'd expect from these authors, the writing is
      elegant and witty, peppered with sly pop-culture references. The
      worlds of the Long Earth are all richly rendered, and even the walk-
      on characters are deftly imagined. Ironically, if any portion of it
      doesn't completely succeed, it's Joshua and Lobsang's rambling
      journey, during which the reader may become as frustrated as Joshua
      does with Lobsang's habit of withholding information to drive the
      quest (and thus the plot) forward. The conclusion feels slightly
      rushed and not entirely satisfying; the great reveal at the end of
      their journey is a little too easily resolved, the questions raised
      about the nature of sentience and human intelligence talked through
      a little too quickly..."


      By Kate Padilla at the Daily Reporter:

      "On the surface, this book works with a very cool idea. Parallel
      universes are a widely-debated and -accepted part of quantum
      physics. It's interesting to place characters and plot line in this
      theory, to see how these characters will deal with the issues that
      will undoubtedly arise.

      "I'm told – since I am still new in my knowledge of physics and
      science – that in quantum physics, these parallel Earths are
      directionless. In a parallel world, I am still me, sitting at work,
      but I might be listening to a different song or writing a different
      article. But this world is not necessarily east or west of our
      Earth, which is what Pratchett and Baxter suggest. Joshua and the
      other steppers move west to one Earth, which they call West 1, and
      so forth. I can overlook that, simply by ignorance. I can even
      overlook the talking vending machine, Lobsang. But I can't overlook
      the writing. In reading this book, I got the feeling that Pratchett
      and Baxter thought that their readers wouldn't understand the
      overarching science behind the book. But instead of using the
      characters to slowly unfold the story alongside the science, they
      wrote the dialogue to a lower level..."


      By Karen Sandstrom at Cleveland.com:

      "The notion of a parallel universe probably has been around since
      humans first set down their spears to sniff daisies and ponder the
      sky... So the idea at the center of the collaboration between
      British fantasy masters Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter doesn't
      exactly smack us on the head with originality. Yet it's the
      execution that makes or breaks a novel, and there's a lot to like
      about 'The Long Earth'... The collaboration works, especially the
      writing... The Long Earth" sets up a fun sandbox of ideas, but does
      less well with plot. As Joshua and Lobsang travel, their talks about
      the meaning of it all overwhelm the action, which is too episodic
      and a little tepid..."




      It's not been in bookshops for very long, but there are already
      numerous reviews out in the blogosphere! Here be a selection...

      By Monica at Baltimore Reads:

      "What I love most about this book is the writing style. It takes
      this quasi string theory idea and makes it as realistic as possible
      while still adding in fantasy and adventure. While I can see
      elements of the writing that I can say are definitely Terry
      Pratchett and elements that are definitely not and thus must be
      Stephen Baxter, that is mostly because I have read so much of Terry
      Pratchett and know his voice. The two writers voices meld together
      almost seamlessly to create an entirely new voice that is perfect
      for this novel.

      "Like Pratchett's Discworld books, the world created is perfect for
      commentary about our own world, and the authors hit on some key
      issues such as government economics and hatred of things that are
      different (racism, sexism, specie-ism, etc). Unlike Discworld, this
      book is less tongue in cheek satire and more of a thought
      experiment. Whether this is the effect of Stephen Baxter or just a
      more serious side of Terry Pratchett, I enjoyed the result..."


      By the Speculative Scotsman:

      "...though at the outset we experience the Long Earth from a variety
      of incidental perspectives, these recede into the middle distance
      the moment the Mark Twain sets sail. Thereafter the reader is so
      removed from it all that this fantastic voyage feels oddly...
      normal. Once the initial wonder of The Long Earth wears off, I'm
      afraid there's not much more to it than a robot and a boy trading
      barbs in a ship in the sky. Not until the Earth-shattering last act,
      that is, when Pratchett and Baxter double down on their deeply
      appealing premise, revealing — not before time — the infinite
      possibilities of The Long Earth as a setting and indeed a series. I
      won't give the game away, except to say that there's no going back
      now — and how! On the whole, The Long Earth is a little more
      frivolous than I might have liked, and the middle section sags to
      the point of distraction, but thanks to Baxter the science in solid,
      and overall the fiction is fantastic fun — that'll be Pratchett.
      Whatever their respective roles, between the pair of them they get
      it together when it matters most..."


      By Chris:

      "I really like that the travel between worlds is done with a device
      so simple you can build it with parts from Radio Shack and power it
      with a potato. I also love that the authors explore the real-world
      ramifications of what would happen if people could travel like
      this... What I liked less, frankly, was much of the story execution.
      The Green family is entirely unsympathetic... I also got a little
      bored of the travelogue between Joshua and Lobsang. The
      conversations and the various worlds they were visiting were
      interesting, but it just kept going and going and going, and the
      little cut-aways to what was happening with the Green family or what
      was happening back home were more distracting than anything else,
      and not always in a useful way. I also found the ending very

      "So why the positive review with those complaints? Because while the
      conversations do go on and on and on, they ARE interesting, as is
      the travel. I also liked the various almost-humans and the possible
      dinosaurian civilization that are encountered. I like that some of
      the various problems these new worlds create with the old one are
      addressed. I also really liked the characters of Joshua and Lobsang,
      and Lobsang's very human nature. He seems the most 'Pratchettian'
      character. I also liked the general concept overall. It's just
      interesting to think that there could be well over two-million
      alternate Earths, and possibly a lot more, that are out there, and
      of those, ours is the only one with humans. But my favorite part of
      the book comes near the very end, when we learn what has been
      driving various non-human intelligences 'Westward' over the last few
      years. It leads to something which reminded me very heavily of Star
      Trek: The Motion Picture, 2001 and various episodes of Doctor Who,
      and I mean all of that in the best possible way..."


      By Zoe Oliver:

      "I'm not hugely familiar with Stephen Baxter, but this read very
      much like it was only somewhere around 10% Pratchett. Only a tiny
      slice of his wit seemed to bleed through into what was at times a
      very dull read. The Long Earth is a jumpy and disjointed novel,
      although I suppose this is implicit in the theme of 'stepping'
      between worlds. It's a choppy and often uncomfortable read. I
      finished it somewhat unsure as to the target audience, but I'm
      around 85% of the opinion that it's aimed at the YA market. That's
      how it reads to me, for the most part. The timeline is jumbled and
      the main plot feels weak, the other threads aren't enough to support
      it and it flounders along, almost embarrassingly in some places.
      Everything feels haphazard. There's a really nice concept to the
      novel, but the potential wasn't realised at all for me.."


      By birthofanewwitch:

      "3.5/5 stars – a fun, solid multiverse tale!

      "What I liked best about 'Long Earth' was the multiple points of
      view and the multiple narrators, and how they were all related to
      each other. After 'Step Day' (the first 'step', or travel, into an
      Earth/universe other than 'Datum Earth', or the Earth as we know it
      in our reality right now), there's a whole bunch of issues that now
      face both people and their governments. There's the opportunity for
      everyone to start over, and create the utopia for their dreams –
      so tons of people are leaving to try to redo human society all over
      again. Everyone involved in an important way in Step Day becomes a
      narrator, so we get their story, and more details/backstory that's
      not included in the general narrative about Step Day and everything
      that's happened since then, which was really great. Pratchett and
      Baxter do a fantastic job there, and the POV transitions flowed very
      naturally, and nowhere did it feel stilted or unnatural.

      "What didn't feel so complete were some of the more important
      details of the Long Earth (the multiple Earths/universes as a whole)
      itself. We're only given a few details – as in, with every big
      choice humans have made, yet another Earth has become created. In
      the blurb, we're told that the Dinosaur Extinction Event may or may
      not have happened on some of these Earths, but in the book, it's not
      really talked about all of that much. I didn't need too much more
      information, but more than I got in the book, and that jolted me
      about out of the world that Pratchett and Baxter created in this
      book. So the worldbuilding wasn't airtight..."


      By Classic Vasilly, who gave TLE 5/5 despite a few quibbles:

      "There's so much for the authors to explain about these different
      worlds and the pair do an excellent job with world building...
      Pratchett and Baxter go to lengths to illustrate how society might
      change if people are able to make new lives elsewhere. In the story,
      the poor and those who are no longer willing to be chained to their
      careers, leave Datum Earth without a second glance. Their absence
      hurts economies and empty cities. The rich find their fortunes
      dwindling but are unwilling to start over again in a new world.
      Those who are unable to step find themselves in heartbreaking
      situations, as they are left behind by family and friends. I thought
      the changes in society were believable even though I wanted to know
      more about the people who weren't exploring.

      "What I didn't like about the book is that for the first 100 pages,
      readers are introduced to countless characters. There's just so much
      going on. You get attached to one character and the next thing you
      know, you're being introduced to another character. There's this
      constant back and forth. I almost put the book down for good but I
      was curious about where the story was leading to. After the first
      100 pages, not as many new characters are being introduced and the
      plot picks up..."


      By Falcata Times:

      "I was really looking forward to this story for quite some time.
      After all the last tale that was an amalgamation between Terry and
      another (Neil Gaiman) was Good Omens and a real joy to read. What
      this tale does is unfurl at an incredibly slow and convoluted pace,
      its sadly lacking the magic that either of the authors bring on
      their own and sadly feels more like a case of big names selling
      rather than a tale of gripping imagination. It's difficult to work
      your way through, feels like it has no real twists and sadly lacks
      character wise for me as a reader to have anything to hold onto..."


      By David Hebblethwaite:

      "It takes a while for The Long Earth to coalesce, as a number of
      plot strands present themselves at the outset, and it's not clear
      initially which will be the main focus. But it's quite exhilarating,
      first to begin the story at a point where the notion of parallel
      worlds and the stepping technology are well established (and, even
      though Pratchett and Baxter do fill in the back story, they don't
      especially dwell on it), then to have this sense of a raw story
      coming together as the pages turn... There's not much humour in the
      novel, and what there is – such as the comic-cut biker nun, Sister
      Agnes – feels somewhat out of place. But the book's interplay of
      fantasy and science fiction is interesting; structurally, the Long
      Earth could be seen as a scientific riposte to the traditional
      fantasy multiverse...

      "The thing is, though, that – almost by definition – this is not
      a set-up that lends itself naturally to drama: there's nothing much
      for characters to act against , and most problems can be solved
      simply by stepping to the next Earth. The novel never manages to
      find enough drama to compensate for this..."


      By The Literary Omnivore:

      "As fond as I am of science fiction, I'm not really an idea-only
      person. Even the dumbest concept can work if the characters work. I
      firmly believe that good stories come from good characters. And The
      Long Earth is firmly an idea-only novel. Based on a wee bit of
      reading I did for this, Baxter is an idea man through and through;
      he does hard science fiction. Now, of course, there's nothing bad
      about being an idea man if you can deliver on characters and it's
      good to have Pratchett, who does characters well, onboard to correct
      if need be. But The Long Earth isn't about a cool story; it's about
      a cool concept... There's no tension and little set-up. I'll be
      honest — I'm tempted to blame Baxter, because I'm more familiar
      with Pratchett's writing and I've rarely seen this happen. But I
      think this is simply a case of two professionals succumbing to
      Worldbuilder's in the worst way..."


      By Paula A:

      "There were a lot of really cool concepts in this book as well as a
      lot of things that didn't feel quite developed enough. The idea of
      The Long Earth and the consequences of its discovery is really
      awesome. Some immediate consequences were that people were stepping
      away from their lives to run away from their problems- one day they
      just stepped away from everything and just kept walking into the
      unknown. Other people and communities saw it as an attempt to
      restart civilization on a random Earth and see if they can do any
      better than what is on the Datum. The idea of an infinite number of
      Earths was really neat as well- because on each one, things were
      slightly different than the one before because evolution took a
      slightly different path. But some things didn't feel like they were
      wrapped up completely..."



      by Fernando Magnifico

      Buongiorno, it is I, Fernando Magnifico! My friends, the Lady
      Anaemia Asterisk is not available this month due to trivets, but do
      not be afeared for Fernando shall meet all your astrologicationary

      My friends, if you have been paying the close attention to
      Fernando's horoscopes – and who would not? – you will remember
      that last month the astrological signs changed, not once but twice.
      Well my friends, Fernando warned that there were still stars flying
      across the constellations, which have played the havoc with the
      lesser astrologers' feeble astrologing. But do not worry about them,
      for you have Fernando to look after your needs, and Fernando has the
      very nice and accurate star charts and mathematical calculations.

      And so it is that yet again Fernando has trumped the lesser
      astrologers, for while they are still arguing about last month's
      changes to the constellations, Fernando knows that there is another
      change. (Fernando is filled with wonder that with a simple mistimed
      flap of the flipper, Great A'Tuin can cause so many changes to the
      heavens!) Will it be your sign, cara mia? Read on to find out, for
      Fernando is the great one for keeping his readers in the suspenders.

      My friends, with so many changes to the stars, Fernando can forgive
      you if you are feeling the uncertain and perhaps even the concerned.
      But do not be concerned, for at a time like this you should remember
      those great men and women who carve out their own destiny: the
      Heroes. Who can forget Heroes like Cohen the Barbarian, who
      conquered the Agatean Empire with nothing more than a small cucumber
      and an army of a million invisible vampire ghosts, Hrun the
      Chimerian, who fed the Giant Dimedes to his own man-eating Hares,
      and Herrena the Henna-Haired Harridan, who broke into the Sultan of
      Ymitury's harem and stole the famed Singing Scissors of Cecilly? So
      this month, listen to Fernando and the stars tell you which Heroes
      you are best suited to emulate or support.

      Ciao bella!


      The Currant Bun (formerly The Adamant Hedgehog) 21 Mar – 20 Apr

      Former Hoggers, Fernando has the molto excitement for you, for your
      sign has now shifted to be the Currant Bun! This is good news for
      those around you, for the Currant Bun will have a sweetening
      influence on your disposition, although Fernando knows that there
      are those (such as Fernando's Aunt Peppita) who get the wind from
      the currants.

      Bunnies, as you who were born under the Sign of the Currant Gun are
      known, Heroes are not always the Barbarian. Sometimes the Heroes can
      be the civilised person of the city, like Ankh-Morpork's own Captain
      Carrot, who is nearly as magnificent as Fernando himself, or Genua's
      Lieutenant Courgette, who it is said can kill a man with one blow of
      her enormous eyelashes. And so it is that the stars have told
      Fernando that the Hero most suited for Bunnies is, ironically, the
      mysterious Hedgehog, the costumed crimefighter who strikes fear into
      the superstitious criminals of the countryside with his
      tranquilliser quills and his protection from being buggered at all.
      Fernando is sad to say that, for the time being at least, the stars
      do not reveal to us the Hedgehog's secret identity, but trust
      Fernando on this, the stars say that we shall be hearing a lot more
      about the Quilled Crusader.


      The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr – 21 May

      Sandies, your Hero is none other than Captain Morporkia himself, he
      with the shield of Retribushium, the wing-ed helmet, and the breast-
      plate armour engraved with the dollar signs and Morporkian
      hippopotamus There are those unkind souls who say that Captain
      Morporkia is not the real-life hero, that he is only the fictional
      character published weekly in The Thread magazine, but listen very
      carefully to Fernando, for he knows that this is so: the stars say
      that it does not matter whether or not Captain Morporkia actually
      exists in the real-life flesh and blood, for he is the quintessence
      of Ankh-Morpork exemplified. As the philosophers might say, he
      represents not just an idea, but an ideal, stronger than the mere
      flesh and blood. And that ideal is best summed up by the Captain's
      catchphrase "Qui sunt aspicientes ad, punc?" My friends, does this
      not inspire you to the ideals of Me Ol' Mam, Knuckle Sandwich and
      the Morporkian Way?


      The Knotted String (formerly Herne the Hunted) 22 May – 21 Jun

      Knotties, the stars tell Fernando that your Hero is the famous, even
      legendary, Cara Toff, treasure hunter, vanquisher of demons, and
      noted lingeringy model for Bu-Bubble magazine. My friends, Fernando
      does not like to brag, but he occasionally is the mighty Hero too,
      and once Fernando was the molto fortunate enough to work with the
      bella donna signorina Toff when she fought the Blithering
      Belligerent Bug-beast of Bellerophon. Cara Toff lost her sword in
      the battle, and with barely a moment's pause she grabbed Fernando's
      mighty weapon out of his hands and was wielding it like the
      professional. Fernando will not forget that in the hurry! It was
      such a magnificent experience that it brought tears to Fernando's
      eyes! With Cara Toff's skilful handling of Fernando's weapon, the
      Bug-beast had not a chance and was soon laid low. Ah, if only you
      could have seen it my friends, Fernando is not shy and wishes all
      his friends had been there to watch!


      The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun – 22 Jul

      Staffies, the stars tell Fernando that your Hero is the molto tragic
      figure. The story of Doctor Pontefrax "Ponce" Pennant is a terribly
      sad story, mia cara, but Fernando knows that it is also one of the
      great inspirational stories of our time. Due to a terrible accident
      in the Brazeneck University Higher Magic Energy Department, mild-
      mannered Doctor Pennant was exposed to a burst of manna rays. It was
      a million-to-one chance for him to survive, but so he did –
      although not unscathed. Today Doctor Pennant is the Incredible Honk,
      and whenever he gets stressed or frightened, he turns into a huge,
      furious grey goose who can clear a pub brawl in seconds by flapping
      his mighty wings. My friends, you wouldn't like him when he's angry,
      but Fernando feels much sorrow for him, for he only wishes to be
      left alone with his terrible burden.


      Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul – 23 Aug

      Bilians, your Hero, or possibly villain, is the amazing Cider-man,
      the mysterious costumed adventurer who gained the proportional
      strength and potency of a bottle of scumble after drinking an entire
      gallon (well, perhaps spilling most of it) of cider made from apples
      grown in Empirical Crescent. My friends, even the stars cannot tell
      Fernando if Cider-man is Hero or Threat (or as the recent headlines
      on the Inquirer preferred to ask, "Cider-man: Threat or Menace?"),
      but either way, it is to him that your devotion to Heroes should go.


      My Uncle's Nose 24 Aug – 23 Sept

      Nosers, the Hero you are most suited to be like is a heroine – not
      Red Scharron, Jenna the Jungle Queen, not even Mad Lucy, but none
      other than ZaZa the Warrior Princess! ZaZa, descendant of the
      demigods of ancient Tsort via their less demigodly Agatean branch,
      journeys across the continents with her winsome companion Barbie-
      Belle on a never-ending quest for adventure, sometimes treading the
      jewelled thrones of the Disc under her sandalled feet. And ah, what
      lovely sandalled feet they are! Fernando remembers a vino-washed
      night in far Farferee when ZaZa allowed him to burnish her sandals
      with Hoo Hing's Goaty Goaty Goat Grease, and polished up to well
      above ZaZa's lovely knees when Barbie-Belle found them together. My
      friends, Fernando will treasure the memory of that black eye


      The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept – 23 Oct

      My friends, many people are surprised to learn that Boring'uns have
      a Hero to admire, or emulate. But do not be surprised, mia cara, for
      beneath the timid shell of the Boring'un sometimes beats the lion's
      heart of the Hero. Or at least the tiny mouse's heart that dreams of
      having the lion's heart. My friends, the Hero you are most alike is
      the molto famous Boring'un Hero, the great Sokko, the Sorter of
      Socks! Whenever there is washing to be done, Sokko is there to
      separate the whites from the colours and to use just the right
      amount of starch in the shirt collars. Whenever there is a great
      tangle of washing, Sokko is there to sort the socks into the pairs,
      and then with a great swish of his washing stick, he signs his work
      by carving a great S on the nearest wall.


      Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct – 22 Nov

      Andies, your Hero is the famous Howondaland Smith, Balgrog Hunter.
      My friends, if you are suffering from a plague of Balgrogs,
      Howondaland Smith is your man! Fernando knows that there are few
      things as annoying as having Balgrogs running around in the ceiling
      keeping you awake at night, nibbling at your cheese, widdling in the
      soup, and generally making the maledetto nuisance of themselves. But
      do not be afeared, my friends, for the stars say you have the
      special affinity for Howondaland Smith, and even if he is not
      available to hunt the Balgrogs in your ceiling, with a little bit of
      effort on your part, you should be able to get the most satisfactory


      The Spoons, a.k.a. the Greater and Lesser Spoons, 23 Nov – 21 Dec

      Spooners, the stars have told Fernando that your Hero is unassuming
      secretarial assistant Miss Enith Chumless by day, secret
      crimefighter the Brown Budgerigar by night. As the possessor of the
      secret martial art of Oi Dong, the Brown Budgerigar's ear-destroying
      cry of "oooh, I knowwwwww!!!" can reduce the toughest of evildoers
      to quivering jelly. Trust Fernando on this, for he knows it is so.
      With her distinctive feathered wig and chicken-skin tights, the
      Budgie is known and loved by all, except evildoers, unlicenced
      thieves, and secret agents of unfriendly foreign powers. (Although
      not as known and loved by all as Fernando, for there is only one
      Fernando.) Fernando assures you, my friends, there is no truth to
      the cruel rumour that the Brown Budgerigar is nothing more than the
      advertising performer for Colonel Dibbler's Genua Fried Pigeon


      Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec – 20 Jan

      Hokians, your Hero is the great Hero of the Quirmian Revolution, the
      Octarine Pumpernickel, whose bravery and selflessness saved dozens
      of Quirmian winemakers from Madame Le Guillotine during the Grape
      Terror of 1783. My friends, as Fernando may have mentioned once or
      twice before, it is well known that the Quirmian vino is the rubbish
      compared to the most excellente Brindisian vino, but even so, the
      Grape Terror was the terrible thing to do, for without the Quirmian
      winemakers, where would we get the paint thinner? As every child now
      knows, except perhaps the ones who pay no attention at the schools,
      the dandy Sir Perciful Muckney of Ankh-Morpork took on the secret
      identify of the Octarine Pumpernickel to spirit away the winemakers
      from under the very nose of First Citizen Pantalon de Fantaisie of
      the Quirmian Revolutionary Committee for Revolutions. Even as far as
      Brindisi we admired the derring-do of the dashing Pumpernickel as he
      "cocked a snook" at the Revolution, as they say in Morporkian.


      The Big Chicken 21 Jan – 18 Feb

      Squawkers, the stars tell Fernando that your Hero is the famous Mr
      Ernie Quickie, the fastest handyman in the entire Circle Sea area.
      Ernie, or Mr Quickie as he prefers to be called, can fix a sticking
      door in under three minutes, or whitewash an average sized
      politician in twenty. Ha ha, Fernando is making the little joke! But
      it is true my friends that Mr Quickie is amazingly fast, and he only
      needs to sleep two hours a night because he sleeps fast as well.
      People say, "there's that Ernie, fast asleep again". If he is that
      fast asleep, how fast must he be when he is awake? My friends, it is
      said that every great Hero has a terrible burden to carry, and they
      are all the more great for carrying it. If this is so, then Fernando
      can guess what Mr Quickie's burden is, for whenever he rushes past,
      Seamstresses laugh behind his back...


      Hyperopia's Buckle (formerly Lesser Umbrage) 19 Feb – 20 Mar

      Bucklers, Fernando has the most excellente news for you, for the
      stars say that you have not one, but two Heroes: Mann-Zelaza of
      Uberwald, with his clockwork-powered suit of armour, and his crime-
      fighting partner, the molto beautiful mercenary Contessa di
      Melanzana, a.k.a. the Very Dark Purple Widow. Mann-Zelaza, who is
      actually Antimony von Schtarke, the brilliant but wayward heir to
      the famous Schtarke Ironmongery dynasty, terrorised the Bad Wurst
      district for years with his strange mechanical toys and wild
      parties, laying waste to more innocent young ladies than all the
      local vampires *and* a noble Dragon combined, until Melanzana
      convinced him to use his powers for the good. Now these two heroes
      fight iniquity in every land of the Disc, leading the organisation
      known as F.I.E.L.D. (Fighting Iniquity in Every Land of the Disc) in
      its battle against the Dungeon Dimension Demons, the would-be Dark
      Lords, and the supernatural locals who would disturb the peaceful
      order of things. Trust Fernando, for this is so!


      13) CLOSE

      And that's our lot for June. So much going on in the Pratchettverse
      that WOSSNAME almost needs to be a weekly publication! The quiet
      whimpering you hear in the background is your Editor having a
      nervous breakdown at that prospect... oh well, enjoy your Midsummer
      days and we'll see you next month!

      – Annie Mac


      If you have any questions or requests, write:
      Copyright (c) 2012 by Klatchian Foreign Legion
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