Having given us trips through a multiverse view of Earth and Mars, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter are about to go one better in the final book of their sci-fi epic, The Long Cosmos. Sadly, Terry Pratchett isn’t with us any more to see the 5th book of The Long Earth series hit the book shelves, following his death in 2015, but it’s a testimony to his brilliant brain box imagination that it’s about to reach such a far reaching conclusion.
The Long Cosmos has a release date of the 30th June 2016, which means that all five books have been published in the space of just four years, which pretty impressive. It’ll be available on hardback, ebook and audio book, with the latter narrated by Michael Fenton Stephens, who also read for the four previous books, as well as a number of other Terry Pratchett releases.
The story picks up with series stalwart, Joshua Valiente, who has been traipsing around the multi-verse at the centre of the series since he hopped over and saved a group of kids on Step Day – the day the simple technology need to step into a new universe was leaked online. This he’s off alone into the far recesses of the Long Earth as the Next (a step-induced evolution on humanity) continue to develop their understanding of the science behind the multiverse.
As ever, things go a bit wrong and leave him with the possibility of an early bath to look forward to unless he can get a little help from the Trolls that span the Long Earth. While he’s off facing death, a huge new development is about to change everything once again as a signal from outer space leaves a simple, but momentous message, “join us”. If that isn’t mind blowing enough, it’s a message that the Next, the trolls and the Great Traversers pick up on too, sending shock waves throughout the stepwise worlds.
The Next are quick to work out that there’s more to the message than an invitation to a party in the stars and decode the blueprint for a super computer of Deep Thought proportions and set about creating it with a view to revealing the secret behind it all. However, if The Terminator, The Matrix, Blade Runner, Alien and Ex Machina have taught us anything it’s that advanced AI is best treated with a healthy distrust and a “just say no” policy.
The series has had its highs and lows over the course of four books, and while The Long Utopia didn’t quite work as well as The Long Mars, we’re hoping that Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter have delivered a triumph for the final outing. The idea of receiving word from outer space within a multiverse opens up a lot of potential plot development for The Long Cosmos and gives the series a few more big sci-fi breakthrough concepts to play around with.