I am not sure if I liked this book. It's similar to the TV show Sliders. You remember it's the series that follows a group of travelers as they use a wormhole to "slide" between different parallel universes.
People can "step" from one Earth to another. Some are natural steppers and some need a machine called the Stepper which is powered by a potato. Joshua is a natural stepper. His mother died soon after his birth and he is brought up in ahome run by nuns in Madison WI. These nuns sound pretty fabulous. Joshua is a key figure in the story. He hears some bewildered children and rescues them and brings them back to Datum (our Earth). This was called Step Day when people started to blink away. He becomes famous.
Some of this book was very interesting to me when they wrote about the worlds and the people on them. But my interest waned when Joshua and Lobsang were on the airship. I felt there was a lot of unnecessary information. Just when it got interesting again, the book ended. I guess the authors wanted a cliffhanger for the next book.
The possibilities are endless (just be careful what you wish for...)
1916: the Western Front, France. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No man's Land gone?
2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson has returned to the burned-out home of one Willis Linsay, a reclusive and some said mad, others dangerous, scientist. It was arson but, as is often the way, the firemen seem to have caused more damage than the fire itself. Stepping through the wreck of a house, there's no sign of any human remains but on the mantelpiece Monica finds a curious gadget - a box, containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a...potato. It is the prototype of an invention that Linsay called a 'stepper'. An invention he put up on the web for all the world to see, and use, an invention that would to change the way mankind viewed his world Earth for ever. And that's an understatement if ever there was one...
...because the stepper allowed the person using it to step sideways into another America, another Earth, and if you kept on stepping, you kept on entering even more Earths...this is the Long Earth. It's our our Earth but one of chain of parallel worlds, lying side by side each differing from its neighbour by really very little (or actually quite a lot). It's an infinite chain, offering 'steppers' an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And the further away you travel, the stranger - and sometimes more dangerous - the Earths get. The sun and moon always shine, the basic laws of physics are the same. However, the chance events which have shaped our particular Earth, such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, might not have happened and things may well have turned out rather differently.
But, until Willis Linsay invented his stepper, only our Earth hosted mankind...or so we thought. Because it turns out there are some people who are natural 'steppers', who don't need his invention and now the great migration has begun...
You can read an excerpt here.
On Stephen Baxter's site, there are a few selections.