Book:The Long Earth/Annotations

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Annotations for The Long Earth. Unless otherwise indicated, page numbers are from the UK Doubleday edition.

Specific annotations

Chapter 1 (page TBC)
"He (Percy Blakeney) tried French anyway. 'Parley Buffon say?'" He probably meant to say something like "parlez-vous français", i.e. "Do you speak French?"
Page 81
Philip José Farmer's Riverworld series of novels are a classic in speculative fiction. The central premise is that the whole of the human race, everyone who has ever lived (as well as related species advanced enough to share aspects of humanity, like neanderthals and other hominids), have been resurrected on a massive planet known as the Riverworld. One River meanders in long lazy spirals around the world's surface. People have been reborn in approximate chronological order in their social or tribal units. It is possible to die here, but you are simply reborn somewhere else in the Riverworld in a new body. Everyone is permanently 25 and sickness has been erased. But people who on Earth were thinkers and explorers are not content. Some attempt to "step" around the planet by repeatedly dying or commiting suicide, so as to experience life in as many places as possible. On a deliberately mineral-poor planet, others, including Samuel Clement (author Mark Twain) exploit an iron-rich meteorite strike to smelt materials and build boats - and airships - to explore the Riverworld from above. One such airship on the Riverworld is actually called the Mark Twain!
Page 131
The "trolls" are referred to as "Mighty Joes". While it has been suggested this is another shout-out to Farmer's Riverworld (see the above annotation for page 81), it's more likely a reference to Mighty Joe Young, a 1949 adventure film (remade in 1998) about a giant mountain gorilla nicknamed Mighty Joe Young. In Farmer's second Riverworld novel, The Fabulous Riverboat (1971), a "Titanothrop" is taught English by Samuel Clement's group of adventurers and named Joe Miller. It's possible this is also a reference to the earlier film.
Page 150
Tracklements again. See note for this entry.
Page 214
"And once, a flapping, spinning, thing that looked for all the world like an octopus, spinning like a frisbee through the canopy trees. How the hell had that got there?" Terry being whimsical, perhaps: a shout-out to Nation and the Tree-Climbing Octopus.
Page 243
The settlement of Happy Landings, a town founded by humans who inadvertently learnt to step, and who appear to come from all ages and times in human history on Datum Earth. Another nod to Riverworld, where the continuous death and ressurection cycle spreads people evenly around the planet, who are discovering that "anarchist~" communes, in the classic interpretation, are the only way small human societies can live. Or perhaps to michael Moorcock's creation of Tanelorn - a refuge for those tired of serving Gods, a place where people from all over the Multiverse choose to find peace. Under frequent attacks from the gods of Chaos...
Page 260
the Long Chant of the trolls is a song-like way of preserving and communicating information to the whole of the species. In Thud!, reference is made to the Long Chant of the trolls on Discworld. Is this Terry recycling what at present is a throwaway, undeveloped, idea on Discworld and using a different vehicle to elaborate on the theme?
Page 282
The power of potatoes for the random traveller, in preserving sanity and providing a potent reminder of home and familiar things. Joshua is evoking Rincewind?
Page 306
"First Person Singular", the Leviathan-like sentient being, is twenty-three miles long by five miles wide. This seems a clear shout-out to Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy on several levels. In the third book, Leviathan, the titular Leviathan is an immense single-celled creature, which grew larger over millions of years and achieved vast intelligence. The series also features a supercomputer aboard the protagonists' submarine (named First Universal Cybernetic-Kinetic-Ultramicro-Programmer) which in the third book achieves sentience when it speaks the sentence "I hear you." From the text: "That was my first fully conscious sentence; you'll note that it begins with "I." In the beginning was the Word, and the word was the first person singular." 23 and 5 are also very special numbers in "Illuminatus!"