''"To what purpose?"''

A science fiction series co-written by Creator/TerryPratchett and Creator/StephenBaxter. After the schematics for an easy-to-construct device called a Stepper, a key component of which being a potato, are leaked onto the internet, most of humanity gains the ability to "step" to parallel Earths. The issue being, nobody knew that was what a Stepper did that first day. "Step Day" involved a large number of teens vanishing into the next Earth in the line, many injuring themselves.

In Madison, Wisconsin, one boy named Joshua Valiente Steps along with the others, but unlike the rest does not experience nausea or disorientation. He gathers the other teens and helps them back to their Earth. On the same day, a single police officer also learns how to Step and becomes a sort of police liaison for Stepping-related crimes.

Skip forward a decade or so, and society has been rocked by the new ability to Step. There is now no limit to space or resources, and so the global economy, no longer able to base itself on the scarcity value of commodities like gold and food, is smashed. Colonization of "[[TitleDrop The Long Earth]]" is subsidized by many governments under an attempted "Aegis Law," but no one buys the idea that governments have control over the Long Earth equivalents of their lands - especially as no matter how far they attempt to extend their authority, an entire planet is never more than a Step away. As governments crumble and become useless, rules and patterns emerge:

* The new economy is loose and favor-based, rather than using hard money between worlds.
* Ferrous metals can't be brought between Earths in solid form, but chemical iron in blood will go.
* Most people suffer nausea when they Step using a Stepper Box, but some "Natural Steppers" like Joshua can Step faster, without equipment or step-sickness.
* Roughly a fifth of the population are "phobics" who cannot Step at all, and if someone brings them across worlds they get more violently ill than others, sometimes to the point of death.
* You can't Step from world to world if you would be Stepping into a solid.
* Aside from the 'datum' Earth, none of the other worlds in the Long Earth appear to have any sign of ''Homo sapiens'' whatsoever.

The Black Corporation, co-owned by a man named Black who does not appear until book 3 and an advanced AI who may be a reincarnated Tibetan repairman named Lobsang lead the research into the Long Earth. Impossibly advanced and ahead of the game, Lobsang contacts Joshua about the farthest exploration into the "New Frontier" of The Long Earth ever made.

And behind it all, where only Joshua, born alone on another world when his mother accidentally Stepped during childbirth, can hear it, is the Silence.

Baxter has stated that five books were commissioned in all, with the first drafts for the final two books being completed in collaboration with Pratchett around eighteen months before the latter's death (Baxter also confirms that Pratchett will remain the first credited author on his posthumous books in the series). Titles in the series are, in order:
* ''The Long Earth'' (2012)
* ''The Long War'' (2013)
* ''The Long Mars'' (2014)
* ''The Long Utopia'' (2015)
* ''The Long Cosmos'' (2016)

The series is based on a 1984 short story by Pratchett called ''The High Meggas'', which can be found as part of ''A Blink of the Screen'', a collection of Pratchett's shorter fiction. The original story concerns Larry Lynsey, a hermit who lives in one of the high meggas - that is, more than a million Earths lie between him and Earth Prime. A pair of Steppers interrupt his solitude, each claiming that the other killed an entire base full of people.



[[folder: ''The Long Earth'']]

* AllTrollsAreDifferent: Trolls in this setting are peaceful, ape-like creatures who only use violence when provoked, can perfectly sing any song they hear, use songs to communicate with one another and can step.
* AlternateHistory: Each stepwise world is this on a geological and evolutionary scale.
* AlwaysChaoticEvil: The elves. Having developed stepping strategies that give them a supreme advantage over any wild animals, rather than develop any kind of culture, they just became as cruel as possible, killing unnecessarily in the knowledge that there are always more prey on other worlds. They show no sign of empathy whatsoever, even for their own kind.
* AncientAstronauts: Lobsang speculates that a great deal of human mythology originated from misinterpreted encounters with trolls and elves.
* ApocalypseHow: [[spoiler:City scale: the book ends with a nuke exploding in Datum Madison.]]
* BadFuture: While never directly mentioned, it's hinted that the world has suffered badly from overpopulation in the books' near-future setting. Also the various 'Joker' Earths where there is no life at all. [[spoiler:Or Earth.]]
* BlueAndOrangeMorality: The trolls and elves, to a minor extent, and [[spoiler: [[EldritchAbomination First Person Singular]] to a ''major'' extent. She doesn't know she's hurting anybody by absorbing them into herself, she likely doesn't even know what hurt is. It's just what she does.]]
* CelibateHero: Monica Jansson is celibate by twenty-nine, after her marriage fails.
** Joshua doesn't seem to have much experience around the opposite sex either.
* ChekhovsGunman: Rod Green, the Green family's phobic (non-Stepper) son who is forced to remain on the Datum Earth while his family goes to colonizes another Earth. [[spoiler:He eventually becomes involved in a conspiracy to use a nuclear bomb to destroy Madison, Wisconsin.]]
* TheChosenOne: [[spoiler:Joshua.]] Although it is clear he is special from the beginning, [[spoiler:in the end he turns out to be a "dipole" to First Person Singular, having felt her presence through millions of parallel worlds.]]
* ColdIron: In a sort of inversion, iron, for reasons unknown, can't be carried when stepping, making it less useful for most purposes than any other metal. There is mention of the idea that an iron cage could hold a stepper prisoner.
* CoolAirship: The ''Mark Twain''.
* DeathByChildbirth: [[spoiler:Joshua's mother]]
* DimensionalTraveler: Anyone with a stepper box can move to an alternate world at will, and natural steppers can do it without any device. Several hominid species have evolved that naturally have this ability.
* DownerEnding: Sort of. The novel ends with [[spoiler:Lobsang entering diplomatic negotiations with First Person Singular with a possibly sinister outcome, the discussion of the possibility of a conspiracy/experiment behind Happy Landings and, finally, Madison being nuked by terrorists.]]
* EnforcedTechnologyLevels: Two factors govern Stepping;
# No iron can be Stepped unless it's bound up in an organic molecule - blood of course, but even rust will go, as it's bound with oxygen and hydrogen. This leaves a lot of tools on Datum Earth.
# To Step an object, a Stepping person must carry it. Thus, no vehicles [[spoiler:until Lobsang installs himself on an airship]]. This results in the somewhat humorous sight of people team-hefting logs only to team-Step them and lay them on a flatbed truck in Datum.
** Taken together, Datum Earth is the only advanced civilization, and Low Earths are {{Steampunk}} at best. Beyond that, it's for all intents and purposes the Stone Age.
* EldritchAbomination: [[spoiler:First Person Singular, a sentient biosphere intent on expanding to every Earth, consuming everything living on those Earths. She doesn't mean any harm though.]]
** Joshua is more troubled by [[spoiler: Happy Landings, the cheerful and utopian colony to which natural steppers have drifted for millenia.]]
* [[EverythingIsTryingToKillYou Everything in Australia is trying to kill you]]: The Long Australia is revealed to be exceeding violent. The first group of steppers vanished, leaving behind only a large splash of blood in their place.
* TheFairFolk: Elves in this setting are said to be the [[AncientAstronauts inspiration]] for these portrayals of elves.
* FantasticRacism: The leader of Humanity First claims steppers aren't really human.
* FantasyGunControl: ZigZagged. It takes ''decades'' for guns to proliferate through the Long Earth; as they tend to be made from iron and iron alloys, they must be built from local materials. A lot of the first Steppers are unpleasantly surprised by just how many modern tools and conveniences use iron. But by the time the first book begins in earnest, plastic guns are common and guns made from brass-like materials are being sold.
* ForWantOfANail:
** Apparently whatever particular mutation allowed the evolution of early hominids into humans only occurred on Datum Earth. Hominids in all other earths seem to have either evolved into human-like stepping species or gone extinct.
** Jokers are Earths that, due to some chain reaction caused by the minor fluctuation that originally distinguished Earths from one another, are vastly different from other Earths, resulting in worlds that are covered in a vast ocean, are missing major landmasses, or have no moon. Or where, in one critical case, [[spoiler: [[EarthShatteringKaboom there is no Earth]] ''[[EarthShatteringKaboom at all]]'']].
* TheGreys: The elves inspired these legends too.
* HaveIMentionedIAmGay: Jansson's boss can't resist bringing this up on her behalf. ''Possibly'' justified in that she's a CelibateHero following her failed ([[InvokedTrope gay]]) marriage and doesn't talk about her personal life at all, to the extent that she even has one. Sort of flies in the face of TheLawOfConservationOfDetail, all the same.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Lobsang is incredibly arrogant, but he does consider Joshua to be his friend.
** Sally. She has an almost-insufferably proprietary attitude toward stepping, resenting that anyone else has access to the Long Earth. [[DoubleStandard She also looks down on everyone else for not being natural steppers.]] She is often outright insulting, especially in the sequel when she insults [[spoiler:Joshua's wife]] Helen to his face. She still has a soft spot for trolls, though.
* LesbianCop: Detective Jansson is mentioned to be lesbian several times, usually by her superior officer. It is treated in a very offhanded manner and does not relate to the plot much otherwise.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: Lobsang's assertion that he is a reincarnated human. He claims very sincerely to believe that he is truly the reincarnation of a Tibetan motorcycle repairman, and demonstrated by discussing what should be private details with his previous incarnation's old friends. The [[OrganicTechnology "gel" that makes up most of his computing power]] is sufficiently brain-like that he believes it could store a human soul. But as of ''The Long War'' he's shown a somewhat worrisome ability to get into [[EverythingIsOnline any automated system]] sufficient that he may have found and raided somebody's computer or other records to get the information he needed to imitate the fortuitously-deceased previous Lobsang, before coming out with this gambit.
* MugglePower: The Humanity First group, made up of non-steppers who hate the Long Earth, for reasons from resenting the government support given to colonists to being left behind by stepping families.
* NoAntagonist: The closest thing to a villain in the story is First Person Singular, who has been causing unrest across the Long Earth without realizing it.
* NotGoodWithPeople: Joshua is more at home with the uninhabited parallel Earths than on the Datum. Lobsang refers to it as Daniel Boone syndrome. This is because [[spoiler:he spent the first minute of his life as the only person on an alternate Earth, and therefore feels a psychic pressure from other people that the rest of us are used to.]] That said, he's not happy if he can't talk to humans every now and then.
* NunTooHoly: Downplayed - the nuns at the nursing home that raised Joshua are a bunch of irreverent [[CoolOldLady Cool Old Ladies]], several of whom have mysterious or rebellious pasts. Sister Agnes is a BadassBiker who plays music too loud for her sisters' liking, and one of them ''may'' be hiding from the [=FBI=].
* OnceMoreWithClarity: After being told ''who'' [[spoiler:First Person Singular]] is at the end of the first chapter, the 47th chapter is just the introduction repeated, after we've actually seen ''[[EldritchAbomination what]]'' she is.
* OurElvesAreBetter: Long Earth elves don't quite fit the usual mold: they are semihuman missing link creatures, have violent tempers, cannot communicate with humans and are predators who use stepping to ambush their prey.
** ''The Long War'' introduces the kobold subspecies, which ''can'' communicate with humans. They barter information for various human things (the example we see likes human music), and tend towards a sort-of hate/love relationship with humanity. They also aren't all that well known.
* OurPresidentsAreDifferent: The US President, shortly after Step Day, is mentioned in passing to be a woman. She's also President Target to some extent.
* PerfectPacifistPeople: Happy Landings is a CloseKnitCommunity with no real problems. It's so apparently perfect that it gives Joshua the creeps.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Jansson.
** And in the second book, Captain Maggie Kauffman and Admiral Davidson.
* RobbingTheDead: Joshua takes a ring off a corpse he finds in Rectangles, the only artifact he's able to safely encounter.
* SeparatedByACommonLanguage: A minor example, but someone raised in Wisconsin saying soda instead of pop is rather conspicuous, at least to a natives of the Midwest. Also, the text is peppered with minor British style speech, such as saying "must do" instead of "must."
* StraightGay: Jansson's sexuality is only mentioned twice. By the same person. For no apparent reason.
** Becomes a minor plot point in the sequel, when Jansson is romantically pursued by a man who doesn't initially realise that she's gay. He takes the news of their [[IncompatibleOrientation incompatibility]] well and they end up enjoying a brief spell as PlatonicLifePartners [[spoiler:before she dies]]. Still not terribly relevant to the main plot, however.
* SuicideAttack: These are now a legitimate problem, as people can just step around security measures in the Datum. Fortunately, most people aren't good enough orienting themselves towards their targets be particularly effective. People also figure out pretty quickly that you can't get around security measures if you're underground in the Datum,and start holding important meetings in cellars and the like.
** A suicide attack also turns out to be [[spoiler: Humanity First's plan to destroy Madison]].
* ThinDimensionalBarrier: Places like this allow people with natural [[DimensionalTraveler Stepping abilities]] to cross from one earth to one several Steps down the line without crossing through the intervening earth, which is ordinarily impossible. This only works for people with the natural ability to move between worlds without a Stepper box. Everyone else must take them one at a time.
* ThouShaltNotKill: Lobsang, being a devout Buddhist, is a pacifist.
* TuringTest: It's mentioned that passing the Turing Test wasn't enough for advanced artificial intelligences to be recognised as deserving protection; Lobsang was the first to come up with the idea of declaring himself the reincarnation of a human who died at the exact moment he was switched on, thereby getting human rights.
** It's also mentioned that Lobsang passes Sally and Joshua's personal Turing tests through such human behaviours as choosing to dress as Franchise/IndianaJones when exploring an ancient monument, and deliberately pissing someone off to see how they react.
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: "Step Day" occurs in 2015, three years after the first novel's publication date. The rest of ''The Long Earth'' takes place in the 2020s, and ''The Long War'' is set in the 2040s.
* WeAllLiveInAmerica: Mild, downplayed version. While Pratchett and Baxter get the US right for the most part, little [[SeparatedByACommonLanguage bits of narration and dialog]] use British construction over American (things like, "I must have done," instead of "I must have," or "Now she knew this..." instead of "Now that she knew this...").
* WorthlessYellowRocks: Precious metals and minerals such as gold and diamonds quickly lose their value once their supply becomes effecively unlimited, with only their usefulness defining their value. Some guys don't get this early on and step out to regions with known gold deposits in the hopes of making their fortune, only to be greeted by mocking crowds who realized what the real effect of vast untapped gold resources would be.
** Conversely, iron (or rather, things made of it) becomes quite a valuable resource because it can't be stepped, therefore you have to go through the rigmarole of mining, refining, smelting and forging it on every Earth you step to.
* ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld: The ''Mark Twain'' in the first book, and the twains in the second. Technically, the zeppelins are from Earth Datum, but it's a still a story about parallel universes and zeppelins.

[[folder: ''The Long War'']]

* ApocalypseHow: [[spoiler:Continental scale: the book ends with the Yellowstone volcan erupting, plunging half of Earth into the equivalent of a nuclear winter.]]
* AwesomeMcCoolname: Finn [=MacCool=] (named for Irish folk hero Fionn [=MacCumhal=]).
* BattleTrophy: Beagles keep parts of respected enemies on their walls, preferably their heads. This is the fate of [[spoiler: Joshua's hand]].
* BloodKnight: Due to the Beagles' reproductive cycle of population boom followed by destructive war, the entire Beagle race lives for war.
* BrainUploading: Lobsang does this with [[spoiler: Sister Agnes, after her death]].
** He also [[spoiler:arranges for 4900 Tibetan Buddhist monks to spend 49 days on 49 mountaintops in various iterations of Tibet chanting from the Tibetan ''Book of the Dead'' - as he puts it, to cover all his bases, though now he doesn't know which actually "worked" to produce the new Agnes since this was his first brain upload. It does a neat trick in continuing to obfuscate the question of whether he truly reincarnated or not, of course]].
* BuryYourGays: [[spoiler: Jansson is ''strongly'' implied to have succumbed to her illness on the last page of the book.]]
* CallASmeerpARabbit: The "Beagles", which are basically a race of WolfMen, making it an incredibly obtuse and unintuitive name.
* ChekhovsGun: The ring Joshua found in Rectangles.
* ClarkesThirdLaw: The Rectangles ring moves of its own accord in order to find and unlock an entrance to a hidden chamber. Sally reasons that there are a lot of technological ways to achieve this, but the device is clearly designed to seem magical to a primitive.
* DeterminedHomesteadersWife: Helen
* EmotionlessGirl: Roberta
* FluffyTheTerrible: Thanks to the none-to-bright pioneers that first visited the Beagle homeworld.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: [[spoiler:Starting in the previous book, there are mentions of how Yellowstone is due to erupt soon. Then in this book, abnormal geological activity happens throughout the story until it winds up being ChekhovsVolcano.]]
* {{Hypocrite}}: Petra expresses a disdain and disgust for the human race for domesticating dogs and making pets of them... while in the same room as a domesticated Datum dog that she uses as a glorified sex toy.
* IllGirl: Jansson is suffering from cancer as a result of the radiation she was exposed to [[spoiler:while helping to evacuate Datum Madison after the bombing]] at the end of the first book.
** It should be noted that, at fifty-four, she is much older than most examples of this trope; however, it's largely played straight.
* IncompatibleOrientation: Jansson and Wood.
* IntelligentGerbil: The beagles are basically upright wolves with larger brains. Their society is built around lupine values, with cultural peculiarities such as matriarchy and frequent clan wars stemming from their high birth rates.
* LeftHanging: As of the end of book 2, we still don't know:
** [[spoiler: What happened with First Person Singular?]]
** [[spoiler: What's the deal with the idyllic but vaguely sinister Happy Landings?]]
** [[spoiler: Where's Sally's dad, Willis Linsay?]]
** Two of those are resolved in ''The Long Mars'', but that has unresolved plot points of its own.
* MamaBear: Mary the Troll. Helen.
* {{Matriarchy}}: Beagle society is universally ruled by females. This seems to be merely a quirk of their species.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: As with his own reincarnation, Lobsang applies this principle to Agnes' institution to an artificial body; as before, this is to occlude any legal issues.
* MemeticMutation: In-universe, Mary the Troll's "''I will not''" hand signal has been adopted by the U.S. colonies as a revolutionary slogan.
* ModernStasis: It's now the mid-21st century, yet, aside from the return of airship technology, Lobsang, and the Stepper boxes themselves, there seems to have been no technological change at all. In some areas, like space travel, there has actually been regression. This is justified and explored: Because humanity now has access to the literally infinite resources of the Long Earth, there is no more incentive to develop better technology. It is implied that this may be the reason why technological civilizations are so rare across the Long Earth: Only intelligent species that ''cannot'' step have any reason to advance beyond the hunter-gatherer stage.
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: The Beagles. Partly because of their TheUnpronounceable status and partly because of their disdain for humans.
* PettingZooPeople: The Beagles are anthropomorphic wolves.
* PlanetOfHats: Averted. A major plot-point hangs on characters being reminded that each Earth is a full and unique planet as opposed to featuring one theme throughout.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Admiral Davidson and Captain Maggie Kauffman of the US Aegis expedition. Their level heads help keep the conflict between the Datum government and distant settlements from escalating.
* RingOfPower: Sally is annoyed that [[spoiler: this is how the key to the Rectangle building appears to work.]]
* ScavengerWorld: The Beagles are highly intelligent, but lack opposable thumbs and have a self-destructive tendency, which limits their technological growth. As such, they get their most useful resources from kobolds, who trade them bits and pieces of humanity, but especially leftovers from the Rectangles civilization.
* ShoutOut: In-universe: the humans choose the name "Ham" for the troll child they're going to send into space for an experiment.
** The airship ''Gold Dust'' has a crewman named [[Webcomic/GirlGenius Higgs]]. Doubles as a shout out to the LHC, as he's a bosun. (At least, this is the name he gives to Daniel. Helen doesn't believe it for a moment.)
** Sally Linsay has a field day with ''Franchise/StarTrek'' references when talking with Maggie Kauffman. Then again, Kauffman's crew and mission are almost an {{Expy}} of the Enterprise, down to the [[TheMcCoy sarcastic ship's doctor with a name beginning with Mac]].
* TakeAThirdOption: When the Beagles are hunting [[spoiler: Joshua. If he stays then they'll catch and kill him, but if he steps then the crossbow will kill him. Luckily, Li-Li and Snowy have another idea: bring back his severed hand as proof that they killed him, while actually letting him escape.]]
* TurtleIsland: [[spoiler: Second Person Singular.]]
* [[WhatDoesSheSeeInHim What Does He See In Her?]]: Sally wonders why Joshua is married to Helen.
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: Cruelty to trolls and other Long Earth natives has become a problem in recent years, most notably with Mary and her cub.


[[folder: ''The Long Mars'']]
* BewareTheSuperman: The Next have nigh-superhuman intelligence, a knack for seeing through peoples' inner motivations, and (in some cases) the ability to talk you into almost anything. This is a source of some concern for humanity, especially once they get a glimpse of how that power can be abused.
* CallingTheOldManOut: Sally goes through a very calm, subdued version of this near the end.
* DepopulationBomb: [[spoiler:The humans quickly figured out that the Beagles' civilisation was at a dead end because of their extremely high birth rates, so they decided to experiment with artificially reducing the size of their litters chemically without telling them. Unsurprisingly, regardless of the scientists' intentions, the Beagles viewed the results as this trope.]]
* FantasticSlur: The Next call regular humans "dim-bulbs".
* FourLinesAllWaiting: Joshua's investigation of the Next, the Lindsays' trip through the Long Mars, and the ''Neil Armstrong'''s trip through the Long Earth are all presented as equally important and rarely given more than a chapter before we move to one of the others.
* GenocideBackfire: Joshua's final point in the debate on what to do with the Next. However dangerous they might potentially be, trying to exterminate them would only lead to the survivors going into hiding [[SelfFulfillingProphecy and plotting revenge.]]
* HumanSubspecies: The Next. Paul says that the definition of "species" is always a bit hazy, but they definitely do not see themselves as the same as regular humans.
* IdiotBall: Despite being hyper-intelligent, evolutionarily superior savants, the Next of Happy Landings seem surprised that the regular humans will not willingly give the Next control of the settlement. Doubly stupid is that there doesn't seem to be any social constructs that would prevent the Next from attaining leadership through merit.
** Willis Lindsay, for all of his brilliance, has shown to be a very poor judge of character, and have both high-minded opinions of himself and low opinions of others that have almost gotten him killed. He not only gave humanity access to the Long Earth, but gives a race of sapient crustaceans access to the Long Mars, purely to further his own agenda.[[spoiler: The latter proceeds to bite him in the ass as a "prince" of the crustaceans, humiliated by Willis during his explanation of how Stepper technology works, [[DisproportionateRetribution seeks to kill Willis and his friends by chasing them across the Long Mars, eventually destroying one of their two gliders, damaging the other, and killing Frank Wood]].]]
*** Furthermore, his daughter Sally prepared for an occasion that the expedition she, Willis, and Frank are on gets threatened by stowing away crossbows adapted for use in the low Martian atmosphere and gravity, but Willis threw them away, claiming they don't need weapons, and that weapons are usually utilized by idiots. Willis fails to comprehend that, since both of his traveling companions thought the emergency weapons were a good idea, he just called them BOTH idiots.
* ImmortalitySeeker: Douglas Black.
* InformedAttribute: The Next are repeatedly claimed to be superintelligent and highly able to understand and manipulate human thinking. We see the results of their machinations in a few places. However, none of them are ever seen successfully manipulating a human or otherwise getting the better of them, and ultimately their impact on the plot is more of an existential threat.
* LookOnMyWorksYeMightyAndDespair: As Mars only supports life in brief windows, the explorers find the ruins of civilization more often than active ones.
* MakeWayForTheNewVillains: The Next are built up as the sudden emerging threat, more dangerous than anything from the previous books, although their status as 'villains' is partially subverted in the end.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Willis giving the Martian whalers stepper technology leads to a disgraced Martian prince stalking the party across the many Marses in pursuit of revenge. [[spoiler: Resulting in Frank's death.]]
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: Methane-spewing Martian land whales.
* PrisonersDilemma: Selection pressure from being spread among countless alternate Earths and interacting with sapient but very alien nonhumans creates a hyperintelligent HumanSubspecies, and the government orders their largest concentration nuked. As the setting lacks an inter-dimensional communication system, the officer-in-charge has to decide whether or not to carry out the order. TheHero gives them a damned good reason to do ''no such thing'':
-->I guess my final point is a practical one. ''You can't get them all'', here today. Doctor, you say you can hunt the rest down. I doubt it. They're too smart. They'll find ways to evade us we haven't even thought of. You won't kill them all. ''But they'll remember you tried.''
* SadisticChoice: [[spoiler: Near the end, Willis has to choose between saving his daughter, Sally, or astronaut Frank Wood. He saves Sally, who later realizes that Willis made an entirely cold-blooded choice based on her ability to get him home through the soft places.]]
* ShoutOut:
** Cho-Je, the martial arts robot who attacks Lobsang unexpectedly to keep him sharp is more than a little reminiscent of Cato from ''Franchise/ThePinkPanther'' films. Joshua calls him "[[Series/KungFu grasshopper]]".
** The first Marsshot geek Sally and Willis meet wears a "[[Series/RedDwarf Smoke Me a Kipper]]" FunTShirt and calls himself [[Literature/TheMartianChronicles Mr Ttt]].
** Sally says that when she was younger and first Stepping, she used to pretend she was travelling to the worlds of Creator/JRRTolkien, Creator/LarryNiven, Creator/ENesbit or Creator/CSLewis.
** Joshua says Happy Landings reminded him of ''Film/TheStepfordWives''.
** Mac compares the Beagle civilisation to the [[Franchise/StarTrek Klingons]].
** Mac also suggests that the increasingly erratic Captain Cutler might like a drink of [[Film/DoctorStrangelove grain alcohol and rainwater, to protect his precious bodily fluids]].
** Joshua asks Lobsang if his reincarnation felt like [[Series/DoctorWho the Doctor regenerating]].
* SpaceElevator: The whole point of Willis Linsay's expedition across the Long Mars turns out to be finding one of these - based entirely on his conviction that it logically ''had'' to exist somewhere in the chain. He was right.
* StarfishAliens: The farther up you go in the chain of Earths, the more divergent things get; about a hundred and sixty million Earths away from the Datum, Earth is populated by organisms who use hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide as the primary building blocks of life.
* TheUnfettered: Willis Linsay is determined to change the course of his species. Everything else is secondary.
* WhyDontYouJustShootHim?: Played with. As the Martian prince attacks the Long Mars expedition, Sally asks her father Willis why they can't just kill him. Willis instead determines that they can simply outrun him. Sally then reveals that she packed crossbows modified for the Martian climate, [[NiceJobBreakingItHero but Willis threw out the crossbows, stating they didn't need weapons]], [[WhatAnIdiot and even claiming that weapons are usually used by idiots]]. [[HoistByHisOwnPetard Cue Willis being shot at by an organic missile and having his glider damaged]].


[[folder: ''The Long Utopia'']]

* ApocalypseHow: [[spoiler:Planetary scale: the book ends with the complete (and very graphic) destruction of Earth West 1,217,756.]]
* ApocalypseWow: [[spoiler: The final hours of Earth West 1,217,756 (New Springfield), witnessed by Lobsang from orbit, are described in minute details.]]
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: Joshua and Sally, through Nelson, discover that a group of natural steppers were gathered together by Prince Albert, the Royal Consort to Queen Victoria. Some of these natural steppers then help operations along the Underground Railroad due to their unique abilities.
* BigDumbObject: The planet-spanning "viaducts" built by the Assemblers to wrap and encircle New Springfield[[spoiler:, which are revealed to be the components for a Dyson Motor that will speed up the rotation of New Springfield to destroy it]].
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:The Long Earth is saved from the Assemblers, but at the cost of Sally Linsay's and Stan Berg's lives. The most advanced iteration of Lobsang is also lost in a unreachable universe.]]
* BizarreAlienBiology: The Assemblers. While they look like strange human-sized beetles with odd humanoid faces, they also integrate metal haphazardly into their bodies, making it difficult to tell where the machinery ends and the actual organic parts begin. They do not possess organs, but instead a green, spongy material inside of their exoskeleton that doesn't seem to have individual components within. Finally, they possess manipulator appendages so fine that they can change the molecular composition of anything they come into contact with.
* BizarreAlienPsychology: While mostly speculation, it seems the Assemblers, while exhibiting individualistic traits and the capacity to play with other sapients, regard other sapients as threats to their capacity to expand and propagate, and therefore will go to extreme measures to eliminate them[[spoiler:, such as destroy an entire planet simply because a small community of humans exists on it]].
* TheBusCameBack: [[spoiler:Lobsang's original mobile platform that was left with First Person Singular returns after two books of absence.]]
* TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive: Lobsang ''really'' wants to be, or at least act like, he's retired. But he ends up in the middle of events anyway. Because it's happening within a mile of where he settled down. And it's unintentional on Lobsang's part.
* DivergentCharacterEvolution: [[spoiler: The two Lobsangs, "George" and the unit left with First Person Singular.]]
* FirstContactMath: Attempted between a team of researchers and the alien Assemblers. They just ignore it and continue on with what they came there to do.
* ImmortalProcreationClause: Lobsang and Agnes; this fits more under the 'letter' than the 'spirit' of the trope, since they are (arguably) immortal androids instead of immortal humans, but Agnus started off as a human and Lobsang is treated the same way by custom. They eventually end up adopting a young boy.
* MeaningfulName: The loyal best friend of the MessianicArchetype [[spoiler: who reluctantly "betrays" him]] is called Rocky.
* MessianicArchetype: Stan Berg, a Next who distrusts his fellow Next and attracts regular human followers for his message of understanding and trying to do the right thing. [[spoiler: And who sacrifices himself to save the Long Earth.]]
* NamingYourColonyWorld: Earth West 1,217,756, aka "New Springfield", where much of the book takes place.
* PuttingTheBandBackTogether: Towards the end of the book, Joshua, Sally, Lobsang, Agnes, [[spoiler: the other Lobsang]] and Roberta are all gathered together. Agnes compares it to a Music/TheTravelingWilburys reunion.
* RecursiveCreators: The Assemblers are theorized to be Von Neumann Machines, or a biomechanical variant, designed to spread themselves across other worlds. Due to special manipulator arms that have a fractal design reaching down to the molecular level, it is speculated that they can manipulate matter on an unprecedented scale, even creating more of themselves from virtually any substance.
* ShoutOut:
** Stan quotes St Bernard's ''Commentary on the Song of Songs'' - "You cannot love what you do not know" - while explaining his First Rule of Thumb, "Apprehend". Someone in the crowd shouts "[[Literature/StrangerInAStrangeLand I grok you!]]", and Stan acknowledges that as a simpler way of saying the same thing, as is Music/{{Oasis}}'s "Be Here Now".
** Joshua says he expected the Next to be like [[Franchise/StarTrek Vulcans]].
** In a CallBack to the first book, Joshua and Lobsang continue to riff off ''Film/TheBluesBrothers''.
** Sally continues with the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' references when interacting with the Navy, calling one crewman "Ensign Wesley".
** Sally also compares Lobsang to [[Literature/TheCavesOfSteel Daneel Olivaw]].
* SuperBreedingProgram: The flashback story reveals that a society of natural steppers set up an informal version generations ago. Sally and Joshua are among the results.
* ThouShaltNotKill: Sally freely admits that she ''has'' killed in self-defence, but refuses to ever do so in a premeditated fashion. She doesn't trust what she'd become if she started.


[[folder: ''The Long Cosmos'']]
* BookEnds: [[spoiler:The last chapter of the series mostly copies lines from the first chapter of the first book.]]
* ContinuityNod:
** Nelson's trip to a 'living island' out at "Earth West 700,000, or thereabouts."
** Joshua keeps his wife Helen's diary as a keepsake.
*** And her Phobic brother Rod is mentioned.
** Monica Jansson shows up in a flashback.
** Near the end, Sancho the troll is humming "Pack Up Your Troubles", a song the trolls learned from a World War I soldier in the prologue of the first book.
* DeadGuyJunior: Joshua names one of the trolls Sally. [[spoiler:His granddaughter is named Helen after his wife.]]
* MatterReplicator: The Next have developed 3-D printers of various types, including one for ''food''. They're still limited to small-scale projects, though.
--> '''Roberta''': "[...]It may not be possible to progress the Invitation project for some time -- not until we Next have developed large-scale manufacturing facilities, presumably robotic..."
* MyBrainIsBig: The "lollipop" Next.
* NonIndicativeName: The Humble ... aren't. Many of the Next come across as {{Smug Super}}s, but they're the worst. They take their name from Stan Berg's "Be humble in the face of the universe", but they mean "dim-bulbs" should be humble in the face of ''them''.
* ShoutOut: Many, including-
** ''Literature/{{Contact}}'', including whether someone is reading the original, or a [[{{Novelization}} Book Of The Film]].
*** ''Contact'' and ''Literature/AForAndromeda'' are listed as examples of two possible results of [[spoiler:'the SETI message']], with 'Contact' being the "good ending" and 'Andromeda' being... not so pleasant.
** Franchise/StarTrek:
*** When Dev and Lee find out that the Next effectively have food replicators, they waste no time.
---> '''Dev''': [[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration "Can it give me Earl Grey tea?"]]
---> '''Lee''': "Hot!"
*** Lobsang uses ''Film/StarTrekFirstContact'' as a metaphor for why the message has arrived ''now''. [[PopCulturalOsmosisFailure Joshua is the only one who knows what he's talking about]].
** Possibly as Baxter's tribute to Sir Terry, Sancho the troll "librarian" is repeatedly described as resembling [[Literature/{{Discworld}} an orang-utan]].
* ThemeNaming: The first of a new design of "super twain" is named the ''Samuel L. Clemens'', as reference to Lobsang and Joshua's original ''Mark Twain''.