My Media Intake

Two Audio Book Series Added To My Listen List..

As I have just finished listening to Old Man’s War by John Scalzi and really enjoyed it, I thought I would work through the other five books in the series. And as I’m adding that series to my playlist, why not add another one I have been wanting to listen to. Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s Long Earth series that contains five books is one I have wanted to either read or listen to for a long time but have never gotten around to getting them all together.…..

The GhostBrigades

The Colonial Defense Forces (CDF) learn that one of their top consciousness transfer scientists, Charles Boutin, has turned traitor and sparked an unprecedented alliance between three other species to wipe out humanity. While investigating Boutin’s clumsy attempt to fake his own death, the CDF discovers that Boutin had successfully stored a copy of his consciousness in a computer. The colonial Special Forces, nicknamed “The Ghost Brigades,” create a CDF soldier body with Boutin’s DNA to try to implant the copy of Boutin’s consciousness into the new brain, to learn where Boutin has escaped to and what his intentions really are. After the attempt seemingly fails, the soldier (named Jared Dirac, after Paul Dirac) becomes a private in the Special Forces and is assigned to a platoon commanded by Jane Sagan. On the off chance that Boutin’s consciousness does emerge, Sagan and her superiors are determined to keep an eye on Jared. Time passes and an experience that reminds Dirac of Boutin’s daughter Zoe leads Boutin’s consciousness to emerge. Jared slowly becomes more and more like Boutin while losing his own personality traits, but retains his individuality and his strong moral opposition to Boutin’s philosophy and actions. When the extent of Boutin’s treachery becomes known, it’s clear there will be some difficult choices required to stop Boutin’s alliance with the Rraey, Eneshan and Obin.
A mission to the moon where Boutin is helping the Obin build their consciousness transfer technology, led by Sagan and Dirac, is catastrophically compromised by Boutin’s use of a backdoor to disable the soldiers’ BrainPals and render many of them catatonic. Dirac is interrogated by Boutin, who decides to transfer his own consciousness into Dirac’s body in an attempt to infiltrate and destroy the Colonial Union. The transfer succeeds, ending Dirac’s consciousness. Dirac is able to posthumously neutralize Boutin by leaving a Trojan horse in a BrainPal message, oxidizing his body’s smart blood and killing him. Boutin’s daughter Zoe is retrieved by the survivors of the mission, including Sagan. At the end of the book, Sagan is offered retirement in order to keep her from disclosing sensitive information she received from Boutin; she accepts and retires with her future husband John Perry, adopting Zoe. The Obin proceed to sign a treaty with the CDF that ends hostilities.

The Last Colony

John Perry and Jane Sagan, the former Ghost Brigade clone of Perry’s dead wife, are offered positions as leaders for the new colony of Roanoke, which will comprise human settlers from the first ten established human colonies. After deliberating, they decide to accept and go with Zoe to the new colony. In tow are Zoe’s Obin protectors, named Hickory and Dickory, who view her with almost religious awe due to her father’s success in giving the Obin consciousness.

Upon arriving, the colonists quickly realize they are not at Roanoke. They are approached by a member of the Special Forces of the CDF, adapted to live in space, who had attached himself to the exterior of their craft. He informs them they have no option but to land and begin the colony anyway. The ship has been irreparably damaged to prevent the craft from leaving orbit, and all the colonists are considered quarantined from the rest of the Colonial Union. The Conclave (a group that wants to stop humanity’s expansion) was aware of the original position of Roanoke, and therefore was waiting to annihilate them. He further tells them that to isolate them fully, they are forbidden from using any advanced technology. This is offset by the presence of the Mennonites, an Amish-like group of colonists who are familiar with the large amount of basic machinery that the CDF had given the colonists.

Zoe’s Tale

Zoe’s Tale is a parallel retelling of Scalzi’s third Old Man’s War novel, The Last Colony, written as a first-person narrative from the viewpoint of Zoë Boutin Perry. It follows up on several plot points that were underrepresented in the original novel.
Zoë is the 17-year-old adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan, two former-soldiers-turned-colonists who were the subjects of Scalzi’s first book, Old Man’s War.[2] Her biological father, Charles Boutin, created a device capable of giving consciousness to a race of creatures, called the Obin, who are otherwise intelligent but not conscious. The Obin worshipped him, but he was killed for being a traitor to humankind and wanting to overthrow the Colonial Union. Since Boutin gave consciousness to the Obin, his daughter Zoë became a demigod to them. As such, she is accompanied at all times by a pair of Obin bodyguards, Hickory and Dickory, who also relay all their experiences and feelings back to the rest of the Obin.
After John and Jane are assigned to manage the colony of Roanoke—the first human colony to be settled by colonists from other colonies rather than directly from Earth—Zoë befriends Gretchen en route, and the two soon build romantic relationships with Enzo and Magdy, respectively. On Roanoke, foolhardy Magdy leads the four into peril against what later come to be known as Roanoke’s indigenous werewolves. Hickory and Dickory train Zoë to defend herself against these and other alien threats. Later, after a colonist is killed by the werewolves, Magdy and Enzo are among those who head into the woods for revenge. Zoë, Gretchen, Hickory, and Dickory manage to find Enzo and Magdy, who are cornered by the werewolves, without alerting them, but Zoë reveals herself to defuse the situation and the werewolf threat by asserting dominance over Magdy and punishing him, then allowing an injured werewolf to injure Magdy in turn.

The Human Division

Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race.
The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union (CU) has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU’s secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance against the Colonial Union called the Conclave. They have invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice is not obvious or easy.
Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union will not be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse and political cunning: the “B-Team” advised by Lieutenant Harry Wilson.
As the story progresses, it deals with how humanity fares in a universe filled with other sentient races and without a growing military force to clash with them.

The End of All Things

The two major human governments, of the Earth and the Colonial Union, have parted ways after the destruction of Earth Station, and both have a poor relationship with the Conclave, a coalition of alien governments. Now the Colonial Union is running out of troops in the Colonial Defense Forces (CDF) without a new source of humans from Earth which would result in the human colonies being vulnerable to the alien species who have been waiting for the first sign of weakness, to drive humanity to ruin. And there is a group lurking in the shadows called the Equilibrium, which is intent on destroying both the Colonial Union and the Conclave. CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson and the “B-Team” Colonial Union diplomats race against the clock to discover who is behind attacks on the Union and the alien races’ Conclave, to seek peace with a suspicious, angry Earth, and keep humanity’s Colonial Union intact, or else risk an extinction of the human race.
The first novella tells the story of its narrator Rafe Daquin, a software-engineer-turned-pilot who is part of the crew of a captured merchant vessel. The capture of the vessel at the hands of the Rraey, an alien species, turns out to be instigated by Colonial Union Deputy Secretary of State, Tyson Ocampo, who was on board the vessel ostensibly for a private vacation. Daquin, taken hostage by the Rraey while the rest of the crew is left to die, is subjected to a procedure that leaves him disembodied as a “brain in a box”, with no option but to do the bidding of his as-yet-unknown captor. While being made to conduct piloting simulations by his captor, known only as Control, Daquin’s software expertise allows him to discover a backdoor into the simulation where he is confined, and eventually he builds a shell around the simulation that is controlled by him. He requests a meeting with Ocampo; when this is granted he covertly copies all the files he can find on Ocampo’s PDA which allows him to learn of the existence of an alliance of humans and alien species named the Equilibrium which is responsible for several actions against the Colonial Union and the Conclave including the destruction of Earth Station. Daquin then tricks Ocampo into visiting his vessel to bid farewell before he is sent on a kamikaze mission; he manages to escape his captors’ control and render Ocampo unto the Colonial Union to be held accountable. The Colonial Union offers him a new body and asks him to represent them as a credible source while his body is being grown; he agrees to this request.
In the second novella, General Tarsem Gau and his assistant Hafte Sorvalh (narrator) deal with political crises in the Conclave that arise from the disclosure of Ocampo’s records of the Colonial Union over several years. After the General is assassinated while speaking to the Conclave’s legislature, Sorvalh reluctantly assumes his responsibilities and the title of Premier in order to preserve the unity of the Conclave. At the end, a letter from the General to Sorvalh reveals that he initiated his own assassination in order to ultimately strengthen the Conclave through a political upheaval that he knew would result. In the letter, the General says he wanted Sorvalh to be his successor but feared the reduction of his own stature and the weakening of the Conclave in a succession struggle, so he chose this route to give control to Sorvalh, whom he praises as a much cannier and more decisive politician. Taking her cue from the General’s suggestion in the letter, Sorvalh destroys it, leaving no one any the wiser, and begins her duties as premier.
The third novella, narrated by Lieutenant Heather Lee (the former musician encountered in episode 8 of The Human Division), tells the story of the Colonial Union’s efforts to clamp down on separatist movements on its colonies Franklin, Kyoto, Khartoum and Erie. Over the course of these missions, Lee grows disillusioned with the repeated need for her to suppress her fellow humans. After losing two soldiers under her command to a Rraey-assisted ambush in Khartoum, Lee decides to give up her life as a CDF soldier and desert for a new life in Erie, although she knows it cannot last.
In the fourth novella, narrated by Lieutenant Harry Wilson, Earth, the Colonial Union, and the Conclave are forced into acting together to prevent the destruction of all three entities by the clandestine disruptions of the Equilibrium. Through the diplomatic efforts of Ambassador Abumwe, Danielle Lowen and Wilson, an uneasy alliance is formed and the Equilibrium’s efforts neutralised. In the aftermath, Abumwe is put in charge of building a new constitution with the Colonial Union’s colonies to give them real representation and in turn obtain their co-operation in maintaining the CDF’s strength through recruitment from the colonies.

Plot synopsis via Wikipedia.

The Long Earth

The “Long Earth” is a (possibly infinite) series of parallel worlds that are similar to Earth, which can be reached by using an inexpensive device called a “Stepper” – designs for which are one day posted online suddenly allowing humanity to explore worlds “East” and “West” of “Datum Earth”. The worlds are mostly familiar, though others differ in greater and greater details, but all share one similarity: on none are there, or have there ever been, Homo sapiens – although the same cannot be said of earlier hominid species, especially Homo habilis.
The book deals primarily with the journey of Joshua Valienté (a natural “Stepper”) and Lobsang, who claims to be a Tibetan motorcycle repairman reincarnated as an artificial intelligence. The two chart a course to learn as much as possible about the parallel worlds, travelling millions of steps away from the original Earth. They encounter evidence of other humanoid species (referred to as trolls and elves); of human settlers who learned their gifts early – including Sally Linsay, daughter of the inventor of the stepper, who joins them on their expedition; and of an extinct race of bipedal dinosaur descendants. They also encounter warning signs of a great danger, millions of worlds away from “our” Earth, causing catastrophe as it moves. The book also deals with the effects of the explosion of available space on the people of Datum Earth and the new colonies and political movements that are spreading throughout the Long Earth.
A young girl, Helen Green, and her family (with the exception of her brother, Rod, who is unable to step) trek across the long earth to form a new community, Reboot, on Earth West 101,754.
After stepping across “The Gap” – a universe around two million steps from the Datum where the Earth no longer exists – Joshua and Lobsang encounter the threat that has caused the slow migration of Trolls away from the gap. First Person Singular is a being that absorbs other sentient life forms, eventually taking over everything on earth before stepping to the next. It currently cannot pass The Gap. Lobsang elects to stay in First Person Singular’s universe and commune with it, in the hopes of convincing it not to advance further, or at least to not absorb all other sentients.
Joshua and Sally return to Datum Earth back the way they came. Upon reaching Earth West 101,754, they hear news that Datum Madison has been destroyed in a nuclear explosion, the result of a bomb planted by a terrorist group of humans incapable of stepping (called “phobics” in the book’s terminology). The book ends with the two of them briefly seeing the explosion site, before retreating to Earth West 1 Madison, where a backed-up instantiation of Lobsang contacts Joshua by phone.

The Long War

A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth—but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind. A new “America”, called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth, using “combing”, slang for hunting-gathering to support their economy —and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government.
Meanwhile, the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation. Joshua, now married to Helen, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with gathering multiple crises that threaten to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any humankind has waged before.
When Sally turns up unexpected to Joshua’s home—now in Hell-Knows-Where, a small town on Earth West 1,397,426 where he has been elected Mayor—Joshua is forced to return with his family, wife Helen and son Dan, to Datum Earth to investigate and defuse the growing tensions between humans and trolls. Soon after their arrival, Sally dashes off to Earth West two million, the enigmatic “Gap” world existing without an earth, with Ex-Lieutenant Jansson (now stricken with leukaemia from her efforts with the Madison bombing and nuclear fallout) to aid Mary the troll and her son from possible execution.
Joshua eventually follows with the help of Bill and another Lobsang, skipping across earths in a new Twain to find Sally, Jansson and the lost trolls. Upon arriving, Joshua is detained using a device to stop a stepper stepping (a contraption that would trigger if he stepped) by a race of highly evolved dogs called “Beagles” who force Sally and Jansson, with the help of a kobold, to retrieve weapons from a cache on another world left by a long-dead race.
Nelson, a new character to the series groomed by the Black Corporation and Lobsang, seeks out Lobsang and embarks on a mission West. Upon finding Joshua (still imprisoned on the Beagle world), Lobsang makes a speech and successfully implores the trolls to return to their natural place throughout the long earth, now co-habitating with humans.
When Sally and Jansson return with the weapons, the Beagles “honour” Joshua by hunting him—with the intent of providing him with a glorious death. Two of the Beagles come to the understanding that humans and human wishes are different, bite off Joshua’s hand and return it to the GrandDaughter (the Beagle Princess) as proof of his “death”.
US Navy Twain Captain Maggie Kauffman is sent in the ship Benjamin Franklin by the US President Cowley(A former leader of the same organization that arranged the Madison bombings) to reinforce the need to have an overarching government presiding over the US continents throughout the long earth. Upon reaching the destination of their mission, Valhalla, they find a peaceful settlement with “rebel” leader Jack Green (father of Helen as well as Rod, the Madison bomber).
Joshua, now safely home, refuses a Black Corporation prosthetic hand in favour of a clunky mechanical one—keeping once more from Lobsang’s reach.
Once everyone has returned to the Datum (or close by), Yellowstone erupts on Datum, causing most of America to flee stepwise.

The Long Mars

The Long Earth is in chaos.
The cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption is shutting down civilization. Whole populations flee to the relative safety of myriad stepwise Earths. Sally Linsay, Joshua Valiente and Lobsang have all been involved in the perilous post-eruption clean-up.
But Joshua faces a crisis closer to home. From a long childhood hidden deep in the Long Earth, a new breed of young, super-bright post-humans is emerging – but ‘normal’ human society, driven by ignorance and fear, is turning against them. For Joshua, caught up in the conflict, a dramatic showdown seems inevitable.
Meanwhile US Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman embarks on an incredible journey, leading an airship expedition to the unexplored limits of the far Long Earth.
And Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father, Willis Linsay – inventor of the original Stepper device. Ever the maverick, he is planning a fantastic voyage of his own – across the Long Mars. But what is his true motivation?
For Joshua, for mankind, for the Long Earth itself – everything is different now.

The Long Utopia

It is the middle of the twenty-first century.
After the cataclysmic upheavals of Step Day and the Yellowstone eruption, humanity is spreading farther into the Long Earth. Society, on a battered Datum Earth and beyond, continues to evolve.
And new challenges emerge.
Now an elderly and cantankerous AI, Lobsang is living with Agnes in an exotic, far-distant world. He’s determined to lead a normal life in New Springfield—they even adopt a child. But there are rumors, strange sightings in the sky. On this world, something isn’t right. . . .
Millions of steps away—learning about a hidden family history and the father he never knew—Joshua receives an urgent summons from New Springfield.
Lobsang has come to understand that what has blighted his Earth is also a threat to all the worlds of the Long Earth. Countering this threat will require the combined efforts of humankind, machine, and the super-intelligent Next. And some must make the ultimate sacrifice. . . .

The Long Cosmos

2070-71. Nearly six decades after Step Day and in the Long Earth, the new Next post-human society continues to evolve.
For Joshua Valienté, now in his late sixties, it is time to take one last solo journey into the High Meggers: an adventure that turns into a disaster. Alone and facing death, his only hope of salvation lies with a group of trolls. But as Joshua confronts his mortality, the Long Earth receives a signal from the stars. A signal that is picked up by radio astronomers but also in more abstract ways – by the trolls and by the Great Traversers. Its message is simple but ts implications are enormous:
The super-smart Next realise that the Message contains instructions on how to develop an immense artificial intelligence but to build it they have to seek help from throughout the industrious worlds of mankind. Bit by bit, byte by byte, they assemble a computer the size of a continent – a device that will alter the Long Earth’s place within the cosmos and reveal the ultimate, life-affirming goal of those who sent the Message. Its impact will be felt by and resonate with all – mankind and other species, young and old, communities and individuals – who inhabit the Long Earths…

Plot synopsis via Wikipedia.