The Long Earth

Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter are working together to complete a long-gestating project

Terry Pratchett

Well, we can happily say we didn’t see this one coming. Transworld have announced that best-selling fantasy author Terry Pratchett is teaming up with hard SF writer Stephen Baxter on The Long Earth – a story of parallel worlds and infinite possibilities that has been bubbling over in the Discworld creator’s mind for over two decades.

Pratchett, best known for a celebrated stint as guest editor on SFX (oh, and the odd best-seller), first started work on the idea in the mid-’80s, crafting two short stories and an unfinished novel before that pesky Discworld series got in the way. He’ll be working together with the phenomenally successful Ark author Stephen Baxter on two yet-to-be-titled books, the first of which is due to be published by Doubleday in Spring 2012.

“I’ve known Terry for a long time, and I’ve always felt honoured that he likes my work – and vice versa, of course,” Baxter told SFX. “Now we’re working together, and we’ve got this big roomy concept that we’re going to have a huge amount of fun exploring.”

It’s an interesting change of pace for Pratchett who has dealt primarily in comic fantasy for the past 20 years and we can’t help but wonder if his recent comments on the credibility of Doctor Who’s science fiction have spurred this decision to put his money where his mouth is. Still a collaboration between two of modern SF and fantasy literature’s leading lights is a reason to get very excited. 2012 can’t come soon enough.