Outsiders, so the theory goes, have the best perspective. They can never belong, but that makes them the best observers, the viewers of detail, the people who can really understand.
That’s why you get some great novels by Brits about America, and some great books by Americans about Britain. Take “Notes on a Small Island,” which was selected by Brits as the best representation of Modern Britain, and which was written by an Iowa cornboy. Or “American Gods,” a gorgeous dive into America’s mythological soul written by a British transplant.
“The Long Earth” is theoretically a science fiction novel, and the scifi elements are fantastic. It takes the basic idea that there are an infinite number of copies of Earth, with an infinite evolutionary variety, and that people can easily move from one to another, and it explores the various implications and permutations of that idea.
But really, “The Long Earth” is about America’s frontier mentality. It’s about the need to find out what’s beyond the horizon. It’s about starting over, discovering, learning. It’s about the quest for quiet in a world that–no matter what time you live in–always seems too loud.