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Soft places (as called by Patrick, Sally Linsay's maternal grandfather) are locations that allow fast travel over multiple worlds at a time.[1] Unlike regular stepping, however, stepping through soft may also move the stepper geographically on the world.

Soft places shift, opening and closeing, sometimes popping up when you need them. You have to know how to find them[1] - Sally Linsay used motions that looked like a kind of tai chi to do so.[2]

They're usually are found far inland, away from the coasts, but near water. They are easier to find at dawn and sunset. They are sometimes visible as a kind of shimmer.[1][2]

An experienced stepper like Sally can reach any destination in only three or four steps if the right conditions are met. An even more experienced stepper, like Sally's Granddad who refers to them as "fairy ways", can sense a soft place two miles off.

Stepping across a soft place is described as sharper than usual by Joshua, with a brief sensation of plummeting like in a water slide. The process also left Joshua colder as if it somehow absorbed energy.[1]

The Long Earth

Their existence is explained to Lobsang and Joshua by Sally.[1]

The Long War

Sally and Monica Jansson used soft places to travel to the Gap. It took them a week to travel the two million worlds - a lot faster than any twain.[2]

The Long Mars

It is revealed in The Long Mars that soft places also exist on Mars.[3] It's through them that Sally brings back her father to Gap Mars.[4] Sally describes the sensation of being close to a soft place as like a twisting.

The Long Utopia

In 2057, when Roberta Golding took Stan Berg and Rocky Lewis to the Grange through several soft places, she confirmed that a soft place transition extracts energy but not the simple Linsay step.[5]

She also revealed that the ability to travel through soft places was just a question of training and mental discipline and that people with higher intellect had more chances to master this talent.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 The Long Earth - Chapter 38
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Long War - Chapter 31
  3. The Long Mars - Chapter 19
  4. The Long Mars - Chapter 40
  5. The Long Utopia - Chapter 25

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