Yesterday was a very sad day.
I had been feeling cranky and sluggish all morning. As I put my coat down in my office, my colleague from across the hall, Jack, came to me and said “Did you hear the sad news?” My first thought was that one of our colleagues had passed. “Terry Pratchett has died” Jack told me. I was so sad. I still am. I immediately called by my buddy Jenn who loves Sir Terry as much as I do. She was sad too but glad that I had told her as that helped soften the blow. “It was foggy yesterday and I knew something was changing” she told me. She was right.
I knew Sir Terry was on the decline as he was suffering from what he called the “embuggerance”. Alzheimer’s to the rest of us. Before the embuggerance he would write roughly three books a year. Not enough for my joyous and voracious reading, but that was good. After the embuggerance he wrote about one. Every new book was a precious jewel to me. He is one of the few authors I will immediately buy in hard cover. The booksellers at my local Barnes & Noble knew to tell me the minute I stepped into the store when when a new Pratchett book was out.
No more. No more Discworld novels.
I feel a great loss that is hard to explain. So let me start at the beginning.
In the summer of 1987 I was with my soul sister Alicia. We had taken a lovely walk to downtown Bloomington and were were currently in a local bookstore – The Book Corner. I was shopping in my favorite section, Science Fiction & Fantasy, searching for a new good read, when a very strange cover caught my eye. It looked like this:
I just had to check it out – how could I not LOVE the title? I picked it up, read the back, and decided that any book taking on sexist nonsense had to be for me. So I bought it, went home, spread out on the couch, and began to read.
First note that Sir Terry writes about Discworld, a flat round disc on top of four elephants on top of a turtle who swims through space.* That already made me giggle. I chuckled and laughed my way through half of the book. Then I read a passage about a witch and her broken broom that made me laugh so hard I cried for 15 minutes. Yes: 15 minutes. I tried to read the passage to Alicia but gave up and so she had to read it. She laughed too. I still laugh when I read that passage. Plus Equal Rites introduced the world to Granny Weatherwax, one of the greatest literary witches of all time. Check her out below.
Yeah we love her. She is one uber powerful witch. PLUS! Pratchett never bought into the good/evil view of witches and always presented them as well-rounded people – who helped others. Go Sir Terry!
Need less to say as the years went by I kept buying Pratchett books and always found a moment in each book when I would laugh so hard I cried. When my mother took me to England in 1992, I bought a copy of Reaper Man and read it when resting in a bed and breakfast in York. I really liked buying a Pratchett book in England as Sir Terry is English. It felt appropriate. I did it again when I went back in 2014, buying several paperbacks in the airport.
As the years went by my Pratchett collection improved and I shared my love of his work with more and more people. I also enjoyed how Sir Terry’s writing style, well for lack of a better term, matured. He kept taking on humanitarian issues. His writing style became more refined. He showed his propensity for mystery writing and suspense, for showing marginalized characters make it in the world and talk about their marginalization. He just kept being awesome.
He gave voice to the poor, the police, witches, knights, kings, queens, trolls, gods, goblins, orcs, academics, sewage workers, post office employees, golems, and even to Death Himself. He was a voice against war, bigotry, and abusing others. He was in short, a very good man.
He totally deserved that Order of the British Empire. 🙂 He totally deserved to be Sir Terry.
I am so going to miss him.
Last night Jenn texted me some of her favorite lines about Granny Weatherwax. It seems appropriate to end this post with Sir Terry’s words about our favorite character.
…Granny Weatherwax, who had walked nightly without fear in the bandit-haunted forests of the mountains all her life in the certain knowledge that the darkness held nothing more terrible than she was…
A witch ought never to be frightened in the darkest forest, Granny Weatherwax had once told her, because she should be sure in her soul that the most terrifying thing in the forest was her.
From my heart and Jenn’s and every other fan of Discworld we would like to say
RIP Terry Pratchett RIP
EDIT: There is now a petition to bring him back to life. After all, Death was a great character in the Discworld universe and I think Death owes us, and Sir Terry. Read more here: Petition asks Death to bring Sir Terry Pratchett back.
Seems reasonable to me.
- Sir Terry Pratchett, renowned fantasy author, dies aged 66
- Fantasy author and Discworld creator Terry Pratchett has died aged 66 after a protracted battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Heartbroken Fans Are Leaving Affectionate Tributes To Sir Terry Pratchett
- Tribute from Paul Kidby’s Website
Terry Pratchett Websites:
- Sir Terry Pratchett – Facebook
- Sir Terry Pratchett – Twitter
- Terry Pratchett on Transworld Books Site
- Discworld – Wikipedia
- List of Discworld Books (You will find the publishing dates here)
- L-Space Website: A Fan Website Links:
- Discworld Emporium – Official Discworld Merchandise
- Paul Kidby – Official Discworld Artist
* Note: The turtle’s name is A’Tuin.