It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s even a little bit familiar with my posts here that I’m a shameless Terry Pratchett fangirl. I mourned when I learned of his early onset Alzheimers. I watched with a slightly sick sense of inevitability as his books slowly lost that special spark Terry at his best displayed (although, to be fair, even his worst works are still head and shoulders about damn near everything else in the field, in or out of our genre). And when I learned last week that he had died, I mourned as though I’d lost a close friend.
In a sense, I had. Terry’s books came into my life in 1985 when The Color of Magic was first distributed in Australia. I was this book with a totally bizarre and goofy cover (which did its job: I picked the book up to see what it was about) and started to read. Some time and a lot of stifled giggling later, I walked out of the bookstore with the book in hand (yes, I paid for it. Shut up). My physics lecture passed with me trying not to laugh out loud while I read the book. So did my physics lab (I actually passed that course. Maybe Pratchett helped?). I’ve reread that book so many times the covers are falling off.
As each new one arrived on the shelves, I bought it. By Witches Abroad, Terry was on my “buy sight unseen” list (at the time I had a really limited budget, so there were one or two authors whose books I’d buy without checking them first. Everyone else got read at least a little in the bookstore before I parted with my hard-earned cash – if I parted with my hard-earned cash). On one of my worst days, I read his books in succession until I felt stable enough to face the world again.
The Discworld – and by extension, the Man Himself, the Creator of the Discworld – became a close friend.
Now, there is a Disc-shaped hole where The Man With The Hat used to be. There will never be another true Pratchett book, although what is constructed from the partially completed work he left may come close. The man who gave us Dunmanifestin and Dontgonearthe Castle has – or he’d bloody well better have or there’s no justice in this existence – gone to the place where authors gather, a bar and library stocked with all the books the greats wrote, and all the ones that didn’t make the transition from the space between their ears until that space ceased to have physical meaning. There, he can argue with Heinlein and bitch with Shakespeare and Marlowe about how the critics always get it wrong but the fans can make everything worthwhile. Where, if heaven is what it should be, they can discuss world-building with the ultimate author (who is really overusing the “world war” plot device these days, and damn has he got the “plucky underdog” thing turned on its earhole. But I digress…). Where the good booze never runs dry and the editors not only aren’t demons, they do the job properly and bring out the best in the work (and Jim Baen is there, sharing tips and reminding authors ever so gently that bridge abutments make poor plot devices).
A toast to Sir Terry Pratchett, the Man Himself, mayherestinpeace – because while he wasn’t a Discworld witch, in his own way he was the Roundworld equivalent of one, and he left us all a gift we can never repay.