People often talk about how they remember what they were doing when they heard the news of some or other historical event. I will probably always remember that I was washing the dishes when my phone beeped with the email from Penguin Random House carrying the news that Sir Terry Pratchett has passed away.
While Guards! Guards! was the first Discworld novel I ever read, my first Pratchett was Diggers, the second instalment of the Nomes Trilogy. Shortly after those two a friend told me about The Carpet People. And I was hooked on Terry Pratchett.
Over the past twenty or so years I have spent many hours in the pages of his books, reading and re-reading, until I forgot where I was and instead just disappeared into the wondrous world he’d created. His novels have made me cry, have swept me up in a rush of adventure, and have made me laugh so hard I couldn’t find my breath. I can say without hesitation that among all my favourites, he is my favourite author of all (is, for his work lives on). I owe my love for Science Fiction and Fantasy mostly to him, and I like to think the first sparks of my desire to write were also ignited by his stories.
I got goosebumps the first time I read Reaper Man and saw death walk up a hill to hone his scythe’s blade on the first ray of the rising sun and was alternately dumbstruck and in hysterics as I made my way through Thief of Time. As mentioned before, I consider Granny Weatherwax and Sam Vimes two of the greatest characters ever written, but really, he didn’t create a single character who wasn’t exceptional in their own way, just like people here on Roundworld. And I will never cease to be astounded at how he managed to teach us so much about our own world through a fantastical disc balanced on the backs of four elephants, riding on a giant turtle as it swims across the galaxy.
I don’t own them all yet, but one day…
Everyone is talking of what a loss his passing is to the world of literature, and a loss it is. But let us also remember what a gift he was: all the books he leaves behind for us to enjoy and enjoy again, the countless lives he touched through his stories and his work in supporting research and raising awareness for Alzheimer’s. Yes, he will be missed. But I hope he was able to leave with knowledge of a job well done.
I think his own Twitter account describes his journey’s end best:
It appears the Terry Pratchett website is down at present – probably due to a high volume of traffic – so I’ll update tomorrow with links to the titles mentioned in this post.