Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?
Sir Terry Pratchett, creator of the Discworld series, died today. He was not that old, but he had been sick for a long time, with a foul disease (I feel that diseases of the mind are particularly cruel for authors). And thus another bright light, another font of fun and silliness and joy has gone out of the world.
Sir Terry has been one of my literary heroes for a long time. I’ve been reading his books since my teens, when my cousin first introduced me to Good Omens. I quickly found Discworld from that, and I’ve been delighted by that world and his genius for hilarious satire ever since. Satire is an often important way of holding a mirror up to the world. But it isn’t often as funny and silly as people think. Terry Pratchett managed to be both brilliantly satirical and hilarious good fun. For that alone I could love his books and him as well. But beyond that he seemed to be a genuinely decent, caring human being, modestly humble despite his genius, and he created some wonderfully amazing characters.
Sir Terry’s books are fun, and incisive, and his plots are twisty and engaging. But the characters are why I keep coming back for more. He created women who I want to be when I grow old (I aspire to be Granny, but I suspect I’ll be more like Nanny, which I’m ok with). He created women I wanted to be friends with (Tiffany Aching has an amazingly clear-sighted way of looking at the world, plus I enjoy the Nac Mac Feegle endlessly). Some of his characters make me laugh, and others make me think, and some are just fun. But all are wonderful and engaging. Someday I hope to be a fraction of the writer Sir Terry was. His humor continuously reminds me to keep the fun and silliness in my own stories as much as possible.
As a reader I’m grieving that there will never again be a new adventure in Discworld. But I’m so grateful to have the ability to return to such an extensive world (forty novels plus some short stories!) not all of which I’ve read yet. And every time I read his book I’ll remember a man of wit and wisdom who shared a great gift with the world.
While we remember and speak his name, he is not truly gone. (But you’ll have to excuse me as I get a bit weepy anyhow)