I woke to the news that Sir Terry Pratchett has passed away. I knew this was coming, but—as with the passing of Robert Jordan almost eight years back—it still hit me like a slap to the face.
Many of you know of my fondness for Pratchett’s works. If you aren’t aware, here’s a piece that I wrote about him a while back. When I wrote it, I worried I strayed into hyperbole. Looking at it again, I now wonder if I didn’t say enough. Too many readers I’ve met, particularly in the States, have never given Pratchett a try.
The genre, and the world, just lost something wonderful in that man. Of all the writers I’ve read, Pratchett felt the most human. There was more truth in a single one of his humble satires than in a hundred volumes of poignant drama. Unlike most comedians—who use their humor like a weapon, always out for blood—Terry didn’t cut or bludgeon. He was far too clever for that. Instead, he’d slide down onto the bar stool beside us, drape his arm around us, and say something ridiculous, brilliant, and hilarious. Suddenly, the world would be a brighter place.
It wasn’t that he held back, or wasn’t—at times—biting. It’s just that he seemed to elevate every topic he touched, even when attacking it. He’d knock the pride and selfishness right out from underneath us, then—remarkably—we’d find ourselves able to stand without such things.
And we stood all the taller for it.
Sir Terry, you have my sincere thanks. I don’t think that, despite your many accolades, the world knows what it had in you. Fantasy certainly didn’t. Our glittering awards are made foolish and inconsequential by their disregard for you, though I doubt you cared much about them either way.
The most fitting memorial I can give is this: a request. For those of you reading this post, why not give this man’s legacy a try? If I had to guess which fantasy author of our era will be read most in the centuries to come, I’d lay my money on the works of Sir Terry Pratchett.
I suggest beginning your journey in Discworld with The Truth, Going Postal, or Guards! Guards!