Terry Pratchett died two weeks ago. I looked it up just to be safe, and was shocked to learn it wasn’t last week. Feels like it was just yesterday.
It nearly broke my heart to hear the news. I had to remove myself from social media for several days, because every new profession of respect came as a painful reminder that the world had changed.
It wasn’t unexpected. How could it be? A man’s death is one of the most predictable things in the world, and Sir Pratchett in particular had been battling a devastating diagnosis for years now.
But still it stung. Pratchett has been not only a source of entertainment and education for me as a reader, but very much a role model and inspiration for me as a writer. His Discworld series is easily one of the funniest and most enjoyable reads in all fantasy, but I would also call it one of the most insightful and eloquent and uniquely voices and truly meaningful texts in all of today’s canon.
He wrestles with questions of existence, questions of effective government and social change, questions of right and wrong, and (in almost every book) questions of a man’s relationships with the people he loves and with his own mortality.
It’s easy to miss just how good these books are because they’re so easy to read. Strange, that.
But I was reminded how broad his topics ran when, last week, a friend shared a link to the GNU Terry Pratchett project.
It’s fascinating. Years ago, Pratchett wrote a Discworld story that featured (as a minor subplot) the idea of immortality in a simple form: “A man is not dead while his name is still spoken.”
This project takes that idea from the book and invites website owners to apply it in memory of Terry Pratchett. The actual implementation is somewhat technical and a little silly (and also a spoiler for portions of the book it comes from), so I won’t go into detail. It’s also so easy that it feels somehow shallow, but I can’t help thinking Terry Pratchett would be delighted by it.
So I’m participating. AaronPogue.com is part of the GNU Terry Pratchett project. But the very act of turning on that plugin convinced me that I needed to say something more.
So here I am, and here it is: I’m devastated that there will be no more books from that brilliant mind. I’m disappointed that I never got to meet him. But most of all I am grateful to have experienced all the wonderful works he shared with the world. His words changed my life for the better.
If you’ve never read anything of his, give it a try. His style isn’t for everyone, but there is real beauty to be had. Start the series anywhere (Guards! Guards! and Reaper Man are popular starting points), but I truly recommend them all.