― Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man
How does someone encapsulate a man’s life in text. How can any person write a farewell to a person that you’ve never met? More so, how is it possible to do so with a man such as Sir Terry Pratchett.
I had hoped that the day I would attempt to do so was much further away.
Today, the news broke that Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series, the Truckers Trilogy and many more, died at home aged 66. For the last decade, He had suffered from Alzheimer’s (his “embuggerance” as he had named it in typical Pratchett style) and publicly shown his enormous strength of character in facing it. Pratchett is survived by his daughter Rhiana and his wife Lyn.
I have never met the man, yet he may well be one of the most important figures in my life. His work helped through bad times, and after coming to it at the age of 12, gave me new ways to think about the world around me in my formative years. He focused the impotent rage we all share at the world around him and channeled into great fiction that both challenged the reader with its inventiveness and knowledge of real world events and history, skewed and mirrored as it was. I learnt from these books, and learnt of the events that shaped them. Pratchett taught me more of the world than any school ever could, and he did so with a twinkle and a smile.
Neil Gaiman recently said “Beneath any jollity there is a foundation of fury. Terry Pratchett is not one to go gentle into any night, good or otherwise”. Gaiman spoke about how Pratchett’s fury fueled him, and how the engine that created the Discworld was powered by anger at the world around him. Beneath the humour of his work, that heart still beats, and we can learn from that. Take that feeling, and create. Don’t spend the day complaining at the injustice and stupidity of the world, use it and make something. Anything.
At least, that’s what I’ve always taken away, and it is a lesson I shall remember for many years yet. And even now, on this sad day, I am lifted somewhat by the knowledge that there are people yet to open their first Discworld book, yet to look at the world a different way, and that is the true legacy of Terry Pratchett
We lost one of the greatest minds of our time today, but we should celebrate the life he led, and we should remember the work he left, and honor both in the same dignity that the man himself held through his twilight years.
Goodbye Tezza. You will be missed, and I hope the desert gives you the peace you richly deserve, though it is much too soon.