I’ve been staring at a blank screen for a while now, wondering what to write about the passing of Terry Pratchett, writer, philosopher, satirist, campaigner. Should I even attempt to add to the millions of words that are being written out there right now as his readers, fans, and fellow authors commit their grief to the page or screen, or facebook post or tweet? But how can I not?
I didn’t know Terry like some of my friends did. I can only take their word for it that he was a wonderful man, yet it’s obvious from his books and his televised and youtubed appearances that, indeed, he was wise and gentle but with an underlying steeliness that caused him to describe his early onset Alzheimer’s as an embuggerance, and to get on with living. Yet also he thought about dying, and assisted dying, too. His 2010 speech for the Richard Dimbleby Lecture in 2010, Shaking Hands with Death, read out by his friend Tony Robinson, is both masterful and heartbreaking.
I still haven’t read Raising Steam. Though I have it lined up on my Kindle I will probably wait a few weeks, until I’ve assimilated the rawness of Terry’s untimely passing. In a way I’m not only mourning the man himself, but his characters.
Suddenly the lives of Sam Vimes, Granny Weatherwax and even CMOT Dibbler are all on hold. We have a new Tiffany Aching book still to come and I believe that’s it. There was some talk of another book featuring Vimes and some of the characters from Snuff, but I don’t know whether that was a work in progress or nearing completion. So our Discworld friends are now frozen in time, their past adventures still available for re-reading but their futures nothing more than ideas that will never be realised.
I wanted Discworld to go on forever. I wanted Vetinari, Vimes, von Lipwig and the wizards of the Unseen University to continue writing the history of Ankh Morpork. I wanted Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg to go on quietly affecting the lives of the good (and not-so-good) folks of Lancre with their use of headology. I wanted to know whther Captain Carrot and Angua got their happy ever after
As Death takes Terry’s hand and sends him on to wherever it is that authors go, I wonder if that last door will lead him into a flat world carried on four elephants standing on the back of a great turtle swimming through space.
Goodbye, Sir Terry Pratchett, and thanks for everything.