RIP Terry Pratchett
I am a nerd.
I spent an entire weekend migrating my blog from Wordpress to Jekyll and I fucking loved it. I have a board game collection that’s out of control. And just this week, I’ve had not one, but two arguments about the ending of Battlestar Galactica (one of these turned into a standing-up, shouting kind of argument)1.
In fact, I’m going to revise up and describe myself as a huge nerd.
Despite this, I have not enjoyed a single Terry Pratchett book that I’ve read.
It’s not like I haven’t tried. I’ve asked my nerd friends where I should start and I’ve gotten different suggestions from each of them. And I’ve tried each one that’s been suggested. Even Metafilter, the closest we’ll get to an internet version of a Borg hive-mind can’t settle on any one starting point. The closest I’ve come has been Good Omens, but I’m dismissing this because of Neil Gaiman. Oh, and I played a lot of The Colour of Magic on the Commodore 64. But again, I’m not counting this because it’s, you know, not a book.
All the same, I’m going to pour one out for Terry Pratchett for two reasons.
First, even though I can only handle him in small doses, even I can recognise he was capable of some beautiful writing. Like this passage from Wings
‘Come to think of it,’ he said. ‘it wasn’t frogs exactly. It was the idea of frogs. She said there’s these hills where it’s hot and rains all the time, and in the rain forests there are these very tall trees and right in the top branches of the trees there are these like great big flowers called … bromeliads, I think, and water gets into the flowers and makes little pools and there’s a type of frog that lays eggs in the pools and tadpoles hatch and grow into new frogs and these little frogs live their whole lives in the flowers right at the top of the trees and don’t even know about the ground and once you know the world is full of things like that your life is never the same.’
He took a deep breath.
‘Something like that, anyway,’ he said.
I mean, wow. This is just marvellous. (For the record, I gave up on Wings after 50-odd pages.)
But I’ll mostly be pouring one out because even though he’s not my cup of tea, his writing touched – deeply touched – a lot of my friends. His writing, his irreverence, his entire outlook on life - these had a profound influence on an entire subculture. A subculture I count myself part of.
Godspeed, Sir Terry.
“DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING,” said Death. “JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.”
- For the record, I think the ending to Battlestar Galactica is totally fine. I have no problem at all mixing spiritualism with sci-fi. ↩