by Gene Howington
Still reeling from the loss of Leonard Nimoy, the science fiction and fantasy community suffered another great loss today with the death of acclaimed fantasy author and humorist Terry Pratchett. For those of you not familiar with his work, he is best known for the Discworld series. The Discworld itself is described as a large disc resting on the backs of four giant elephants, all supported by the giant turtle Great A’Tuin swimming through space. As intelligent as they are funny, his stories always managed to skewer absurdities of the modern world, from the often convoluted nature of bureaucracy to the vanity of celebrity. And that? Is when science fiction and fantasy are at their best: when they tell us something true about ourselves through a tale set in an often radically different reality. Having published over 85 books in 7 languages, Terry Pratchett is currently the second most read British author in the world. He died from complications of early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, aged 66, at his home “with his cat sleeping on his bed, surrounded by his family”.
Although I have not read all of his works, I have read a great many. Unlike some authors as prolific as Sir Pratchett, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every single one. The first of the Discworld series, “The Colour of Magic“, was published in 1983. At the time, I was in high school working part-time at a local bookstore that was staffed by a diverse group that had one thing in common: we would all read just about every genre with the exception of Harlequin romance novels. That year, the backroom and floor hummed with praise from all corners about Pratchett’s work. It was love at first read. While his bad health was no surprise to fans (he announced his condition in 2007), it strikes a particular cord with this author. Why? Because the novel sitting on my nightstand right now is “The Colour of Magic“. Although the Discworld stories are basically told in chronological order, they need not be read that way. If you are a fan, please share your Pratchett related tales below. If you are not a fan? It is only because you haven’t read him yet. I strongly encourage you to do so if you haven’t.
My only regret is I’ll never be able to join the wizards at the Unseen University or carouse on the streets of Ankh-Morpork for new tales of hilarious wonder and social satire.
But I can always visit.
Remember this wisdom: “It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it.”
Farewell, Terry. May you find that it is turtles all the way down.