Today we mark the passing of the forever honourable and awesome Sir Terry Pratchett. Many words will be written about him, his influences in literature and popular culture by people much more versed in the art of word smithing than myself. I will not attempt to describe the man who has been such an icon of our times but merely remember what I learnt from his words and actions.
No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away – Reaper Man
My first exposure to Pratchett’s work was when I was 15 and a friend loaned me Guards! Guards! which introduced my to Samuel Vimes who has remained my favourite Discworld character ever since. Vimes isn’t strong, smart or powerful. Hell when we first meet him he is a drunken wreck of a man and yet he grows. He has a sense of right, a burning cynicism and at times barely contained rage which power him through life. This spoke and continues to speak to me. The man has style, a dark and cynical style but style none the less.
Sometimes it would be nice to be wrong about people.” -Commander Samuel Vimes
Pratchett also managed to humanise death. When I was a kid I had become terrified of death. I would have nightmares and wake up in horror that’d I’d be dead. The Discworld had Death as a character right from the very first book and as they series ran on he grew and “experimented” with being human as we do every day. Don’t ask me how but this helped quell the fear and while the concept of dying isn’t exciting I no longer fear it, merely accept that it will happen and hopefully on my own terms, Terry Pratchett’s experiences in this and his championing of peoples right to die with dignity have been a great inspiration.
What can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the Reaper Man? – Death
Far be it from me to link him only to the Discworld series. Nation is an fascinating book, written amazingly well and should be on everyone’s bucket list of books. I can not begin to describe just how well written and engaging it is. His collaboration with Neil Gaiman on Good Omens pays off well too.
“DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.” – Good Omens
My favourite thing about Pratchett’s work is that every time I re-read them I find something new. As a grow up and learn new things I start to spot more references I missed the first time around. It took me over a decade before I spotted the Dr Strangelove reference in Jingo (I won’t spoil it for you).
Taxation, gentlemen, is very much like dairy farming. The task is to extract the maximum amount of milk with the minimum amount of moo – Vetinari
If Pratchett is right, and I’m damn sure he is, and a person never really dies until the ripples they create in the world fade away then we will never truly lose him. He has become the ripples, part of the story of the human universe and will go on for as long as we do. Vale the honourable Sir Terry Pratchett, adventurer into the unknown country.
That was the thing about death. When it happened to you, you were among the first to know – Men at Arms