RIP Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad coverI first read Terry Pratchett when he was a hot new thing that everyone was reading, before he became a beloved institution that everyone always read. I’m pretty sure my first of his books was Witches Abroad. Through my teens I devoured the new Discworld books, as well as Strata, The Dark Side of the Sun, the Nomes series, and Only You Can Save Mankind. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book as quickly, as hungrily, as I did some of the Discworld books; my brother and I would read them so quickly that our parents commented that we couldn’t really be appreciating them, reading them that fast. But we were: that’s why we read them that fast. The first time I ever used the internet (back when that was a hot new thing), the first thing I searched for was “discworld”. I got a fansite with a big picture of A’Tuin the space turtle on a cream-coloured background.

I don’t know if I’d be a writer now if it weren’t for Terry Pratchett’s books. His style made writing itself look both fun and easy – which is remarkable considering that he was writing a kind of comic fantasy that could so easily fall flat if the author got it slightly wrong. It’s also remarkable how popular he became with a general readership considering that his early books were based on lampooning classic fantasy books that much of his audience (me, for one) hadn’t then read. (Years later I would read, say, The Book of the New Sun, and realise what it was that Pratchett was referring to.) His books managed to be exciting, and funny, and clever, and profound. It takes a good writer to manage any one of those things; it takes a genius to manage all of them, every book.

R.I.P. Terry Pratchett. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll search the internet for “discworld” and see what I find.

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2 Responses to RIP Terry Pratchett

  1. Felix says:

    I think I remember that website! Or maybe it’s just that universal Web 1.0 shade of beig-cream.

    The sending up of the entire concept of fantasy was what first attracted me to his books if I remember. Having read a lot of Anne McCaffrey I laughed my whatnots off at the upside-down mountain with the punctuation-heavy dragon rider names. I was probably too young to really appreciate some of the subtleties – I must go back and read them all again with fresh eyes – but part of what makes him so successful is that he gets enough broad-brush funnies in to be relatable even if you don’t get his deeper jokes.

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