Today, March 12, 2015, the fantasy world mourns. Sir Terry Pratchett has died.
Age sixty-six is far too young to leave this mortal realm. Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible reason to leave it. I ought to know; my mother-in-law faded away and was lost in its shroud.
I also mourn for another reason. In all my years, I have never read a Terry Pratchett story. Well, I read Good Omens, but that’s half Neil Gaiman, although it’s difficult to tell what part is Sir Terry and what part is Neil.
That doesn’t mean Terry Pratchett did not profoundly affect me. His concept of Discworld directly influenced the creation of the universe inhabited now by my characters Aura Lockhaven, the Sarethian Seven, and John Drake. The concept of one world that serves as the setting for multiple series is not new, nor was it created by Sir Terry. No one did it, however, with more skill or aplomb. With Discworld, the setting became a living creature, a character in its own right, and served as a philosophy unto itself. It wasn’t just a neat, tidy backdrop. I know that the “Auraverse” would not exist in its breathing, sweating, ale-drenched incarnation if not for Discworld. It’s quite possible that Westeros, the Midlands, and numerous other fantasy and science-fiction worlds would not have the same gravity and veracity that they do, if Sir Terry had not put that first piece of paper into his typewriter. That I know this, without having read a single Terry Pratchett novel, speaks of Discworld’s power and influence.
Sir Terry Pratchett was unique. How many of us are fantasy writers? How many fantasy writers are the richest, and most widely read, writer in their country, until toppled by J.K. Rowling (that in itself an honor)? How many fantasy writers are genuine knights of Britain? How many knights of Britain had their own sword fashioned on a genuine anvil, formed from meteorite and iron that they themselves dug from the earth? Sir Terry is the answer to all those questions.
Even though he is gone, Sir Terry Pratchett will continue to have a long reach and cast a profound shadow. What is written, is remembered. What is remembered, lives. What lives, speaks.
I do have a copy of Wyrd Sisters. It’s time to end the “I haven’t read any Terry Pratchett novels” nonsense.
One of the few first editions in my library. The bookstore didn’t know what it had.