I discovered Sir Terry Pratchett almost by accident. I read The Wee Free Men sometime late in primary school, or early in intermediate, enjoyed it a whole lot, especially his autobiographical paragraph, and then looked at the inside covers and discovered that I’d started with, oh, just the 30th book in a series. Well.
First off, I was impressed that I even understood what was going on. Then I was awed that he’d written so many books. Then I wanted to read them all.
I didn’t actually, not for another year or so at least. His name sat with a pile of other authors who I wanted to read. Because I wanted to do this properly – for once, read a series from start to finish in the right order (of course, I was completely ignoring that there were separate storylines and threads, and that the Discworld novels were, therefore, ideal for not reading in the order that they were written in). Just before I started highschool, I ordered them all in from the library. They came in droves – and I ordered them in the way I wanted to read them, waited for the middle books to hurry up and arrive, read other books in the meantime … it seemed like a colossal endeavour. I was lugging two full bags of books from the library each week, and more than one bag (not plastic, made of cloth) ripped as a result of the weight as I walked in the hot sun, sweating the full 30 minutes back home. I devoured those books. As I started high school, they were there, in piles beside my bed, and I discovered, to my delight, that my Visual Arts teacher was a long-time fan, who owned all the audiobooks and had a collection of Sir Terry Pratchett’s books, and recognised the reference when I began an email with five exclamation marks (a sure sign of an insane mind). That was how I found out that Neil Gaiman was Neil Gaiman – the person who had written the screenplays for Stardust and MirrorMask, who also happened to be an AUTHOR, with other books! Through Good Omens, that door was opened.
I adore Sir Terry Pratchett’s works. I tried to make all my friends adore them – I foisted books off to them and made deals with them, and right now a friend of mine is about to raid my empty room (with permission) and borrow The Colour of Magic, because she promised that she would read the books one day.
What about The Shepherd’s Crown? What about all the other gorgeously funny, procrastination-enticing stories that I am sure he had fermenting in his brain with the leftover fruit the bat left as the century turned into that of the Anchovy? I’m selfish enough that I regret his passing, more for my sake than others. I want to read his books. I want to grow to adulthood with them; I want to know that no matter how much I browse through every second-hand bookshop, I will always have another one or two books to go, because he would be forever writing new ones. I want a constant, in a way that other people had Harry Potter from a very young age, or Lord of the Rings (both of which I was also reading at around this time; far too late). Of course, I am deeply sorry for the loss of others, knowing I am not the only one affected by his death, and definitely not the most profoundly – I never knew him as a man, only as a voice that talked to me out of the pages of books – an insubstantial ghost which hovered and layered tones of satire over Death’s announcements of wanting to FORGET ANYTHING. EVERYTHING.
But what I will do is take the two Discworld novels I have on my desk, borrowed from the library as a means of comfort in a strange city and a new institution that I am not especially thrilled about at present, and take out more. And reread them all. (In spite of everything else I should be doing) Because they are amazing, and funny, and mock the world in a comforting way that makes me smile, and roar with mirth, and get strange looks from other people.
May his legacy live long, prosper, and anthropomorphise into a brilliant, breathing thing. One that takes even rats into consideration.