It was only about two weeks ago that we lost Leonard Nimoy and now the news has come that Sir Terry Pratchett has passed. Terry was sick with a form of Alzheimer’s, a disease he had struggled very hard against.
Say what you will about his beginnings, which I heard many people characterize him as trying to be the fantasy version of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett’s books grew and got smart over the years. He used Discworld, in many ways, to lambast the real world, whether it was pointing out the stupidity of war in Jingo to tackling racism, religious dogma/tradition, and the struggles of being a father in Thud!, or dealing with racism and land-greed in Snuff. His books held surprising depth that was still easily accessible, that you only had to peel back the thin veneer on the story to get at the lesson underneath.
And that’s what I’m thankful for, that Terry’s books made me think. The second book I read by him was Small Gods (the first was Pyramids which is just kind of ridiculous) and that went a long way toward helping me deal with some of the anger I’ve felt in my life toward religion. Sam Vimes angry recitation of “I’ve Lost My Cow”, his son’s favorite book, when he goes to rescue his son echoes in my mind at times when I care for my own son.
I’m sad that we’ll never get to see Sam Vimes retire and enjoy his son’s childhood or Rincewind’s final appointment with Death that he couldn’t quite miss. I’m sorry we won’t be able to see Granny Weatherwax finally lay down her burden of making other people think or Vetinari, finally, give control of the city over to the more-than-capable Carrot (something, I think, he intended all along).
An hour ago, whoever manages Terry’s twitter account wrote, “Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.”
I’d like to think that while Death did the job because it was his to do, that even Death felt sad doing it.
Goodbye, Terry. Thank you.