On Terry Pratchett and What His Writing Meant to Me

It’s taken me a few days to organise my thoughts since the tragic news of his death broke on Thursday. My first reaction was very simple. I cried.

I didn’t know him personally, never met him, never emailed him a fan letter or anything like that. All I knew him through were the Discworld books.

I got into them when I was a teenager and I’ve worked my way through most of them since then. Think I need to do a re-read soon in the light of his passing. It’s hard for me to describe how much those books mean to me. I’m going to try, but by describing something I hate.

I hate – no LOATHE – that in obituaries and headlines he is so often described as a fantasy author. A weird complaint given the fact he did write fantasy. Discworld is fantasy. But describing him as a fantasy author does a disservice to his work, to the worlds he created.

He was a writer about people. About our lives and the world around us. About good and evil. Bad men and good men and the very thin line between them at times. About right and wrong. About discrimination and religion and DEATH. Oh how I love DEATH in Discworld. What a perfect character they are.

Sure all of the things he wrote about he did through highly satirical fantasy novels set in a made up world, but that setting that world let him shine a critical – and often highly philosophical – light on what it is to be human. What it is to live. He was a master of it.

The discworld books speak to me. They lift my mind and make me think. They use fun to poke at things wrong in the world and say ‘hey, isn’t this bad and odd shouldn’t something be done about it?’.

I want those books to be held up like Shakespeare as greats of literature so generation after generation gets introduced to them and experience the joy they’ve already brought to so many. If it makes some of them think as well, that’s a double bonus as far as I’m concerned.

You might be able to categorise Pratchett’s work as comic/satirical fantasy, but that description sells them so short. He wrote about us and about life and did so in such an intelligent way.

His books have helped shape who I am as a person. It’s why I cried at the news of his death.

Thank you Sir Terry for so many wonderful books. You will be missed.