Scoville Units Unite

13 Mar

Terry Pratchett 1948-2015

One day I’ll be dead and THEN you’ll all be sorry.

Terry Pratchett was not only a fantastic writer but down to earth enough to communicate with his fans on the internet before the web existed.

When I was in around first year at High School I was introduced to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Adams via the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, which I read every year until his untimely death and then had to take a break from it.

Terry Pratchett was via the graphic novels of Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic. I was already a voracious reader – going through about 2 books a week when in primary school, so to discover 2 new authors with loads of books was amazing, later Robert Rankin and Spike Milligan joined the list of humourous writers whose work I burned through as well as Tolkien.

At the time I preferred Adams as the first two Discworld books seemed good but not amazing. As I caught up on his books though I realised that his first couple of books were satirising fantasy but later books were satirising humanity. Taking the human condition and pointing out the absurdity of it.

In 2000, he visited a bookshop in Dundee for a signing of The Truth. This became the first and only time I met the man himself but was also the first time I saw the size of the fandom I had previously known of through newsgroups and the Discworld newsletter.

DiscworldReadingOrder

As the Discworld expanded there were a number of different storylines. These could be read chronologically or as each separate storyline – I quite often recommended the Witches books as a starter. The core starting one about Rincewind was probably most disconnected from the rest, and continued to parody beaten-to-a-dead-horse fantasy tropes.

The witches storyline was one of my favourites, from parodies of Shakespeare to just demolishing patriarchy it was just delightful. The Bechdel test was probably passed on every page of these books.

The Books about religion were one of my early favourites. Small Gods and Pyramids are both brilliant satires of religion and religious belief. Pyramids also prompted fans to give him the nickname PTerry.

The storylines about death didn’t just anthropomorphise Death but made him more human than most of us. Mort quickly became by favourite book and stayed for quite a while.

The books focusing on the City Watch and Vimes were fantastic, showing the growth of a public service and the changes in society around them with the main character not just going from black and white but massive shades of grey in between.

As well as all this there were computer games and childrens books.

Outside Discworld there were collaborations, most recently with Stephen Baxter on the Long series of books. I didn’t find these as appealing, but that’s mainly because PTerrys influence seemed to lessen with each book.

Nation was a stand alone book which also stood out. I had recently finished Red Strangers by Elspeth Huxley when I picked this up and found a number of themes between them which added to my enjoyment.

For the future it looks like his daughter Rhianna will carry on writing Discworld books, at his request.

Here’s hoping you had your potato with you so you could go somewhere better.

FinalPterryTweets

Edit:

Catching up on a thread of his work on a forum and came across an open letter he had written called A Little Advice For Life

I know first hand that Fate can be cruel and unusual at times, but she is hardly ever deliberately malicious: she just suffers from bad timing in the main, so use your gifts and your talents to greatest possible effect while you can. Spread joy whenever possible. Laugh at jokes. Tell jokes. Make puns and bugger the embuggerances. Read books. Read my books. You might like them. You might find something else you like even more than them. Look for these things in life.

Question authority. Champion good causes. Speak out against injustice. Do not tolerate bullies or bigots or racists or anti-intellectuals or the narrow minded. Use your education to challenge them. Broaden their perspectives. Make the world you interface with a happier place.

These are your choices. Choices you have been fortunate enough to have been given, so don’t waste them while you have them. Don’t look back in years to come and wish you had grasped a fleeting opportunity. Grasp it now with both hands. Live. Strive. Love.

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