Whilst I’ve typically reserved the idea of this blog for self confessed “Inane rambling bollocks,” or juvenile, satirical posts relating to pretty much anything literary, I have no intention of doing anything of the sort today.
Terry Pratchett, you changed my life.
That’s a pretty groundbreaking statement, and quite frankly quite an overused one when referring to a personal hero, however, I can explain myself.
Back in September 2013, I was in quite a crappy place in my life. I was fresh out of comprehensive school with just two A Levels to boot, in English and History – super useful for getting into all of the prestigious science/maths courses around the country that my friends were all deservedly achieving. Instead, I found myself, alone, searching for anything to make ends meet and pass the time, with the hope that I’d stumble upon a college course that may have, hopefully, not been terrible for me.
I wound up taking a random six-month course in business and administration. I hate administration, and am by no means a businessman, so finding myself working long hours for horrible pay as an admin in a shitty work environment really was as great for me as it sounded. I had absolutely no idea where my life could possibly go.
Sure, I’d written stuff in the past, but that was just really dumb and childish stuff from when I was in primary, I hardly considered that any sort of basis to plan a career on. In terms of what I’d wanted to be growing up through the years, the general correlation pointed towards either something involving making people laugh (an ongoing passion of mine) and my practical skills which always seemed to point towards writing, which really didn’t seem like an option at that point.
And then, quite randomly, I read your first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic .
I went into it based purely on a random recommendation from the internet, with no idea of what I was letting myself in for.
I recall finishing it in two days.
This probably sounds really bloody stupid – it does to me looking back – but it had never really occurred to me that books could be funny. I mean, my past experience had always been through English lessons, and whilst I definitely liked works like King Lear and To Kill a Mockingbird , they weren’t exactly comedies. And don’t even get me started on the Dickens novel Hard Times, with the self referential title on what it’s like to get through it.
As implied, I found the Colour of Magic hilarious, which I had never really experienced reading anything before. Sure, a book can have a few jovial lines of dialogue from a particular character, but to base the whole premise of the novel around something as bizarre as a failed “wizzard” and the first tourist, accompanied by a sentient luggage container with hundreds of little feet, running around a flat world on the back of A’tuin, the giant world turtle, was a little bit of a shock to my previous estimate of what literature was capable of.
Of course, from that point on I just kept reading.
Between September 2013 and around May-June 2014 I made my way through all forty of the Discworld novels, and I am so glad I did.
By the time I’d finished the first couple, I knew what I wanted to do with myself.
My passion for writing, which I hadn’t felt since before comprehensive school, came back stronger than ever before, and by this time last year I was around 14,000 words into a comic fantasy novel of my own. Whilst it may never be used, I know now what I want to do. I selected a degree which gave me a lot of freedom for writing and creativity, and right now, with my goals working out and almost everything else going to plan, I’m at one of the highest points of my life so far, which is definitely not something I saw coming a year and a half ago.
So, yeah, you were quite a big deal in my life really. Now I’m just going to gush for a bit.
I frequently see people suggesting that the first two Discworld novels; The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, should be skipped, which I’ve always wholly disagreed with. These two are brilliant, and really nailed the whole idea of parodying the fantasy genre, quite frankly a pretentious niche filled with High Elves and Ancient Kingdoms and Wise Kings, just asking to have the mickey taken out of them.
However, I will concede that once you were a few books in, you really hit your stride.
Discworld is not only fantastic for being a fully-formed, (ironically) three-dimensional world, but also because you were able to parody events from the real world so brilliantly in your work, like the ideas of Imperialism in Jingo and the rise of Rock and Roll (or, more aptly, “Music with Rocks In”) in Soul Music.
Also, my god, the characters.
My personal favorite will always be Sam Vimes, the main protagonists through the City Watch series (my personal favourite, alongside the DEATH/Susan Sto Helit arc). Why?
The character development.
Over the course of three to four books, Sam Vimes grew from a lowly drunken copper to the Commander of the City Watch, who, somehow, managed to arrest two warring armies on a battlefield for “disturbing the peace”.
He had a point, to be fair.
Not only Vimes in that particular series of books either, unforgettable characters like Captain Carrot, Sergeant Angua and Corporal Nobby Nobbs (famous for nobbing with the nobs), were always fantastic additions to the stories, bringing their own viewpoints and situations in which made the world just that little bit more real, more alive than any other world I’ve ever immersed myself in.
Honestly, I could write so much more, but I think I’ve gotten my point across.
I feel like any success I’d ever be so lucky to achieve, I owe to you. Your brilliance with prose, the dry wit and cynicism injected into the world that you created, the subtle twists on real world problems, being dealt with by dumb trolls and cackling witches (one of which has a rather good cookbook), as well as the side splitting humour and the fantastic storytelling, to a quality that I can only dream of achieving some day but inspired me to give it a shot anyway.
Despite your heartbreaking passing, I can only think of a quote, that you yourself wrote, in Reaper Man:
“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”
Like hell are your achievements ever going to fade. You were brilliant, thank you for everything.