The first Terry Pratchett I ever read was (I suppose appropriately for such news) Mort, and I remained hooked on Terry Pratchett’s books for the next 25 years, and shall do for as many years as I’ve got left.
It was so damn funny! But I like funny books. It took a long while to realise why unlike many others, Pratchett’s books lodged in my brain and refused to leave.
There was that sense that a vast amount of research and knowledge had been packed into each book – not that you ever got beaten over the head with it (“…as you know, Bob…”), but I loved it when I spotted references to folklore, literature, film… and I’m very sure I never even noticed half of them.
So, they’re fantastic entertainment and the product of a huge intelligence, but one aspect that elevated them above the usual run of humour was that you could always tell that he cared about human beings and the wider world they lived in, knew how their thought processes worked. He pointed out the layers of fluff we use to insulate ourselves from reality, but understood why we spin those layers for ourselves.
Most of all, there was the palpable sense of anger that rose from that care for humanity, and a desire for social justice. It was anger at those who treat people like interchangeable spare parts, or where a society is set up to benefit the system, not the people who live in it.
Make that a huge, compassionate and humane intelligence. With a genius for silly names.
From Reaper Man, one of my favourites (actually, they’re nearly all my favourites, if this is a possible thing):
“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”
That’s going to take a long time. Even so, I’m going to miss him, a lot.
Rest in peace, Terry Pratchett.