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A Tribute to Terry Pratchett

discword muralTerry Pratchett died yesterday and the world ended. I’m still having trouble coping with this. Yesterday, I couldn’t. Today, I can…sort of. I’m better, anyway. A bit.

How could someone I’ve never met be this important to me? If you’ve never read his books, you couldn’t possibly understand. If you have, no explanation is necessary.

Sir Terry wasn’t just an author of whimsical fantasy stories. He was an insightful philosopher, an educator, a social commentator, a cultural examiner, and, at times, even a therapist. He was sometimes cynically critical while, at the same time, being inspirationally optimistic. He looked at our round world and reflected it back to us, but magnified (and humorously distorted) on a disc-shaped world so we could see some of the most important bits a little clearer. Above all, he was a great storyteller. He created an unbelievable world that felt real, which he populated with impossible and yet completely recognizable characters.

I’ve spent many hours on the Disc. I know some of its history. I’ve visited several of its countries. I’ve walked the streets of Ankh-Morpork, shared a smoke with Commander Vimes, and even tasted a sausage in a bun offered by CMOT Dibbler. I think I’ve learned a lot while touring Discworld. His stories tell us much about life and what it means to be human—”the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.” If you’ve been there, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, you should go.

I won’t go on about Sir Terry or his books. I won’t list any of his quotable and insightful little aphorisms. I will tell you that right now I have a tear rolling down my face. I feel like I’ve lost a close friend, a favorite teacher, a beloved uncle, someone who was always there for me when I needed him. And yet we never met.

The next new Terry Pratchett story will be the last. The Discworld is ending. This saddens me more than I can say. But his books will endure. They are sitting on my shelves now, waiting to be revisited. I look forward to returning to the Disc. Perhaps I’ll notice something I missed the first few times I was there or recall something I had forgotten. There will be no new stories of Discworld, but the old ones are timeless.

RIP Terry Pratchett – 1948-2015

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