In the space left by someone dying there’s usually a house full of drawers containing papers that have instantly lost their significance, shoes that no one else will ever wear, and photographs of people no one else needs to be reminded of. Not many of us get to shuffle off and glance back at that last moment (While a chap with a scythe on a big white horse waits) to see our comet tail spelling out the word ‘legacy’. You have to have made something with your life for that to happen.
Pratchett’s legacy is the discworld. Lots will be written this week about genius and there will be retrospectives galore, so I am not going to gush. My take on it is this. Love it or hate it (are there such people?), the Discworld lets (and I use the present tense because it is still here, even if its architect is not) you slide into a place that is so far removed from your own that it’s easy to lose yourself completely. And yet it remains full of the frighteningly familiar, presented in way that will have you laughing out loud at the characters, yourself and the world. You come away having enjoyed a great story, probably unaware that you’ve also had lessons in both humanity and philosophy, sometimes history, physics, the occult and, very occasionally, the value of eggs.
Brandon Sanderson said this in his blog this week; “There is more truth in a single one of his humble satires than in a hundred volumes of poignant drama.”
One of the biggest and most humbling thrills of my writing career so far has been to read a review where someone has seen fit to mention T.P. in a passing reference after reading one of my books, The 400Lb Gorilla
This is an absolute *hoot*. Fans of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams will find that Farmer has created something right up their alley, but being more of a fan of Jim Butcher, I find that this is nonetheless just as appealing…and a truckload of fun! Amazon
Of course I am not trying to be any one of those wonderful authors and frankly, having read it, my initial response was to cringe. But then of course I’d been influenced by all of those authors. And if something resonates, I should hardly be surprised since they’ve shaped my values, the way I feel about my characters and stories and their essential humanity, and of course my sense of humour. So after the cringe came elation and another huge dollop of gratitude at having been able to share my reading experience with such great influences. I will never be a TP, but it is a badge I will wear with honour.
The last word here, however, has to go to Sam Vimes, leader of the Night Watch and unlikely champion of justice in Ankh Morpork. I can’t think of a better way to sum up what TP was all about than to let Sam Vimes speak. Here he is talking to his younger self (Sam), having traveled back in time to confront a serial killer and learning some lessons about himself and ‘those in charge’ in the process. In three sentences it encapsulates what Vimes, The Watch and, essentially, Terry Pratchett was all about; slowly fuming about injustice and planning, quietly, on doing some buggering thing about it
“Yeah, all right, but everyone knows they torture people,” mumbled Sam.
“Do they?” said Vimes. “Then why doesn’t anyone do anything about it?”
“‘cos they torture people.”
― Night Watch, Terry Pratchett, R.I.P