Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett passed away.

If you know who he was, this is not news; his death was several days ago. But he was my favourite author and I couldn’t not mention it. I just had to take some time before writing about it. I’m in the middle of putting together a gallery show about telling stories, and my favourite storyteller has died. He had a history of cardiovascular problems and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago, so it’s not exactly unexpected, but I am still very sad.

I can’t say he made me love reading, because I have loved reading since before I could read to myself. I can’t say he introduced me to scifi or fantasy, because I was already reading scifi and fantasy to the near-exclusion of all else when I first picked up one of his books.

But there was something about his writing that makes him feel like a first. Experiencing his particular combination of humour, esoteric references, footnotes, and occasional incandescent anger was a formative thing, in ways I may never entirely articulate. I’m re-reading his work now[1] (this will take some time, stupendously prolific workaholic that he was), and found a line that made me tear up. There’s a passage in Soul Music, about the library at Unseen University, where wizards go to study. They have books of magic, of course, but they also have “perfectly ordinary books, printed on commonplace paper in mundane ink. It would be a mistake to think that they weren’t also dangerous, just because reading them didn’t make fireworks go off in the sky. Reading them sometimes did the more dangerous trick of making fireworks go off in the privacy of the reader’s brain.”

He made fireworks go off in my brain. And I will miss him dearly.

[1] Not in order, of course. I’m starting with the Death books.

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