Sir Terry Pratchett died this week. I have struggled to find something to write – funny but not irreverent. In the end I wrote this short and rather inadequate tribute to a genius who has given me and so many such pleasure for decades. One of my best friends even found his future wife on a Discworld Convention organizing committee.
Christopher Priest, from the Guardian, describes one of Sir Terry’s characters – Death: “Death has a booming, unamused voice (always in capitals, never in quotation marks), and is the permanent straight man in the comic chaos around him. He goes about his morbid business on a horse called Binky, whose hooves throw up sparks on every street cobble. Death is a skeleton, with eyes like two tiny blue stars set deep within the sockets. He wears a black cloak, carries a scythe and, at the end of a day’s work, loves to murder a curry.”
I called up DEATH last night. “Did you have to take him so soon? He had more to live, more to write.”
I DO NOT MAKE THE CHOICES he replied, his tone powerful and metallic, even on Skype.
“He was a great man, a wonderful author,” I said. “He gave me years of pleasure.”
THROUGH HIS STORIES?
“Yes,” I said. “He made me laugh. At the end of a long day or week, to curl up on the couch and be able to laugh, was…was magical.”
THESE STORIES ARE IN HIS BOOKS, NO?
“Yes,” I reply, annoyed that he is not relating to my grief. It’s not like DEATH never sees it in his line of work.
THEN THEY ARE STILL WILL YOU AND WILL ALWAYS BE AS LONG AS YOU HAVE TREES AND INTERNETS
“You use the Internet?”
DEATH stared at me and frowned. WHERE I LIVE THERE ARE NOT MANY SERVERS. ONLY ALBERT.
“But the world needs writers like Terry.”
I REMEMBER WHEN ALL THIS WILL BE AGAIN.”
“He was a knight,” I said.
Again, DEATH frowned. WHERE I COME FROM THE NIGHT HAS NO STARS.
I smiled. “I bet he was chuffed to see you.”
HE SAID I GAVE HIM QUITE A START.
“Yes? Then you ‘gave him quite a stop.”
HEY. THOSE ARE STILL MY LINES.
I rubbed my chin. “What happens to the characters of a series when the author dies?”
A STORY LIVES AS LONG AS IT IS BEING READ. MAKE SURE YOUR SONS READ DISCWORLD AND THE CHARACTERS REMAIN ALIVE.
“He was a special man.”
THE ONLY ONE TO GIVE ME A REFERENCE.
I guess this is my way to say Thank You to a maverick genius, who wrote the jokes without caring if people would laugh; who wrote about controversy without preaching; and who taught us to strive for a better life without ever teaching.
Thanks for the laughs, the tears, and the wings that swept a generation up with your imagination. Thanks for being such an undemanding companion for much of my life.
Rest In Peace, Sir Terry Pratchett.
Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, The First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. His latest novel is Sacrificial Flame, the fourth in the series.
Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+