Sir Terry Pratchett Goes Home
A tribute to the brilliance of the British satirist, humorist, scientist, philosopher, and, luckily for us, author
Terry Pratchett was a genius.
His presence made the world a happier place and his death from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease was a tremendous loss. In his 41 Discworld novels, he wrung every possible emotion from us, from joy and laughter to anger and indignation.
Sir Terrence David John Pratchett lived from 1948 to 2015. He was the greatest English-language satirist of his lifetime, but he was also a true Renaissance man. The Discworld books contained art, music, theatre, warfare, science, and silliness.
I don’t know of another author who could write a beloved fantasy trilogy about a man who becomes, in turn, the Postmaster General, the chairman of the Royal Mint, and the head of a railway company. Or numerous books about fiction’s most cynical street cop, both before and after he becomes enormously rich.
He satirized nationalism, religion, higher education, ancient civilizations, sports, and, quite often, his own fantasy genre. He even wrote books about Discworld’s culture, science, history, and philosophy that, while pretending to teach those subjects in a fictional context, actually provided the reader with practical information about them on our world.
Pratchett never won a Hugo — the prestigious fan-voted science fiction and fantasy awards awarded each year at Worldcon — but that was his own choice. In 2005, Going Postal would have received a nomination for Best Novel, but Pratchett turned it down, saying the anxiety would ruin Worldcon for him.
However, five years after his death, he got the honor he was due. On August 2, the television adaption of Good Omens won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, beating what was probably the best group of nominees in the award’s history. The other finalists were three billion-dollar films — Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, and Star Wars: The Last Skywalker — along with Jordan Peele’s critically acclaimed Us, and the first season of Amy Poehler’s Russian Doll.
While Pratchett wasn’t a part of the TV production, being inconveniently dead at the time, Neil Gaiman built the script around the brilliant novel he and Pratchett wrote in 1990.
So, in honor of Sir Terry’s unofficial award, I decided to share a bit of microfiction I wrote upon learning of his death on 12 March 2015.
To Terry’s surprise, Binky stopped, not in a field of darkness, but in a brightly lit square in a slightly shabby city.
“This is it?”
“WHERE ELSE WOULD YOU GO?”
“But isn’t this…”
“YES. YOUR HOME. COME, SMALL HUMANS. THIS MAN WILL TELL YOU A STORY.”
Terry slid off the horse, feeling young and strong and with a mind so sharp that it almost cut itself thinking.
As the children gathered, he began to tell them a story about a strange, magical world, shaped like a ball. One story turned into dozens, and a few minutes turned into hours. He was vaguely aware that the crowd had gotten bigger, but he didn’t realize the size until someone handed him a glass of water.
He looked up as he sipped, and saw the square teeming with people. Most were kids, but there were others. Carrot sat among the smallest kids, looming over them, and Angua lounged on a bench behind him. To one side, Sacharissa Cripslock scribbled in her notebook. Detritus became a wall behind the crowd, with Cheri Littlebottom watching from his shade.
And, tucked away in a dark corner, Terry saw Moist von Lipwig. As their eyes met, Moist tipped his cap — a tiny gesture that spoke volumes about the respect given when one master storyteller recognizes another.
Terry nodded back, smiled, and went back to his stories.
Congratulations, Sir Terry, and thank you.