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MacBeth lolmac wrote in bethinexile
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a few more thoughts on Terry Pratchett
GNU Terry Pratchett

I've spent a good deal of time the last several days with Twitter open on a "Terry Pratchett" search, following a lot of links, reading many tributes, looking at fanart, occasionally posting things of my own.

Or, to put it another way, I've been participating in the global wake.  Because that's what it is.

Although I don't do Twitter much, I think it's an amazing platform.  This is one of the best examples why.  Thousands of us, hundreds of thousands, all around the planet.  People who will never meet in person, meeting in the ether (or in the Overhead, if you like).  Feeling that this is one of our own, and we've gathered to mourn him as such.

I know this has happened many times before, with other dearly loved people we've lost (Leonard Nimoy for one).  But there's something especially magical about this.  Watching the name trending for so long ('Terry Pratchett', without any hashtag, was the top item for more than a full day, and there's still a steady stream of items flowing by).  Over the last four days, I've seen exactly one negative post and one bit of mean-spirited trollishness, in the still-flowing tide of remembrance.  When has that ever happened?  Even Reddit of all places is rising to the occasion, showing class that I didn't think existed there.

I've been pimping Pratchett with particular enthusiasm for the last couple of years, telling people that he's "one of the sneakiest bastards in print:  you think you're reading a light-hearted farce about this crazy fantasy world, and then you realize it's the most subversive stuff you've ever read.  He's ripping apart racism, sexism, fundamentalism, bureaucratic stupidity, and on top of all that there's a great story and all these amazing characters."  I look at the paucity of his awards list and can't understand it.  Yes, I know:  genre fiction gets no respect from the literary world, fantasy gets no respect from the science fiction world, and comedy gets no respect from anybody.  But still.  He should've had a shelf of Hugos, more nominations than Gaiman, a mountain of lifetime awards.

As an author, by my reckoning, he's a Great Literary Figure who managed to sneak around, unnoticed by whoever is supposed to be in charge of identifying and crowning Literary Giants.  I've read tributes comparing Pratchett to Kurt Vonnegut, waving aside Douglas Adams as an also-ran -- but the ones that really hit the nail on the thumb are the ones who set his throne next to Dickens, Twain and Swift.  This columnist, back in 2013, suggested that "In five hundred years, it won’t be the Nobel laureates who are being studied. It’s going to be this guy."  This one especially nailed it, calling Pratchett "our most quotable writer after Shakespeare and Wilde" (Twitter has been displaying that, in glory), and suggesting that "dodging" the high literary accolades was more of a benefit than otherwise.

He's probably right.  The global mourning for Sir Terry -- the online wake -- is ours.  The sorrow, and the joy -- so many good memories shared, so many dazzlingly acid lines etched onto our screens, so many readers going back to re-read, so many books to read and re-read! -- these belong to us.  Not to the critics, not to the lions of literature (whoever they are).  Us.

I haven't been on Twitter much lately, though I agree with it being amazing as a global platform. I should remedy that, but alas, my Twitter use comes in spurts and this is apparently a low time for me. Generally, though, that means my "real life," such as it is, is busy, and that's not a bad thing, so I'll take it.

But more importantly and more to the point of this comment, I am largely Pratchett illiterate. This I will remedy, and therein lies a huge difference.

Love you, Beth.

*squishes you a lot*

I know you don't read many full-length novels, so I truly hope you find it worthwhile!

One of the many topics given much discussion over the last four days has been various Discophiles sharing our favourite starting points. In your case, given your fondness for Gender Is Bullshit, I would recommend Monstrous Regiment. It's a standalone -- although quite a few background characters in the book are lead characters in other Discworld novels, the focus is on an entirely new group with their own story to tell. You don't need any of the others under your belt; they're nice to have if you want to go on. It's one of the later books, which means it's fucking brilliant.

If you do audiobooks at all, the audiobook versions of all Pratchett's novels are another bucket of pure gold. The same guy (Stephen Briggs) does them all, with consistent character voices across the mutliple sub-series.

Edited at 2015-03-16 03:31 (UTC)

*squishes you back*

And "don't read many full-length novels" is being kind...but I do read some, and your opinions I trust, so...yeah, here we are.

Thanks for the rec. I'll check it out.

I've only ever tried audiobooks once. Well, twice. I listened to the Stargate ones Pauly did. (Because Pauly.) And I did one longer novel on a car trip. I find that I don't pay close enough attention to them to know what's going on. It's weird. They just talk at me, not to me, like a lecture in school, and I nod off and then have no idea what's happening. *shrug*

Might work better now that I'm older? I dunno. I hear a lot of people do them when they run...not sure I wouldn't have the same problem?

We who know, know. We glory in the delicious wit, the thinky thoughts, the quotable quotes. And in a way, that's enough, because although Sir Terry deserved the accolades due to his talent in life, now that he is gone, a delay before he achieves his due is just dormancy, a bulb waiting for the right conditions to sprout and bloom in glory.

He was, and still is, Only Son's favorite author, and I spent many delightful walks with him, listening to him explain a favorite plot line, or work up to a favorite quip. He would assail me without warning from time to time to read a particularly good bit. He was a teenage boy. Sometimes he forgot that without knowledge of what went before, the part he wanted to share was not as good as it was to him, but it was wonderful to have something to share in those years when boys can be so much islands to themselves. When news of the death came out, Eldest Daughter made a gentle condolence call to share the news, and make sure that Only Son had someone who understood the nature of the loss to share the moment with.

Yes, we who know, we will share, and by the sharing, grow. Soon we will all be grinning, in fond remembrance.

Sir Terry will likely be one of those that recieves more praise after he is gone, than he did whilst alive!!

You know, you are one of the reasons I started to read Discworld. Your praise was high and I knew I had to start soon. I'd heard such good things - and you are correct!! He is excellent!

This man will definitely be missed...


*hugs back*

I've had the great joy of reccing him a lot. Which books have you read so far? (I currently have, urm, three in progress and another half-dozen queued up . . . )

I had only gotten as far as halfway through Discworld #1...and then stopped because Life. Arrrghhh. I have that to read, tapes to make, long overdue posts to catch up on...wish life would settle for two seconds, lol!!

He was nominated for a Hugo, and twice for a Nebula, but declined the nominations, saying they would be more important to a younger author, whose career was not yet well-established. He was a real gentleman.

I saw someone comparing him to Shakespeare, quite seriously.

I wrote a couple of songs for him. I have the tune up for one (inspired by what's going on at Reddit, actually.) I will get the other up, but probably not today; I have too much other stuff to do that I can't put off.

Yes, exactly. One nomination, in 2005. It's ridiculous. I assume you've seen Jim Hines' joke about Gaiman getting a Hugo for doing the Times crossword?

The fact that Sir Terry recused himself with grace and not bitterness is one of the most telling stories about him.

Sir Terry was indeed a very classy guy. He also had an OBE by then and may have felt further recognition would be redundant.

Neil Gaiman has been nominated for Hugo awards for several of his works; the ones I am familiar with did not seem to me to be playing out of their league. There is a cooperative (in the chemical sense) effect of Hugo awards; once someone has been nominated, later nominations come more easily, perhaps because they come more easily to mind among those who pay attention to the Hugos.

That's actually not the point I was trying to make, but never mind.

There's also been GNU Terry Pratchett on Tumblr, too.