I’ve been lacking in reasons to write for this slot in the last handful of weeks. But today’s news hit me hard, for very personal reasons. Today we lost a literary legend.
Sir Terry Pratchett’s death, at home with his family, will hit home for many of his readers and friends, for so many reasons. He left behind a legacy of writing that very few can match. His non-fiction books spanned the range from cat anecdotes, to the science behind his Discworld series. His stories reached across the entire spectrum of reading ages, from his Nome trilogy for young readers, to his science fiction and fantasy stories for the older readers. His works have been adapted for TV, graphic novels, radio and stage. The amount of material and the influences Terry leaves behind is staggering.-
I had the pleasure of meeting Terry on several occasions at book signings in London, and even conversing with him on the bulletin boards during my college years. This led to discussions about his influences, and I can’t help but remember one particular signing, which I attended at the spur of the moment. Terry and I had been discussing “The Life of Brian” on the boards, and I was regretting that I would not be able to make the upcoming signing at “Forbidden Planet” in London. But, that Friday plans changed, and I made my way to London, primarily to see my girlfriend of the time, but she suggested I take the time out to make the signing.
I arrived at the venue, and joined the massive line of fans making their way through the building to collect their copies of the latest book. I had a couple of his other books in hand too, just to keep me busy while waiting. I remember that I was about half way through Light Fantastic when I approached the front of the line. And then the moment came, and I held out my hand, and said “Crucificions?” Next thing I know, Terry and I have rattled off the entire sketch from “Life of Brian” and he holds out his own hand, and says “Nice to finally meet you Tim”. As we shook hands, I almost couldn’t speak to ask if he would could personalize the signing for me.
Shortly after this event my presence on the bulletin boards dwindled due to the pressures of keeping up with college work, and I lost touch with the banter that had gone on between the many fans and this great author. Over the years, it has given me a lot of pleasure to share this story with friends and family. And now I share it with the world, as a personal memory of this giant of British writing.
More importantly than the stories though, Sir Terry Pratchett leaves behind a legacy of work that will have an impact on Alzheimer’s research and the right for critically ill patients to choose assisted suicide. Having suffered publicly with a form of early onset Alzheimer’s, Terry was very vocal about his condition, and his belief that patients should have the right to die with dignity. He spoke out against the criminalization of assisted suicide, saying that he would prefer to take his condition, before it took him, and even outlined the manner in which he would like to meet his own end. His contributions to Alzheimer’s research, and to many other causes cannot be measured in terms of the money alone, but in his outspoken support will reach those affected for years to come.
Sir Terry Pratchett died in his home surrounded by family, and it is my hope that the Discworld’s Death came to claim him personally. Somehow I think the two of them will have much to talk about as they cross that desert to whatever reward has been earned.
No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…
– Reaper Man