Terry Pratchett died back in 2015, but that hasn’t stopped WC from posting his annual tribute to his favorite author. Pratchett’s brilliant body of work, fifty or so novels and dozens of short stories, are a legacy that will outlast us all.
Among Pratchett’s many wonderful attributes was his modesty. For a man who sold more than 85 million books worldwide, in 37 languages, he could wear a t-shirt like this and carry it off.
It’s true that most fantasy writers are literary pariahs. Terry had another t-shirt that explained the problem well.
(This one is actually still available.) But even among fantasy writers, Pratchett was somehow disregarded, because, perish the thought, his novels included humor. Funny isn’t serious, so it can’t be literary.
In the intensely tribal world of science fiction and fantasy, Pratchett was a rock star. There are still regular conventions of his fans in Australia, England and the United States. There are extensive websites that analyze his work.
But Pratchett, with sales of tens of millions of books, reached well outside that tribe. His writing skills, intense humanity and gift for humor appealed to a lot of people. The Queen of England was a fan. Elizabeth II awarded him a knighthood; it was Sir Terry Pratchett, MBE, for Pratchett’s “services to literature. Typically, in his self-deprecating way, Pratchett said he thought his principle service to literature was never claiming to have written any.
No blog post about Pratchett is complete without a quote. Here’s one from Wee Free Men, the first of the Tiffany Aching sequence of novels. Tiffany is trying to learn about zoology.
“Zoology, eh? That’s a big word, isn’t it?”
“No, actually it isn’t,” said Tiffany. “Patronizing is a big word. Zoology is really quite short.”
WC likes it because it encapsulates so many of Pratchett’s ideas. Treating people as things as by, say, being condescending to children. Taking the child’s point of view. And being wryly humorous at the same time.
We miss you, Pterry.