Terry Pratchett: March 12th, 2015

I have an odd relationship with Terry Pratchett.

I did not come to his world through books. Instead, I came to him through the Discworld video game on Playstation 1. I loved classic point and click adventures and Rincewind the Wizard was part of this lovably strange world, complete with a walking set of luggage (that bore multitudes of teeth) and he was trying to stop a dragon. The game had many winks and nods to the books as well as to gaming conventions. For instance, you can see the dragon from the very first screen and Rincewind makes a comment about the foreboding shape.

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It was only after a decade that I read Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards! at the behest of my, then, girlfriend, Kathryn Trattner, and realized that Rincewind never dealt with the dragon and instead it was Samuel Vimes. Add to that the small throwaway joke in that opening scene was a huge plotpoint for Vimes and realizing that the "dragon" had been hiding in plain sight.

In fact, one of my favorite moments from the opening of the game wasn't in the book - which led to an odd disappoint. In the opening video, a drunk patron runs into Death, who says, "See you soon," as the patron stumbles past. The drunkard is then robbed, but fails to understand what is happening and the mugger has to explain the relationship between mugger and victim, before they are both burned alive by an off-screen presence.

Even when I delved into the novels, I didn't follow a traditional route.

While I read Guards! Guards, I also started listening to audiobooks for the first time. My first book? The Colour of Magic. Now I might be switching these two and I honestly can't say for sure which it is, but the result is the same: Rincewind once again got mixed up with Guards! Guards! in my brain, so much so that it feels like a B-Story to Vimes' A-Story. Maybe it's what allows me to enjoy the blatant parody work of early Discworld. Even still, Rincewind is my gateway into Ankh-Morpork and I could never extract him from my love of the series.

However, as time has gone on, my wife introduced me to several of the individual stories. I've only read the first three Guards books, the first two Moist von Lipwig stories, and the Truth. Of all the stories I've read, I would say that Moist von Lipwig has to be my favorite, especially since him and Vetinari are instruments of progress for the ever-evolving Discworld. All in all, I wouldn't say I'm a diehard Pratchett fan, but he is very much a part of my life. Spoilers: Lord Vetinari shows up in one of my books, though he does not have a speaking role. Terry Pratchett has taken over my life even more so with my wife's absolutely fanaticism when it comes to the Discworld series. We own several copies of the same books. One year, I even got her the Chinese versions of the books, just so she'd have extra covers.

And I had to be the one to break the news to her.

It was odd. My wife and I had just returned from seeing author (and Pratchett collaborator) Neil Gaiman's talk in Tulsa. One of the questions, which I have to admit seemed pretty insensitive at the time, asked "How do we deal with Terry Pratchett's illness?" I could almost feel the frustration from Gaiman as he read the question, and we all were there for the response of "You don't deal with it. You just think about it and get very sad." He also mentioned that Terry was in the late stages of it and, I'll admit, I was shocked to hear that. I've heard off and on over the years that he had started to succumb to Alzheimer's, but that he was so far gone . . . it was heartbreaking. Then, only a few days later, we got the news.

Terry Pratchett giving the Richard Dimbleby Lecture.

Terry Pratchett giving the Richard Dimbleby Lecture.

We knew it was coming, but this was like losing a dear friend. I think we all feel that way with a celebrity, but with someone that you've read hundreds of thousands of their words? I can't think of someone so prolific nor as fondly thought of and remembered as Sir Terry Pratchett.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to fire up that old game and relive those memories. Then, I shall pull down one of Martin Wallace's amazing Discworld board games and try to take over Ankh-Morpork once more. 

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.