Thursday, 16 April 2015

May Great A'Tuin Carry You To The Discworld In The Sky

David Martin remembers Terry Pratchett who moved on today to the great Discworld beyond...
It is with great sadness today that I learn of the passing of a literary great but also one of those rare individuals that could effectively wear a very large hat. Terry Pratchett was the man that I jointly credit, along with Douglas Adams, for drawing my interest to fantasy writing. The Colour of Money and Mort were the two novels that made me realise my mind was slightly warped and not a little twisted. I loved how he gave Death a funeralistic kind of world weary character and I actually wanted to live in Ankh Morpork, actually I still do. Pratchett's feverish imaginings and larger than life characters were so vividly described that my imagination could hardly contain them. I loved the concept of a flat, Discworld being carried on the back of four elephants which, in turn, stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A'Tuin. Brilliant and yet totally bizarre but that was Pratchett's writing for you! Mind you, what do you expect from a man who seemed to be the living embodiment of Gandalf the Grey in looks and with that oh so knowing twinkle in his eye.

It was his collaboration with another literary behemoth, Neil Gaiman, for Good Omens that I really became a huge fan. Good Omens was funny, bloody funny and I thought Crowley was one of the coolest demons ever developed. Way, way before Angel made it so terribly mainstream to be funny and trendy. Crowley didnt really share much, apart from being demonic, with Angel as he was still very very bad. If truth be told, I kinda lost track of the Discworld thing some years back and never really kept my Pratchett reading up. I guess I moved on and started reading work by other authors but I loved that Pratchett also shared a love for Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke, another two writers who I also grew to love. Pratchett used his Discworld novels to stick two fingers up at the world in which we live and the elements of it that are derisive and farcical. The Film Industry, actually the media in general, music and religion would often be ridiculed but in such a way that it was always thoroughly entertaining.

Pratchett fought his battle with Alzheimer's, that evil destroyer of talent, in the public eye and with a strength that I can only admire. He finished his final novel last year and refused to be controlled by the disease, writing either by dictation or using speech recognition software. The 2011 documentary, Terry Pratchett, Choosing To Die was one of the most powerful and heart wrenching programs I have watched on the subject of assisted death. Not an easy subject for many of us to think about but Pratchett's honest and open approach led to public and media recognise with the documentary winning a well deserved award.

To finish, I wish to thank you, Terry, for proving that it is possible to wear a black Fedora and not look scary or dangerous. But more poignantly, I want to thank you for moving my reading attention to a subject that I have never left. By sharing your fantasy creations and your mind with us you have provided a lasting legacy which will capture many more minds in the future. If Death ever communicates to me it will always be in CAPS LOCK thanks to you.

David Martin is a firm believer in wider reading but also spends his time watching horror films and going to the theatre. He has been known to venture outside but prefers worlds he can imagine. Follow him on Twitter at @ventspleen2014

Images From Wikipedia And BBC

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