Open Thread: RIP, Terry Pratchett

Well, this is turning into a hell of a Thursday.

Open thread (on the condition that Mrs. Cake is still not to be asked about.)






59 replies
  1. 1
    monkeyfister says:

    Even sadder news: Henry Kissinger is still alive.

  2. 2
    PurpleGirl says:

    RIP, Terry Pratchett. Your fans will miss you mightily.

    Don’t know why but I never really connected with Pratchett’s writing but I know many people who idolized him. It’s a sad day for them.

    monkeyfister: I agree completely.

  3. 3
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    Oh how sad.

  4. 4
    Violet says:

    Oh, god. This is a sad day in this household. RIP, sir.

  5. 5
    J R in WV says:

    I knew the day would come.

    Here it is a sunny springtime day, which helps a little bit.

  6. 6
    MattF says:

    My favorite Discworld novel is “Thief of Time”. In which Death’s granddaughter Susan meets Time’s son, Jeremy. They make a nice couple. It’s a book that teems with amazing characters. You should go read it.

  7. 7
    zzyzx says:

    When you start out reading Discworld, it seems like it’ll be impossible to get to the end of the series. Now there never will be another new one (at least not by Sir Terry). The world is just a little more bleak today…

  8. 8
    Joel Hanes says:

    and in breaking news from Spain:

    Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

    Over to you, Dan.

  9. 9
    colleeniem says:

    Sir Terry will probably have a good time crossing the desert and find many loved ones and fans on the other side.
    You will be missed by this fan muchly :'(. I hope you went as you wished.

  10. 10
    scav says:

    My rereading list needed reorganizing. Still.
    That man had style that punched through to the end.

  11. 11
    Joey Maloney says:

    We’ve known this was coming. I hope he went the way he wanted to, by his own hand and in his own time.

    RIP

  12. 12
    hedgehog the occasional commenter says:

    Goddamit.

  13. 13
    cminus says:

    “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” – Going Postal

  14. 14
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    Terry Pratchett, in spite of the loud babbling of a few clueless morons who refused to take his work seriously because he was a “humorist” (somewhere, Mark Twain is nodding sardonically), was a damned good writer and I enjoyed his work immensely. And happily, I can always go back and read his novels again and again. Let’s see, maybe it’s time to grab Small Gods from the bookshelf…

  15. 15
    Larv says:

    Crap. What a loss. I can’t think of another series of books I’ve enjoyed as much as the Discworld books. It’s hard to believe I won’t have another to look forward to.

  16. 16
    PaulW says:

    Small Gods is arguably one of the best books about religion ever.

    “One day, a tortoise will learn how to fly.”

  17. 17
    PaulW says:

    THE MAN MADE HIS OWN SWORD.

    What have WE done with our lives?

  18. 18
    Scott S. says:

    Just reading stuff about Pratchett on Twitter and elsewhere is messing me up hard. Don’t know how I’m going to make it through the next few hours at work.

    What can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the Reaper Man?

  19. 19
    Fcb says:

    ‘Reflected sound of underground spirits’: a pun that lodged itself in my lizard-like thirty-odd years ago, when Sir Terry was unknown, but had hidden ‘The Colour of Magic‘ in our local library. A pun recalled each and every time I read anything from Krugman or Cowen or any of that ilk.

    YOUR CURRY AWAITS YOU, SIR.

  20. 20
    PurpleGirl says:

    From what I’ve read at other sites, Sir Terry died at home, his cat sleeping on the bed with him and surrounded by family. Not a bad way to leave, I think.

  21. 21
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    @Larv: I believe one of the things that made Pratchett’s Discworld series unique was how the characters evolved over time. For example, look at how Carrot changed from a “country bumpkin” type of character to a strong, charismatic and intelligent enigma who was able to outwit a dumbfounded Lord Vetinari.

  22. 22
    esc says:

    Having eight years to get used to the idea he wouldn’t have a long,long life wasn’t nearly enough time. Between him and Sam Simon, what a horrible week.

  23. 23
    Lee Rudolph says:

    Parts II and III of Auden’s In Memory of W. B. Yeats are more particular to their subject, but Part I is spot on for Pratchett, to me. (Well, except that spring is finally beginning to impress itself upon our landscape.)

    I

    He disappeared in the dead of winter:
    The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
    And snow disfigured the public statues;
    The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
    What instruments we have agree
    The day of his death was a dark cold day.

    Far from his illness
    The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
    The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
    By mourning tongues
    The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

    But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
    An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
    The provinces of his body revolted,
    The squares of his mind were empty,
    Silence invaded the suburbs,
    The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

    Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
    And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
    To find his happiness in another kind of wood
    And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
    The words of a dead man
    Are modified in the guts of the living.

    But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
    When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the
    Bourse,
    And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly
    accustomed,
    And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his
    freedom,
    A few thousand will think of this day
    As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

    What instruments we have agree
    The day of his death was a dark cold day.

    I’m not sure it was only “a few thousand” for Yeats. I’m quite sure it’s many more for Pratchett. But, yes, he has become his admirers, and his words continue to be modified in the guts of the living. Ave atque vale.

  24. 24
    Mike J says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Don’t know why but I never really connected with Pratchett’s writing but I know many people who idolized him. It’s a sad day for them.

    I’m the same. I have lots of friends who loved him, but every time I tried I just couldn’t get into Pratchett’s work. Maybe I should have read them when I was younger. I reread all of the Douglas Adams hitchhiker books a few years ago and didn’t find them nearly as hilarious as I did when I was 13.

    Still, a sad day when someone with a voice who has touched so many is silenced.

  25. 25
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I KNEW THIS DAY WAS COMING, BUT I’M STILL NOT TERRIBLY HAPPY ABOUT IT.

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @monkeyfister: Not to mention the Dark Lord.

  27. 27
    dmsilev says:

    @The Thin Black Duke: Not just his characters, his whole world evolved. Too many fantasy authors create a world and then nothing changes except for The Big Quest and that’s it. Not Discworld. There were always new things, and those new things then went on to become part of the background tapestry for later stories.

  28. 28
    Mayken says:

    @The Thin Black Duke: “somewhere, Mark Twain is nodding sardonically” – Yup, something tells me the two of them will have a lot to talk about in the Summerlands.

    RIP Sir Terry.

  29. 29
    Ken says:

    @PaulW: Agreed. Carpe Jugulum also ranks highly with me, between Granny’s speech about “Now if I believed in a god” and the wonderful “Everywhere I look I see something holy.”

  30. 30
    PurpleGirl says:

    To all his fans here, I repeat what I said in comment #20: He died in his bed, with his cat sleeping with him and surrounded by family.

    Not in a hospital or hospice or nursing home. But in his home, with the people and pet who meant the most to him. Take comfort in that.

    Yes, even with years he and we had to become accustomed to the idea of his end from Alzheimer’s, it still stinks and is still a bad day.

  31. 31
    chopper says:

    MOTHERFUCKER.

  32. 32
    BethanyAnne says:

    SQUEAK

  33. 33
    theturtlemoves says:

    @PaulW: My nym would seem to imply I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. May he either meet Brutha on the other side or spend eternity stepping across the Long Earth.

  34. 34
    rikyrah says:

    RIP

    Be at peace.

  35. 35

    Iggy was almost named Gaspode.* My husband’s not a Discworld fan, so “Iggy” it was.

    I did, however, name my white motorcycle Binky.

    Very sad today.

    *Ain’t nothing wrong with being a son of a bitch.

  36. 36
    rea says:

    @PaulW: I liked that he made a sword because the queen knighted him.

    Noli Timere Messorem

  37. 37
    mtiffany says:

    IF YOU WOULD BE SO KIND, TELL ME A STORY AS WE WALK.

  38. 38
    Drunken hausfrau says:

    Oh, how sad…

  39. 39
    Dave C says:

    Fuck Alzheimers. Mr. Pratchett, you will be sorely missed.

    I wonder – how would each member of the Night’s Watch (my favorite group of Discworld characters) mourn their creator’s passing?

  40. 40
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Maybe the best use of twitter ever. I guess it was Pratchett’s friend Rob who wrote them? I don’t think he would’ve used the ‘sir’, just the sense I get.

    @mtiffany: Bravo/a! I was gonna try a DEATH tribute but you won.

  41. 41
    sparrow says:

    @The Thin Black Duke: Small Gods is my favorite. Sad day.

  42. 42
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    @sparrow: Small Gods was the first Pratchett I read, and then Witches Abroad, and from that point on I was doomed.

  43. 43

    @Dave C: Vimes would shut himself in his office, consider drinking, then go home instead. Carrot would be devastated but he’d go right back to work, because “personal” isn’t the same as “important.” Angua would howl.

  44. 44
    Annamal says:

    Truth! Freedom! Justice! And a hardboiled egg.
    (I love Small Gods…I walked across Spain with it but Night Watch also blows me away every time)

    Sobbing at my keyboard here.

    This is a great article from Neil Gaiman about his friend (written a little while ago)

    http://www.theguardian.com/boo.....eil-gaiman

  45. 45
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Damn.

    I loved Monstrous Regiment.

    I was recommended Small Gods by a friend as the easiest intro to Discworld. It is very approachable. His later work IMO is much better, although every book involving DEATH is a joy. There was a movie made of Hogfather, if that helps. Very funny book. It took me months to grind through the first Discworld book which had a Conan satire that I was meh about. Pratchett moved on, obviously.

  46. 46
    Dave C says:

    @Karen in GA:

    I like that. I suspect Colon would get drunk. Not sure about Nobby. His reaction could be…unpredictable.

  47. 47
    Lee Rudolph says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Hogfather is an amazing book. (Most of the non-earliest ones are.) Because this passage always makes me cry—purges me with pity and terror—and this is a time when I need to cry, I’m going to type it in, at length (and context be damned, though I think it stands on its own, anyway).

    The boar lay in white snow that was now red with blood. She knelt down and tried to lift its head.

    It was dead. One eye stared at nothing. The tongue lolled.

    Sobs welled up inside her. The tiny part of Susan that watched, the inner baby-sitter, said it was just exhaustion and excitement and the backwash of adrenalin. She couldn’t be crying over a dead pig.

    The rest of her drummed on its flank with both fists.

    ‘No, you can’t! We saved you! Dying isn’t how it’s supposed to go!’

    A breeze blew up.

    Something stirred in the landscape, something under the snow. The branches on the ancient trees shook gently, dislodging little needles of ice.

    The sun rose.

    The light streamed over Susan like a silent gale. It was dazzling. She crouched back, raising her forearm to cover her eyes. The great red ball turned frost to fire along the winter branches.

    Gold light slammed into the mountain peaks, making every one a blinding, silent volcano. It rolled onward, gushing into the valleys and thundering up the slopes, unstoppable. . .

    There was a groan.

    A man lay in the snow where the boar had been.

    He was naked except for an animal skin loincloth. His hair was long and had been woven into a thick plait down his back, so matted with blood and grease that it looked like felt. And he was bleeding everywhere the hounds had caught him.

    Susan watched for a moment, and then, thinking with something other than her head, methodically tore some strips from her petticoat to bandage the more unpleasant wounds.

    Capability, said the small part of her mind. A rational head in emergencies.

    Rational something, anyway.

    It’s probably some kind of character flaw.

    The man was tattooed. Blue whorls and spirals haunted his skin, under the blood.

    He opened his eyes and stared at the sky.

    ‘Can you get up?’

    His gaze flicked to her. He tried moving and then fell back.

    Eventually she managed to pull the man up into a sitting position. He swayed as she put one of his arms across her shoulders and then heaved him to his feet. She did her best to ignore the stink, which had an almost physical force.

    Downhill seemed the best option. Even if his brain wasn’t working yet, his feet seemed to get the idea.

    They lurched down through the freezing woods, the snow glowing orange in the risen sun. Cold blue gloom lurked in hollows like little cups of winter.

    Beside her, the tattooed man made a gurgling sound. He sipped out of her grasp and landed on his knees in the snow, clutching at his throat and choking. His breath sounded like a saw.

    ‘What now? What’s the matter? What’s the matter?’

    He rolled his eyes at her and pawed at his throat again.

    ‘Something stuck?’ She slapped him as hard as she could on the back, but now he was on his hands and knees, fighting for breath.

    She put his hands under his shoulders and pulled him upright, and put her hands around his waist. Oh, gods, how was it supposed to go, she’d gone to classes about it, now, didn’t you have to bunch up one fist and then put the other hand around it and then pull up and in like this

    The man coughed and something bounced off a tree and landed in the snow.

    She knelt down to have a look.

    It was a small black bean.

    A bird trilled, high on a branch. She looked up. A wren bobbled at her and fluttered to another twig.

    When she looked back, the man was different. He had clothes now, heavy furs, with a fur hood and fur boots. He was supporting himself on a stone-tipped spear, and looked a lot stronger.

    Something hurried through the wood, barely visible except by its shadow. For a moment she glimpsed a white hare before it sprang away on a new path.

    She looked back. Now the furs had gone and the man looked older, although he had the same eyes. He was wearing thick white robes, and looked very much like a priest.

    When a bird called again she didn’t look away. And she realized that she’d been mistaken in thinking that the man changed like the turning of pages. All the images were there at once, and many others too. What you saw depended on how you looked.

    Yes. It’s a good job I’m cool and totally used to this sort of thing, she thought. Otherwise I’d be rather worried . . .

    Now they were at the edge of the forest.

    A little way off, four huge boars stood and steamed, in front of a sledge that looked as if it had been put together out of crudely trimmed trees. There were faces in the blackened wood, possibly carved by stone, possibly carved by rain and wind.

    The Hogfather climbed aboard and sat down. He’d put on weight in the last few yards and now it was almost impossible to see anything other than the huge, red-robed man, ice crystals settling here and there on the cloth. Only in the occasional sparkle of frost was there a hint of hair or tusk.

    He shifted on the seat and then reached down to extricate a false beard, which he held up questioningly.

    SORRY, said a voice behind Susan, THAT WAS MINE.

    The Hogfather nodded at Death, as one craftsman to another, and then at Susan. She wasn’t sure if she was being thanked — it was more a gesture of recognition, of acknowledgment that something that needed doing had indeed been done. But it wasn’t thanks.

    May that which needs doing be done.

  48. 48
    BubbaDave says:

    HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

    I could probably pick an epitaph for him from each of the Discworld books, and be content with it– but this is easily my favorite.

  49. 49
    Applejinx says:

    Lily Weatherwax stepped forward, her face white with fury.

    ‘You don’t belong here any more,’ she hissed. ‘You’re not part of the story.’

    She raised a hand.

    Behind her, the ghost images suddenly focused on her, so that she became more iridescent. Silver fire leapt across the room.

    Baron Saturday thrust out his cane. The magic struck, and coursed down him to earth, leaving little silver trails that crackled for a while and then winked out.

    ‘No, ma’am,’ he said, ‘there ain’t no way to kill a dead man.’

  50. 50
    Dennis says:

    WORDS IN THE HEART CANNOT BE TAKEN.

  51. 51
    Randy P says:

    @Annamal: Like others in this thread, I haven’t read a lot of Pratchett. But as a matter of fact, the last Pratchett I read was the collaboration “Good Omens” with Neil Gaiman.

    I have nothing against Pratchett but somehow I’m more of a fanatic for Gaiman.

  52. 52
    WereBear says:

    Terry Pratchett won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for one of his works, and when he went up to accept the award, he fumbled the award… and then began eating it.

    He had swapped a gold-foil wrapped chocolate coin for the actual medal.

    Now that’s some kind of awesome.

  53. 53
    Bruuuuce says:

    I’m in the middle of a long-term, chronological order as written, reread of the Discworld, and just happen to be in the middle of Thief of Time, which largely revolves around dying the way one chooses, rather than just accepting fate.Just as Sir Terry so often said he wanted to do, himself. Appropriate, I think.

    Two links: This first one is where I learned to love the man, not just the author (sadly, I never did meet him IRL): http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....04321.html

    And second, this lovely piece by Paul Kidby: https://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/check-mort.jpg

    Rest well, sir. You’ve more than earned it.

  54. 54
    daddyj says:

    Goodbye, Terry, and thanks!

    For those who’ve tried to get into Pratchett and failed, I recommend starting in the middle and maybe later picking up earlier books. I actually started with Thud!, a fairly late book, but Guards, Guards is a great way to get into the Vimes tales, Equal Rites introduces you to Granny Weatherwax. The first two books are barely better than National Lampoon parodies.

  55. 55

    Don’t comment here much anymore but fuck everything. Pratchett made life tolerable and cancer is killing my dad. Merry Saint Patrick’s Day, fellow hooligans.

  56. 56
    Tehanu says:

    Two other things about Hogfather:

    1. Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary on Downton Abbey) played Susan in the movie.
    2. Sir Terry wrote the best thing I’ve ever read about faith:

    “All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

    REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

    “Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

    YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

    “So we can believe the big ones?”

    YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

    “They’re not the same at all!”

    YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

    “Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

    MY POINT EXACTLY.”

  57. 57
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    My favorite Granny Weatherwax speech, from Carpe Jugulum, about faith versus religion:

    “But I bet that now they’re arguing about what they actually saw, eh?”

    “Well, indeed, yes, there are many opinions—”

    “Right. Right. That’s people for you. Now if I’d seen him, really there, really alive, it’d be in me like a fever. If I thought there was some god who really did care two hoots about people, who watched ’em like a father and cared for ’em like a mother . . . well, you wouldn’t catch me sayin’ things like ‘there are two sides to every question’ and ‘we must respect other people’s beliefs.’ You wouldn’t find me just being gen’rally nice in the hope that it’d all turn out right in the end, not if that flame was burning in me like an unforgivin’ sword. And I did say burnin’, Mister Oats, ’cos that’s what it’d be. You say that you people don’t burn folk and sacrifice people anymore, but that’s what true faith would mean, y’see? Sacrificin’ your own life, one day at a time, to the flame, declarin’ the truth of it, workin’ for it, breathin’ the soul of it. That’s religion. Anything else is just . . . is just bein’ nice. And a way of keepin’ in touch with the neighbors.”

    She relaxed slightly, and went on in a quieter voice: “Anyway, that’s what I’d be, if I really believed. And I don’t think that’s fashionable right now, ’cos it seems that if you sees evil now you have to wring your hands and say, ‘oh deary me, we must debate this.’ That’s my two penn’orth, Mister Oats. You be happy to let things lie. Don’t chase faith, ’cos you’ll never catch it.“ She added, almost as an aside, “But, perhaps, you can live faithfully.”

    RIP, pTerry.

  58. 58
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    A very sad day of us Pratchett fans.
    About to take an 19 hour train journey to vista my daughter in Townsville.’ Good Omens’ and ‘Small Gods’ shall help to pass the time and be a very small tribute to a talented man.

  59. 59
    skwerlhugger says:

    Terry Pratchett was the only author I could read in the second language I speak poorly, because he was the only one who made every paragraph worth struggling for.

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