March 12th, 2015

The God That Marks The Fall Of Every Sap

There Are and Will Always Only Ever Be the Bad People, But Sometimes They are on Opposite Sides

Posted this elsewhere extemporaneously, so I'll just cut-and-paste here.

Very sad about Terry Pratchett. When Cara Sposa and I first started living together, he only had three Discworld novels out, and we had no money and no other entertainments, so we read a lot, and those three books over and over. We had to wait for them to come out in paperback, of course, and they were published in the UK much earlier, but we didn't really know that at the time. The only online way to learn about what was going on with Terry Pratchett was on the usenet group alt.fic.pratchett, which you could only access from the computer lab during working hours.

But every year there would be one, or sometimes even two, and as the years went by, we would play the game of who got to get the next one for whom at Christmas. It was always me, because I could count on her to start reading in the morning and be done by evening.

After we had full-time jobs, we even started buying the audio versions on tape. Nigel Planer (from the Young Ones) was the unabridged reader and Tony Robinson (Baldric on Blackadder) did the abridged ones. The tapes are so overplayed now that they screech. We moved to audible eventually.

But for years, when we had horrible jobs and I was working 12-14 hours a day on thankless things like sending faxes to uncomprehending newsmen about Bosnia or Rwanda, or the Horrors of the West Africa civil wars, or the minefields of Cambodia, or whatever, and she was being undercut for being a woman without political connections although she was carrying her department on her back, we'd come home, and we'd listen to a half-hour while falling asleep. I can probably recite Guards, Guards by heart now. Well, not really, but pretty close.

Pterry kept us sane, kept us looking at the twisty little side of human nature with humor, but not a dismissive humor, a kind of uncompromising understanding of the rising ape and the falling angel. In that way, he was kind of a rock, a reminder that no, we weren't crazy, it was the world that was trying to make us that way, and there really is a decency at the bottom of people that's worth preserving, whatever their shape (ook).

That viewpoint grew and matured, and then became nostalgic, but always interested in people, in what makes them tic, and in telling their stories—not necessarily the way they would want them told, but the way the story really tells itself.

Towards the end, that voice got a little harder to follow, and then sort of petered out, and became more Stephen Briggs voice, but it was more like listening to the son take over from Dad: a different sort of storyteller, with different emphases, but still the same kind of heart behind the stories.

I'm really going to miss Pratchett. Already do, and I'm not looking forward to yet more of the same madness coming down the pipe without somebody sane in that same mad way that he shared with his writing.