Over the last few months it is becoming increasingly clear who is writing 2015. With so many popular characters leaving us for the great VIP party in the sky, Nimoy and now Pratchett, it can only be GRR Martin calling the shots. In light of today’s sad passing, it is I feel appropriate to briefly interrupt Vampire month to mark this occasion.
I first encountered Pratchett when I was at school. There was a brief extract from Pyramids in a roleplaying magazine I bought frequently and an article on how to run a Discworld style roleplaying game. I was intrigued and bought a copy of Pyramids and later a copy of Good Omens. The same year I went to a signing at Dillon’s bookshop in Newcastle and met the man himself. Since then I have bought pretty much every book he has produced and seen his development into a great author. I have in the past commented on how his writing developed – from the blatant parody of The Colour of Magic to the subtle satire of his later books – a in particular how Ankh Morpork moved from a copy of Lieber’s Lankhmar to something akin to a cross between Regency London and modern New York.
His books have influenced my life. Each one he produced getting better and better. I remember buying a new one every weekend and reading it in an afternoon. Even though I read them so quickly, they never seemed to end. Nor did they ever lapse in quality. As a writer myself I have always been impressed by this level of output and I am sure many other writers, published or otherwise, would love to be able to replicate this. The style he wrote in was also unlike any other author I have ever seen. He rarely used chapters, he wrote in his own unique stream of consciousness narrative, he added footnotes! To fiction! As if it were some form of academic essay! What a way to break the rules in style! I think that the daring and ability to break the rules so blatantly is a sign of true genius.
When I was running the Vampire LRP at Manchester Metropolitan University in the mid 90’s there was an ongoing theme in the In Character rumours published in our newsletter over Pratchett (and his Hat) dancing at Rock World with Neil Gaiman (and his leather jacket). Players of that game may or may not be surprised to learn there was actually no plot significance to these just me nerding out at two of my favourite authors. I very much doubt any of the copies of those newsletters still exist…
And if you are in any doubt about how much he meant to me, you can consider that earlier this week I was teaching about inspiration and creativity in science and this quote was in my mind all through the lesson:
“It is a well-known established fact throughout the many-dimensional worlds of the multiverse that most really great discoveries are owed to one brief moment of inspiration. There’s a lot of spadework first, of course, but what clinches the whole thing is the sight of, say, a falling apple or a boiling kettle or the water slipping over the edge of the bath. Something goes click inside the observer’s head and then everything falls into place. The shape of DNA, it is popularly said, owes its discovery to the chance sight of a spiral staircase when the scientist’s mind was just at the right receptive temperature. Had he used the elevator, the whole science of genetics might have been a good deal different.*
*Though certainly a lot faster and only licensed to carry 4 people”
Terry Pratchett, Sourcery.
And with that I close my remembrances and raise a glass to the memories of childhood reading.
D.A Lascelles is the author of Lurking Miscellany, Transitions (Mundania Press) and Gods of the Sea (Pulp Empires). He lives in Manchester UK. You can sometimes see him writing about Zombie porn on https://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/ but he mostly blogs about books, vampires, science fiction and Terry Pratchett. He is inordinately proud of the fact that one of his Pratchett articles was referenced on the French version of the author’s Wikipedia page.