Terry Pratchett: “So Much Universe, And So Little Time”

terry pratchettTerry Pratchett 1948-2015


– Good Omens

Most parents stop reading aloud to their children once the little ones are old enough to read books on their own. My mom didn’t, though. She kept going until both my brother and I were in our early teens because we all liked it so much. One of my favorite homeschooling memories from middle school is the time Mom read The Wee Free Men aloud to us.

It was my introduction to Terry Pratchett’s books, and I was hooked. I loved the character of Tiffany Aching, a brainy, no-nonsense teenage witch who arms herself with a frying pan. I’d never even heard of Pratchett before that, but I immediately loved his style of writing, and my brother and I demanded another story.

So Mom read the sequel, A Hat Full of Sky.

And then The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.

And then in the years afterward, I read a few more of his books. There was Wintersmith, yet another installment in the Tiffany Aching miniseries, and the wonderfully bizarre Johnny Maxwell series – Only You can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead, and Johnny and the Bomb. Even if I didn’t always fully understand those three books – they’re about parallel universes, and time traveling, and loads of other weird things – I adored them anyway.

Last summer, Pratchett canceled his appearance at a convention due to his struggles with Alzheimer’s disease. I heard the news and thought, “I need to read more of his books. I need to catch up before he stops writing altogether.”

But I’m slow, and easily distracted, and ended up reading a grand total of two more Terry Pratchett books: The Color of Magic – the first in his immensely long Discworld series – and Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman. (And I couldn’t believe I’d waited so long to read that novel! Oh my gosh, I laughed my way through it.)

Terry Pratchett died this past Thursday. I’d wondered if that might happen soon, especially after Neil Gaiman wrote about his friend’s illness last year, but I was also in denial about it. I mean, he’s one of my favorite authors. Tolkien, Martin, Dahl, Pratchett – those are the four fantasy authors I most admire. You don’t want to think about one of your favorites dying.

So, yeah. I cried that day. I don’t normally cry about that sort of thing, but I cried when I read Pratchett’s obituary that morning. And then I cried that afternoon. And a little bit on Friday. Because I’m very attached to my favorite authors, evidently. And because a brilliant, inventive, witty, dark, amazing man died this week.

And then after a while it dawned on me that my failure to accomplish last summer’s project had actually worked out in my favor: I still have so, so many of his books left to read. Some of my friends have read all or nearly all of Pratchett’s books. I haven’t. I’ve only read nine, and the man wrote over seventy.

Terry Pratchett may be gone, but his stories are still here. I’m still sad, but I’ve stopped crying. (For now? I think?) Because… hey, his words are still here, and there’s so many I still have left to read. Nation and an omnibus edition of the Bromeliad trilogy still sit unread on my shelves, and then there’s all the Pratchett books I can find at the library.

Terry Pratchett died this week, but I can crack open his books and it’ll all still be there: His humor, and his wacky characters, and his social commentary, and everything else. Aziraphale and the Nac Mac Feegles and Rincewind the wizard.

Words are a way of living beyond death, and I know what I’ll be doing this summer vacation: Reading more Discworld novels. Pratchett’s still here, just in a different form now. And still telling me new stories. I’m still a little bit sad, but I’m also excited, because there are SO MANY BOOKS left to read. Monstrous Regiment and Guards! Guards! and HogfatherGoing PostalMort. I’m looking forward to reading the fourth Tiffany Aching book, I Shall Wear Midnight, and the final book, The Shepherd’s Crown, is due to be published posthumously this fall. I can’t wait.

Thank you for your writing, Sir Terry Pratchett. THANK YOU.


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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14 Responses to Terry Pratchett: “So Much Universe, And So Little Time”

  1. Beautiful post ❤ I've never read any of his books but I was really stunned by the outpouring of love all over the internet for both him and his work. I can't imagine how I'd feel if it was one of my favourite authors, but you're right – their stories do live on. I was absolutely devastated to hear of Ned Vizzini's death – that really shocked me. But at the same time I'm glad their words are still here, you know? For as long as we choose to remember them, anyway.

    • nevillegirl says:

      *blush* Aw, thank you so much! 🙂

      SAME. I knew he was hugely popular, but… I don’t know, I’m still just really overwhelmed by all the little online tributes to him that I’ve seen. He was an amazing man.

      “For as long as we choose to remember them, anyway.” ❤

  2. Cait says:

    It is so super sad. I have to admit the only Pratchett books I’ve read are Good Omens and the graphic novel of the first two Discworld books. I LOVED Good omens though! FAVOURITE BOOK EVER. I guess that is the good thing about authors though…they’re forever around because of their fabulous writings.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I can’t believe I waited so long to read Good Omens! IT WAS TREMENDOUSLY GOOD. ❤ And that's very true, authors are around foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrr. 😀 CLEARLY it is the best career choice ever. 😛

  3. Miriam Joy says:

    I cried a lot. Like, really rather a lot. But yes, you’re right. There’s so much still to read.

    • nevillegirl says:

      *hug* I didn’t realize Pratchett meant that much to me as an author; I cried soooo much. But yeah. There are so many stories left to read, so that’s good. 🙂

  4. moosha23 says:

    Every time I read something about Terry Pratchett’s death I can’t help but love him some more. With me, a humongous part of my life was bonding with my father over the Pratchett books. Even last year, when my dad and I went to Waterloo’s book market, he talked about how he would peruse the stacks for another Discworld book to add to his growing collection back in the day. (Salt to wound: Dad’s Discworld series as well as many other prized books died in a plumbing leakage thing in our flat’s storage shed).
    Pratchett’s work means a helluva lot, he was such a big part of my childhood – Johnny and the Bomb became a serialised British Drama, Thud stared at me from Dad’s bookshelf, Tiffany Arching (and the very last one where she gives her necklace to her younger self) became me and I started writing “noe” instead of “know” in textspeak. Going Postal was the book my aunt from Bangladesh picked up when she came to stay at ours for the first time, Making Money helped me laugh at Boris Johnson’s hilarious self even more than normal…and a World Book Day moment where I correctly guessed a teacher’s costume (he was Death) for the first time and saw the mutual respect in his eyes. (Who knew that a thirteen year old would adore Death as much as he, mr. middle-aged, did?).
    I read Gaiman’s piece too – and I identitfied with his thoughts. Pratchett was the first person to teach me that I could use humour to criticise the world. That I could be angry and by showing how ridiculous something is I would be painting something in a different light. He nurtured my love of satire, of criticising, of asking ten thousand questions, and perspective.
    He was The Author. And those last three tweets? No matter how many times I read them, they make me cry.

    • nevillegirl says:

      So much YES to that statement. And that’s so cool that you bonded with your dad over Pratchett books! I guess the closest thing I have to that sort of relationship is how I convinced my dad to read TONS of Roald Dahl books while he was on the train on the way to his work, but there aren’t really any books HE’s convinced ME to read. Not yet, anyway…
      Noooooooo! *cries because destroyed books are just plain sad*
      Ehehe, that's so cool/weird that your teacher dressed as Death. 🙂 I've only read about Death in Pratchett's first book, The Color of Magic, but I absolutely loved reading his story.
      *nodnod* Satire, humor, anger… they were all BIG parts of Terry Pratchett's writing.
      I knowwwwwwwwwwwwwww. That's when I started crying. :/ At first I was just like 😦 but then I saw "AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER" linked in an article and…. yeah. 😦 😦 😦

  5. Nation is the only Pratchett book I have read, and I loved it. I will definitely need to read his other works. I was saddened at his passing, but I didn’t really know who he was so I wasn’t affected as much. It is sad, yet I find when a person who has accomplished so much in their life passes, I can’t be sad because there is so much to celebrate. Incidentally, I liked what you said about your mom still reading to you and your brother into your teens. I did the same with my oldest two (Harry Potter!) but I have let the practice fall off with the younger ones. We still read all the time, but not as a family like we did before. Guess it’s time to break out the HP books again. Thanks for this post.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I still need to read Nation! 🙂

      Yeah, it’s pretty fun. 🙂 That’s how I started with HP, actually – my mom read the first few to my brother and I and then from there I read the rest on my own.

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  6. doctormark says:

    I feel really cheated that I only came to know Pratchett in the past two or three years. His writing is incredible and he is so insightful. Loved “Good Omens,” and the BBC radio drama was fantastic. His recently collected short stories are a lot of fun. Very Dahl-esque. Discworld is one of my favorites, though. I was not very enthused by “The Color of Magic.” My understanding is that the Rincewind plot line is one of the weaker ones in the series so I’ve not spent much time there. The witches are great–especially loved “Equal Rites.” The Watch novels are a lot of fun. I’ve read a couple of those so far. My favorite by far, though, is DEATH’s line of stories. I’ve read more than half and love them all. I’ll be staring the Tiffany Aching novels soon with my son since he’d like to read some Pratchett. His passing really affected me and I’m glad that I have so many more books to explore. It’s like his absence will affect me less knowing we have a few more conversations ahead of us. Thanks for the great post!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Well, I’ve only been a fan for four or five years or so.
      I still need to listen to the Good Omens radio drama! I’ve heard so many nice things about it, though.

      Ehehe, I wasn’t into that book for Rincewind – I loved it because DEATH.

      Ohhhhh my god, TIFFANY ACHING. I love her. Never really connected to the smarty-pants girl characters like Hermione, but I really connected with Tiffany. ❤

      You're welcome! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  7. Pingback: Quarterly Rewind, Winter 2015 – Reading Slumps, “Agent Carter,” And An Assortment Of Beautiful Songs | Musings From Neville's Navel

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