Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stories Left Untold

My planned topic for today, whatever it was (and if I even had a plan other than a few random thoughts flitting around) vanished when I got on Twitter this morning, apparently just minutes after the official announcement of Terry Pratchett's death. It's not a huge surprise, as it's been known for a while that he had a form of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. I just hadn't realized that the end was possibly so near. Although I do have some mutual friends and was a Facebook friend (because of the mutual friends, when I got on Facebook he popped up in the "people you might also know" thing, and I figured what the heck and sent a friend request, which was accepted), I never actually really interacted with him, so my main reaction is a sense of loss of the stories that will never be told.

In case you haven't read it (and you really should), the Discworld series is a vast, sprawling conglomeration of stories set in a particular world that's a lot like our own in many respects but that's also got all the elements we're used to seeing in fantasy stories -- dwarfs, trolls, vampires, werewolves, kings, dungeons, wizards, witches, etc. It's the kind of thing that manages to be both a brilliant satire and a good example of the thing it's satirizing, but the satire extends into the real world to mock our own institutions. And it's funny. Really, really, laugh-out-loud to the point of disturbing the neighbors funny. These are the kinds of books you have to re-read multiple times -- first time for the story, to find out what happens. Next time to pick up on all the satire and social commentary. Then later to catch all the little jokes you missed while reading for the story, characters and social commentary. I've found myself laughing out loud at a throwaway line I just noticed in a book I've read at least five times.

Within this same universe, there were several "series" focusing on a particular aspect or group of characters, though some characters crossed over into multiple stories. There were the Witches books, the Wizards books, the Guards books, the Death books (though Death appeared in other books), and what I suppose you could call the "technology" books (mostly starring semi-reformed former(?) con man Moist von Lipwig). I love Death as a character, but I probably was most invested in the Guards books, and I think that's where I'm feeling the loss because I got the sense that he was setting up something big and gradually heading toward it, and it looks like he didn't ever get there. So we won't know what will become of the young policeman who may actually be the long-lost king and who's starting to pull some pretty impressive strings behind the scenes, so far with only the best of intentions.

Though I suppose we did get one last story, as his Twitter feed announced his death in a way that fit with his books, with Death himself coming to take his arm and walk away with him into the night, with the final tweet being "the end." Here's the final story.

And now I think I'm getting a little weepy. Part of me suddenly wants to do a massive re-read, and part of me is afraid that might be a little too painful right now. Instead, I may just work on my own book because there are stories to be told.

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